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Manipulation of subjects for the shot.

What is your opinion on subject manipulation for the shot?  

154 members have voted

  1. 1. What do you think is 'ok' behavior for a photographer?

    • Get the shot any way possible!
      1
    • It's fine to position the subject by nudging it to get the best shot, so long as it's not injured.
      37
    • Touch nothing and leave only bubbles
      116
  2. 2. To get the same shot as the one I saw in XYZ book/mag/internet, would you

    • It's fine to set up the shot through manipulation so long as the animal doesn't die or is injured.
      18
    • If it's a natural behavior, I'd wait til I get lucky and shoot it.
      136
  3. 3. What is harassment to you?

    • Killing or injuring the animal
      38
    • Any physical contact
      114
    • No such thing as harassment
      2


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"George makes a good point. What is the problem with a nudge here and there to position the fish. If it's not injured or stressed too much, what's the harm?"

 

To me this is the "slippery slope". How many times has someone "nudged" that fish? How do you judge "stressed too much?" If someone sees you do it then do they feel free to do it to other species? Maybe they choose a species more fragile than a stonefish.

 

Also if we reduce the numbers of people prodding or physically positioning creatures doesn't that make the incredible pictures that much more special?

 

Personally I think it would be great to have some kind of "Guidelines for Responsible Underwater Photography". Something that dive guides, dive operations and fellow divers could point to. It would never eliminate the problem but it might get people new to the hobby started in the right direction and make some think twice if they know others are around them when diving....

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Funny thing is that I would think that anyone who describes his photographic interest as "creating art" would be OK with manipulation. Preserving natural or journalistic accuracy isn't important in that case, as Paul said.

You're oversimplifying . Are you truly saying that if your goal isnt journalistic accuracy then you must be the manipulation overlord? If you're not for us, you're against us type reasoning?

 

My goal is to have a great time taking photos for myself, and traveling. How wonderful that underwater photography can combine both. I like the hunt of finding things, and I like to then take unusual images of them if I can. That does not mean by manipulation! I find it unfortunate that you are suggesting it must be.

 

Also on that trip, you will recall Cor, that a photo pro ripped the top off a coral head to gain access to two stonefish. Because the two stonefish faced in opposite directions, I pulled out my pointer in an attempt to turn the 2nd stonefish around and the divemaster pitched a fit.

I recall that well. It is burned into my retina. I found that whole scene appalling. I felt so bad watching it, I quit the dive right there and then and steamed to my room. And maybe that is the famous grey area. For some people maybe that whole chase after 2 stonefish was ok. I dont have a single picture of those stone fish from 3 trips in a row because every time they were badly positioned. For me, that went several steps too far.

 

So which does more damage, poking a stonefish to turn it around or ripping off a chunk of a coffee table-size coral head so you can shoot it in place?

Dont do either. Move to the next subject.

 

I dont want to suggest I dont coax creatures sometimes. I think almost everyone does. Certainly most pros ive been around do in one way or another. But like anything in life, things arent black and white. You make moral decisions every single day of your life. I eat meat, but not if it's from mass production factories. I eat free range eggs only. But then, I drive a "bad" car. I know its bad (no, not an suv). When im interacting with creatures in nature, there is a very clear limit for me on whats acceptable and what isnt. You just feel it in your gut. I cant quantify that limit, but it's there.

 

Cor

 

ps: i agree with all of what pkg said.

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I thought one thing craig said was a good call to action: "I find most of the talk about arbitrary standards of behavior to be unreasonable and hypocritical."

 

Sounds like a good result from all the energy going into this discussion would be a set of standards for underwater behavior well-founded in science (i.e. not arbitrary). They maybe for photographers/videographers, or even divers who just like to look closely at stuff. Maybe there should be standards that are somewhat variable depending on the particular habitat, carrying capacity, season, credentials of diver, etc.

 

There are similar things that exist for people who go for walks in parks and different ones for wilderness areas. Of course, not everyone will agree, but I think that many objections will be avoided if the standards are carefully crafted and can evolve as science learns more about what's going on underwater.

Edited by stillhope

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Personally I think it would be great to have some kind of "Guidelines for Responsible Underwater Photography". Something that dive guides, dive operations and fellow divers could point to.

 

In my experience, dive guides have done the worse "harassment" that I have witnessed to get those tip dollars.

 

There will be a fight topside if I ever witness someone breaking off coral to get a shot :-).

 

Dave

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You're oversimplifying . Are you truly saying that if your goal isnt journalistic accuracy then you must be the manipulation overlord? If you're not for us, you're against us type reasoning?

No, not at all. I simply mean that if journalistic accuracy isn't a consideration, then standards could be relaxed. I didn't mean to say that you should manipulate subjects.

