The Ethics of Success

As EPC grows and new members join us, it is important for all members to have clarity on rules and guidelines for both EPC Club Nights and PSSA Salons. Instagram, photography groups on Facebook and other social media platforms are all popular places for members to share their work, but be aware that what is considered acceptable on social media may be breaking numerous PSSA and EPC club rules, should you submit these images for competition.

The most basic of all the rules as per the PSSA is that every part of the image must be the artists own work. Images downloaded, purchased or copied from alternate sources (eg. the internet) are not allowed to be used, even as backgrounds or textures. Graphic elements, if used, must also be the authors own work. A photographer may not incorporate any element into a photograph that s/he has not created themselves. Editing of images should be strictly undertaken by the photographic author themselves.

Please note that while most violations will probably go unnoticed, it becomes an issue of ethics. Even one proven violation of these rules can tarnish a reputation.

Digital Manipulation is defined as making any of the following modifications to an original image by the photographic author:

  • 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.

It is also the right of the salon judges and the EPC committee to demand the original photos to verify the veracity of an entered image.

The following is allowed for processing of photos by the photographic author before entering a salon, and is 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.

Note:  HDR and Focus stacking are not allowed in Photojournalism.

  • 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.

The following general rule pertaining to entering photos in salons must be observed:

  • Entering a very similar photo in the same salon is not allowed.
  • Colour images in Nature, Wildlife, Photojournalism, Sport and Street Photography are allowed to be converted to greyscale/monochrome.
  • You are not allowed to enter a colour image and its monochrome version in the same salon. These are considered to be the same photo and only receive one award. (keep this in mind for Impala Trophy and Star Ratings)

Categories where digital manipulation is not allowed at all:

Nature and Wildlife
Photojournalism and sport
Street photography 

Manipulation is generally allowed in all other categories but read each Salon’s rules carefully. 

The Nature category may not contain any human elements, 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. Roads and pylons in the Kruger Park, for example, are allowed in nature, as long as they do not dominate the photo. Scientific bands, scientific tags or radio collars on wild animals are permissible in this category.


The Wildlife category is very strictly defined. It does NOT allow any manipulation and it does not allow any human elements to be present, apart from scientific bands, scientific tags or radio collars on wild animals. Wildlife images may also not be of animals contained in an enclosure such as farms and zoos, as well as domesticated animals, while those images can be entered in nature (provided no man-made objects are visible). 

EPC Club rules conform to the PSSA guidelines. Club entries fall under the Pictorial or the Nature category. So, in summary, the EPC Rules and guidelines are:

Pictorial:  Manipulation is allowed, but it must conform to the PSSA guidelines and all elements must be the photographic author’s original work.

Nature: No manipulation is allowed, and no man-made objects may be present in the image.

When entering salons, please read each salon brochure carefully as some categories will specify where manipulation is allowed or not – such as scapes and portraits, but this does differ from salon to salon. Keep this in mind when working on your images for club so that you know if they qualify for entry in salons. You are always welcome to discuss any aspects of photo processing and rules with any senior EPC club member for assistance. We’ll help you avoid the red card!

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