Hmmm -- I bet I know which show this is. None of my three pieces made it either and they were in the landscape/natural element side of things. The show of which I speak hung 80 pieces out of 701 submissions, so I just assumed it's the luck of the draw (after all, I belong to APUG, surely I'm a photographic genius - it couldn't be my fault! ). Said exhibit was only partially hung when I was there and I did observe most of what was up involved people.
I am entangled in putting on some art shows for a local club near me and would say judging is always a crap shoot at best, though it does seem a bit weird to be so one-sided in selection in a show advertized as all subjects. My experience is there is usually some interest in encouraging a broad spectrum of subjects and style. If they wanted a "theme" show, they should have said so!
Anyway, I'd say you handled it decently, and they are aware of your disappointment, though it may not help them -- as I say, it's a crap shoot. My art club tries to get different judges every year, and normally gets two for our big open show. We try - sometimes hampered by availability and economics - to get two who specialize in different areas -- say a sculptor and an oil painter to possibly provide some balance. But I can tell you someone is always unhappy -- either about what happened to their own work, or looking at some other piece and mumbling "what were they thinking?!"
We normally issue a set of instructions to the judges including a list of the awards available and some comments about limiting to one cash award per artist to spread the money around better. We also usually provide an approximate number for the quantity of pieces to accept based on our prior experience at the gallery space. Some judges take the ball and run, others have been difficult, claiming to have some sort of "vision" of what they see themselves accomplishing. I just take heart that each year will be different.
Anyway, two of my declined pieces already received awards elsewhere, so phooey on 'em. I think I burned $20 worth of gas on the two round trips, now I'm debating whether to burn more to go see the final result.
You have some very fine shots Derek, try them in some other shows.