Guide and General Instructions on IRCC Certifications
To make a request for certification of your photographs at IRCC, it is essential to read carefully the guidelines and instructions detailed below.
• General considerations
The certifications issued by IRCC are the result of a complex and complete
comparative analysis between the JPG photograph to be certified and the
original file, RAW or native DNG as support.
The certification process is carried out in several stages, through automatic and visual controls, which are summarized below:
1. Match validation between revealed JPG file and original RAW.
2. Creation of a perfect mirror of the edited JPG, from the original RAW.
3. Analysis and validation of JPG file metadata.
4. Diagnosis of global processing of the JPG image, by quantification of percentage differences of the accumulated values, 0 to 255 per pixel, for the Gray and RGB channels.
5. Diagnosis of zonal processing of the JPG image, divide into 9 partitions or areas, by quantifying percentage differences of the accumulated values, 0 to 255 per pixel on the Gray and RGB channels, for each of the 9 areas.
6. Visual analysis of differences between revealed JPG files and original RAW, through two specific views for this purpose, called “HSV and Overlay”, for detection of manipulations or alterations with respect to the original photograph.
7. Validation of the certification granted by a minimum number of “Controllers”.
• Objectivity in the delimitation of the processing values that enable certification.
The maximum processing values established as a limit which provide the
granting of IRCC certifications, have been determined after a comparative
diagnosis of a sample of more than 3.200 photographs admitted in different international
photography competitions, by measuring differences between JPG files with respect to their original RAW files.
An objective reference of the average and maximum percentage variations of the aforementioned sample has been obtained, thereby adopting the processing values generally admitted at present moment, through the comparative mathematical data obtained from the sample.
The average values resulting from the comparison between JPG and RAW files of the complete sample analyzed were:
• Channels: Gray: 19.26% / Red: 20.07% / Green: 18.14% / Blue: 18.62%
The average values of the 250 photographs in the sample, with the highest percentage variation results found, were:
• Channels: Gray: 26.37% / Red: 28.76% / Green: 25.91% / Blue: 27.62%
Based on the detailed preliminary study, IRCC has established the maximum percentage variation limits applicable in the comparison between the edited JPG file and the original RAW, which determine the acceptance of the JPG file as certifiable. The percentage value concluded as a maximum limit of the variance between the edited JPG and its original RAW, is 30% on any of the Gray, Red, Blue or Green channels.
This limit therefore corresponds to the values of processing currently "in use" and implicitly accepted by international photography competitions, having therefore transformed subjective "rules or parameters" stated on the competition’s rules, into a measurable and objective assessment that supports the IRCC certifications.
IRCC certifications are then granted to JPG images with percentages of variation between JPG and RAW/DNG files, lower than 30% both globally and by area (9 area division).
Additionally, IRCC certifications are registered with additional information concerning the level of variation found between edited JPG and original RAW/DNG. So, the following internal information is provided for the certified images:
- A: % variance limit lower than 14%
- B: % variance limit lower than 22%
- C: % variance limit lower than 30%
However, certain competitions may require a more restrictive edition at their competition rules (they might only accept a lower maximum percentage level of JPG-RAW variation from image edition process), so according to the % level of image edition shown at the IRCC certification of every individual photography, each photographer must manage his participation at photo competition with images that meet the maximum levels set in every particular competition rules.
• About photo edition
The photographer should keep in mind that any editing action on the original photograph, such as the application of contrast, saturation, color correction, brightness modification, focus, noise reduction, either globally or zonally, entails variations in the pixel values of each channel (Gray and RGB), which will be subject to further evaluation to determine the degree of processing on the original image.
It could be common that certain default values preloaded in the editing software (focus, noise reduction, etc.), even without any further development action, would determine some minimum values of percentage variation between the saved JPG and the original file open from one image.
Even the repeated opening and saving action of a JPG file, without the need to incorporate additional processing values (contrast, saturation, etc.), can also produce minimal percentage variations derived from the consecutive opening and saving actions, due to the new file recompression.
IRCC does not establish recommendations on editing methodology, nor assessing in any way the individual workflows in image processing. Nevertheless, photographers are provided with some equivalence guidelines between “proportional and progressive variations on values of editing parameters such as contrast-saturation-light-focus-etc” and its correspondence with the “percentage variations resulting on the Gray and RGB channels” between the original RAW and edited JPG files, which will determine the possible granting of the certification for a photography.
The user / photographer, after his request for certification of a photograph in IRCC, will be able to verify which is the data of the variations by channels obtained between JPG and RAW, concluding so what the margin is to increase or reduce the editing level applied to his photography. Then, the photographer's own experience through their certification requests will therefore be the best knowledge tool about the possible processing limits to be applied for future images.
• Prerequisites for the certification application
In order to obtain IRCC certificates, you must register on the IRCC Photographic Association website. Registration at IRCC is free. Once registered, a limited number of credits are automatically assigned, which the photographer can use to certify his photographs. Optionally the photographer could apply for an annual subscription through which additional credits will be granted for application of new certifications. The credits granted by the yearly subscription will be subject to the conditions in force at the time of registration, being able to benefit from extensions of credits due to belonging to certain Photographic Associations with agreements signed with IRCC.
The application for a certification entails the consumption of credits established in the conditions in force on the date of application, except in the cases of a second application is requested for the same photograph initially rejected. Therefore, it is possible to make a correction of the processing values on the same photograph, which allows the photographer to certify his image without additional consumption.
For each request for certification of photographs, the acceptance of the “Ethical Manifesto” available in the application form is required, as an express statement by the photographer on compliance with the provisions contained therein.
• Certification modality
IRCC issues two types of certifications as accreditation and guarantee of authenticity of the photograph that is intended to be certified:
- RAW Certification: issued for applications based on the submission of “RAW” or “native DNG” files, as support for the edited JPG photograph that is intended to be certified.
