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Environment Category

These category rules are to be read in conjunction with the General Rules.

This category includes: nature, wildlife, natural landscape, urban landscape and aerial landscape. 

Note: While previous entry numbers in the Orloff Awards has indicated that running a separate wildlife and/or nature category or subcategory is not warranted, it is acknowledged that the strict requirements typically applied to the capture and post processing of nature and wildlife images could significantly disadvantage these images when competing with highly manipulated images, such as some aerial landscapes. Therefore, a ‘Restricted’ subcategory has been provided for any environmental image with minimal post processing.

5.1. Specific Rules – Nature and Wildlife Images Only

Rules 5.1.1 to 5.1.8 inclusive apply to nature and wildlife images, but not landscapes.

5.1.1  These category rules are to be read in conjunction with the General Rules in Section 1, and the subcategory rules in Section 5.3 and 5.4.

5.1.2  Nature images must authentically represent the scene photographed. They should enable a well-informed viewer to identify the subject and trust that it has been honestly presented, without any unethical practices to control the subject or capture the image. Images depicting human activities that endanger the life or welfare of living organisms, directly or indirectly, are not permitted.

5.1.3   The essence of a Nature image lies in the story it conveys. While maintaining high technical standards, the image should appear natural and effectively communicate its narrative.

5.1.4  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.

5.1.5  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.

5.1.6  Images taken with subjects under controlled conditions, such as zoos, are allowed.

5.1.7  Controlling live subjects by chilling, anaesthetic or any other method of restricting natural movement for the purpose of a photograph is not allowed.

5.1.8  Wildlife images that have been staged for the purpose of photography are not allowed.


5.2    Subcategories:

This category has the following subcategories.

5.2.1  General This subcategory is available for any Environment images that do not suit any of the subcategories listed below.

NOTE: Typically, aerial landscape and urban landscape images would be included in this category due to the restrictive post processing criteria in the Environment – Restricted category.

5.2.2   Environment - Restricted Any nature, wildlife, natural landscape, urban landscape or aerial image that has been captured and post processed in accordance with the restrictive capture and post processing rules in section 5.3.


5.3. Post Processing – Environment – Restricted

Rules 5.3.1 to 5.3.4 inclusive apply to all images entered into the Environment – Restricted subcategory.

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

5.3.2  The following editing techniques are allowed:

  • 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 greyscale monochrome.
  • Blending of multiple images of the same subject and combining them in camera or with software, but only when used to achieve exposure blending or focus stacking.
  • Image stitching – combining multiple images with overlapping fields of view that are taken consecutively, but only when used to create panoramas.


5.3.3  The following editing techniques are prohibited:

  1. Removing, adding to, moving or changing any part of an image, except for cropping and straightening.
  2. Adding a vignette during processing. 
  3. Blurring parts of the image during processing to hide elements in the original scene.
  4. Darkening parts of the image during processing to hide elements in the original scene.
  5. All conversions other than to complete greyscale monochrome. 
  6. Conversion of parts of an image to monochrome, or partial toning, desaturation or over-saturation of colour.
  7. Blending or stitching of multiple images of the same subject or different subjects and combining them in camera or with software, with the exception of exposure blending and focus stacking in accordance with 5.3.2 (e) and (f). 


5.3.4  ALL post-production must be the work of the entrant or by a retoucher or digital artist under the direction of the entrant. 



5.4.1  For this category, entrants have the option to include a caption with each submitted image. To assist, guidance is provided below.

Caption Guidelines

A description or caption to provide judges with additional significant information is permitted (limited to 25 words) and will be read out during judging. It is recommended that captions be correctly crafted to meet journalistic standards by `adding’ information and not simply repeating what an observer can already see.


Key points are:

  • Captions should be factual and objective with no opinions or emotive wording. It is to help put things into perspective for the judges. 
    (eg. if the creature is on the ICUN endangered list or as in a bird triptych explain why the plumage is so different in each as it goes from eclipse phase to full breeding phase). The first sentence is written in the present tense.
  • Consider the who, what, when and where questions. If appropriate (and if there is room within your 25 words), also consider the why.
  • Also consider reviewing the separate handout “Accuracy in Captions” – an exert from “Reuters Handbook of Journalism”. 

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