2022 Photo Contest

The 2022 Sierra Club Photo Section Contest runs from Tuesday, November 1st through Wednesday, November 30 at 11:59 PM. See below for new/changed categories, rules, and the submission process.

Information For Participants

  • Submit your very best photos. Photos do not have to be new. Go deep into your archives and pull out the gems!
  • Do NOT re-submit your past winners & honorable mentions
  • Consider the category you submit to carefully, and whether your photos really fit into it.
  • Each category will feature ribbon winners in 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place.
  • The judge can also select additional images for Honorable Mentions.
  • Category winners will be part of the feature program and announced at the December Meeting.

I. Contest Rules

  1. Only current, dues-paid 2022 SCPS San Diego members may submit. (membership for 2022 is closed and will reopen in December 2022; it is not possible to join solely for participating in the contest.)
  2. Members are allowed to make three (3) individual image submissions per category. Make a careful selection; it is FINAL. Only the first 3 images submitted per category are accepted (the submission day & time counts). Any submitted images beyond 3 will be deleted, no matter the quality.
  3. Later substitutions are not allowed. Fixing an already uploaded file (found a sensor dust spot that you missed) is allowed. Please notify us and send your update before the deadline (obviously).
  4. Submitted images must meet the requirements described below.
  5. Images in past SCPS contests that were not winners or honorable mentions are permitted; we encourage you to submit re-imagined or reprocessed images as your skills have improved.
  6. Submissions are to be sent via the Dropbox submission links for each category. Submission by any other method will not be considered.
  7. Do not watermark your images
  8. Do not add digital “framing”, mattes, stroke-borders etc.

II. Submission Requirements

A) File size, format, color space

  • MINIMUM resolution for submission is 3000 pixels on the long side. Send photos in the HIGHEST resolution you have. Larger images show better quality and will be better judged. (keep in mind that modern “Retina” and other high-DPI displays have a horizontal resolution of 4000 pixels or more already.)
  • JPEG files only. Suggested quality ~85 for efficient transmission
  • sRGB color space only! No AdobeRGB, ProPhoto, Display P3, etc.
  • please refer to Export Settings Guide with screen shots of common program’s settings.

B) File names

  • DO NOT include your name, initials etc. in the filename! It’s A LOT OF WORK to remove them manually and Dropbox will add it for you when you submit.
    Also, please tidy up your file names COMPLETELY before submitting. REMOVE all “internal” information from your filenames. (“DSC”, “-Edit”, camera’s file number, etc. etc.)
  • If your photo has a title, use it as the filename. It will be visible to the judge.
    • Example: “Sunrise at Hospital Point.jpg”
    • Example: “Milky Way over Bodie Ghost Town.jpg”
  • If your photo has NO title, use the category name, and number the files.
    • Example: “Landscape 01.jpg”, “Landscape 02.jpg”, etc.
    • Example: “Night 01.jpg”, “Night 02.jpg”, etc.

Behind The Scenes


  • Your submissions will be anonymized (EXIF/IPTC data and filenames will be cleaned before images are judged).
  • Judges will get access to private high-resolution online image galleries via Dropbox.
  • We’re tracking your photographs internally and will re-associate them with contestants after judging has finished.
  • Honorable mentions and ribbon winners will be revealed at the Holiday Party and will be placed in winners galleries in low-resolution on the photo club website after the Holiday party.
  • Requests to delete images after judging is completed will be honored. Contact us if you wish for your winning image to not be featured.
  • If you wish to replace your winning image on the gallery with a watermarked version, you will need to contact us as well.

Judging Criteria

Once more, a number of well-respected photographers from the photographic community and from our own ranks are our judges this year. The judges are instructed to evaluate submissions based on the following criteria:

  • Composition: No matter the type of photograph you are making, it needs to have a strong composition. Edward Weston said: “To me, composition is the clearest and strongest way of seeing a subject.” — this is the most important aspect of a photograph.
  • Faithfulness to the category: Each category demands different ideas, skills, and fundamentally, a finished image that represents it. When submitting your images, think about how they relate to the category.
  • Level of skill and technique: A powerful image that shows skill in its craft will stand out:
    • Refer to our guide “Technical Considerations” on image quality
    • Photos should withstand critical inspection at 100% magnification
    • Think about proper focus, depth of field, sharpness, noise
  • Careful processing & attention to detail: Today’s photographer has more tools and techniques easily available than any time in history. While our editing programs and tools help us turn a flat raw file into a powerful image, when taken too far, they also can produce noisy, garish, or uneven results. Be judicious in your editing and processing. Ask yourself, is this scene recognizable to your eye, or is the method of editing calling attention to itself? Be honest with yourself.
  • Your image should stand out and be unique. For most of this decade, there were more photographs made in a single year than had been made in the entire history of humankind before it. Many of your fellow photo club members are making photographs similar to yours. Select images that stand out in the crowd and it just might catch the eye of the judge.

