...I am all for competitions that do not allow cropping. It actually shows the skills of the photographer and their ability to compose and shoot the image and comparing that photographers skills against others doing the same.
I am also for competitions which all the images are shot in the same location.
I will have to respectively disagree with your statement that cropping shows less skill than not cropping. Back in the early 80's when I first started shooting underwater 99.99% of all underwater photographers used a Nikonos V 35mm film camera. 35mm with extension tube and framer for Macro and 20mm for W/A for the most part with a few variations. My point is that the world was turned on it's head when U/W photography went digital and the image delivered in your viewfinder is actually not "real" anyway.
Using a DX or Micro 4/3 camera *is* cropping. It's just accomplished using a different camera sensor instead of in Lightroom. If you don't allow cropping, all you are doing is ensuring competition macro shooters use a high-end APC camera to give them more water space for touchy subjects. If different mechanical tools are allowed, it becomes more about the tool than the skill of the shooter. I'm okay with that, but it goes against the intent of most contest rules.
For that matter, everyone is shooting RAW. By your assessment, we should disallow that because nobody ever submits a photograph to a competition which has not undergone significant modification for contrast, white point, black point, saturation, color temperature and exposure either through in-camera JPEG conversion or through external software. Since every camera uses a different "formula" for creating an in-camera JPEG, even that could be the difference between "better" or "best" in a competition. A correctly exposed RAW photo will usually be flat and dull looking because that is the correct histogram to ensure full dynamic range. An award winning photograph will definitely reflect a photographer's skill with his post-processing software tools.
Very soon we will have a micro 4/3 camera @ 2.0 crop which will have a superior sensor to anything on the market today. If a person uses that in a macro competition against say, a 2009 D7000 is that skill when the photo is comes out better because of the technological advance? If I win a competition using a sunball image from my D800 is that a fair comparison to a sunball from a 12-bit D200?
Photo competition rules were really designed for a world which no longer exists where every camera had the same resolution and pulling an image for a competition was performed using the same darkroom with no spotting or dodging allowed to ensure no advantage was given to any specific competitor. I remember competitions specifying negatives or slides only, no prints allowed way back in the film days. It truly was the image out straight out of your camera with the biggest artistic difference being what type of film you used.
Competitions really need two major categories today -- Artistry and Skills:
- Artistry - Anything goes; separate into the standard categories from there, but you can do anything you want except use someone else's image. Original RAW capture must be provided to prove you didn't blend images. This way, you wouldn't end up with a Whale Shark kissing a Great White Tools used to capture and process the image should be specified, but details are not required since that would be the artist's "secret recipe" for getting images.
- Photography Masters Skills category: Everyone must use the exact same camera, lens and strobe combo. Images are taken on the same dive site at the same time. Camera is set to high resolution JPEG and no alterations at all are allowed. Get Nikon/Canon/Olympus/Sony to sponsor and provide equipment -- good buzz for them. Now THAT would really showcase photography skills.
Cheers Mark, good diving to you
Edited by johnspierce, 03 March 2013 - 11:06 AM.