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LAUPS winners: Subject's manipulation?

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However, sadly for many its 'Fame' and 'money'...

 

Fame, money and integrity can go hand in hand but perhaps not always in the company of haste......

 

In this instance the photographer may have just been in the right place at the right time. Perhaps its best that LAUPS, if it chooses, sees if there is a case to answer or not.

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I think the image exif that LAUPS has is not the actual exif. I remember in the past this was the case but don't remember why it gets posted that way.

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Fame, money and integrity can go hand in hand but perhaps not always in the company of haste......

 

Agreed, totally

 

Dive safe

 

DeanB

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Looks like the EXIF is screwy. 2.1 sec shutter speed?!?

 

The shutter speed here is 1 Sec!? Time/Space continuum must've been pretty slow that day!

 

Just save these jpgs and look at exif in PS or any other editor/viewer...

You will find Exposure Time: 1/320 and 1/160

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It's far more disappointing that LAUPS has not responded to requests from the judges and the public in general. I contacted Kelly Bracken and she said she'd look into it. 2 weeks later and nothing. Given that the holiday season is over, hopefully they will respond to this query. It'd be interesting to see which competitions have controversial entries. Even the BBC WPOY isn't immune, so it must be pretty common.

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It's tough to do things right.

Two weeks ago I was tracking a lovely yellow seahorse in the Philippines. I was watching it move from one place to another (without my help, mind you) hoping it would go to a place where I could photograph it without endangering the surrounding corals. A Russian photographer saw me watching it intently, came up and shoved his camera at the seahorse and snapped away. He scared it deeper into the staghorn corals. No problem for him....he grabbed a large branch of the coral in his way and broke it off. I was so angry I aborted the dive to fume. It was hard being on the same boat and be in any way civil.

 

Good thing he didn't speak English.....

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Allison,

 

May I ask did you via the DM, someone else, make it clear to this guy that breaking off coral is not acceptable? Did you inform the DM of his actions? I know it is uncomfortable but I am curious.

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... in natural history there is absolutely no space for altering of an image digitally...

 

I find "shorthand" comments like this, even from such lofty pinnacles of photographic achievement, very unhelpful: we must understand that there is a lot of digital manipulation taking place in the electronics of the camera and that there are certain manipulations that can be controlled on a computer that do not affect the integrity of the image: starting with RAW conversion...

 

... consider this: even if it is evidence of a lesser degree of photographic skill, does introducing a blurred masked background layer, instead of using an optical set-up with appropriate Bokeh, really invalidate a natural history image except in the specific context of a competition?

 

Why is time and effort in the water rewarded and time and effort in the digital darkroom rejected?

 

Tim

 

:dancing:

Edited by tdpriest

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... I was tracking a lovely yellow seahorse in the Philippines... (a) Russian photographer saw me watching it intently, came up and shoved his camera at the seahorse and snapped away. He scared it deeper into the staghorn corals. No problem for him....he grabbed a large branch of the coral in his way and broke it off...

 

Now this is much more serious than a bit of digital darkroom work: unacceptable in photojournalism, or art.

 

Tim

 

:dancing:

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Mauricio, you think all of Ansel Adams' images should be removed from our heritage because he manipulated his shots with the technology available to him at that time?

 

I know people always refer to Ansel Adams, but thats because when someone says that only in-camera work is valid, they never actually give an argument to why, and why Adams was somehow different.

 

To me it's more about intent. Did the photographer intent to deceive. Thats subjective, but photography is subjective and cant easily be put into black and white rules.

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in natural history there is absolutely no space for altering of an image digitally

Mauricio Handler

Mauricio

 

How about stitched panoramas, focus stacked images, HDR shots - all techniques which might, in the right circumstances, produce more 'natural' images (ie more similar to the image which the eye sees) than images using in-camera techniques only. One of the problems with photo contests is that they can be misled by an image which involved potential subject manipulation, but they still deny the photographer the right to make digital adjustments even if these were determined by the photographer before the in-camera image was taken. I do not understand the mystique which surrounds an 'original in-camera image' and its about time many photo contests moved on and realised that digital photography is now a fusion of camera work and software adjustment. Failure to do so simply holds back photography.

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Well I do think Mauricio's post is being taken out of context. I don't think he's saying there should be no post processing, but the line has to be drawn somewhere, and it was by LAUPS' own rules.

Digital manipulation, as I see it, is limited to levels and saturation and the like, but not say masking the subject and blending a new background or even adding another subject for effect. Same for poking and prodding a subject to get the pose right, that to me, is harassment. As usual, this particular topic brings out very subjective opinions, from the no touchy touchy to the "hey it's still alive after I'm done with it" crowd.

Staying on topic, the sea moth is benthic by nature. For the picture to be taken, the fish would have to be off the seafloor by a large amount. It's not the same as changing the levels and color saturation.

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Well I do think Mauricio's post is being taken out of context. I don't think he's saying there should be no post processing, ...

Sorry Drew but the post was pretty categoric as far as I can see. I totally agree that there should be no subject manipulation (prodding, poking, moving, etc.) in a natural history image, but to suggest that an image that was produced in camera is sacrosanct (except for the several 'acceptable' parameters which can be adjusted during the raw conversion) is IMHO becoming less and less credible as software becomes more powerful.