 

My goal is to have a great time taking photos for myself, and traveling. How wonderful that underwater photography can combine both. I like the hunt of finding things, and I like to then take unusual images of them if I can. That does not mean by manipulation! I find it unfortunate that you are suggesting it must be.

Actually, I think we are in close agreement on our views.

 

I recall that well. It is burned into my retina. I found that whole scene appalling. I felt so bad watching it, I quit the dive right there and then and steamed to my room. And maybe that is the famous grey area. For some people maybe that whole chase after 2 stonefish was ok. I dont have a single picture of those stone fish from 3 trips in a row because every time they were badly positioned. For me, that went several steps too far.

Dont do either. Move to the next subject.

There was a question earlier in the thread asking what I'd do if I came across someone abusing the reefs or the creatures. In this case, I felt that by helping model the subject I could minimize any future damage. The choice not to tear off the coral head was not mine to make. I resented being accused of being the problem in that instance, though.

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I for one do not "model" what I shoot but then I live minutes from where I like to dive and am in the water daily. This has allowed me the opportunity to go back again and again to a particular place to try and get the shot that I think I like.

 

If I found out that a particular photographer that I admire for their work has a habit of manipulating their subject I would be greatly disappointed. When I see a beautiful photograph I always assume that that photographer has spent the time and effort to capture that image through patience, subject knowledge, skill and perhaps a bit of luck. An image captured through manipulation might as well be a photoshopped image because it is no more real as a representative of nature in what it represents. I look at many photographs by the great photographers here on Wetpixel and other places as a source of what I should strive to be like and this certainly does not include poking a stick at an animal to make it turn around.

 

Having said this what Craig did my moving the fish to spare the coral does make sense to me however and I would probably do the same thing in his position.

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As an aside, I would point out that the simple act of carrying a pointer stick is an admission (and a mindset of) that "I'm going to touch something".

 

 

All the best, James

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<_<

 

OK, I will admit that I have gently positioned critters. However, I really draw the line at some of the manipulation I've watched guides do to assure us good shots. I do take some notice of people who decry this "harrassment" while still showing shots of crinoid shrimp and soft coral crabs and other creatures that I know animals were harrassed to get.

The photos say it all. I have never seen a crinoid open its arms up to say "hey, here's a nice shrimp to photograph".

 

If you feel you must do a SMALL positioning, do it small and do it gently. Don't finish your dive with ripped crinoid arms still dangling from your guides hands.

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As an aside, I would point out that the simple act of carrying a pointer stick is an admission (and a mindset of) that "I'm going to touch something".

All the best, James

 

 

:) Absolutely wrong!!

 

I user a SAND SPIKE, not a "poker". I can slowly push this fiberglass spike into the sand and use it to position myself in all kinds of water (currents, surge etc). This helps to keep me from moving around while my attention is being focused through a viewfinder. I can find a "dead" area to place it on for balance (even one finger does more damage). I can push it into the sand and hold it with my camera tray handle and use it as a monopod. All of this keeps attrition to a minimum.

 

I have excellent bouyancy control, but viewfinders can severely limit anyone's focal view.

 

I feel that every photographer should carry one and then resist the urge to use it in a cruel manner.

Edited by AllisonFinch

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As an aside, I would point out that the simple act of carrying a pointer stick is an admission (and a mindset of) that "I'm going to touch something".

If you expect people to touch things with pointers, are they also expected to point at things with touchers?

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Pointer, sand spike, poker, special fiberglass balance stick...I think we're all on the same page, we know what these things are. Sheesh.

 

A culture that really, really takes conservation and protection of the environment seriously are cavers. This is a group that offered a US$6,000 reward because someone wrote their initials in the soft bottom of a cave! And if the <insert name here> stick is so benign, why don't cavers use them? It actually is a great way to be ridiculed right out of the community. (Not to mention an easy way to kill yourself)

 

I stand by my assertion, you only take a special stick along to touch something. You're planning on it from the begining.

 

I'm not spreading hateraide here; it's entirely up to you and it's no business of mine. Just trying to be honest.

 

 

All the best, James

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errrrr...... maybe I was too obtuse.

 

I was disagreeing with your premise that these sticks are intended by all divers to be used to "touch" things. Although I've stopped carrying one, I primarily used mine to point at things, secondly as a means to get attention of divers, third, as some protection against the very aggressive trigger fish we have in the region (to scare, not poke). I have on rare occasions used it to push away from a reef that I got too close to but I didn't go down with that plan. Most people I know or work with use it the same way.

 

So, all cavers take the environment seriously? Maybe it was a fish that put his initials in the cave. Then again, I'd be happy to avoid generalizations if you do too.

