PSSA Salon Definitions


Updated 2016-09-12


  1. A member of the Photographic Society of South Africa shall act in accordance with all PSSA policies.
  2. A member shall be honest in performing and reporting services to the Society.
  3. A member shall be ethical in making and presenting photographic images.
  4. All members shall practice the Society’s Code of Ethics for Nature Photography and apply the same principles to all genres of photography.
  5. Images submitted for competitions shall originate as photographs by the entrant on photographic emulsion or acquired digitally.
  6. The original image and all elements therein must have been taken by the photographer, whatever photographic medium is used. All actions in reaching the final presentation must be made by the photographer with the exclusion of film processing, unmanipulated commercial scanning and printing.
  7. No images or parts of images downloaded from the internet or copied from any source whatsoever, may be used in work entered in any PSSA event, including any salon or honours application.
  8. Each Image must have a unique title and this title may not be subsequently changed. Once an image has been accepted in a PSSA event, that same image or a like “in camera”, or a “reproduction” duplicate of that image, may not be retitled for entry in any other PSSA event.
  9. An image may only be used once in a particular salon, panel or competition, irrespective of the category, or of the image being in colour or monochrome. No similar images may be used. The same image may be entered in other salons and on any salon where it was not previously accepted.
  10. PSSA will apply a limit on total acceptances per image as defined in the respective Impala and Diamond Rating rules.
  11. Images submitted in Club competitions, workshops and the like shall follow these standards.
  12. Information included in honours and awards applications shall be exact and true.
  13. By virtue of submitting an entry, the photographer certifies the work as his/her own.
  14. Material submitted for possible publication in PSSA publications and/or the PSSA website shall be solely the work of the author(s) and any quotations or input from other material or collaborator(s) shall be carefully cited and appropriate credit given for all contributions used.
    The author is responsible to obtain permission to use copyrighted material.
  15. Members not in compliance with this ethics statement will be subject to appropriate sanction by the Board which could include loss of membership and/or awards and honours.


For the purposes of competitions, salons and specialist honours applications all images are divided into three categories i.e. Nature, Open and Photojournalism (PJ) in each division (Prints, Projected Digital Images and Audio Visual).

  • Any event choosing to run with any of the defined categories in this document must abide by these PSSA definitions.
  • Salons and competitions may choose to have other sections as well and for these they may make their own definitions. However, the definitions must be clear and precise and disqualifications may not be made by subjective interpretation of the definitions.
  • Disqualifications, should only be made when the salon director and/or judges are 100% sure of their facts. In the case of sections such as Visual Art, Abstract etc., where the definitions themselves are subject to interpretation, no image should be disqualified.
  • PSSA reserves the right to withhold or disqualify any image which is considered to infringe the common laws of decency and copyright. Plagiarism will not be tolerated.
  • Members are reminded that they should read the rules of all events very carefully as the rules may differ.


Manipulation shall constitute any or all of the following modifications to the original image:

  • Adding an element to the image that was not contained in the original capture;
  • Removing an element from the image that was contained in the original capture;
  • Moving or repositioning an element of the image that was contained in the original capture.

In the categories Nature and Photojournalism, manipulation is not allowed. In Open there is no restriction whatsoever in the way authors choose to post process an image.
The following actions are allowed and are not seen as manipulation:

  • Cropping
  • Correction of lens distortion, chromatic aberrations, purple fringing, lens vignette and vertical/horizontal perspective adjustments;
  • Removal of dust spots or scratch marks from sensor or scanned images;
  • The blending of different exposures of the same scene to broaden the dynamic range e.g. High Dynamic Range (HDR);
  • Photo stacking to overcome the limitations of the digital sensor heat artefacts in long exposures.
  • Focus stacking to widen the depth of field especially in Macro photography. In the case of Nature and Wildlife, HDR and focus stacking will not be considered as manipulation and may be used provided that the end result is a faithful representation of the original scene.

Please note:
HDR and Focus stacking are not allowed in Photojournalism and Street Photography.
Study the rules for each event as they will be unique.


