Digital Section

Permissible Processing for Digital Images

Sandton Photographic Society follows the PSSA guidelines for digital photography, and are summarised on this page.  Digital photography is new to many of us, so please feel free to speak to committee members and other club members about digital photography if you need to know more.

1. Post Camera Processing

Here are the “rules” regarding permissible post-processing of digital images.  Since there are very few practical measures that can be applied to verify whether an image was changed, it is left to the photographer and his own integrity and conscience to abide by the rules.

To educate the club, judges should point out when the rules might have been violated, but the photographer should only be marked down if it is without a doubt.

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One and Two Star:
Two Star Upwards:
Altered Reality
Altered Reality

Pictorial – The image may be adjusted, enhanced and items may be added or removed for pictorial effect.
Restricted – Only permissible processing is allowed.  Items may not be added nor removed from the picture.  The image should not misrepresent reality and must look natural.
Altered Reality – The image may be manipulated to create an unnatural/manipulated look.

  • Removal of spots caused by dust particles on the sensors of digital cameras.  Specific lens/sensor aberrations such as chromatic aberrations and purple fringing may also be corrected or removed.
  • Adjustment of exposure and contrast, including dodging and burning.
  • Adjustment/correction of the colour balance.  This can either be done by selecting an appropriate white balance during the conversion of RAW images, or by adding/subtracting colours in the photo editing software.  The post-capture application of digital colour correction filters like warming or cooling filters, similar to the 81 and 82 series of filters, is also allowed.
  • Application of colour saturation: non-selective saturation that is applied to the whole image.
  • Reduction of digital noise.
  • Sharpening of the image.
  • Cropping and sizing.
  • The inclusion of a frame or border.
  • No wording or text is allowed on the image unless it forms an integral part of the image.

The image must be original and may not incorporate elements produced by anyone but the photographer.

Only permissible processing is allowed.  Items may not be added or removed from the picture.  The image should not misrepresent reality.

Items may be added or removed for pictorial effect.  The image should still look natural.

Altered Reality
The image can be manipulated to create an unnatural/manipulated look.

2. Working with Digital Images

It is important to have your computer monitor properly calibrated and to have your images stored in the appropriate “colour space”.  This will ensure that when the images are displayed at the club they look the same as they do on your own computer.

Calibrating the Monitor

Either a good quality CRT (cathode-ray tube) monitor or an LCD (liquid crystal display) monitor will do well.

If you have Adobe Photoshop run “Adobe Gamma”’ (for Windows users this is accessed from the Control Panel).  Follow the instructions.  When requested select a gamma of 2.2 (or 1.8 for a MAC) and a white point of 6500.  There are other software and hardware packages that can also be used to calibrate the monitor.

Colour Space

  • Find out what colour space your digital camera (or scanner) uses.  Most cameras use sRGB.  Read the manual, or use Photoshop’s “Image/Mode/Convert to Profile” command to see the colour space of the image after it has been downloaded to the computer.
  • Images must to be converted to sRGB before submitting to the club.
  • If your camera can capture images in Adobe RGB or raw format, you might want to use one of these formats.  They can capture a wider range of colours, which can be manipulated before converting to sRGB.  Opinions differ on this matter.  Some experienced photographers find that it makes little difference and capture their images directly in sRGB/jpg to save the conversion step.  You should experiment to decide whether the use of these wider colour spaces improves the quality of your images.
3. Submitting Images for Club Night.
  • Save with a maximum pixel resolution of 1024×768 pixels (in Photoshop use Image/Image Size and tick Resample Image to change the number of pixels).  View the image at 100% after resizing (View/Actual Pixels or Ctrl-title-0) to ensure that it is satisfactory.
  • Use the sRGB colour space (in Photoshop use “Image/Mode/Convert to Profile” to change the colour space)
  • Save as JPEG using a high quality compression setting (the saved image should not be bigger than 500 kbs)
  • Name the .jpg file as follows: star_cat_Title_Author
    star star rating (1-5) for set-subject replace the number with the letters – “set”
    cat first three letters of category in lower case (e.g. spo=Sport)  One and two star workers should use “pic” as the category
    Title title (max 24 characters) The first letter of the title may be a capital, with no underscore between words
    Name Surname no underscore between your Name and Surname, use capitals and spaces
    For example 3_pic_Setting Sun_Joe Smith.
  • For one and two star photographers, pictures are judged according to their pictorial quality rather than according to criteria for categories such a Sport etc.  When naming images please use pic as the category.
  • You may submit up to three digital images per night.  There is also a limit of at most six images in all three media (slide/print/digital) excluding images for the set subject competition.  The images may not be similar to images submitted in the other media.