Festival Contest
golden turtle


Competition Stages, Rules and Organizers

The organizer and the right holder of the Golden Turtle Contest, exhibitions and all facilities and events related thereto is the MY EQUATOR Charity Social Support Fund.

Anyone may submit his/her works to participate in the competition, except for the competition organizers and the professional jury members. Authors from any countries can participate in the contest without restrictions. The official competition languages are Russian and English.

Decisions to award the Semi-Finalist, Finalist or Winner statuses to artwork shall be made by members of the Professional Jury and the Jury of Peers and may not be appealed.

Basic Concepts

Author (photographer) shall mean a person who made a photograph and presents his/her work to the competition, has full copyrights and powers to decide on all organizational issues related to the participation of the work in the competition.

Photography (work, picture, image) shall mean a picture taken by a photocamera that complies with the competition conditions and is owned by the author.

Graphics editor shall mean any computer program (Adobe Photoshop, Apertura, CorelPhoto-Paint, etc.) that was applied for the digital processing of a photograph.

RAW. The RAW format shall mean any data obtained directly from a matrice without processing. This format shall confirm the authenticity and integrity of a frame. For any frames made by film cameras, an additional procedure for providing the original will be announced.


Based on the ethical code of the International League of Concervation Photographers (ILCP)

We believe that all the participants of the GOLDEN TURTLE International Wildlife Festival and its photo contest should put ethical treatment of nature and animals in the center of their art. We encourage each author to be an example and a rolemodel for ethical behavior and professionalism for other photographers and wildlife lovers.

To achieve the goals of the Festival and its creative competitions, the following ETHICAL STANDARDS were adopted:

1. Minimal possible interference in the life of animals and their habitats

We always place the welfare of our subjects above all else. Key to this is the maintenance of safe, informed and responsible working distances and minimizing our impact on the landscape by following the “Leave No Trace – Pack It In, Pack it Out” ethic that maintains the integrity and character of the places we work.

2. Use of Captive Animals

In some cases, photographing captive animals can be a valuable source of rare imagery that can be valuable for specific conservation goals. However, the use of captive animals must be governed by the same ethical considerations as elsewhere:

  • The welfare of the animal should be paramount.
  • Any institution that exploits animals solely for profit should not be utilized or supported.
  • Images of captive animals will be honestly and accurately captioned and never represented as wild.

3. Digital Manipulation

Image manipulation must never alter essential content in such a way that it either misrepresents actual events, or deceives the intended audience, in any context in which the truth of the image is assumed. 

Creative manipulation, when performed, must be fully disclosed to the end user.

4. Truth in Captioning

Photographs deliver information, which should be both accurate and honest. Inaccurate or dishonest captioning reduces the effectiveness of the image as a tool for conservation, subverts its message and undermines public trust.

The main stages of the contest

  • Completion of the artwork registration 30.04.2019
  • Completion of the preliminary selection 31.05.2019
  • Receiving originals and RAW-files 01.06.2019 – 13.06.2019
  • Semi-finals 14.06.2019 – 20.06.2019
  • Additional check by the expert commission 21.06.2019 - 27.06.2019
  • Finals 28.06.2019 – 07.07.2019
  • Special nominations 08.07.2019 – 15.07.2019
  • Award Ceremony – Autumn 2019
  • Exhibition in Moscow – Autumn 2019
  • Exhibition in St. Petersburg – Autumn 2019

Authors and Works Registration

The authors and the works shall be registered at the Golden Turtle Competition web-site in the respective section by a special form.

The author shall complete the registration procedure, then he/she is given a login and a password that are sent to the e-mail address specified in the course of registration.

Then, the author may begin to upload his/her own artwork, edit it, delete it, etc.

At the beginning of the registration, the author shall choose the nomination to present his/her work in.
Then, the author shall upload the works subject to the technical requirements.

To participate in the competition, the author shall provide the following information on his/her work:

  • Author's name;
  • Description of the shooting conditions containing no less than a 1000 symbols (the shooting idea, features of interest, difficulties of the process, specific behaviour of the subject);
  • Description of the device used (the camera model, the lens, the name of any other equipment may be specified optionally);
  • The shooting parameters (optical exposure, aperture, photo sensibility, etc.);
  • The species of the animal in the picture.
Additional Requirements
  • The author may submit to the competition no more than 20 works; in the Landscape nomination, no more than 5 photographs may be submitted.
  • One photograph may be presented in one nomination only.  
  • The photographs sent shall be made no earlier than three (3) years prior to the date of the work registration for participation in the competition.
  • No images of pets and livestock (cats, dogs, mice, rabbits, sheep, horses and other domesticated animals) are accepted to participate in the competition.

The "GOLDEN TURTLE" Photo Contest Technical Requirements and Image Processing Rules 

The "GOLDEN TURTLE" photo contest is a competition in the art of photography, not image processing, so the results of correction should not change the captured reality, nor prevail over the authenticity of the picture taken.

