Each monthly competition has three judges.
Images are scored on a 9 point system using criteria of Technical Merit, Composition, and Impact. A score of 6 is considered a baseline, one that separates acceptable from the unacceptable. What follows is additional clarification for judges to use in their scoring.
Score of 4: An image which has several significant flaws, or one very serious one, such as exposure missed by more than a stop.
Score of 5: An image which has a significant flaw such as incorrect exposure or missed focus, lots of distractions, or not well composed.
Score of 6: An image which has no significant flaws but which likewise has no significant strengths. Such an image is sometimes referred to as a record shot.
Score of 7: A good solid image that is technically correct. Any flaws are minor and are compensated for by other elements in the image. The image should exhibit AT LEAST ONE of these elements: good lighting, dramatic composition, subject choice, exhibiting freshness and creativity, and has impact.
Score of 8: A very strong image. Such an image is technically correct, artistically pleasing and exhibits exceptional composition. Flaws are non-existent or hard to find, or compensated for by other elements of the image. The image exhibits several elements mentioned in 7.
Score of 9: An exceptionally strong image, true photographic excellence. It need not be perfect, just very, very strong. Technical excellence is expected. The elements of the image must work together to form a whole that is far greater than the sum of the parts.
Honors and Tie Breaking: In each category, the “Top 4 and ties” will receive an award. The awards may be given for First, Second and Third Place and Honorable Mention.
In a given category, all images with the same score will receive the same award, with the exception of First Place. When more than one image receives the highest score, the Judges will select one of the images to be awarded First Place using the in/out method. All remaining images with the highest score will be awarded Second Place.
When there are two Second Place images, there will be no award for Third Place. When there are three or more Second Place images, there will be no awards for Third Place or Honorable Mention.
When there are two or more Third Place images, there will be no award for Honorable Mention.