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Guidelines for Using the Nine-Point System for Evaluating Images

Section One – Purpose and Background

The purpose of the guidelines is to provide a common background for persons evaluating digital or print images submitted for competition at Puget Sound Camera Club (PSCC). This information includes an outline of the quality photographic elements (subject matter, composition and techniques) to look for when evaluating images.

The Nine-Point System is used to place a score on the image for competition and edification. Competition images are judged by three, PSCC members and may be awarded a maximum of twenty-seven points. When evaluating his/her and family members images, the judge will enter a score of (0). The scorekeeper will then enter the average of the other two judges scores in place of the competing judge’s score of (0).

Section Two – “You are the Judge” by Grace Lanctot, FPSA

Some of the elements to look for when judging digital images and prints:

A pictorial photograph should have an effective arrangement of interesting subject matter. There should be a thought or message, a subject properly accented and extraneous details must be carefully subordinated. There should be atmosphere and mood.

The three elements to look for in a photograph are:

Good subject matter, It should:

  • Be a compelling story
  • Be a decisive moment
  • Have mood; cold, wet, loneliness, joy etc.
  • Have a universal appeal
  • Have unusual design or approach
  • Show characterization or genre

Good composition, which is an effective arrangement of interesting subject matter. This should consist of:

  • Focal point or center of interest
  • Placement of objects to support the subject
  • Balance of subject matter or color
  • Unity
  • Simplicity

Good technique or quality which includes:

  • Proper lighting
  • Correct exposure
  • Focus in keeping with the maker’s intent
  • Effective color arrangement (projection)
  • Good tonal contrast (prints)
  • Mood, to create an emotional response

When scoring, use the full range of points. Likely there will be very few that are totally unacceptable, if any. The greater number of prints or projected photos will fall into the average range, but there are always a few which qualify for the highest points. Always give the maker the benefit of the doubt.

Section Three – The Nine-Point System

Images (print or digital) submitted for competition are to be scored on a nine-point system as follows:

0   Used to record your own image or an image made by a spouse or significant other. 

1   is used to disqualify an image (1) that is copyrighted, (2) a copy of a painting, print or digital image not produced by the maker or (3) submitted for competition that, in the judges opinion, does not belong in the designated category.

2   is reserved for images that indicate the quality photographic elements (subject matter, composition and techniques) have not been treated in a thorough manner. A poor image.

3   The image has several shortcomings. A fairly poor image.

4   Has some redeeming qualities. A fair image.

5   is reserved for a good quality image that is both sharp and well exposed. An average image.

6   is for an image showing originality and good compositional techniques but perhaps lacking in strong impact or interest. A good image.

7   is for an image showing originality, good composition and techniques along with strong impact and interest. A very good image.

8   is for an image showing a mastering of the elements of subject matter, composition and techniques. An excellent image.

9   Is reserved for an exceptional image.. These images should be unique and worthy of special recognition. A score of 9 should be used for those images that are the very best for our club, not the most exceptional image the judge has ever seen.