About Competitions


Joining competitions can make us better photographers. We recognize though that competition judging is not perfect. The best photo (as some of us might interpret it) does not always win, but experience has shown that the top choices are usually excellent. We see competition as a way to improve individual photography and, hopefully, have fun. If it becomes too serious some of the enjoyment is lost.

As a member club of CAPA Canada (the Canadian Association for Photographic Art) we participate in several competitions. Visit the CAPA website at www.capacanada.ca Click on the link for competitions and download or read the competition guide. There are various club events including Theme, Nature, Open and Altered Reality categories. Note the sections referring to club competitions and digital requirements. CAPA also has individual members and events that do not concern us as a club.

Our club has a selection process about a month before the competition event where the images representing our club are picked by secret ballot. Voting is open to all current club members who wish to participate. A scale of 1 to 10 is used. All images start with 5 points and points are deducted for flaws or added for merit. Truly outstanding images may rate 9 or 10 points. Members may submit a maximum of 2 images per competition. A member can have only one of his or her images selected to represent the club.

In general, contest-worthy images should have sharp subject focus (for people or animals this means the eyes), though focus can be selective. Good contrast, a strong central subject and originality are important. Do not put borders or lines around your image and remember that text is not permitted anywhere on the image, whether copyright symbol, title or otherwise. Take note that the contest host club usually has a right to make use of images for promotion or other purposes (for example CAPA in its magazine or on websites).

NOTE:KPAC no longer enters all CAPA Club Competitions. See the KPAC Event Calendar for selected competitions. Competitions will be announced early in the club year.

KPAC Picture Judging

This is an exciting event that occurs monthly during the club year. On those nights you will see some of the best photography that our club has to offer.

Each club member may submit a maximum of 2 images. We will see each image at least three times. It is said that first impressions count for a lot so the images will be presented for 5 seconds as an initial viewing. This is intended to provide you, the judges, with an overview of the images that will be evaluated tonight – better images will tend to leap out at you during this process. This will also give you an initial sense of where the images would fall in a relational ranking to each other.

The second viewing will be longer – 12 seconds. This will give you time to consider and evaluate the individual images from technical and artistic perspectives. This is where you would mark your score on the scoring form provided.

There will be a third run through of each image of about 7 seconds each to allow you to confirm the scoring you’ve put down. If you wish to change the score, just put an X through the first score then write in the new score. Once scoring is completed and if time allows, each image will be shown and the photographer may discuss his image and answer questions.

Your job is to select, from all of the excellent images that we see, the best of the best of Kamloops Photo Arts Club images. This process will be accomplished by assigning scores from 1 to 10 for each image presented for your consideration. The selections that you make will be sent to another club for evaluation among all of the participating clubs’ “best of” images for an eventual ranking between all clubs. CAPA competitions allow 6 images from each club. Other competitions vary.

Judging the Pictures

So – how should we judge a picture? Let’s briefly consider the analogy of a hotel ranking system. We’ve all heard of 5-star hotels although most of us rarely have had the opportunity to stay in them (if at all). So, even though you may not have stayed at the Morocco Hilton, if it has a 5-star rating, you can be reasonably certain that it’s somewhat better than the Super 8 Motel in downtown Surrey with a 2-star rating.

It’s the same thing with the images that we see on selection night. 10 point images may be few and far between, but you’ll know one when you see it. Ranking a picture may be a bit difficult due to the subjective nature of the judging process. Here’s where you look for critical things like focus (sharpness where the image needs it), contrast, and artistic merits such as composition. As Ansel Adams is reputed to have said, “There’s nothing worse than a sharp image of a fuzzy concept”.

All images must have scores between 1 and 10, with 10 being the best. Pictures would score low based on artistic appeal and technical defects only. For instance, a picture taken at high noon of an ordinary view of Mount Paul may only score 5 or 6. However, if you happen to capture a somewhat blurry picture of Mount Paul erupting and exploding at high noon (think Mount St. Helens), it may deserve a 10. In other words, technical factors being equal, images that have a higher “wow factor” should score higher than those that have a relatively low ‘wow factor’.

The method of scoring recommended by CAPA and KPAC is as follows:

Every image starts with 5 points. Deduct points for focus or other technical reasons. Add points for composition, lighting and the ‘wow factor’.

CAPA Point Scoring System


Base your evaluation on these considerations


Extremely poor to poor with very serious faults.


Fair, possibly with minor faults.


Good – displays average technical qualities and average impact.


Excellent image – above average in technical qualities and impact.


Exceptionally good – very high technical qualities and high impact.


Demonstrates the ‘wow’ factor – outstanding impact and technical aspects.

Note: Scores of 1-2 should never be used. The image would have to be extremely bad to rate this low a score.

Consider attending a CAPA Judges Course to improve your scoring techniques and help with your own photography.

But My Picture Wasn’t Chosen

If your image is not selected for advancement tonight, do not despair. Photography is a learning process. The images that you see on selection nights will help you learn to take better images yourself. Once we learn whose images were selected for the competition, feel free to ask the person who created it how the photograph was taken or what Photoshop techniques were used to enhance the image. We are all a sharing group of easily approachable people, so don’t be afraid to step up and ask questions – it can only make you a better photographer. It seems that some pictures do well in some competitions but not others. One KPAC member did well with a photo that almost didn’t make ‘the cut’ at the club selection night.