1. MONOCHROME – manipulation allowed

Monochrome is a black and white image.
A black and white work fitting from the very dark grey (black) to the very clear grey (white) is a monochrome work with the various shades of grey.
A black and white work toned entirely in a single colour will remain a monochrome work able to stand in the black and white category.
A black and white work modified by a partial toning or by the addition of one colour becomes a colour work (polychrome) to stand in the colour category.

2. NATURE – manipulation is not allowed

Nature photography is restricted to the use of the photographic process to depict all branches of natural history, except anthropology and archaeology, in such a fashion that a well‐informed person will be able to identify the subject material and certify its honest presentation. The story telling value of a photograph must be weighed more than the pictorial quality while maintaining high technical quality.

Human elements shall not be present, except where those human elements are integral parts of the nature story such as nature subjects like barn owls or storks, adapted to an environment modified by humans, or where those human elements are in situations depicting natural forces like hurricanes or tidal waves. Scientific bands, scientific tags or radio collars on wild animals are permissible.

Photographs of artificially created hybrid plants, cultivated plants, feral animals, domestic animals, obviously set arrangements, mounted specimens including insects or animals doped or killed for macro (or any other type of photography), are ineligible, as is any form of manipulation that alters the truth of the photographic statement. Any action which causes harm, no matter how unintentional it may be, is not acceptable. The use of live bait and actions such as chilling, freezing, spinning or light anaesthesia of any creature is unethical and therefore not acceptable.

No techniques that add, relocate, replace, or remove pictorial elements except by cropping are permitted. Techniques that enhance the presentation of the photograph without changing the nature story or the pictorial content, or without altering the content of the original scene, are permitted including HDR, focus stacking and dodging/burning. All allowed adjustments must appear natural.  Colour images can be converted to greyscale/monochrome.

Stitched images are not permitted. Infrared images, either direct‐captures or derivations, are not allowed.

Images used in Nature Photography competitions may be divided in two classes: Nature and Wildlife. Images entered in Nature sections meeting the Nature Photography Definition above can have landscapes, geologic formations, weather phenomena and extant organisms as the primary subject matter. This includes images taken with the subjects in controlled conditions, such as zoos, game farms, botanical gardens, non-natural macro setup*, aquariums and any enclosure where the subjects are totally dependent on man for food.

Images entered in Wildlife sections meeting the Nature Photography Definition above are further defined as one or more extant zoological or botanical organisms living free and unrestrained in a natural or adopted habitat. Landscapes, geologic formations, photographs of zoo or game farm animals, or of any extant zoological or botanical species taken under controlled conditions are not eligible in Wildlife sections. Wildlife is not limited to animals, birds and insects. Marine subjects and botanical subjects (including fungi and algae) taken in the wild are suitable wildlife subjects, as are carcasses of extant species. Wildlife images may be entered in Nature sections of salons and exhibitions.

* A non-natural macro setup is defined as a macro or miniature scene set up artificially in a studio or table top arrangement used to create a fake “natural environment” for the subject being photographed.

3. OPEN – manipulation allowed

In this category the subject matter is totally open.
All elements must be photographic; if graphic elements are included they should enhance the photographic image but not take over from it. Any graphics used should be created by the photographer using his/her own artwork.

4. PHOTOJOURNALISM (PJ) – manipulation is not allowed

Photojournalism entries are images with informative content and emotional impact which usually include human interest, documentary, news or sport. The journalistic value of the image shall receive priority over the pictorial quality.

In the interest of credibility, PJ images that misrepresent the truth and model or staged set-ups are not permitted.

Techniques that add to, relocate, replace or remove any elements of the original image, except by cropping, are not permitted. Techniques that enhance the presentation of the image, without changing the photojournalism story content, are permitted. All enhancements must appear natural. Colour images can be converted to greyscale/monochrome.

PSSA definition of PJ:

“Photojournalism entries shall consist of images with informative content and emotional impact,reflecting the human presence in our world. The journalistic (story-telling) value of the image shall receive priority over pictorial quality. In the interest of credibility, images that misrepresent the truth, such as those from events or activities specifically arranged for photography or of subjects directed or hired for photography, are not eligible.

Techniques that add, relocate, replace or remove any element of the original image, except by cropping, are not permitted. The only allowable modifications are removal of dust, scratches or digital noise, restoration of the existing appearance of the original scene, sharpening that is not obvious, and conversion to greyscale monochrome. Derivations, including infrared, are not eligible.”

