How the Salon is Judged

How the Salon Entries are Judged.

For the record, this is how the judging is organised.  We make no apologies for the length of the explanation.

There are six judges who donate their time to the North Shore Salon of Photography, and all selection of images is done by the judges, without interference or influence by the organising committee. Normally, the winner of the Salon Trophy for the previous year is invited to be on the judging panel. In principle, the panel will consist of two people who are professional photographers, two people who are PSNZ accredited judges, and two people with an arts (not necessarily photographic art) background. Sometimes this balance is impossible to achieve, but nevertheless, it is what we strive for. Naturally, judges are not eligible to enter the competition.

Prints have a different procedure from digital entries, however all the accepted images are considered on "Judging Day", which is a full day of selection and discussion.

All prints are viewed for the first time by the judges on judging day, but digital entries, because of the sheer volume, are "pre-judged".

For each category, the digital files are arranged into a computer-generated random sequence, and all identifying data is removed from them. The resulting files are then arranged to form two sets of images of approximately the same size. The sets can normally only be approximately the same size, because images from each category remain together. Three members of the judging panel will work on one set, and the other three judges will work on the other. The appropriate files are recorded onto flash drives, together with a computer program. The judges use the computer program in their own home to score the photographs they are working on. Images are displayed, with their title, at full 100% resolution, and given a score from 1 to 9 by the judge. The scores are returned to our computer system across the internet.

When all the scores have been returned, images are selected by the computer as follows: The scores recorded for each judge are sorted into sequence. A target percentage of acceptances has already been set by the committee. Entries are processed by the computer in multiple passes.  Each pass contains as nearly as possible an equal number of images from each judge, and each subsequent pass adds entries to the pool from the judge with the least number of images in the preceeding pass.  For any judge, all entries with the same (or better) score are included in the pool.  After each pass, those entries that appear in the pool selected by all three judges are identified, and the number of selected images is checked against the running total of selected images.  If the required number of acceptances has not been reached, the selected images are marked as acceptances.  If the images selected in this pass would exceed the required number of images, the images are marked as "reserve", and the selection process ends.  After this process, the images are re-examined and some more entries may be added to the "reserve" category.  Entries where two of the judges would have accepted the entry, but the third judge gave a very low score, entries where at least one of the judges awarded the maximum points, and entries where the total score of all judges exceeds the average score of all entries automatically accepted are marked as "reserve".  These reserve entries are re-assessed by the judges on judging day and are then flagged as accepted or rejected. Accepted images are then all re-assessed and the various higher awards are allocated.

On Judging Day, three judges work on prints, whilst the other three work on the digital images that have been selected from those they pre-judged at home. The procedures are similar, except that digital images are viewed on calibrated TV sets in a darkened room, and prints are viewed in a brightly lit hall.

Prints are placed on stands in a computer-generated random sequence. The judges stand (or walk up and down) in front of the racks. They are not permitted to see the back of the prints, nor to touch them. As they view a particular print, the title (if any) is read to them by a "helper" who remains behind the stand. Prints are touched only by the "helpers" who wear white cotton gloves for the protection of the pictures.  The judges' first task is to score each print exactly as the digital images were scored, except that the scores are written onto paper.  When each judge has scored all the pictures in a category, the scores are entered into a computer by a helper, and then the computer will determine which prints are to progress to the next stage of judging in exactly the same way that digital images are selected.

Digital images are displayed in a predetermined random sequence, with the title shown briefly, then the image with the title not shown until the judges have formed their opinion. They also have the option of seeing them all together as thumbnails.

Working on one category at a time, judges are asked to eliminate entries until the appropriate number of pictures remain to be acceptances, then highly commended, then honours, then the three medals.

Finally, when all the medals for all categories have been decided, the judges choose the best print and the best digital. The lights are turned up in the digital display room, and the best digital image is displayed on the monitor, and the best print is placed beside it. All six judges convene to decide between these two images which shall receive the Salon Trophy, and the day is finished.