Rules of Competition




 1.  Categories



  • Entries must fit the designated monthly theme.
  • Restrictions on editing and manipulation of photos in the Assigned Category are detailed in the chart below. These restrictions are intended to provide an opportunity for photographers of all levels to compete on an equal footing.
  • Each member may submit one entry per competition.
  • A and B are judged separately (except with the Abstract and Altered Reality theme). 
  • The date of photo capture must be within the past year.
  • No AI-generated images are allowed.



  • Entries are not restricted as to theme. 
  • To allow our members to fully achieve their vision for a photo, there is no restriction on the amount or type of computer enhancement allowed (except for changes in pictorial content, as stated below). Any enhancement must be done by the entrant. 


In this category, we encourage all entrants to make full use of software tools that can optimize the visual quality of a photo. These may include: cropping and leveling; perspective control; white balance correction; contrast and clarity; overall exposure; dodging and burning; color balance and saturation; sharpening and noise reduction; vignetting; HDR and focus stacking.


Tutorials on the best use of these tools are available on the Internet. Also, you have the opportunity each month at our “Photo Review” sessions to have other members of the club suggest improvements to your photos and show you how to make them. Don’t miss these great learning opportunities!


Changes to the pictorial content (deleting, resizing, moving, and adding components)—which are not allowed in the Assigned category—are allowed in the Open category, with the following exceptions: 

  • Any pictorial content added to the photo (a moon, clouds, better sky, less-distracting background, etc.) must be from a photo taken by the entrant and not from any other source.
  • Photos in which the pictorial content has been altered must retain the overall realism of the original photo. For example, a moon may be added to the night sky, but not more than one moon. (Photos with significant distortions of reality must be entered in one of the two yearly Abstracts and Altered Reality competitions.)
  • Any filters that are applied, either during capture or during post-processing, must retain the overall realism of the subject. Any photo that appears unnatural or unrealistic must be entered into an Abstracts and Altered Reality competition. (For example, slightly enhancing the starburst effect of a light at night is ok, but if the effect is so extreme that it appears unnatural, the photo belongs in Abstracts and Altered Reality.)
  • Each member may submit one entry per competition. 
  • A and B are judged separately.
  • There is no limit on the capture date for the photo.
  • No AI-generated images are allowed.



Abstracts and Altered Reality (once yearly as an Assigned theme)

  • Entries may be created by one or more of the following methods:
    • Photographing a subject in such a way that it becomes isolated from its context and where shapes, colors, lines, patterns, and textures predominate and provide primary interest. The context becomes unrecognizable and irrelevant.

    • Camera movement. (Does not include panning to capture moving objects.)

    • The use of software, in which a photograph is altered to the point that it no longer reflects reality. The altered photo and any added components must be the original work of the entrant.

  •  Each member may submit up to two entries per competition.  The final score for the competition will be the sum of the scores for each photo entered per member.
  • A and B are judged together.
  • No AI-generated images are allowed.


2. Who can enter what

  • All members in good standing may enter one photo in each of the Assigned and Open competitions each month.
  • New members cannot enter at the first meeting they attend. Members may enter competitions even if they do not attend the meeting.
  • Members are assigned to Class A (advanced) or B (beginner/intermediate) by the club, based on the member's level of skill as a photographer. The executive committee may promote a member from Class B to Class A if it feels that person is misplaced. Any member may request to be moved from Class B to Class A at the end of the year. The Class B member who has earned the highest number of points in the monthly competition by the end of the year will be automatically promoted to Class A. The winner of the Shyan Award, as well as those who have earned a preponderance of high scores, will be considered for promotion by the executive committee.
  • Photos that scored a 4 or 5 cannot be reentered in a subsequent competition, but the subject can be re-photographed. Photos that scored a 1, 2, or 3 in a previous competition, and that have correctable flaws that were noted by a judge, can be reentered once with those corrections made. 
  • The photo must be your own work rather than a team effort. You can have help, but it must be your vision and your execution.
  • A designated member of the executive committee screens entries prior to judging and can disqualify or re-categorize an entry.


3. Photo-editing restrictions for the Assigned competition


Assigned entries are subject to photo-editing restrictions to


  • Emphasize the quality of the initial capture
  • Enable members with less advanced skills in photo editing to compete on an equal footing.





 ADJUSTMENTS ALLOWED in the Assigned Category


ADJUSTMENTS NOT ALLOWED in the Assigned Category

Correct white balance and color shifts (temperature and tint)

Exposure/brightness, dodge and burn

Sharpening, clarity, and texture

Noise reduction

Color and brightness changes that significantly alter the original look and feel of the subject as originally captured

Contrast, saturation, and vibrance

Conversion to black and white or sepia

Color substitution to provide an unnatural effect

Conversion to infrared

Cropping, scaling, flipping, and rotating the entire photo

Movement, enlargement, or reduction of elements within a photo.