This certification will be suitable for all photography contests whose rules require RAW provision.
- JPG Certification: issued for applications based on the submission of the “original JPG camera” file, as support for the edited JPG photograph that is intended to be certified.
Obtaining certifications based on an original JPG camera file, proves that the edited JPG image corresponds to the aforementioned original camera file, within the established editing limits, although it will not be admitted in most of the photography competitions, depending on their rules, in case there is no RAW or native DNG file available as support.
• About the application process and photo specifications
To carry out the request for certification of a photograph, both the "JPG edited" file (JPG user) and "original RAW" or "native / original DNG" available as support, must be submitted using the form enabled for this purpose.
In the application form, you can choose to require the inclusion of your image in public galleries of certified photographs enabled on the IRCC website.
The edited JPG file must comply with the following specifications:
- You cannot certify photographs that lack metadata (Exif data).
- Accomplishment of the required dimension on the larger side of the image, which is specified in the upload form (1920px). Image must be submitted with RGB or SRGB color profile.
- The photograph must not contain frames, signatures or watermarks.
- Regarding the limitations of cropping or reframing, the high quality version of the edited JPG must have at least 8MP without interpolation.
Other considerations on modalities of photographs suitable for certification:
- Applications for certification for images composed of MULTIPLE EXPOSURES IN CAMERA are accepted, provided they generate a single RAW and have been taken in the same date, checking the labels of Image metadata. For certain camera models, the individual RAW files that make up the final RAW will be requested. For all of them, the labels of "Date", "Name or File number" and "Trigger number" among others will be checked. The sequentiality will be accredited by verification of the same date for all RAWs checked and correlation check of shooting numbers. The certified image will include the information corresponding to the multiple exposure mode used.
- Applications for certification of PANORAMIC PHOTOS are accepted, having to select the “panoramic photography” certification option in the application form. As original file support, all original RAW files that make up the resulting panoramic image must be submitted. Applications for panoramic photos based on wildlife or animal life are not accepted.
- Applications for certification of photos resulting from FOCUS STACKING are accepted, having to select the “stacking photography” certification option in the application form. As original file support, only 3 of the original RAW files that make up the resulting stacked image (first of the series, central of the series and last of the series) must be submitted.
- Certification applications for images converted to grayscale (BLACK AND WHITE) are accepted. Requests for certification of photos under selective gray-scale conversions of parts of them, will be rejected in the automatic verification processes of variations between edited and original files.
• Possible reasons for refusal of a certification request
Possible reasons why the request for a certification can be denied are detailed below.
- Error in the files uploaded corresponding to the certification application, if the couple of files might not correspond to the same photograph.
- For applications corresponding to certifications with “original camera JPG” file as support, if the support JPG file does not correspond to an original file (metadata will show indication of external software edition).
- Distortion of the edited image or unsupported perspective transformation.
- Excessive global processing values, (exceeding the maximum allowed percentage of variation for any of the Gray / RGB channels.
- Excessive zonal processing values, exceeding the maximum allowed percentage of variation for any of the Gray / RGB channels, in any of the 9 areas or sub-images from the original image.
- Detection of alteration or modification of pixels in specific areas of the image (deletions, clones or manipulations that are detected in the visual control)
• Consequences of obtaining a certification
Obtaining the IRCC certification will allow you to guarantee the authenticity of your photograph and is materialized by calculating and registering a SHA256 hash code associated with the certified file. The hash code is a secure 64-character code resulting from algorithmic function and uniquely linked to your edited JPG photograph.
Keep in mind the following considerations regarding the certification of your image:
- It is recommended to keep a copy of the certified JPG file on which you have obtained the IRCC certification.
- Any modification you make on your certified JPG file will result in the alteration of its hash code, losing so the status of “certified file” and the option of being used for any purpose related to the certification obtained.
- The simple opening and subsequent saving of your certified JPG file by any software for images edition, involves the alteration of the hash code (the opening and saving action implies a change of date in the metadata of the file).
- The modification of the name of the certified JPG file (rename action of the file in Windows or MAC), does not entail the alteration of the hash code of the file.
- IRCC will keep a copy of the certified JPG file on its servers for a period of 4 years, which you can download at any time from your registered user account.
- Your certified JPG file may be used in competitions associated with IRCC, in which you will participate as a "certified photographer".
- Participation in competitions associated with IRCC as a "certified photographer" and presentation of your certified JPG files, means that you are not required at any time by the competition, the RAW file supporting any of your certified photographs.
- In addition to the copy of the certified JPG file, the user / photographer may download the following files associated with his certified photograph:
o “JPGhash” file: it is a complementary file to your certified JPG photograph, without a frame and including an IRCC watermark. This file has a hash (SHA256) associated with the hash of the certified JPG file.
o “JPGQR” file: it is a complementary file to your certified JPG photograph, including frame and QR code. This file has a hash (SHA256) associated with the hash of the certified JPG file.
- The files "JPGhash" and "JPGQR", can be used for publication in any media, social networks or individual portfolios, allowing to verify their certification and authenticity for third parties. These files should not be used for participation in competitions, in which the edited JPG certified file would be the only one to be used.
• Verification of certified photographs
The possibility of verifying the certification of your image by third parties will allow you to grant credibility and guarantee of authenticity to your photography.
The verification and confirmation of an IRCC certified image can be done through the following options:
- Verification from the SHA256 hash of the image on the IRCC website
- Verification from an image file, through free upload to the IRCC website
- Verification from the QR code visible in the “JPGQR” files (the reading of the QR code can be carried out by means of a camera of any mobile device, or by Google Lens without the need to install any application)