Grand Title

Overall Title – The Scottish Landscape Photographer of the Year

The grand title “Scottish Landscape Photographer of the Year” shall be awarded to the photographer whom in the opinion of the judges has entered the best set of three images into the competition.

Please note: We want to make it clear that the overall title is for the photographer of the year – not the photograph of the year, and this is why we judge this category across three images. Images throughout all stages are judged on visual appeal, and this will always be the prime consideration, however for the final round and because this is the elite category, the margins when it comes to the final shortlist may be very fine, therefore judgung will be at the strictest level and we will consider these additional parameters when making the final decision:

  • subject diversity – e.g. images taken of different subjects over time will be preferred to 3 different images of the same sunset
  • location diversity – it is a key aim of this competition to promote all of Scotland so a portfolio of different locations will be preferred
  • different takes – e.g. a new or different twists on iconic view
  • field/camera skills over digital editing – e.g. waiting for the right light, use of filters, image sharpness across the image or intentional lack of etc. Please note: it has always been the case that our preference is for images that have little or no digital editing. (We have several categories set aside for images that have used editing methods, digital creativity)
  • conservation – the competition shares the same values of the trusts that support us, therefore images should not depict anything detrimental to the landscape or be achieved by breaking the Scottish Outdoor Countryside Code

The above are

  • To be considered for the grand title, you must submit a minimum of 3 images to the competition.
  • You may enter all your images in a single category or spread them in any combination across the 3 main categories.
  • You may enter multiple times and the more times you enter, the better your chances. Details are available on the how to enter page.
  • You do not need to specify your best 3 images when you enter. We determine this through our judging process which works as follows:


Note: Throughout all stages, judging is based on visual appeal

  1. You entered 15 images into the competition (e.g. 5x landscape and 10 x seascape)
  2. When judging begins, in the preliminary round, we give each image a yes or no for the second round.
  3. If only 1 or 2 images make the second round, (e.g. 1 x landscape and 1 x seascape) these are judged as normal in their single categories.
  4. If 3 or more of your images make the second round, this counts as a “set” or “portfolio” of images and your entry gets moved into the judging pool for the grand title. (this is a special pool we set up)
  5. In the second round, each of the images in your set receives a score from the judges.
  6. If 3 of your images receive enough marks from the judges, then this set of 3 images goes through to the final round. (Note, no matter how many images you had shortlisted, only 3 images per photographer make the final round.)
  7. If in the final round, only one or two of your images receive enough marks for a prize or commendation, your lowest scoring images are eliminated and your remaining highest scoring image(s) get moved to the relevant single category pools (e.g. landscape, seascape, urban, 4 seasons) for judging as normal.
  8. Note: Due to space limits in the book, some commended portfolios may only win one or two images in the book. The commendation still stands a set of 3 images however. Those photographers that only have one or two images in the book may have 3 images showcased in the exhibition.


Photographers that make final round have (in the opinion of the judges) entered the most visually pleasing sets of images in the competition. However, visual appeal is subjective and on it’s own is not sufficient to make a judgement on a set of images, so we consider the additional criteria such as diversity, field,camera skills, use of filters etc.

It should be noted that whilst we allow digital editing in this category, there are several other categories that embrace these techniques better. This is the top award and at this level, we will take into consideration whether the image could have been achieved without editing and used field/camera skills instead. Software progams are sophisticated to the extent that they can create fake light or change the entire atmosphere of a scene, and that pushes the authenticity of the image. With that in mind, we will always prefer authentic images with little or no editing, use of plugins etc.  Therefore, we compare the photographer’s RAW (or film) file with the image they entered into the competition. If the RAW file is close or identical to the final image, this indicates they used their own photography skills and will earn the best marks. If the RAW file is significantly different, it will earn the least marks. It should be noted however that photography has to move with the times, therefore, if a photographer has entered images that use new editing techinique or those images could only have been achieved by certain digital editing techniques, then this will earn top marks. In general, the more editing you use, the less your chance of winning the top award.

There are many other factors we use but in general, after the RAW files have been viewed, the scores are added to the photographer’s images and the photographer with the highest marks in their portfolio will be awarded the grand title.

What are we looking for in terms of images?

Images that show off the Scottish landscape, seascape or urban views at its very best. Your images may be comprised of iconic views, different takes on iconic views or new and unseen views of the Scottish landscape. Your images may be anything from a wide sweeping vista of a mountain range to a small fishing village, a large city view or classic view of a Scottish Island.