Moreover, since there is a number of hard to formalized criteria in the processing of images, even by the use of classical means, the Technical Expert of the Festival reserves the right to prevent the artwork from getting into the finals in case correctional methods, technically permitted in these Requirements, were used excessively.

Technical requirements for images submitted in PREVIEW format
(Stages: artwork registration, preliminary selection, semi-finals):
  1. The image format is JPEG.
  2. Dimensions: for horizontal works – 1400 pixels horizontally; for vertical works – 1400 pixels vertically.
  3. The file size should not exceed 600 KB.
  4. The name of the image file must correspond with the name of the artwork (for example, the work "Black Bear" should be saved as Black_bear.jpg).
  5. To ensure correct color reproduction, you must embed the work profile in the exported file by selecting the appropriate option when saving the image.
Technical requirements for images submitted upon request from the Organizers after entering the finals
(Stages: finals, expert assessment and printing):
  1. The format of the provided images is JPEG (with the maximum quality of compression), TIFF.
  2. Processed images must be accompanied by the original RAW file for the needs of technical expertise.
  3. The name of the image file must correspond with the name of the artwork (for example, the work "Black Bear" should be saved as Black_bear.jpg).
  4. The size of the work should allow printing in at least the 30x45 cm size with a resolution of 240 dpi. If the image size is not sufficient to maintain the proper quality for exhibition size printing (80х120 cm), it is not recommended to "stretch" the image by use of the editing programs. In case of artwork moving into the finals, such processing will be conducted under the guidance of the Festival Technical Expert.
  5. To ensure correct color reproduction, you must embed the workspace profile in the exported file by selecting the appropriate option when saving the image.
List of ALLOWED methods of digital image processing by the use of editing programs:
  1. Technical retouching, including changing exposure, contrast, saturation, sharpness and white balance.
  2. Small background corrections to remove random objects. For example, the author at the time of shooting was not able to notice the alien object or the photograph was taken from the only possible angle, which did not allow the removal of the extra element from the frame.
  3. Cropping. The use of this technique is limited by the requirements for the size of the final result described in paragraph 4 of the Technical Requirements.
  4. Creating "stitched" panoramas. The Technical Expert of the Festival reserves the right to prevent the artwork from getting into the finals in case the panoramas are low-quality, including violation of geometry, color and/or other stitching defects.
  5. Creation of HDR-files visually not differing from the traditional photo. The use of this method is only permitted to expand the dynamic range in shooting complex scenes.
  6. Conversion of the image into black and white, subject to all the rules described in these requirements.
List of PROHIBITED methods of digital image processing by the use of editing programs:
  1. Image processing leading to fundamental changes in the nature of lighting in the scene.
  2. Creating color and/or brightness contrasts and relations that did not exist in the original image or the destruction of the existing ones.
  3. Montage and composition, including adding, deleting, moving the objects.
  4. Adding additional graphic elements, including signs, frames, vignettes, etc.
  5. Creation of HDR-files with quality defects, including violation of global and local contrasts with pronounced "halo", ratio violations, violations of color and brightness contrasts, etc.

Artwork Originals

In case a work becomes a semi-finalist, the work shall be assigned the semi-finalist status and the author shall be sent an email of the status assignment and a request to submit the RAW file and the large format of the file submitted to the competition, specially prepared for printing.

The files shall be submitted within 14 calendar days from the date of sending the respective letter.

The author shall provide the organizers with the files through a special form in his/her personal online account.

If it is not possible to prepare a quality image for the exhibition, the work shall not be displayed but shall remain a finalist.

The work originals shall be used by the organizers for various purposes, including, but not limited to:
  • Printing of photographs required for the work of the jury;
  • Preparing the final photo album (each author whose work(s) is(are) presented in the photo album is entitled to receive One (1) author's copy of the album);
  • Preparing exhibition copies of the artwork;
  • Making an archive of the competition finalists, etc.

Reasons for Refusal

A work shall not be accepted to participate in the Golden Turtle Photo Contest, if:

  • The work does not meet the requirements specified in these Regulations;
  • The experts, the jury members and the organizers have a reason to believe that the picture was taken by cruel and unethical methods of treating animals;  
  • The work description includes foul language;  
  • The frame is a compilation of several frames (except for cross-linked panoramic pictures allowed in the Landscape nomination);
  • Shooting was made in a zoo or other similar places (except for the Man and Nature nomination);
  • The presented frame is an awardee/winner of other major wildlife photography competitions.

The competition organizers reserve the right not to accept any works that are not of a certain qualitative and technical level, without specifying a reason.


The author should be the right holder of the works they submit. By submitting their works to the Golden Turtle competition, the author agrees with the terms and conditions of the Lisence Agreement.

The participant warrants that his/her work does not infringe intellectual rights of any third parties. In case any third parties make any claims, the participant shall be fully liable for his/her work.

Exhibition copies that are printed at the expense of the Golden Turtle Competition organizers for displaying at the exhibition shall remain with the organizers and may be used by them for the statutory activities of the MY EQUATOR Charity Social Support Fund.