Seam editing

Combining multiple photos to:

- form a panorama (stitching)

- blend exposures (HDR or manually)

- extend depth of field (focus stacking)

Making composite photos by combining photos or elements from other photos or duplicating elements within the same photo (including background and sky replacement and the Orton effect)

Cloning or Content Aware Fill, to remove unwanted items that:

- you could not remove or avoid at the time of capture

- you would have removed or avoided if you had noticed them at the time

Removing or altering major components of the main subject

Blurring distracting elements*, spot healing, healing brush, or patch tools*

Using a blur filter to create an ethereal mood or a special effect that wasn't part of the original subject

Panning a moving subject and using a slow shutter speed to blur a fast-moving subject

Moving or adjusting the camera during exposure to create abstract, artistic interpretations of the subject. (Panning to keep sharp focus on a subject within the frame is, of course, allowed.)

Perspective correction with tilt/shift lenses or software

Transform, Free Transform, and Puppet Warp*

Use of on-camera filters and other tools, such as Lensbaby, that produce special optical or color effects and significantly alter the original look or feel of the subject

Light painting using artificial light to brighten parts of an existing scene.

Light painting using artificial light to create designs, patterns, and other effects within the photo



Use of a flatbed scanner or photocopier to produce a photo, unless the resulting photo is as realistic and true to the subject as if taken with a camera


Adjustments that go beyond those listed in the left column, including filters that distort forms and alter texture or create artificial optical effects (such as lens flare, fog, or star bursts)

* only if they do not significantly alter the appearance of the main subject or a major part of the subject


4. How to enter your photos

All entries should be 2000 pixels on the long side, including an optional border, and must be uploaded through PhotoContest Pro by the deadline indicated on the PCP site. (Instructions for preparing and uploading photos can be found on the CCC website.)

  • A title added to the projected photo must not reveal who the photographer is. 
  • The photographer's name must not be visible on the photo itself.


5. Judging & scoring


Photos are graded by using the following five-point rating system. (You may see the compiled results by requesting them from the registrar.)


  • 5—Outstanding, of a quality that would merit inclusion in a juried exhibition; significant “wow” factor.
  • 4—Very good technically and compositionally, but lacking the quality that makes it unforgettable. 
  • 3—Average, having some minor deficiencies.
  • 2—Some good points, but with some major deficiencies.
  • 1—Needs significant improvement.


Audience members are not allowed to speak to the judge while photos are being evaluated and scored. (A member designated by the executive committee may assist the judge regarding our rules or the assigned theme and may answer any of the judge’s questions.) After judging is complete, any member may answer any of the judge's questions about the photo.


Members Serving as Judges:

Members serving as judges are not permitted to enter the competition that they are judging. As compensation, they will be awarded nine points. A member may not act as a judge more than once in any calendar year.


6.The Best Open and Best Assigned awards will be judged separately for A and B photographers. A member may enter one photo in each category. All entries must have been entered in a monthly competition in the same format during the current activity year. A member submitting a photo in the end of the year contest must have entered at least three monthly competitions during the prior year. All photos should be entered in the same format they were submitted for the monthly competitions.

  • Best Open from any Open entry that was entered during the year.
  • Best Assigned from any Assigned entry, including those entered for the Abstract and Altered Reality theme, during the year.

The following awards will also be announced and/or judged during the evening.

  • James W. Simmons Photographer of the Year: In recognition of Jim Simmons' outstanding contributions to the CCC, this award is presented to the Class A photographer who has accumulated the highest number of points during the year.
  • Howard Rothman Class B Photographer of the Year:  In memory of Howard Rothman, one of the founding members of the CCC, this award is presented to the Class B photographer who has accumulated the highest number of points during the year.
  • Shyan Award: This award, in memory of Ted and Rita Shyan, founding members of the CCC, is open only to Class B photographers. The photographer enters three photos that must have been taken in the current year, and may or may not have been entered in a competition. Color or monochrome may be entered. These photos should be the three that the photographer considers his or her best work; they do not necessarily have to be part of a theme or a type, but they may if the photographer wishes to present them in that manner. The judge will consider the overall skills of the photographer based on these three photos.

If photos are entered for both the Shyan Award and the "Best of . . ." categories above, separate photos must be entered for each category.

The Registrar compiles and distributes a list, for all members, of the number of entries and all earned points for the year. Please check your name carefully if you are entering the competition. Photos must be entered in the same format as they were during the year. If you have not entered at least three times in the past year, you are not eligible to enter.

All certificates, prizes, etc., will be presented during the January meeting.