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Share & Learn - Theme Definitions

Abstract Photography:  Abstract Photography, like abstract art, focuses on shape, form, colour, pattern and texture. It seeks to show the subjects essence, not the reality. If you can recognize the subject in the photograph, it’s probably not abstract.

Action Photography:  This theme includes all sports photography as well as non-sports photos depicting action.  The action can be frozen in time, blurred or both.

Animals in their Natural Environment:  Includes all non-domesticated mammals, birds, reptiles, fish or amphibians  found in the natural environment (excludes  animals in zoos and the like).  No man-made objects may be included in the image.

Architectural Photography: is the photographing of buildings and similar structures that are both aesthetically pleasing and accurate representations of their subjects.  For the INTERIOR architecture theme, submit a good quality real estate type of image taken inside a residential (home, apartment, condo) or commercial building to show off a room, a hallway, entraceway, a staircase or some other architecturally interesting interior feature.  For the EXTERIOR architecture theme, capture and convey the design of any type of residential or commercial building from the outside.

Best Travel Photo from 2019:  Any photo you consider to be one of the best you have ever taken while traveling or on vacation during 2019.

Black & White Landscape:   Landscape photography shows spaces within the world, sometimes vast and unending, but other times microscopic. Landscape photographs typically capture the presence of nature but can also focus on man-made features or disturbances of landscapes. For this Theme, the images submitted MUST be in black & white.

Break the Rule of Thirds:  The Rule of Thirds is a well know ‘rule’ of composition intended to provide a basis for making well balanced and interesting shots. But rules are meant to be broken and in photography, there is no such thing as a set rule. Challenge yourself to make a compelling image that breaks the Rule of Thirds. More information on the Rule of Thirds can be found at:


Capture the Decisive Moment:  Please refer to the following links for a definition on this theme category:   (“how-to-masterthe-decisive-moment”/ ) & ( ).

Close up / Macro:  Macro is where the size of the object being photographed is equal to or smaller than the size of its image on the camera sensor.  Close up expands the definition to include any objects photographed at very close range and close to the closest focusing capability of the lens in use.  Photomicrographs may be included in this category.

Colors / Patterns:  Any photograph that grabs the viewer’s attention due to the effective use of color and / or patterns.

Effective Depth of Field:  Any photo where the f-stop was chosen to create the effect the photographer was trying to portray.  This may include wide open aperture to limit the depth of field and blur the background or a very small aperture to provide limitless depth of field such as in landscape photography.   This may also include where a particular f-stop was used to accommodate a chosen shutter speed.

Expression:  Any photo where the expression on a person's face or body language is part of the photo.

Fall Colours:  Any photo representing the beauty of our fall colours.  Man-made objects may be included in the image as minimal components only.

Food:  Food photography is a still life specialization aimed at producing attractive photographs of food.  Show us one of your mouth-watering dishes.

I Never Submitted Anything - My First Challenge:  This Theme in ONLY open to club members who have either NEVER PREVIOUSLY submitted an image to an OCC  club challenge or who have not submitted an image to any challenge in the last 24 months.  It is intended to encourage more club members to become involved in club challenges and is open to ANY SKILL LEVEL.   The photographer should submit one image that meets any of the other theme definitions listed on this page.

Landscape:   Landscape photography shows spaces within the world, sometimes vast and unending, but other times microscopic. Landscape photographs typically capture the presence of nature but can also focus on man-made features or disturbances of landscapes. The image may contain man-made objects, but only if they are a minimal component.  See also definition of Nature Photography.

Minimalism:   an art style which helps to accentuate the main subject by eliminating the non-essential elements of the work which do not characterize the essence, form or identity of the subject.   It is usually taken by focusing on a single subject, or a few elements.     Minimalism artistically depends on high simplicity and involves using a minima amount of compositional elements such as colour, shape, textures and line.


Nature:  Includes all non-domesticated plants, animals, and other organisms, as well as landscapes and naturally occurring subjects such as waterfalls, snow and sunsets.  The image may include man-made objects, but only if they are a minor part of the image.  For example, the Nature theme may include caged animals where the enclosure surrounding the animal is visible but minimal.


Nifty-Fifty:   This is an execise in using your feet as your zoom lens.  Go out an shoot an interesting image using a 50 mm prime lens on a FX-format (full size sensor) DSLR or a 35 mm prime lens on a DX-format (Crop sensor) DSLR.  If you don't own a prime, use a zoom lens set to 50 mm or 35 mm, depending on your DSLR sensor format.  There are no restrictions as to what subject matter you want to shoot.  You may use colour or B&W.


