Photographic Definitions

These definitions are used for exhibition and salon sections and eligibility for trophies associated with the PSNZ SONY National Exhibition and the PSNZ Honours Awards.

An overriding requirement for any photograph to meet any of the definitions is that it must have been taken abiding by the Ethics Policy and, where applicable, the Nature Code of Conduct.

Many of these definitions match international standards adopted by FIAP, PSA and RPS.


This definition is used for the H. S. James Landscape Print Award and the Eric Young Memorial Trophy.

Photographs which capture a sense of 'space' and 'place' and tell a story of the scene before the camera. A landscape may combine elements such as land, sea, bodies of water and sky and may include human elements for scale and context but not to the extent that the human element becomes the prominent element.

The integrity of the landscape at the time of capture must be maintained. The making of physical changes to the landscape such as the introduction of new elements either from photographic sources or digital painting eg, adding in or replacing skies, foregrounds, birds, mists, sun, moon, sunray, etc, or the deletion of significant objects is NOT permitted.

Minor deletions of transient items eg, a leaf or stone or dust spot or litter, etc are permitted if they do not impact on the integrity of the scene. Digital adjustments including dodging and burning, changes to tone and contrast, and cropping are allowed, as are High Dynamic Range, stitched panoramas, and focus stacking.


Nature photography records all branches of natural history except anthropology and archaeology.  This includes all aspects of the physical world, both animate and inanimate, that have not been made or modified by humans.

  • Nature images must convey the truth of the scene that was photographed. A well-informed person should be able to identify the subject of the image and be satisfied that is has been presented honestly and that no unethical practices have been used to control the subject or capture the image.  Images that directly or indirectly show any human activity that threatens the life or welfare of a living organism are not allowed.
  • The most important part of a Nature image is the nature story it tells. High technical standards are expected and the image must look natural.
  • Objects created by humans, and evidence of human activity, are allowed in Nature images only when they are a necessary part of the Nature story.
  • Photographs of human-created hybrid plants, cultivated plants, feral animals, domesticated animals, human-created hybrid animals and mounted or preserved zoological specimens are not allowed.
  • Images taken with subjects under controlled conditions, such as zoos, are allowed.
  • Controlling live subjects by chilling, anaesthetic or any other method of restricting natural movement for the purpose of a photograph is not allowed.

Only scientific names, common names or descriptive titles shall be used.

Photographers must have complied with the PSNZ Nature Code of Conduct.

Wildlife (Subcategory of Nature)

In addition to the restrictions on Nature photography, to be eligible for any Wildlife award images must meet the following conditions:

  • Zoological organisms must be living free and unrestrained in a natural or adopted habitat of their own choosing.
  • Images of zoological organisms that have been removed from their natural habitat, are in any form of captivity or are being controlled by humans for the purpose of photography are not allowed.
  • Botanical organisms may not be removed from their natural environment for the purpose of photography.
  • Images that have been staged for the purpose of photography are not allowed.

Only scientific names, common names or descriptive titles shall be used.

Photographers must have complied with the PSNZ Nature Code of Conduct.

New Zealand Nature (Subcategory of Nature)

New Zealand Nature must meet the Nature definition with the additional and overriding requirements that:

  • The photograph must have been taken of New Zealand subjects only.
  • Any animals or plants illustrated must be untamed or uncultivated in their natural habitat.

The New Zealand Nature definition is used for the William C. Davies Memorial Trophy and the Geoff Moon Nature Trophy.

Nature Editing Guidelines (includes Wildlife and NZ Nature Subcategories)

Processing or editing must be limited to making the image look as close to the original scene as possible, except that conversion to grayscale monochrome is allowed.

Allowed editing techniques:

  • Cropping, straightening and perspective correction.
  • Removal or correction of elements added by the camera or lens, such as dust spots, noise, chromatic aberration and lens distortion.
  • Global and selective adjustments such as brightness, hue, saturation and contrast to restore the appearance of the original scene.
  • Complete conversion of colour images to grayscale monochrome.
  • Blending of multiple images of the same subject and combining them in camera or with software (exposure blending or focus stacking).
  • Image stitching – combining multiple images with overlapping fields of view that are taken consecutively (panoramas).

Editing techniques that are not allowed:

  • Removing, adding to, moving or changing any part of an image, except for cropping and straightening.
  • Adding a vignette during processing.
  • Blurring parts of the image during processing to hide elements in the original scene.
  • Darkening parts of the image during processing to hide elements in the original scene.
  • All conversions other than to complete grayscale monochrome.
  • Conversion of parts of an image to monochrome, or partial toning, desaturation or over-saturation of colour.


Photojournalism is included as an award in each Open Section. The Photographic Society of New Zealand defines this as storytelling images such as seen in the news media and periodicals. They may include contemporary life, human interest, documentary, illustrative, spot news, sport, etc.

The storytelling value of the image shall receive priority over pictorial quality. In the interest of credibility, photojournalism images must not misrepresent the truth. No situations shall be set up for the purpose of photography.

Any manipulation or modification of the original image must not alter the content of the original scene and elements of the story may not be introduced, removed, shifted or changed in any way including HDR toning or use of image enhancement software, but corrections to exposure and the removal of spots is acceptable.

Cropping is acceptable only if this does not affect the truth of the story. Colour images can be converted to greyscale monochrome. Infrared images, either direct-captures or derivations, are not allowed.

This definition is used for the Brian Brake Memorial Award and the Shirley Peverill Memorial Trophy.


The subject must be something related to shipping such as commercial ships, wharves, lighthouses and tugboats. It is not about the recreational use of the sea such as people swimming, recreational fishing or windsurfing.

This definition is used for the Richard Ratcliff Maritime Award.


A photograph of a person or persons that may range from a head study to full body length. This section includes candid photographs and formal portraits.

Street photography images are permitted within the scope of this competition and no ‘model release’ is required, provided that the image was taken in a public place, displays an un-manipulated scene and is not deemed as a violation of an individual’s privacy.

However, a ‘model release’ is required when you are using controlled lighting conditions, backdrops and poses – in a public or private setting. If you are photographing children under the age of 18 years, it would be advisable to obtain a ‘model release’ signed by the appropriate parent or guardian.

All in-camera, on-camera and post-processing techniques can be used. This includes combining multiple images and elements in a final image. However, all components of the final image must have been taken by the entrant.

This definition is used for the PSNZ Portrait trophies in the SONY national exhibition.

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