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If I don't know you, it's not my job to act as the reef policeman. If the behavior is particularly damaging, I may say something but it will be to a group leader or a dive master.

 

Ha - out here in SE Asia it is often the case that the divemaster or dive guide is one of the main culprits. Our dive group has to indicate to guides that their job is to find stuff - not to poke, manipulate, or move stuff.

 

I think it is important for all of us to constantly keep each other in check - for the simple reason that there are no reef police so we have to be each others conscience and eyes and ears sometimes - and if we don't do it then maybe someone will create the reef police.

 

Maybe this is inevitable anyway as diving becomes more accessible and agencies focus on training minimums rather than acceptable behavioural norms.

 

I dont think poking and physically moving critters is acceptable even if they are nudibranchs.

 

btw - this is my starter list of etiquette :) - i have copied it over from the original forum as it seems to be topic de jour currently - http://wetpixel.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=22139

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Also on that trip, you will recall Cor, that a photo pro ripped the top off a coral head to gain access to two stonefish. Because the two stonefish faced in opposite directions, I pulled out my pointer in an attempt to turn the 2nd stonefish around and the divemaster pitched a fit. What the divemaster didn't know was that I was shooting macro and couldn't possibly benefit from the shot I was attempting to set up. My real motivation was to see if I could help get the desired shot without any more of the reef being destroyed.

 

you should have put your poking stick in that particular divers eye and then swam away. people like that do not deserve to be there in the first place. "photo pro"? are you joking?

 

 

Ha - out here in SE Asia it is often the case that the divemaster or dive guide is one of the main culprits. Our dive group has to indicate to guides that their job is to find stuff - not to poke, manipulate, or move stuff.

 

one day a long way into the future it will occur to someone to pay diving professionals a professional wage, and for them to then be responsible for their actions, with failure to do so meaning they will lose that wage and be sorry for it. at the moment most diving wages are a complete joke, and many dive "professionals" are complete jokers. until such a time we will all suffer such consequences.

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Let's be fair about the local dive guides, esp in SE Asia. They are paid a pittance (high for their country's per capita income though)and they get tipped several months or even a year's wage when they perform well... and well means showing difficult to find stuff. Photographers always tip more than leisure divers, so they work harder for them.

If there wasn't a demand for finding and moving subjects around then I doubt they'd work that hard. So it's really the demand from the photographers that has fueled the supply. And like it or not, there is enough money in the 'manipulation' crowd (which seemingly is in the minority) for it to continue. I wouldn't blame the guides as much as the demand from the photographers.

The photopro who damaged coral to get the shot isn't as uncommon as we'd like. This actually makes a great second topic... what would you do if someone blatantly destroys and manipulates beyond all taste and boundaries?

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The photopro who damaged coral to get the shot isn't as uncommon as we'd like. This actually makes a great second topic... what would you do if someone blatantly destroys and manipulates beyond all taste and boundaries?

What can you do except report it to the boat captain / guides etc, and verbally express your disapproval to the individual?

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Interesting read! Amazing that almost %15 think its acceptable to move or manipulate a sea creature or that a more experienced photographer or professional can put the "chopsticks" to something because they can do it without causing stress or injury. I'm throwing the BS flag on that!

 

I really can't believe the amount of gray area people are trying to inject into this very simple topic. Don't touch it. Don't move it. Don't manipulate it. If you can't get a picture of it the way you found it, and aren't willing to wait and see if it moves, then move on to something else.

 

YMMV

 

Jeff

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Totally agrees with JBriggs.

 

In fact, I think UW photographer has done more damage to the environment compared to other leisure divers. I'm one of the guilty party too as I'm still very new into UW photography but I'm trying very hard not to touch anything while shooting.

 

 

Cheers,

:excl::):(

 

p/s - I'm using the same camera as you, jeff. I wonder how many more out there who's using it as well?

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I'm throwing the BS flag on that!

 

I'm afraid I'm going to have to pick up your flag and chuck it back in your direction. :excl: Nothing is that Black and White. When you and Gini are taking pictures of that nice angel on your website did you ever ask her to circle around the fish to keep it headed your way or cutoff her escape? Did you swim in front of the angel to get it's image? That is simply another form of manipulation. Did it stress the fish? Sure. Did it harm the fish? I don't know, as hard as I've tried I can't ask her. We, all of us, affect the reef simply by being there. If we care about being able to pass the legacy of the beauty and wonder on to our kids and theirs we must be stewards of the ocean and all the creatures in it. I agree. But, I'll bet you "manipulate" more than you realize. There is gray here. That being said, I like your approach. It's just a little too holier than thou for my taste. I'd be happy to buy the first round of rum punch, if we ever find ourselves on the same island, and discuss it with you. B)

 

I'm also afraid I must disagree with Vincent."I think UW photographer has done more damage to the environment compared to other leisure divers." If you have ever been under a gaggle of rookie divers blowing clouds of bubbles and headed toward the bottom out of control you wouldn't say that. Unquestionably, in my mind, the number one cause of diver damage is under trained, incorrectly weighted, neophyte divers. What can we do about it? Help them every chance you get.