Night Photography:  Pictures taken in dim light inside or out that may require the use of high ISO, and / or slow shutter speeds.  Flash is allowed but should not be the main source of light. Neutral density filters are allowed to extend exposure as needed.  Astral  photography is included in this theme.

Painting with Light:  aka light painting, light drawing & light art.   These describe a variety of photographic techniques which combine long exposure, a simple light source and a pinch of creativity on the photographers part to create stunning images.  These techniques include  1) using an "external" light source (e.g.  flash light, automobile headlights, etc.) while taking a long exposure photograph, either to illuminate a subject or space, 2) shining a moving flashlight or other light source at the camera to "draw", or 3) moving the camera during exposure of one or more light sources.  A long exposure image of a subject using only existing lighting at the location (e.g.  natural lighting, street lights, etc.) would not qualify in this creative category).

Each of these techniques produces different creative effects and can be used individually or in combinations.  For more information and examples: 

People:  Photographs of people.  Can include portraits, posed and non staged. Try to have the photo tell us something about the people in the photo.

Pollution:  This category seeks images that depict man's destruction or degradation of the natural environment through whatever means.  Pollution is the result of the contamination of the natural environment from the introduction of chemical or other substances or objects (air, water, solids) that cause adverse effects.  Examples include hazardous industrial wastes, untreated sewage, fuel spills, garbage, smoke, nutrient (fertilizer) run-off and the like.

Portrait:   Portrait photography is the capture of the likeness of a person or a small group of people (a group portrait), in which the face and expression is predominant. The objective is to display the likeness, personality, and even the mood of the subject. The focus of the photograph is the person's face, although the entire body and the background may be included.

Rainy Day:    There really is no such thing as bad weather photography.  Each day's weather conditions presents its own beauty and challenges.  Go out on a wet rainy day and energize your creativity. It will be an opportunity to come home with some rare new dramatic, and/or colourful work.

Refraction Photography:  When a light waves pass from one transparent substance into another (e.g. from air into water), it's direction bends.  We see this every day, when we look through a lens, observe a straw in a glass of water, or light passing through a prism. Refraction photography refers to photos that capture a refraction effect, where light is bent in glass, water, or some other surface to make a subject appear very large, very small, or otherwise distorted. For more information:

Severe  Weather:  Photographs of severe weather or the aftermath of severe weather.  Can include, among other things, rain, wind, snow, sleet, hail, deserts or floods.

Silhouette:  The following is a good definition of silhouette (Wikipedia):  A silhouette is the image of a person, animal, object or scene represented as a solid shape of a single colour, usually black, with its edges matching the outline of the subject. The interior of a silhouette is featureless, and the silhouette is usually presented on a light background, usually white, or none at all. The silhouette differs from an outline, which depicts the edge of an object in a linear form, while a silhouette appears as a solid shape. Silhouette images may be created in any visual artistic media, but were first used to describe pieces of cut paper, which were then stuck to a backing in a contrasting colour, and often framed.

Social Issue: (Tell a compelling story in one image):   For the purposes of this theme, a social issue is defined as any  problem that negatively influences many individuals within a society and which many people strive to draw attention to and solve. Examples include poverty, drug abuse, sexual abuse, alcohol abuse, bullying, lack of schools and sanitation, and the like.  The theme is open to both colour and b&w photographs.

Street Photography:  photos taken within the confines of a city, town or village which express the character of the location and its people.

Transportation:  In this theme, the main subject of the image must be of some form of mechanical transportation for transporting people and/ or goods of your choosing:  Automobile, Truck, Bicycle, Train, Plane, Boat, Cargo Ship,  etc.

Try  Something New:  this could be any form of photography you have little experience with.  Examples include light painting, panning, portraiture, action, still life...

Urban Decay:  Urban decay (aka urban rot, urban blight) is the process of an urban area becoming abandoned and falling into disrepair.  Examples include abandoned factories, rundown neighbourhoods, ruins and any other neglected manmade environments in despair.

Vacation:  Shots taken on vacation anywhere.

Waterfalls:  Any photo where the main subject is falling water.

Wildlife:  Includes all non-domesticated animals, birds, bugs and other such organisms The wildlife theme may include caged animals where the enclosure surrounding the animal is visible but minimal.  Other man-made objects must not be included in the image.

Window Light Photography:   Photograph any subject (portrait of a person, flower arrangement, etc.) under natural window light.   A portion of the window needs to be incorporated into the image.

Winter: Any outdoors photo representing our winter where Snow or Ice is the main subject.   May include frost on windows and people outside in the snow.

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