4.1 Street photography

Street photography records unposed scenes in public places. The primary subject is people and/or symbols of people, at rest or in motion, alone or with others, going about their everyday activities.  Manipulation should be confined to colour correction and judicial cropping.

4.2 Sports Photography

Sports photography covers any aspect of a sporting event. Images must depict an active pastime or recreation involving physical exertion and/or skill that is governed by a set of rules or customs and often of a competitive nature. Images in this section could include the spectators or judge or umpire in a sporting event.

4.3 Sports Action Photography

Similar to 4.2 but should show sports people in action. Images must depict an active pastime or recreation involving physical exertion and/or skill that is governed by a set of rules or customs and often of a competitive nature. The level of sport can range from children playing a sport to the Olympic Games.

4.4 Photo Travel

A Photo Travel image must express the feeling of a time and place and portray a land, its distinctive features or culture in its natural state. There are no geographical limitations. Close up pictures of people or objects must include distinguishable environment. Techniques that add to, relocate, replace or remove any element of the original image, except by cropping, are not permitted. All adjustments must appear natural. Derivations, including infrared, are unacceptable.

5. ABSTRACT, ALTERED REALITY, CREATIVE or VISUAL ART – manipulation is allowed

5.1 Abstract

An exercise in composition for the sake of art. The real identity of the abstractionist’s subject is not important and the result is not intended to be anything.

5.2 Altered Reality

An image created by altering reality in an obvious manner, created digitally or in camera. The intention is the creation of an image that conveys a feeling or message, or tells a story.

5.3 Creative or Visual Art

Creative photography is a means of expression and a way for the author to make a personal photographic statement. These images should go beyond the straightforward pictorial rendering of a scene. The image does not have to employ derivative or manipulative techniques to be Creative or Visual Art. However all work should be that of the author and not copied or derived from elsewhere.

6. PORTRAITURE – manipulation is allowed

A likeness, personality and mood of a living subject, human or animal, where that subject is dominant in the image. Portraiture is not restricted to head and shoulders and may include just a part of the face, a back view or even a full length study.

6.1 Human Interest

An image depicting a person or persons in an interactive, emotional or unusual situation, excluding recreational and sports action.

7. LANDSCAPE – manipulation is allowed

A genre intended to show different spaces within the world, usually vast and unending.

A landscape comprises the visible features of an area and physical elements such as landforms, water, living elements of flora and fauna and abstract elements like lightning and weather conditions. It could be pure nature or include man and/or beast.

7.1 Panorama

An image with elongated fields of view, with an aspect ratio of 2:1 or larger, the image being at least twice as wide as its height.

7.2 ‘Scapes (Urban and/or Rural)

‘Scapes is a term that covers the depiction of scenery such as mountains, valleys, trees, rivers, forests, sea, cities etc. where the main subject is a wide view with its elements arranged into a coherent  composition. A horizon often (but not necessarily) forms part of a “scape”. ‘Scapes may be natural or man-made. Derived terms include:

  • Cityscape
  • Seascape
  • Nightscape
  • Snowscape
  • Streetscape
  • Urban scape
  • Sandscape

8. MACRO – manipulation is allowed*

Macro photography is extreme close-up photography, where you get close to a small subject by physical or optical means. Starting at approximately 1/4 life size i.e. when the subject being photographed is four (4) times the size of the film frame or digital sensor. There is no limit on the upper end. The size of the subject in the finished photograph is greater than life size.

*Macro fits as a subsection of Open as well as Nature; when entered in a Nature section, manipulation is NOT allowed.

8.1 Still life

An image depicting mostly inanimate subject matter.

8.2 Table Top

Table top is an image depicting mostly inanimate subject matter arranged in an artificial setting such as on a table top.

9. PICTORIAL – manipulation is allowed

Images with wide visual appeal. Any subject that is treated pictorially, embodying the elements of good design, arrangement or composition, which reflects the personal interpretation of the photographer.

“Pictorial” and “Open” are not mutually exclusive but rather synonymous.

Verified by ExactMetrics