Next digital competition – important dates
    Open: 9/4/23
    Deadline: 9/13/23, 11:59 pm. 
    Competition: 9/18/23

DIGITAL AI: A New Image Category In Monthly Competitions. By Steve Silk

Photography is changing. Again! This time the disruptor is artificial intelligence (AI), specifically generative AI. Many of us have already been using AI in our post-processing with such tools as Lightroom masking, Photoshop’s healing brush and others. These AI-trained tools use pixels already existing in our images to make their alterations or corrections, but the new generative AI can do a lot more than that. It can create almost anything out of thin air using reference catalogs containing billions of images. Want a dinosaur in your photo? Or maybe you’d like to see Saturn, rings and all, hovering in the evening sky of your landscape shot of Hammonassett Beach. Generative AI makes it all possible. By simply typing a prompt into the appropriate box in Photoshop, this new and rapidly evolving software can conjure anything you can dream up and and then add it seamlessly to an existing photo, which itself could be created by generative AI software.

This ability runs counter to the philosophical foundation of our competition rules – the idea that every element in an image submitted for competition was captured by the image’s maker. Changing the sky, for example, is fine as long as the maker uses another sky they have photographed. Asking the computer to replace the sky with, say, a threatening stormy sky might produce a fantastic result, but it would be ineligible, because the new sky was not made by the image’s maker using a photo they created by using a photographic process such as a camera or scanner.

But, we anticipate some of our members would like to explore using generative AI in their image making, because, if for no other reason, it could be a whole lot of fun. And to encourage our members to experiment, we have decided to offer a new category to our monthly competitions, called Digital AI, to represent AI generated imagery.

The current plan is to begin the season with this new category offered monthly. Members will be able to enter up to two images a month, which will be judged on the merits of the image and the skill involved in producing it. Those two entries will be in addition to the maximum of three submitted to our previously existing categories. There will be one class only, with no Salon or Masters classes for this category. We also expect those who earn first place in our competitions to share with the membership just how their winning image was made. At present, we do not anticipate compiling scores month to month; this category will be for fun only.

We, that is a small committee comprised of Jim Brodey, Pam Hastings, Lia Hotchkiss, Steven Potashner, Steve Silk, and Stan Tetrault, would be happy to host a question-and-answer session with our members about this new category at our first meeting in September. See you then.

The rules for entries in the new category are simple:

Digital AI Category

Images eligible for this category will be composites that include computer-generated AI elements chosen by the maker using written prompts, and also at least one element made by the maker using traditional means. All parts of the final image must be the concept of the maker and assembled by the maker. You can’t use a cool picture you found on the internet as part of the final product, as that is not AI generated fill. Open, monochrome, wildlife, creative will all be together in this category. They will be judged individually on the merits of the final image, and skill in creating it. Composition, lighting and impact will all be part of the judging process. You may be asked to explain your process for educational purposes and to encourage others.

Currently available software platforms to explore are DALL-E, Adobe’s Firefly or any other processing software capable of Generative AI.

Specified topics for 2023-2024 digital competitions:
This is a competition category with a particular theme judged each month.

Competition Month        Specified Topic
SeptemberNature (PSA Rules apply)
October“O” is for …
NovemberFarms and Farm Life
FebruaryHigh Key
MayYear End Competition

As part of the routine operation of Charter Oak, members submit their images to the club in print or electronic/digital form for competitions, both at the club and the inter-club level, as well as for display to the public, both physically and on the world wide web.

Images submitted to Charter Oak typically contain a copyright that belongs to the maker of the image. It is the responsibility of the maker to protect his or her copyright. It is also the responsibility of the maker to obtain any necessary permissions or releases from third parties, e.g. subjects or property owners, before submitting an image to Charter Oak for any form of public display.

Images submitted in any form, whether print or electronic/digital, will be handled with due care and used or displayed only as permitted by the maker. In general, the permission from the maker will be deemed to allow display only at the single competition or exhibition for which submitted and at the immediately following general meeting of the club, after which prints will be returned to the member. Electronic/digital images will be retained until the end of the competition season, after which they may be erased. With the maker’s consent, which may be implied by submission for any competition, images may be retained by Charter Oak for further use or display in subsequent functions, such as inter-club competitions or public exhibitions.

Detailed rules regarding the administration of the Charter Oak competitions can be viewed in the Competition Rules document.