Submission guidelines and how to enter

Getting the best out of your photography and how you should prepare images for submission

How to enter: summary

The competition is run on this website. To enter, you must make an account on the website and you will then be able to upload images to your lightbox. When you have uploaded all the images you want to enter you can submit them to the competition. When the competition closes the uploaded images will be shortlisted for the final round of judging. We will contact you if you have been shortlisted and request a full-size image from you (usually by post). The judges will assess the shortlisted images when they have been sent in and the winners will be selected. Read through this page to find out more detail about how the competition works. 

For video entries and the Schools category the entry procedure is slightly different - there are special instructions that you should also read.

Using the lightbox facility to edit and plan your submission

The BWPA website is set up to help you choose and enter your best images. When you are registered you can upload images to your 'lightbox' at any time, for free. You can review them online to make sure they look right, until you know what you want to enter, and delete some if you like. Images you keep on your lightbox will not be entered into the competition until you decide you are ready. When you have uploaded the images you want to enter, you can submit your entry to the competition. To do this you will need to buy credits. Use your lightbox wisely to save credits: if you get all your images ready in the lightbox and then submit them in a single batch it may save you money. If you submit them in several smaller batches it might use up more credits. Once the images from your lightbox are entered into the competition, you can't delete them or change the captions. But until the closing date you can always upload images and enter more if you want to.

Uploading to your lightbox: image size and type

For your initial submission your files should be no more than 1024 pixels along the longest side. We do not recommend that you upload larger images, as they will be resized anyway and very large files may not upload successfully. No borders, watermarks or signatures. If you prefer not to have your images resized by our server please ensure they no more than 1024 pixels along the longest side. Please note TIF files are not accepted for the initial round. 

Captions and filenames

Filenames are for your own reference only but captions will be available to the judges. If you are shortlisted you will get a chance to submit a full-length caption so for initial entry a short description or title is adequate. If the subject is captive this must be stated in the caption, for example by adding '(captive subject)' to the text. 

It is important to add a caption to your images when you first upload them, even if you change it later. When you upload there is a box above the 'Choose file' button that should read 'Image Caption'. If that text isn't showing up and you don't enter anything in the box, the picture might be uploading with a blank caption which could cause an error. 

Original large files

Please make sure that you keep copies of your original large file. Be careful not to accidentally save it directly into a small size for uploading - and then not be able to retrieve the large file again! You can resize your copy image either using Photoshop or your own camera software. Your camera software or imaging software may have options to save images for web use or for e-mail – choose this option as this will be 72 ppi (dpi). Please keep copies of all your original and resized images safe.

Shortlisted Images – file sizes and types

If you are successful in being shortlisted for the final round of judging, we will request your largest high quality file (Preferably TIF or largest JPG) suitable for printing in all media, along with the original RAW file or original Jpeg, RAW files of any format (e.g.NEF, CRW,) as well as original JPG files   will be accepted as original image files. Only JPG files straight out of the camera are accepted as originals. DNG files are only permitted if DNG is the native RAW format of the camera. We attach great importance on authentic wildlife / nature photography. Awarding the photographic achievement is the priority.

Preparing your digital images

While there are no restrictions on the type of camera used, please note that part of the judging criteria will be technical excellence and it is therefore recommended that you use the highest possible quality setting on your camera. The file should be as large as you can achieve with your equipment. Ideally the image should have been taken using a camera with a sufficiently high resolution to allow the image to be reproduced at A4 size or above (at 300 ppi). We recommend that you use a camera of 4 megapixels or more, if possible, enabling the image to be of sufficient size for printing and inclusion in the exhibition. You can also submit images that have been scanned from film or negative.   Please note that a high-resolution scan will be required for short-listed images   and should be between 20 and 50Mb as an uncompressed tiff file, although a   high-quality JPG is acceptable (8 bit, Adobe RGB 1998 colour space). Although the initial online image need not be bigger than 1024 pixels on the longest side, if shortlisted, users should aim to supply full-size image files in 8bit TIF format, with a file size between 20-50Mb – this size would enable us to make larger prints if desired. We recommend setting the camera to either the RAW file mode or large high resolution JPG file mode. The colour profile for all digital images should be Adobe RGB 98. Please keep your original RAW, JPG and/or TIF files - these may be requested at any time and will be requested for all finalists.

Processing images and manipulation: digital adjustments permitted

Within the framework of digital image editing the following is permitted. Minor cleaning work including removal of sensor spots and dust, moderate adjustments of: contrast, tonal values, levels, highlight and shadow, colour, curves, saturation, sharpening, white balance and noise may be undertaken. Removal of chromatic aberration, lens distortion and vignetting are acceptable. Cropping is allowed, but please bear in mind that cropping reduces the file size and therefore high levels of cropping could result in the deterioration of image quality, for reproduction needs. Conversion to black and white is fine. Stitched images (combined using digital techniques) where a panorama is created from several images taken from the same location and at the same time are acceptable. This kind of work is comparable to what would be deemed as acceptable darkroom processing techniques. The aim is to achieve a true representation of a natural form, behaviour or phenomenon. Images where the physical characteristics of the scene at the time of taking have been altered are not eligible. The image should be a faithful representation of the original scene.

Digital adjustments not permitted

Physical changes to the scene e.g. adding or removing objects, trees, animals, plants, people, items of civilization or stripping in sky from another image etc. Digital collages, sandwich shots and composites.  

Wildlife photography hints and tips

  • When looking through the viewfinder, ask yourself the question, “How would I caption this image?” If the only answer is the species name, then wait for a more dynamic composition.
  • Remember the technical must haves: in focus and well exposed.
  • The best compositions are simple and uncluttered. Photography is a form of communication and the best communication is unambiguous. Think about the nature of your subject and make sure that any visual elements in the picture space add to the composition and don’t detract from the main subject.
  • Be original. The judges will be looking for images that reveal the unexpected.
  • With some exceptions, high ISO ratings in digital cameras may reduce image quality.
  • Know your subject – the better you know your subject the easier it is to predict behaviour and capture original images.