Stages, responsible parties, deadlines and rules for assessing the artwork

Stage 1 — Registration of works

Done by: the administration of the photo contest; online

Timeframe: from December 01, 2018 until April 30, 2019

Rules: Done based on the approved and published standards (see: http://www.wncontest.ru/en/photo/rules/). All selected works receive the REGISTERED status (a.k.a. accepted into the competition). The authors are notified of the status update. 

Deliverable: an image bank of registered artwork

Stage 2 — Preliminary selection

Done by: the members of the Jury of Peers; online

Timeframe: May 01-31, 2019


  • The Jury of Peers is formed from the competition finalists of the past years (5-7 people in each nomination), as well as the experts, who have declined the offer to join the professional jury, and preferred to submit their artwork to the contest as participants.
  • Participation in the Jury of Peers does not prevent the members from submitting their artwork to the contest as participants.
  • The assessment is based on a 10-point scale and is carried out in the member’s private online account.
  • The members of the Jury of Peers have an opportunity to change their assessments during the entire pre-selection period.
  • The members of the Jury of Peers do not have the opportunity to evaluate their own photos. Instead, the average score from the ratings of this photo of other members of the Jury of Peers is added to the score.
  • Based on the assessment results, the system automatically generates a TOP-100 list in each nomination out of the works, that received the highest total score according to the results of the assessment by all the members of the Jury of Peers.
  • The selected works receive the SEMI-FINALISTS status; authors are notified of the status update and receive a request to provide the full-size files (original artwork), the source files (RAW files) and the text descriptions of their works. All information received is published in the Jury of Peers members’ private online accounts.
  • The organizers of the Festival may decide to change the nomination for the works that received the highest score (in the event that the author was mistaken with the choice of the nomination).

Deliverable: an image bank of the TOP-100 works in each nomination, published in the professional jury members’ private online accounts


Done by: the members of the professional jury; online

Timeframe: June 14-20, 2019


  • A professional jury (5 to 9 people) is formed out of professional photographers, winners and runner-ups of international photo contests.
  • Participation in the professional jury does not allow its members to participate in the competition as authors by submitting their artwork.
  • The assessment is based on a 10-point scale and is carried out in the member’s private online accounts. 
  • The highest and lowest scores for each photo are not included in the final score.
  • The results of the assessment of each member of the professional jury are published in the member’s private online accounts of the contest semifinalists (the authors can only see the scores of the their own artwork).
  • Based on the target number of finalists for exhibiting during the Festival (the decision is made annually by the organizers of the Festival), a "passing score" is established in every nomination. 

Deliverable: the preliminary list of the finalists (100-150 photos), published in the expert commission member’s private online accounts


Done by: the members of the expert commission; online

Timeframe: June 21-27, 2019


  • All works in each nomination that have received a "passing score" and above undergo an additional check by the expert commission of well-known biologists and experts in the field of professional photo processing (2-3 people) to establish compliance with the ethical standards of interaction with the subject of photography and non-excessive use of photo editing software.
  • After passing this verification, all works in each nomination that have received a "passing score" and above become the finalists.
  • The authors are notified of the status update; the works are published in the professional jury member’s private online accounts without the scores assigned during the previous stages of selection.

Deliverable: the list of the finalists (100-150 photos), published in the professional jury member’s private online accounts

Stage 5 — THE FINALS

Done by: by members of the professional jury; online

Timeframe: June 28 - July 07, 2019


  • The winners are determined through the use of the double-rating system.
  • Each of the members of the professional jury forms their personal TOP-3 rating of the best works in each nomination (1st place = 3 points, 2nd place = 2 points, 2rd place = 1 point).
  • The system automatically selects 3 works that have received the maximum number of votes from the members of the professional jury in each nomination, and forms a separate list of works that were included in the jury’s TOP-3 lists the most. If these lists coincide with each other, these works subsequently become the winners of the "gold", "silver" and "bronze" awards. In the event that these lists do not coincide, additional voting is taken amongst the works slotted for the 3 top swards. In the event that several works have received an equal number of votes, an additional vote is taken on them by all members of the professional jury.
  • Authors of artwork that has won in one or more nominations, as well as authors who won in two or more nominations themselves, are nominated for the Photographer of the Year award.
  • The winner of the Photographer of the Year award is voted on by the members of the professional jury.

Deliverable: a list of winners of the "gold", "silver" and "bronze" awards in each nomination, as well as the winner of the "Photographer of the Year" award (if established), published in the professional jury member’s private online accounts

Stage 5 — Special nominations

Done by:  the partners of the Festival, who have established special nominations

Timeframe: July 08-15, 2019


  • The partners of the Festival, who have opted for an appropriate sponsorship package, has the right to establish their own nominations (upon approval from the organizers of the Festival).
  • After the final selections are finished by the members of the professional jury, the partners of the Festival get access to all the finalists that did not become winners in the basic nominations and pick the works they wish to award (the level of access depends on the nomination).

Deliverable: an additional list of winners in the special nominations