Just like in previous years, the judges are asked to provide their commentary on the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place to help us learn. The comments will be part of the presentation in the year-end show where the contest winners will be revealed.

We will use submissions for a series of photo discussions as part of our online happy hours, each month. Only the anonymized files will be used. If you wish to opt out of the discussions with your submissions, please send us a note.

Last not least… have fun! This contest is a value-add for our members, a chance to have a low-key way to compete in a photo contest. Enjoy your images as you submit, and congratulate your fellow club members when they place or receive honorable mentions.

If you have further questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us.


New in 2022: We now have a “Intimate Landscapes & Small Scenes” category. To focus on the core of what our members primarily photograph, we removed the “Architecture/Structure” category (these images can now be submitted into the “Wild” category) and the “People” category. Those photos can now be submitted into the “Wild” category.

To get an idea of which images go best into which category, and what kind of image is recognized, please look at past winning images from our previous contests: 2021, 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017.

Birds (Color/Black & White)

  • Birds of all kinds. Doesn’t have to be a tight portrait, can be in the environment.
  • Birds in the wild and birds in captivity (zoos, aviaries, etc.) are permitted in this category.
  • Judge: Alyce Bender (Wildlife Photographer, February 2022 Presenter)


Intimate Landscapes and Small Scenes (Color/Black & White)


Landscape Scenic (Color/Black & White)

  • Landscapes, wide open spaces, scenic vistas
  • If a body of water plays a MAJOR role in the image, consider the Waterscapes category instead!
  • Judge: Alan Majchrowicz (Landscape & Nature Photographer, February 2021 Presenter)


Macro, Close-Up, Still Life (Color/Black & White)

  • Submit your photographs taken near or above 1:1 magnifications, close-ups like the details of flowers, plants, insects, and still life photographs (for outdoor still life in natural environments, please consider the Intimate Landscapes & Small Scenes category instead).
  • Judge: Alexander S. Kunz (SCPS)


Night & Astro Scenic (Color/Black & White)

  • Any photograph made at night, such as:
    • Night sky and astro photography
    • Other photographs clearly made under dark conditions (example: night-time cityscapes)
  • Judge: Stephen Bay


Waterscapes Scenic (Color/Black & White)

  • Outdoor images where oceans, lakes, rivers, and other water-based elements are the primary element of the photograph. For small scenes that involve water, please consider the new Small Scenes/Intimate Landscapes category instead!
  • Judge: Alan Majchrowicz (Landscape & Nature Photographer, February 2021 Presenter)


Wildlife-Captive (Color/Black & White)

  • Photos of wild animals in captivity or captive environments. If you went to the zoo or have other images from the San Diego Safari Park, this is the best category. Do not submit bird photos — use the “Birds” category! Do not submit photos of domestic animals (dogs, cats, cows, pigs, chicken, etc.) — use the “Wild” category!
  • Judge: Alyce Bender (Wildlife Photographer, February 2022 Presenter)


Wildlife-Non-Captive (Color/Black & White)

  • Photos of wild animals in natural environments. You are on your honor that submissions are non-captive. Contest organizers and judge reserve the right to request additional verification or disqualify images that are not obviously non-captive. Do not submit bird photos — use the “Birds” category!
  • Judge: Alyce Bender (Wildlife Photographer, February 2022 Presenter)


Wild (Color/Black & White)

  • This is an open category. Do you have images that are unique or not a natural fit in other categories? Submit them here. Photos for both the previous “Architecture” and the “People” category can be submitted here. Photos of domestic animals can be submitted here. There are no limits and nothing restraining you from submitting “different” images. Have fun and find something that stands out!
  • Judge: Joseph W. Smith (SCPS)


If your submissions causes the contest organizer extra work a non-negotiable fee of one burrito, payable directly to the club’s president, will be due and you will be held responsible for any resulting weight gain. 😜