 

Steve

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Steve, Always willing to meet up with a fellow scuba diver/photographer for a rum punch. :excl: Human life impacts the environment both above and below the water and that is fact we all have to deal with in our own way. Heading off a fish certainly does introduce some gray into the discussion (and could be considered manipulation by some) but no I haven't ever asked Gini to coral fish for me. That said after reading this thread and the one that brought this out I have had to sit down and think about how I do things while diving (always a good thing). I still believe physically moving something to get a better shot is wrong.

 

It's a personal choice for me to try and keep it as black and white as possible rather than decide how much gray I'll let in. Not holy just my opinion. Chopsticks are for dinner not diving! :)

 

Belize Jan 08', Bonaire Aug 08' so lets work on that rum punch!

 

Vincent, I know of several folks using various "SD" models. I just recently added a Canon A570 IS to my kit. Camera and housing for under $300. What a bargain.

 

Jeff

Edited by JBriggs

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... what would you do if someone blatantly destroys and manipulates beyond all taste and boundaries?

 

I definitely wouldn't sit back and watch. I am kind of curious why the posters above felt bad in what they saw, but did nothing. Did you even say anything to this d%$khead?

 

To start off, I would do what I could to mess up their shot (ie: grab their tank yoke and move them or add air to their BC). When we got topside it would depend on how far they wanted to take it....I am not a small man :-).

 

Of course, now that I said that, I probably won't get invited on any more trips :-). But then again, I don't want to be around people like that anyway....no matter how big of "Pro" they are.

 

Dave

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Interesting that once people put their head underwater all animals get hurt if we interact with them, but once on the surface it's ok and won't hurt the animal. Somethings are ok to interact with and some aren't, it's no different underwater than it is above, just make sure you know what it is before manipulating/touching it.

 

Jeff i'm sure the animal in this photo http://jeffngini.zenfolio.com/p647090825/?...5441#1024218177 wasn't injurd by the person touching it. But it sure isn't natural behaviour for it and I bet the first human contact it came into it was a bit aprehensive about it.

 

I've had a turtle sit on me when I've taken a photo of it because it saw its reflection in my dome port and wanted a closer look. I can asure you it was not hurt when I gently pushed it off me, nor was it any worse off (IMHO) for me having been there. It just kept on with what it was doing and is still going strong nearly a year later(it had a distinct making on it's shell). It even comes over and says hello every now and then, a bit like the birds in the backyard get used to you being there and don't fly off as soon as you walk out the back door like they used to.

 

The touch pool at a lot of public aquarium show that some things are ok to touch

Edited by marinedomain

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Jeff i'm sure the animal in this photo http://jeffngini.zenfolio.com/p647090825/?...5441#1024218177 wasn't injurd by the person touching it. But it sure isn't natural behaviour for it and I bet the first human contact it came into it was a bit aprehensive about it.

 

Can't argue with that being pointed out and is something I thought about after reading these posts. Stingray City in Cayman comes to mind as well.

 

Dave, Gini and I will dive with you any time. :excl:

 

Jeff

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I definitely wouldn't sit back and watch. I am kind of curious why the posters above felt bad in what they saw, but did nothing. Did you even say anything to this d%$khead?

 

To start off, I would do what I could to mess up their shot (ie: grab their tank yoke and move them or add air to their BC). When we got topside it would depend on how far they wanted to take it....I am not a small man :-).

 

 

dbh:

It is one thing to disapprove of what you observe under water, but to add air to some ones BC is not only stupid, but a highly unsafe practice. Consider the life long consequences, both morally and financially. if you were responsible for some one's uncontrolled ascent.

 

Furthur more while as you say "I am not a small man" , there is always some one bigger in the forrest!

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dbh:

It is one thing to disapprove of what you observe under water, but to add air to some ones BC is not only stupid, but a highly unsafe practice. Consider the life long consequences, both morally and financially. if you were responsible for some one's uncontrolled ascent.

 

Furthur more while as you say "I am not a small man" , there is always some one bigger in the forrest!

 

You are correct. I was speaking from my emotions and not my brain (bad habit of mine). The best thing to do would be to get pictures of them doing the destruction and send them to his / her publisher as well as post them on all u/w photography websites. I would, however, convey my disgust after the dive. It is not my nature to sit back and do nothing.

 

BTW, I wouldn't totally fill the BC....only enough to mess up his / her buoyancy :-).

 

Dave

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