Your images do not need to be technically perfect or taken on the most expensive cameras. Some of the very best photographs ever taken are not technically perfect or were captured on very basic equipment so please bear this in mind. It is more important that your images capture the essence or mood of the landscape and evoke a feeling and by submitting three images per entry, it will demonstrate to the judges that the photographer didn’t just get a lucky shot.

Can I submit images taken previously?

Yes, you may submit images taken up to 3 years prior to the competition closing date.

Can I submit images that have been awarded in other competitions or published in other media?

Yes, provided that you have not assigned any copyright or exclusive rights to your images. Please see the T&Cs section.

Can I submit images on film or print?

You may enter images taken on film but they must be scanned and sent as jpgs via the competition website. Please see the T&Cs section.

Critique and opinion:

Before submitting your images, we recommend that you get your friends and colleagues to review or critique your images. In addition, posting your images to social media websites and asking for comments or shares is an excellent way to gauge the quality of your images. If many people like your images then it is an excellent indicator that your images are attractive.

Images taken previously:

If you already have images you wish to enter, then these must have been taken within 3 years of the competition start date. You may also enter images that have been entered in other competitions or published in magazines, newspapers etc., so long as you have not signed away exclusive rights or licence to your images.


Inspiration for your images may be drawn from music, poetry or a visit to a museum or art gallery. The works of Robert Burns for example may inspire you to capture an image along the lines of one of his poems. Make a point of visiting an art gallery to gain an appreciation of how artists compose and capture light. Inspiration can also be found in tourist guide books and of course there are many excellent photographers to draw inspiration from. The works of pioneering photographers such as Ansel Adams or Galen Rowell provide a great inspiration to many photographers.

The following may be also helpful when taking your image:

  1. Wide vistas such as a snow topped mountain ranges, glens, lochs, rivers etc.
  2. Seasonal images from national country parks and estates. e.g snowdrop and bluebell woods, autumn trees etc.
  3. People and animals can add interest but please do not submit images that are deliberately posed or are closeup portraits.
  4. Buildings may add interest as part of the landscape. e.g. castles, ruins, bridges etc.
  5. Objects as part of the landscape such as boats, standing stones, historical relics.

Please do not submit:

  1. Images of privately owned stately homes unless permission is obtained.
  2. Images of restricted government buildings or military installations.
  3. Posed images or portraits
  4. Elements introduced or repositioned in the composition. e.g. moving stones, trees etc into a composition.

Acceptable media

Digital, film, traditional print and alternative process images are allowed but your submissions should be in digital jpg format only via the competition website. Film, ttraditional print and alternative process images may be submitted from scans of colour transparency, black and white, colour negative or traditional/alternative pringt. All images should be processed as per “digital adjustments and processing” section.

Digital Adjustments and Processing

Digital adjustments are allowed and we will be as flexible as possible, but should not alter or affect the integrity of the image. In the event you are shortlisted for the final round, you may be asked to produce the original RAW* file(s), the original camera jpg, the original scan or the original film media. If your image is in the running to win the category or a runner up’s place, we definitely will ask for your RAW file.

The following digital adjustments are acceptable:

Just because you can use these criteria, it does not mean you should. Many images are ruined by over editing and over-use of plugins. If an unedited RAW file is as close to file you submit, you stand a better chance of impressing the judges.

  • Dust spot removal, including lens flare
  • Curves & levels or highlight/shadows – minor adjustments
  • Contrast – within reason
  • Sharpening – within reason
  • Converting to black and white acceptable
  • Cropping – cropped image must be acceptable quality at A4 without interpolation (digital upscaling)
  • White balance correction – within reason.
  • Colour balance changes – within reason
  • Digital ND grads – within reason
  • Exposure changes – +/- 1 stop only
  • Global and local saturation – minimal
  • Dodging and burning – within reason
  • Stitch panoramas
  • Multiple exposures – images must be taken at same time and place
  • HDR allowed
  • Blending images from a bracket sequence allowed
  • Focus stacking

Unacceptable digital adjustments

  • Adding, moving or removing elements from your image. e.g cloning in clouds, trees etc
  • Composites and montages of more than one image
  • Blending multiple images from different times of the day

Respecting the landscape.

We respectfully ask that when taking your images you show care for the environment and respect the interests of others. When out and about taking your photographs for the competition, we ask that you abide by the Scottish Country Access Code. Links to the Country Code are listed below.

Country Code Summary

Country Code in Full