Competitions promote learning through feedback from judges, and reward success through peer recognition. Read the NBCC Competition Rules (PDF document). A member who enters an image is expected to attend that competition meeting; read why at the bottom of this page.

Note that all competition entries are "unrestricted"... manipulation is neither required nor prohibited. Creative digital filters that manipulate existing photographic pixels (e.g., brush strokes, posterize, add noise) are permitted. Digital filters and painting techniques that artificially create new image elements (not of photographic origin) in violation of Rule 3 are prohibited.

NBCC conducts monthly photographic competitions in five categories:

Electronic Image Competition
  • Novice EIC
  • Intermediate EIC
  • Advanced EIC
Print Competition
  • Intermediate Prints
  • Advanced Prints

Monthly Competition Assignments govern the technique or subject, and are intended to stimulate learning and member growth. Judges award First Place, Second Place, Third Place, and Honorable Mention ribbons. Winning points are totaled during each year to determine the top finishers, and at the top of each advanced category the Photographer of the Year. Advanced points accumulate over a lifetime as Star Ratings. Images that win ribbons during each year are also entered in Year-End Competitions. Monthly and Year-End competition results are published in The Lens and Eye newsletter. For summaries of previous years' results, see the Competition History page.

"Nature" Competition Assignments - Definitions

Nature photography may depict observations from all branches of natural history in such a fashion that a well-informed person will be able to identify the subject and agree to its honest presentation. Images including the "hand of man" (such as roads, fences, manicured lawns, etc.) will be disqualified. Any adjustments to the image must appear natural. Color images may be converted to monochrome. Infrared images are NOT permitted.


Images of animals, insects, spiders, fish, reptiles, snakes, amphibians, etc. Images of domesticated animals such as dogs and cows are NOT acceptable. Zoo and game farm shots ARE acceptable provided human elements and their creations such as cages, masonry walls, doors, etc. are not visible. The presence of scientific bands on wild animals IS acceptable.


Images of birds and their eggs. Domesticated birds, such as chickens, are NOT acceptable.


Images of plant life such as wildflowers, ferns, mushrooms, lichen, seed pods, trees, tree buds, leaves, etc. For NBCC Nature Competitions only, cultivated plant life, such as lotus and sunflowers may be entered provided there is NO evidence of the "hand of man" (such as pots, plowed fields, cut stems). Other outside competitions would be much more restrictive.


Images of landscapes, seascapes, rock formations, tide pools, clouds, etc., provided there is NO evidence of the "hand of man."

Members Showcase

The Members Showcase is noncompetitive (no awards are given), has no date restrictions or monthly assignments, and accepts electronic images (only) from members at all capability levels; all other rules and submission guidelines apply.

External Competitions

External competition affords individual members and the Club a chance to be recognized at a broader level. NBCC sometimes participates as a group in external competitions, such as the Camera Club category of Nature's Best Photography Magazine International Photography Contest, or the George W. Glennie Memorial Nature Salon held by the Merrimack Valley Camera Club. NBCC is a member of the Photographic Society of America (PSA) and the Nature Visions Photo Expo, so our members are eligible to compete in those competitions. The aforementioned Nature's Best competition draws top-tier entries from all over the world, honoring the winners at a magnificent exhibition at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. NBCC was proud to receive the First Place award in the inaugural competition for camera clubs. View the winning images here.

Guidelines for Judges at NBCC

Below are the guidelines for judges at our regular monthly competitions with an assignment (topic). This is a club meeting during which both prints and electronic images are judged on a single night.

Whenever the competition assignment is "Open" (no specific assignment), that month's competitions are divided into two separate meetings. On the first night we conduct the electronic images competition, and on the second night we judge prints. The judge guidelines have been tailored for these special circumstances, so be sure to read the correct one:

Judges who also will be giving a presentation can request the list of our audio/visual equipment from their NBCC point of contact.

Member Attendance at Competition Meetings

The North Bethesda Camera Club was founded "with the goal of producing better photographers through assignments and competition." This remains at the heart of who we are as a Club. Judges contribute their time and talents to help our members become better photographers. A good judge offers each competitor a critique specific to their image: how they have succeeded, what can be improved and why. While this can be a learning opportunity for others in the audience, the commentary is for the benefit of one person: the maker of the image. That person should honor the judge’s contribution by listening and participating (only after the judge asks the winner a question).

When NBCC members enter a competition, the Club expects them to attend that meeting. This is codified in the Competition Rules. Here is the policy: "Participation in NBCC Competition (including Members Showcase) is reserved for members who regularly attend the competition meetings they enter. If you cannot attend a competition meeting to which you have submitted images, you must provide information about your images to a surrogate (an attending member) who will speak for you in case the entries place or a question is raised."

Those who are chronically absent may be asked by the Board of Directors to stop entering during that Club year. The Board certainly understands that members travel for work or photography, have family emergencies or become ill. So, enforcement is on a case by case basis. The Board won’t kick anyone out of competition because of rare absences! But if you can’t attend most of the competition meetings you enter, then do not enter.

This rule is meant to affirm the culture of participation that strengthens us a group. We want to show our respect for the judge, and to avoid embarrassment for NBCC when it is discovered that the absentee competitor wasn't even listening to the judge’s valuable and personal advice. We also want to see your smiling face and learn from your comments when your winning work is acknowledged!

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Updated 2019-03-21     Copyright © 1965 - 2013 North Bethesda Camera Club