Themes For The Following Year!


Natural Sand:

The image must include natural sand. Natural sand is a granular material composed of finely divided rock or mineral particles, such as silicates and volcanic minerals, as well as coral and biogenic sands – these result in sands that are white, yellow, tan, pink, green, black, and other colors.

Sand can’t help but play with wind and water to make beautiful and interesting designs. Sand is also a basic landscape material that might escape notice.  From the sand dunes on a wind-swept beach to desert sands, sand castles, meditation gardens, local parks, children’s playgrounds and sports fields, the possibilities are all around us.

Compositions can be created or found, real or abstract. You may come across natural sand and human-made creations in both obvious places and places you may not consider until you start to look and pay attention. And feel free to create your own composition with sand as a major element! 

Written Language:

The image should include some element of a written language – using letters, characters, words, or some portion thereof. All the world’s written languages are acceptable. Compositions can be created or found, real or abstract – although the language elements must not be abstracted beyond recognition. The language elements must be photographed and not added in post-processing – no captions or layers of added text.

Written language is both impactful and beautiful. We can’t help but read it wherever it appears in public spaces – such as on street and shop signs, as well as in our own spaces – such as on books, handwritings, keyboards, labels, etc. The more you look, the more you will see. It draws the eye and may convey more than one meaning depending upon the setting.  

Written language can also be visually appealing in terms of its shapes, patterns, curves, and lines, independent of any linguistic meaning – the language elements that you include do not need to be “read” as text.  This is your chance to make the written language engaging in new ways!

Making the World Go ‘Round – Gears, Sprockets and Wheels:

The image should include gears, sprockets, or wheels. Gears, sprockets, and wheels have two things in common – they are round and move in a circular motion. Some we see daily – such as bike and auto wheels, while others are usually hidden from view, such as gears in many watches and clocks. They come in all sizes, from minuscule to gigantic.  Some are practical and utilitarian, and some are colorful and fun. They could be in motion or at rest. They could be functional or no longer in service.

Compositions can be created or found, real or abstract.  Definitions: A gear is a rotating circular machine part having cut teeth which mesh with another toothed part to transmit torque and speed. A sprocket, sprocket-wheel or chainwheel is a profiled wheel with teeth that mesh with a chain, track or other perforated or indented material.  A wheel is a circular frame or disk arranged to revolve on an axis, as part of a vehicle or machinery.


Themes for this year:

Competitions Themes for 2022–2023

Prepared Food: 

For this theme you should make images of prepared food that is good enough to eat, whatever it may be – a plate of fried fish, a soufflé ready to collapse, a steaming bowl of pea soup with home-made bread, etc.  This food must be cooked or prepared and ready to eat.  Creative presentation of the food is encouraged.  No images of raw, unprepared food not ready to be eaten.

Street Photography at Night: 

For this theme “street photography” is defined as a photograph featuring (1) the human condition, or (2) the relationship or interaction between people and their surroundings.  There should be a person in the image, although that person need not be the subject of the photo. A street photo example could be a candid, semi-candid or spontaneous (but not staged) photo of a person (or persons) in a public, private or open place doing something other than posing for you to take their picture.  This is also night photography meaning the image should be taken after sunset and before sunrise.  

Creative Altered Reality: 

Your image may be of any subject matter and must obviously display a change in the natural order of things whether by color, form, shape or any combination of these three.  All images must be original and may not incorporate elements produced by anyone else.  Artwork or computer graphics generated by you may be incorporated if the original photographic content predominates.  Images may not be constructed entirely within a computer.  Hi-key, low-key, or High Dynamic Range (HDR) images without further changes are not considered.

The adjustments you make to an image should result in an “altered reality” and not simply the removal, adjustment, or replacement of an element.  You should be able to see immediately that the photograph has been creatively manipulated.

In-camera techniques can be employed and you can play with the myriad programs and plugins, tools and techniques that are available to digital photographers and this competition will be the one place where anything goes as long as it is your original work.  Some examples might involve painting filters, distortion, abstracting your image, applying a creative filter, mirroring, compositing, etc., etc.  Get creative!  


