I'm down in Portland at the PSA Conference. Last night I saw the digital images that were awarded some recognition, and about half of the images that were submitted, judged, and considered suitable for "Acceptable for Competition" from which the images that received recognition were drawn. 2800 images were submitted from makers in 17 countries, and a little less than 700 were accepted. I can say I did see some brilliantly done work. The overwhelming majority of the images were well processed but not manipulated to any obvious degree.
The upshot of the presentation to me is: we do work comparable to all but the prize winning images in the "Open" category. Even then, we have work that is very close in quality and presentation. We need a lot of work in the "Nature" category.
The Nature images were quite spectacular. Only about 10% of them were from 'exotic' locales (Africa, the Antartic, etc). Many looked to be shot locally to the makers. There were submitters from Breat Britain, Germany,The Netherlands, Australia. So to us that's pretty exotic, however the subjects were owls, raptors, and mammels similar to what we can see here. Most images appeared to be from North America. Most of those were song birds, and raptors that we can see in our area. There were a few dozen macro shots. Many of pretty common subjects including Tent Catepillars, and Dandilions, Maple leaves, mushrooms, and the like.
I think we should feel pretty good about what we do. We just need to do more of it!