Rules for the Online Bondar Challenge


Goals, Objectives, Rules, Regulations,
Judging Criteria and Awards


I. Goals of the Bondar Challenge:

  • To help the public develop a lifelong affinity for both the joy of photography and the love of nature
  • To provide an environmental and artistic learning opportunity
  • To help participants use the camera to ‘see’ the environment around them with a discerning eye and mind
  • To teach participants how to use cameras as an effective means of capturing images and concepts
  • To help participants articulate their feelings about what they see and express those feelings clearly
  • To help participants understand the science contained within the art of the photograph

II. Objectives of the Competition:

  • To photograph something in the environment or an ecosystem that reflects the theme of “Connecting with the Natural Environment” and is artistically attractive when photographed
  • To communicate an understanding of what aspect of the photograph makes it a strong artistic image and what the science is behind components of the image
  • To improve the camera techniques of the participant
  • To increase understanding of the limitations of the camera
  • To encourage further learning after the Bondar Challenge experience

III. Challenge Rules & Regulations:

  • 1. Participant Groups: The Bondar Challenge is open to the general public. Access to learning resources and activities is provided at no charge. However, entry into the competition is only open to Canadian residents and requires a payment of $20.00 per submission. The competition was originally designed for youth ages 11 years and older but younger age groups and adults have participated in the program as well.


  • 2. Devices: Participants are permitted to use point-and-shoot cameras, smartphones and tablets, as long as image quality is sufficient. Please see section 7 for rules on image specifications.


  • 3. Number of Entries: A participant may submit a maximum of two (2) entries to the competition.


  • 4. Entry Fee: A fee of $20.00 per submission will be required for each submission.


  • 5. Entry Deadline to the Foundation: Deadlines will be announced on social media and entries to the competition must be submitted by the end of the posted date. All photographic submissions must be emailed to the Program Coordinator. Electronic GEM cards can be filled out and submitted here. Information about The Foundation’s policy regarding intellectual property is included below in point 9.


  • 6. Contest Submissions: An eligible submission to the contest consists of two elements: a photograph and a completed artist’s statement (i.e., a GEM card). Each photograph must be an original taken by the participants themselves. The requirements for the photograph and artist’s statement submission are described below in points 7 and 8.


  • 7. Photograph Submission Guidelines: The photograph MUST be sent as a jpeg file (.jpg) 300 dpi, a high enough resolution to ensure good quality display should the entry be selected for for publishing on The Foundation’s website (e.g., 300 dpi and no larger than 3000 pixels in the largest dimension). Note that software assisted digital alteration of the photograph is not permitted. Photographs should be saved with this labeling structure:
    SmithLRu (Last Name, First Letter of First Name, First Two Letters of GEM Card Level).


  • 8. Written Requirements: A completed artist statement must be submitted for each entry, in the form of either a written statement or one of our GEM cards. Four categories of cards are provided on our website to assist the completion of this component of the Bondar Challenge. Each card is progressively more challenging for participants – Emerald level, Ruby level, Sapphire level and Diamond level. Participants can select the level of difficulty they wish to compete in. Younger participants may have parents/guardians select their level. Only one card is to be submitted for each photograph entered into the competition.
    In place of a GEM card, participants have the option of submitting a written statement of their own composition. If a separate written composition is chosen as the format, a GEM level must still be selected by the participant and identified on their written statement. The statement can be submitted in legible handwritten form, or preferably typewritten form, and sent to the Program Coordinator. Like the GEM cards, written submissions should be comprised of two parts: photographic notes and the artist statement:

a. Photographic Notes – A summary follows:
1) Name of the photographer making the submission (surname and first name)
2) Date and time the photograph was taken
3) A title for the photograph
4) Weather at the time the photograph was taken e.g. sunny, overcast, partial cloud, rain, mist; and approximate temperature
5) Type of camera used
6) Camera settings e.g., auto; shutter priority; macro setting
7) Place where the photo was taken
8) Whether the camera was handheld or tripod mounted (all are acceptable) or that an image stabilization camera feature was used

b. Artist’s Statement
An original artist statement composition can be substituted for a GEM card. If a written submission is chosen, it should be no more than 200 words authored by the participant submitting the photograph, containing the following:
1) A title for the photograph
2) The goal of the photograph: what the entrant had in mind when the photograph was taken and whether or not the goal was achieved
3) The emotional connection the entrant has with the photograph
4) The artistic aspect of the photo: how the composition makes it an appealing image to the entrant (e.g., lines, colours, textures)
5) The scientific aspect of the photo: what fact, natural process or principle that is included or at work in the image; the Biome and/or Ecozone presented in the photo
6) Artist’s Critique: how the photograph could be improved, e.g. with a different point of view, moving closer or farther away, through a different time of day or type of sky, in a different season


  • 9. Participant Agreement: The Roberta Bondar Foundation (also referred to as The Foundation) respects rights related to copyright laws and intellectual property and therefore the participant retains the copyright of the image. By submitting to the Bondar Challenge competition, the participant agrees to abide by the rules and regulations including originality and takes any and all legal responsibility for breaches of copyright caused by plagiarism, intentional or otherwise. The Foundation reserves the right to disqualify inappropriate or unsuitable entries.
    By entering the competition, the participant agrees to allow The Foundation, or any public or private agency authorized by The Foundation, to use a picture and name of the winning individual as well as the submission in whole or in part for any purpose including exhibition and research, for use on its website, in print or e-book publication form, and for marketing or promotional purposes as determined by The Foundation, without compensation of any kind. There is no signed waiver required by participants.


  • 10. Release of Liability: The Foundation, and/or its employees/agents involved in the contest will not be held liable for missing, mislabeled, damaged, or non-displayed photographs. By entering a submission, the contest participant accepts this release.


  • 11. Announcement of Results: Results for the Online Bondar Challenge will be available on The Foundation’s website once the judging process is complete. The winning entries may be framed and displayed in a Travelling Exhibition and Learning Experience at a host gallery in the future.


  • 12. Judges: The Foundation has selected a number of judges from professions in the sciences, arts, education and photography. The evaluation will be performed to the best of the judges’ abilities in a fair manner and will represent the opinion of the judges. They will choose entries that best fulfill the Bondar Challenge objectives based on the Judging Process and Criteria described below. Their decision on all entries is final.


  • 13. Judging Process:
    1) Judges will read the artist’s statement and review the image. The two components will be judged as an integrated whole;
    2) Each judge on their own will vet a group of photos and artist statement cards and will select the top ten entries as finalists in the competition;
    3) The judges working as a panel will select the winners.


  • 14. Judging Evaluation Criteria:
    1) Technical component: The photograph submitted was in focus with no unintended motion
    2) Artistic dimensions such as:
      a) Composition – not jumbled; no unintended objects
      b) Focus of interest
      c) Colour, lines, texture
      d) What was it in the environment that was appealing? What attracted the participant to take the photo?
    3) Scientific dimensions such as:
      a) Accuracy of information presented
      b) Identifying or explaining a scientific fact or principle that is at work in the photograph
      c) Photograph reflects the theme of the competition
     d) Biome and/or Ecozone identified

IV. Awards – for Participants and Winners

  • All entrants receive recognition of their participation in the Bondar Challenge
  • A certificate of achievement signed by Dr. Bondar
  • Recognition of the winning submissions on The Roberta Bondar Foundation website at
  • Winning submissions may travel with The Foundation’s Travelling Exhibition and Learning Experience where they will be on public display as winners of the Bondar Challenge


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