Older themes from past years

competitions Themes for 2021-2022

  • Flowers (Competition Date: November 16, 2021): They are everywhere, in your backyard, your neighbor’s back yard, florist bouquets, on trees, botanical gardens, roadsides, florist bouquets, wild and/or cultivated. So, show us your best shots! The subject must be actively flowering, from a single bloom or part thereof, to an entire field or fields. Be creative! Montages, multiple exposures, zooming, panning, focus stacking, etc, are all allowed, so long as all parts of the picture have been created by the photographer, and it meets the theme. Seed pods or tight buds are not allowed, unless they are an insignificant part of the image, or serve to enhance the subject.
  • Old (Competition Date: January 18, 2022): People, places, or objects that are showing their age. Helpful definitions: 1. Having lived for a long time; no longer young. 2. Made or built long ago. The hands, eyes, faces of older people are classic examples. Dilapidated barns, antique cars or trucks are good examples. No dead, or dying flowers or plants; in their relative life span they are old but it defeats the purpose of this theme.
  • Abstracts (Competition Date: March 15, 2022): An abstract photograph may isolate a fragment of a natural scene in order to remove its inherent context from the viewer, it may be purposely staged to create a seemingly unreal appearance from real objects, or it may involve the use of color, light, shadow, texture, shape and/or form to convey a feeling, sensation or impression. Close ups of common objects, reflections on moving water are some examples. Generally, the subject is not readily identifiable. “Basic” post processing is allowed. Software add-ins and tools such as liquify, textures, etc. are not allowed. Stacking multiple images, zooming, and panning done by the photographer are permitted. This theme is about what the photographer can accomplish in camera not about processing with software tools.
  • Note: There is no theme on May 10, 2022, but the 3-year limit is waived – No Time Limit!


Competition Themes for 2020-2021

A Musician: The subject must be singular; it may be in a group but DOF, processing etc. should make it obvious that all attention is on one individual. Subjects are confined just to humans!

  • Competition Date: October 20, 2020

Fall Harvest: Farms to Farmers Markets. A colorful time of year when produce is being farmed and sold. Land crops only, to reflect the colors and/or work gathering and selling the fall harvest. 

  • Competition Date: December 15, 2020

Fountains: A man-made ornamental structure, that pumps water. No shortage of fountains locally but anywhere in the world is fine. Rain or shine, day or night, literal or abstract.


Competition Themes for 2019-2020

Night Photos: An image taken after sunset and before sunrise: The night presents an interesting set of photographic opportunities. Places active with human activity, such as city streets, country fairs, fireworks, and etc., come alive at night. But even quiet and lonely places – cemeteries, back alleys, and moonlit shorelines – can surprise you with what they have to offer. The absence of daylight at night will force us to ensure that we capture sufficient light by increasing the length of our exposures, by adding light (flash or light painting), or by increasing the sensitivity (ISO) of our sensors. However, be careful to maintain the feeling of darkness in the image, i.e., don’t let a too-long exposure turn your scene into daytime. Wherever you may be headed, grab your tripod, a wireless or cabled shutter release, and a friend (for assistance, company, and safety), and have fun shooting in the dark. This competition will be held on December 17, 2019.
Low Perspective: Placing the camera low to the ground: The idea is to change our normal shooting perspective by shooting images with our cameras close to the ground. This will provide a great opportunity for creative shots. Common objects can appear completely different when taken from a low perspective and can provide new compositional opportunities. Get close and shoot up. Back up and include foreground and foreground objects. Get your tripod close to the ground, or free yourself from your tripod and get down low to the ground with your camera. This competition will be held on October 15, 2019.
Through Rain, Snow, Sleet or Hail: Get outside with your camera in bad weather!: Be sure to protect your equipment well as you venture out in bad weather to capture images in Rain, Snow, Sleet or Hail! For those less adventurous, the image may be captured from inside a building or vehicle, etc. However, falling rain, snow, sleet or hail must be a clearly visible and important part of the image. This competition will be held on April 21, 20200.

Competition Themes for 2018-2019

Images where the predominant elements are geometric shapes — circles, squares, rectangles, triangles, etc. The compositional elements may be specific [subject-based], such as a wall with a door and doorknob and
windows, or implied [design-based], where the photographer searches for designs, such as rectangles, circles,
etc. without concern for the names of the objects. For example, subject-based could consider a scene with land,
ocean and sky, whereas, design-based could see the same scene as three rectangles of different tones and sizes.
Images which include reflections in water, buildings, mirrors, glass or any other reflective material.
Trains, Planes, Automobiles, and Trucks:
Images of these subjects can be of new or old ones—ones in mint condition or in a state of ruin. Photos can be
of the entire vehicle or parts, such as hood ornaments. Subjects can be in motion or at rest.

Competition Themes for 2017-2018

Note: The Board reaffirmed that there will be three themed competitions per program year, but there will be no theme competitions in the months of December, January, and February.

Visible Emotions:
Some of the most powerful photographs are those that have captured emotions. Photographs that have impact and tell a story, show individuals with visible emotions. For this theme, photograph a person that shows us clearly visible emotions. This could be happiness, surprise, anger, sadness, excitement, pride, fear or disgust.
Faceless Self Portrait:
This is not your normal selfie. Be creative and express your identity by taking a photo of yourself without your face.
The American Experience –Americans at Work:
For this month’s themed contest, show us your best photos of Americans at Work. This may be of a single person, or multiple people, at work. The person or persons and the work being performed must both be clearly evident in the photo. Let’s showcase Americans at Work by demonstrating their emotions, determination, strength and pride!

