New rule affecting all competitions from October 2017 onwards

N.B. If there is an excessively large number of entries, the Competition Secretary may be obliged to reduce each member’s entry to fewer images so please indicate each image’s priority (A, B, C etc) at the end of the title on the back of the print or at the end of the digital filename. This is to ensure that the judge will have sufficient time to give meaningful feedback about each image in the limited time available. The Competition Secretary’s decision is final and will be announced as soon as possible after the closing date for submissions. If a member fails to prioritise their images they will be contacted if practical otherwise priority will be randomly allocated.

Main Cup:

This competition is for three Digital files. See the guidelines for naming, sizing and submitting images lower down this page.
The subject is up to the photographer’s choice. Judging is by an external judge.
The three images are given marks out of twenty and these scores are then added together to give a cumulative score.

PKM Trophy:

Up to three monochrome prints are submitted. Monochrome can be black and white (with any toning process), lith, argyrotype, cyanotype, or digital equivalent. The SPF definition is: “A monochrome work fitting from the very dark grey (black) to the very clear grey (white) is a monochrome work with the various shades of grey. A monochrome work toned entirely in a single colour will remain a monochrome work able to stand in the monochrome category. A monochrome image modified by a partial toning or by the addition of one colour becomes a colour work (polychrome) to stand in the colour category.”
Subject is up to the photographer’s choice. Judging is by an external judge.
Judging will be 1st, 2nd, 3rd, Highly commended and Commended.

Grant Cup:

This competition is for a submission of up to three digital files.
This competition is themed with a new theme chosen each season. The theme for 2018-2019 is ‘Simplicity’.
Judging will be 1st, 2nd, and 3rd, Highly Commended and Commended, voted on by the membership in a secret ballot.

Nan Borthwick Salver:

This involves one entry of a set of three prints which should show a clear intention of a connecting theme of style, content or both.
Subject is up to the photographer’s choice. Judging is by an external judge.
Judging will be 1st, 2nd, 3rd, Highly commended and Commended.

Peter Rourke Salver:

Up to three prints may be submitted showing photographic artistic styles. The RPS defines this as moving away from merely representational / documentary styles.
Subject is up to the photographer’s choice. Judging is by an external judge.
Judging will be 1st, 2nd, 3rd, Highly commended and Commended.

Colour Rose Bowl:

Up to three entries may be made for this, of colour prints, that is, any type of print that cannot be defined as monochrome.
Subject is up to the photographer’s choice. Judging is by an external judge.
Judging will be 1st, 2nd, 3rd, Highly commended and Commended.

Selfie Competition *NEW*:

This competition, for images of the photographer by the photographer, taken on a hand-held device, is for a submission of up to three digital files in total. A ‘selfie’ is a picture of yourself taken by yourself using a handheld camera/phone camera. Selfie sticks are allowed, but tripods and remote controls are not allowed.
Entries will be projected on the night of the competition; judging will be internal, with 1st, 2nd, and 3rd, Highly Commended and Commended places chosen in a secret ballot by the members present.
Full details will be emailed to members nearer the time.

Millennium Quaich:

This a trophy awarded by the Committee. It is chosen in private at their meetings held throughout the year and presented at the Annual Dinner/Prize Giving. It is normally given for outstanding work over the previous year, e.g. work published, a member who has a massive leap in ability, won an award, passed exams, gained qualifications, etc.



The first rule to follow is – don’t worry. The rules for all our competitions are very simple. We don’t believe in constraining members’ creativity within tight guidelines. You will find that the rules are mostly to do with ensuring that images can be transported to the judges with ease, and to make sure that the competition secretary does not have an onerous task when sorting and cataloguing them.
All submissions should be three weeks prior to the judging night for that particular competition.


All prints must be submitted in mounts that are 40cm x 50cm. Write the image title and your membership number (not your name) on the back of the mount. In the case of the Colour Rose Bowl competition, please also indicate your image’s priority (A, B or C) in case the Competition Secretary is obliged to reduce each member’s entry to fewer images due to an excessive number of entries.

The consistent mount size is to ensure that:
a) they are not bigger than the transportation boxes, and
b) they are not so small as to either damage the prints of other members, or be damaged by excessive movement in the boxes (though the mounting board may be relatively yielding to our skin, they are not so to the surface of digital or darkroom prints).


All digital images for projection must be saved as JPEGs sized to within a maximum of 1600 pixels in width by a maximum of 1200 pixels in height. A standard 3:2 image in horizontal orientation should therefore be 1600×1200 but a 3:2 image in vertical orientation should be 800×1200. A square image should be 1200×1200.

They must be named, starting with the title, then underscore, then your priority level (see above), then underscore and finally your membership number (as a two digit number, i.e. 7 becomes 07, but 13 remains 13) e.g.

Photophrolics_A_07.jpg or
Phrantic Photons_B_13.jpg

Copy the files to a blank memory stick and hand it to the competition secretary 3 weeks before the competition. It is a good idea to write your initials on the stick.

Resizing Digital Images in Photoshop and Elements

First, ensure the “Constrain Proportions” box is checked. This way, whatever happens with the image size, it will retain the same aspect-ratio.
For a landscape orientation image, type 1600 into the width and the height will follow suit.
For a portrait orientation image, type 1200 into the height and the width will follow suit.
It is probably best to use “Bicubic Sharper” for resampling (but feel free to experiment).
More guidance can be found at
In Lightroom simply select Width and Height in the Export dialog and enter width 1600 and height 1200 pixels. This works for all aspect ratios. Quality 80 is fine.

Some notes on resolution

This is not important for digital submissions because the SPF rules stipulate a number of pixels. PPI only comes into play when you have both pixels and inches, ie are printing or displaying on a medium of a particular physical size.
For completeness, the relationship between the numbers is simply

width(in) = width(px) / ppi

or equivalently,

ppi = width(px) / width(in)

When holding an A4 print at arm’s length, the human eye is capable of resolving about 300ppi.
As an example: a 6000 * 4000px (24-megapixel) image may be printed at 20″ x 13.33″ at 300pppi.

Common pitfalls that will detract from an image’s overall score

  1. Highlight areas and shadow areas with no discernable detail. Modern digital cameras are improving all the time but their dynamic range (the ability to expose correctly for both bright and dark areas in a photograph) is still limited. If your image has blown highlights or blocked-up shadows the judge will deduct marks unless these are unavoidable or deliberate acts of artistic creation (e.g. silhouettes). Learn how to expose perfectly and use software like Lightroom or Photoshop to selectively darken highlights and lighten shadows in your images.
  2. Distractions. If at all possible every element in an image should play a part in the composition, otherwise it is a distraction. Distractions are worse if they are bright or close to the edges of the frame. Consider darkening, cropping out or even cloning out these offending objects. Excluding elements is just as important as including them.
  3. Cropping. Always consider carefully how an image might be improved by judicious cropping. It may be to exclude a distraction as above or it may be to remove large areas of little interest e.g. bland skies. Empty space can be used to good effect if done well but often it is best to make your intended subject stand out better by removing areas of little interest and thereby placing your main subject more prominently in the frame e.g. on a third. A good crop will improve your image’s score but a bad crop can harm it. Avoid cutting limbs in half or cropping so tightly that your subject has no breathing space or supporting context.