Rules for 2017
Wilderness Bondar Challenge

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


I.   Goals of the 2017 Wilderness  Bondar Challenge:

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

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(s)
  • To increase participant(s)’ understanding of the limitations of the camera
  • To encourage further learning after the field experience

III. Expectations of what the participating leaders will ensure:

  • Students will have a basic knowledge of camera use and camera care – Camera Tip cards are provided to assist trainers/leaders with this part of the program

e.g., the basics such as holding the camera still and fingers off the lens; camera control such as  focus (dependent on camera type – auto focus or option for manual focus); light; use of a tripod if available; keeping camera dry and out of direct sun

  • Students have been introduced to concepts of artistic composition e.g., framing the subject of interest, rule of thirds, foreground and background; observe in viewfinder for unintended objects

IV.  Challenge Rules & Requirements:

  • 1.     Participant Groups: The 2017 Wilderness Bondar Challenge will be conducted at Sweetgrass Station in Wood Buffalo National Park of Canada with two groups of Grade 7 & 8 students from P.W. Kaeser High School in Fort Smith, NT. It is designed for ages 12 years and older.


  • 2.     Number of Entries: A student may submit one (1) entry.


  • 3.     Entry Fee: No entry fee is payable for participation.


  • 4.     Entry Deadline to the Foundation: In 2017, the Program Coordinator from The Foundation will deliver the program at Sweetgrass and students will complete the GEM cards and select their photograph to be submitted on site. The Program Coordinator will submit the entries on a memory stick to the judges and will travel with them by the end of the program, September 19, 2017. If on site, organizers determine that they need to be mailed on the memory stick following the completion of the program, they are due by 1800 hrs on October 15, 2017.Each image submitted should be labelled with the surname and first name of the student submitting the image. The photograph notes and the artist’s statement on the GEM cards can be transported by the Program Coordinator to The Foundation for judging. If desirable, images loaded on a memory stick with the GEM cards can be mailed by the Parks Canada representative by the entry deadline. Information about The Foundation’s policy regarding intellectual property is included below in point 8.


  • 5.     Contest Submissions: An eligible submission to the contest consists of two elements: a photograph and an artist’s statement on a GEM card (or at the Diamond level, a written artist’s statement if preferred). All photographs must be an original taken by the student him/herself. The requirements for the photograph and artist’s statement submission are described below in points 6 and 7.


  • 6.     Photograph Submission Guideline: The photograph MUST be sent as a jpeg file (.jpg) 300 dpi, a high enough resolution to ensure good quality printing should the entry be selected for framing and display (e.g., to print an 8” x 10” print, 300 dpi and no larger than 3000 pixels in the largest dimension).  Note that no software assisted digital alteration of the photograph is permitted.  Cell phone or tablet cameras produce insufficient resolution quality.


  • 7.     Written Requirements:  A completed card must be submitted for each entry.  Four coloured cards are provided to assist the completion of this component of the Bondar Challenge.  Each card is progressively more challenging for participants.  The trainer/leader overseeing the program needs to determine which level or levels he/she will use with a student – Emerald level, Ruby level, Sapphire level, and/or Diamond Level.  Only one card is to be submitted for each photograph entered into the competition although leaders are free to use more than one in the program with participants, time permitting. The written document comprises two parts:  photographic notes and the artist’s statement (front and back of the GEM cards).  If submitting a written statement in the Diamond category in place of the Diamond GEM card, it is to be submitted electronically or on the memory stick in  .doc .docx or .pdf format.

a.  Photographic Notes

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 (note: all are acceptable) or that an image stabilization camera feature was used

b.  Artist’s Statement (see back of the GEM card)

For the Diamond level Bondar Challenge, an original artist’s statement of approximately 200 words, authored by the student submitting the photograph, can be substituted for the Diamond level GEM card.  The statement should include:

1)     A title for the photograph

2)     The goal of the photograph: what the student had in mind when the photograph was taken and whether or not the goal was achieved

3)     The emotional connection the student has with the photograph

4)     The artistic aspect of the photo: how the composition makes it an appealing image to the student (e.g., lines, colours, textures)

5)     The scientific aspect of the photo: what fact, natural process or principle is included or at work in the image or how the photograph contributes to an appreciation of science; the Biome and/or Ecozone presented in the photograph

6)     Artist’s Critique: how the photograph could be improved, e.g. with a different point of view, by getting closer or farther away, through a different time of day or type of sky, in a different season


  • 8.     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 Wilderness 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.


  • 9.     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.


  • 10.  Announcement of Results: Results will be available on The Foundation’s website by January 15, 2018. The winning entries will be framed and displayed in a Travelling Exhibition and Learning Experience.


  • 11.  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’ ability in a fair manner and will represent the opinion of the judges.  They will choose entries that best fulfill the Wilderness Bondar Challenge objectives based on the Judging Process and Criteria described below. Their decision on all entries is final.


  • 12.  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 his/her own will vet a group of photos and essays and will select the top ten entries as finalists in the competition;

3)     The judges working as a panel will select the winners.


  • 13. Judging Evaluation Criteria: EcoSeek Judging Criteria cards are available for easy reference in the on-line toolkit made available through your Parks Canada representative. A summary follows:

1) Technical component: The photograph submitted was in focus with no unintended motion

2) Artistic dimensions such as:

    • a) Composition – not jumbled; no unintended a 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

V.  Awards – for Participating Students

  • All entrants receive recognition of their participation in the 2014 Wilderness Bondar Challenge
  • A certificate of achievement signed personally by Dr. Bondar
  • Winning individuals receive a special prize recognizing them as a winner of the Wilderness Bondar Challenge – a matted and framed copy of their image
  • An autographed book for individual winners
  • Recognition of the winning photographs and artist’s statements on The Roberta Bondar Foundation website at
  • Winning submissions may travel with an Exhibition and Learning Experience where they will be on public display.


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