Competition Themes for 2016–2017

Love – October 14, 2016
We turn our attention to one of the most valuable virtues; an international language and possibly the strongest of all feelings…Love! It is an invitation to explore the path of love as an emotion, an attraction, an attachment… in all its forms! Some sample images might include: a lovers’ embrace, a passion you love, an X drawn in vapor trails, a goodbye, a friendship, etc.
Drag the Shutter – March 21, 2017
Show us your best shutter drag. Whether capturing motion in waves or panning cars zooming by, we want to see you get creative with this topic. Slow down your shutter speed to show a sense of motion or action.
Colors – May 31, 2017
Life is a stream of color. Red, blue, yellow, and a billion pigments in between… For this theme we ask you to show us color-inspired photographs. Scenes, details, narratives or moods. Subtle tones or Technicolor daydreams, color must be a primary component of your image. For the Monochrome Print category, instead of producing a black and white photo, show us a color other than black along with white, i.e., red and white, blue and white, etc.

Competition Themes for 2015 – 2016

Portraiture – October 20, 2015
The subjects for this theme can be people or other animals, primarily capturing the face; but full figure is acceptable, for example, a wedding portrait also shows the dress. Both formal and informal (candid) captures
allowed but keeping the main subject as an individual.
Creativity – March 15, 2016
This theme is meant to push the boundaries of your creativity through use of in-camera and or computer processing techniques. Examples being, multiple exposures, zooming and camera manipulation, panning, layering with textures, lighting techniques, digital painting, anything goes! A time to show off your processing techniques.
Architecture – May 17, 2016
Images of man- made structures including bridges, buildings, alone or collectively; parts of buildings such as arches, columns, ceilings, cupolas, stairways etc. Architectural structures within a landscape environment also
accepted, such as a pergola or gazebo.

Competition Themes for 2014 – 2015

Street Photography
For this theme “street photography” is defined as a photograph featuring 1) the human condition or 2) the relationship or interaction between people and their surroundings. A street photo example could be a candid, semi-candid or spontaneous (but not staged) photo of a person (or persons) in a public, private or open place doing something other than posing for you to take their picture.
From a single drop to a mighty ocean, and anything in between, water is the theme of this monthly competition. It can be still or moving but liquid water must be a key subject of the image.
For this theme, a still-life is defined as an artistic arrangement or collection of non-moving inanimate objects, either natural or man-made. The arrangement can be arranged by the photographer or someone else such as in a store-front window or flower bouquet. Please, no architectural subjects such as buildings or bridges, people, landscapes or moving objects for this theme. The still-life must be the main subject of the image.

Competition Themes for 2013-2014

Abandoned And Discarded October 15th with judge Alan DeFelice
Out Of Place January 21 with judge Jim Steele
Famous Places April 15 with judge Sue Bloom

Competition Themes for 2012-2013

There will be 3 themed competitions during the NVPS 2012-2013 club year. Their dates are given below. Please
note that first themed competition (Bridges) will be October 16, 2012.

  • Bridges – October 16, 2012
  • The Sun is your Friend – January 15, 2013
  1. The image must be taken at least two hours after Sunrise and at least two hours before Sunset
  2. The image must be taken at least two hours after Sunrise and at least two hours before Sunset
  3. The image must portray that the sun is shining and not obscured. e.g. there are shadows.
  4. The intent of this theme is to take a photo in hard light.
  5. Light that comes from a single, point source, such as the Sun, and falls directly on the subject from
    one direction, without being reflected off another surface, is known as hard light. It generally casts
    dark shadows and produces high contrast pictures with deep blacks and bright highlights. The
    shadows also generally have a very distinct or hard edge, so that the outline of the object closely
    reflects the shape of the shadow.
  • A Different Point of View – April 16, 2013
    Look up, look down, look behind the subject (Look at the subject from the top, the bottom, the back–in a
    nontraditional way.)

Competition Themes for 2011/2012

Subject matter, theme, and artistic presentation are normally the choice of the photographer. However three of
the monthly competitions will have a predetermined theme that must be observed, Simplicity, Shadows and
Although the themes were specified by the Theme Committee, the interpretation of the theme is being left to
the photographer. Thus, the Theme Committee intentionally did not provide definitions or examples for the
2011–2012 themes.
Simplicity – October 18, 2011
Shadows – January 17, 2012
Weather – April 17, 2012

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