Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Nature Definition

Dear Club Members,

Our Club has been competing in nature interclub competitions for a number of years, first under the direction of Lisa Cuchara and for the last couple of years I have been handling this competition. In the past we selected entries from the monthly competition to represent the Club, but it has become apparent that doing this may cause us to violate the very strict PSA Nature Division rules that govern both the PSA Nature Interclub and also the NECCC Nature competition category. Our members have become much more proficient in using Photoshop and other editing tools (a good thing), but the resulting images may not be eligible for competitions that operate under PSA nature rules.

The PSA Nature Definition

"Nature photography is restricted to the use of the photographic process to depict observations from all branches of natural history, except anthropology and archeology, in such a fashion that a well informed person will be able to identify the subject material and to certify as to its honest presentation. The story telling value of a photograph must be weighed more than the pictorial quality while maintaining a high technical quality. Human elements shall not be present, except where those human elements enhance the nature story. The presence of scientific bands, scientific tags or radio collars on wild animals is permissible. Photographs of artificially produced hybrid plants or animals, mounted specimens, or obviously set arrangements, are ineligible, as is any form of manipulation that alters the truth of the photographic statement. No techniques that add to, relocate, replace, or remove pictorial elements except by cropping are permitted. Techniques that enhance the presentation of the photograph without changing the nature story or the pictorial content are permitted. All adjustments must appear natural.”

Some Words of Explanation

This definition means we have considerable freedom to use digital techniques to enhance our nature images. For most people, this means that the various HDR techniques are now allowed and it means blurring the background is now allowed, provided the results look natural. All images must exhibit Digital Realism, where a photographer may perform any enhancements and modifications that improve the presentation of the image to make it more closely represent the original scene photographed, but that does not change the truth of the original nature story. Cropping and horizontal flipping (equivalent to reversing a slide) are acceptable modifications. Removing spots due to dust on your sensor is allowed. Removing rounded slide mount corners on scanned images is allowed. Adding elements to your images, removing pictorial elements from your image other than by cropping, combining separate images or rearranging and/or cloning and/or copying elements in your image are not acceptable and can lead to disqualification of your image in the competition. Since HDR techniques and Helicon Focus techniques are techniques that enhance the presentation without changing the pictorial content, they are now considered allowable techniques. Please note that all adjustments must still look natural. Just because a technique is legitimate does not guarantee the image it was used on will get a good score. Note also that black and white images are acceptable, but not infrared images.

The Bottom Line

Rather than simply taking images from the monthly competition where I do not know for sure what editing has been done, I am asking the Club members to send me images that comply with the above definition for consideration. For us to compete we will need at least 35-40 images from AT LEAST 6 MEMBERS. For the PSA competition we need 3 sets of 6 images from 6 different makers and for the NECCC competition we need 3 sets of 4 images from 4 different makers. In reality I need at least twice the minimum number so that I can select images that have the best chance of succeeding. Also, the images must have descriptive titles because titles are read before the images are judged in the PSA competition and, thus, correct identification of the subject is part of the judging process.

If you are planning to supply images that have not been used previously in these competitions, please send me an e-mail before the end of July to BarnettW@optonline.net telling me how many images you can supply. If you belong to another club that participates in NECCC competitions, but not PSA, simply tell me that and I won't use your images for NECCC. We need more images for the PSA interclub competition. Also, if you don't remember which images have been used, I can supply that information to you. I can also send you a PDF containing 3 articles from the PSA Journal that elaborates on the rules. Remember that images used in monthly competitions are eligible as long as they comply with the rules noted above.

If I am promised sufficient images, I will need them by Oct. 15, 2010, in order to make the first deadlines. If there are not enough members who promise images we will not compete in the nature interclub competitions and I will notify those who promised to provide images of that fact. The images for the pictorial interclub competitions will continue to be selected from monthly competition images, though I am always willing to consider other images if you want to send them to me.

Best regards,

Bill Barnett

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