APS Honours System
APS Honours System – A guide to Judges
  • PASSED IN: This is not an award but a decision of the judge not to award ‘Accepted’ because the image does not meet the accepted standard for an image for the grade. A picture that is simply not up to a reasonable standard to exhibit in a club competition with basic technical faults or does not meet the criteria for the SET subject. Novice images should only be passed in if the image clearly does not meet the criteria for the SET subject.
  • ACCEPTED: The image may have technical flaws, or has no significant strengths – sometimes referred to a record shot. It is acceptable, but does not generate any special interest or stir emotions. It is the quality of image that we would expect most hobbyists should be able to take as a minimum standard. However, the image lacks those elements towards which photographers who are working at polishing their craft should be striving. An ‘accepted’ could be awarded to an image that does have one or more strengths, but that has been neutralized by a significant flaw.
  • MERIT: This is a good solid image. It should be an image towards which every member should be striving as a minimum.
Such an image is technically correct and a bit more. It exhibits at least one of these elements:
  • the importance of choice of subject,
  • of good lighting,
  • of dramatic composition,
  • of handling depth of field effectively,
  • of eliciting emotional impact,
  • or of exhibiting freshness and creativity.

The elements of the image work together. There may be minor flaws but they are compensated for by other elements in the image. Usually images that score a Merit do not break the ‘rules’. If a rule is broken, it is broken with intention and works to enhance the image. A Merit is the first step above a technically correct but otherwise uninspiring images. It is the start on the path towards the high impact image.

  • HIGHLY COMMENDED: An image that scores a ‘Highly Commended’ is a very strong image. Such an image is technically correct and much more. The elements of the image must work together. If there are flaws, they are minor and hard to find. Obvious flaws must be compensated by other elements in the image. Images that score a Highly Commended may break the ‘rules’, When the rules are broken, they are broken for impact. Technical excellence is expected. Difficult exposures, effective use of selective focusing and depth of field, as well as other advanced photographic techniques are commonly found in such an image.
  • HONOURS: An exceptionally strong image, i.e. true photographic excellence. It need not be a perfect image, but be a very strong image. Such an image is technically correct and much more. The elements of the image must work together to form a whole that is far greater than the sum of the parts. There should not be any obvious flaws. Images that score Honours may break the ‘rules’ When the rules are broken; they are broken for impact. Technical excellence is expected. Difficult exposures, effective use of selective focussing and depth of field, as well as other advanced photographic techniques are very common in such an image. While the score of an Honours should not be given out without very good reason since it implies true photographic excellence, if a judge feels that an image has the ‘wow’ factor and immediately falls in love with it, they should give it an Honours with no apologies. Members should not be made to feel that an Honours is impossible to achieve.

There are not likely to be many Honours awarded on a given club night. Such images should be acceptable in a National Exhibition




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