 

I have seen examples of 'focus stacking' done 'in camera' using film (multi exposures using masks - very difficult and of mediocre quality) but this is much better achieved digitally - multiple images and software. Would it be acceptable to use such a technique provided it was carried out 'in camera' and shooting a motionless natural history subject? There is no subjectivity here.

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Probably for photojournalism, natural history etc as Mauricio mentions, the requirements are much stricter, going beyond intent, and documenting the truth and reality of the situation being documented. Defining truth and reality is really as simple as the stipulation that anyone placed in the same situation, scene etc, would have a similar visual experience without any manipulation of the subject or scene. So really any post processing that sticks within these guidelines, even much of Ansel Adam's works, would probably fill these criteria.

Once the photographer starts manipulating the image to the degree that he is reflecting his inner vision, that would not be immediately apparent to someone standing next to him, it probably goes beyond what is acceptable for natural history and photojournalism. It's also pretty clear that some techniques such as focus stacking would be acceptable whether in camera or not, and others such as HDR might not.

Image manipulation and subject manipulation are also different. Just like Doubilet's nudi series - no image manipulation but clearly subject manipulation. Nat Geo is not OK with the former, but obviously finds the latter to be OK.

Edited by loftus

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Taking the topic subject and Mauricio's entire quote, I do think it's a little unfair to take his words out of context. Imagery is a very wide ranged field. In natural history and photojournalism, the code is very strict. Can you imagine if the pictures from Abu Ghriab were faked? What about Wolfgate (BBC WPOY) if it were allowed to stand as "wildlife?"

Reuters was also apologetic about the "repeating smoke" picture. There is a certain integrity that is expected.

Now going back to competitions like the LAUPS. If they didn't have such rules in the first place, there'd be nothing to say about this. Do we, as a community which supports such competitions, have the right to query the entries? I think we do. There is no proof that the photos had manipulated subjects as of yet.

Speaking of the Doubilet nudibranch pics, it's obvious that David realizes there is a certain number of people who do care about subject manipulation. That is why he even explains how he took the photos as well online. I doubt he'd have to do that in the 80s and 90s. As Paul as, times have changed and so has technology. But the basic principle of natural history photography has changed. I mean it's one thing to make a fake insect farm to see what happens underground, at least there's no hiding it's simulated.

However, the pretense of manipulated subjects as "natural" is another matter altogether.

In photojournalism (war, human tragedy, stories about people) and in natural history there is absolutely no space for

altering of an image digitally and or influencing the moment via subject manipulation ,etc. as he credibility of what we see is then

put into question.

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Drew, no one took Mauricios words out of context, he provides the context himself and makes it broader than the original topic. He says there is absolutely no space for altering of an image digitally in natural history, and that all effects should be done in-camera.

 

I dont think anyone would disagree that a tame wolf, or fake smoke during a war, are indeed unacceptable. Manipulating the content of the image is a deadly sin. Like i said earlier, the photographer means to deceive. No one disputes that that is wrong I think. But there is more to it than adding smoke or using a tame wolf. The photographer of the Abu Ghriab images could have said to himself 'you know what, I dont remember these shadows in these dark halls to be so harsh, im going to lighten them up a bit so you can see more detail'. It changes nothing to what the image is about. It adds no prisoners, angry dogs or fake blood. Yet, it was 'altered digitally out-of-camera'. Im not sure how this works in photojournalism. Will a war journalist be brought down if he selectively adds a mask to brighten, darken, or whatever effect you want, a certain part of an image without changing what the image is about? Anyone know how this works?

 

In nature photography this is obviously the case. In many contests they dont allow these types of selective changes, and you feel an undercurrent of disrespect to someone who does. And when you ask why, it's usually about the art of getting it right in-camera, like old-skool. But, really, when old-skool made print, thats all they did. Dodging, burning, to make the image closer to what they remember, and thus better. But in the digital age when we make our digital prints (ie: screen) we're now saying, dodging and burning (and other selective skills) are a sin, and anyone who uses them is highly suspect.

 

Why is this? It fascinates me. Why was it ok for Ansel Adams and other masters (and we actually see it as part of their amazing skills) but not for us?

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times have changed and so has technology

Technology has always evolved and as it has done so the users of that technology have had to redefine what is and what is not acceptable - for example a high speed flash photo of a hovering insect is now accepted as a natural history photograph if taken in the wild, despite it portraying a subject in a way which we could never see for ourselves. What is important is to understand that changes in technology are opportunities to portray the natural environment in new ways. Sometimes there is a great deal of ludditism involved and it takes time and effort to make those responsible for setting out the rules realise that they need to take new ideas and methods of image production on board and to adjust those rules accordingly.

 

Subject manipulation is generally unacceptable (although I am sure that it too has grey areas - baiting, access, etc.) but the belief that digital alteration is unacceptable is too generalised at the moment, and its too be hoped that readers of threads such as this one will start to ponder whether there are in fact acceptable levels of manipulation/alteration, some of which are driven by techniques only available by utilising specific shooting methods followed by the use of relevant software and require considerable camera/field skills together with computer skills too.

 

Cor, it seems to me that any black and white portrayal of the natural world (by Adams or whoever) must be a gross alteration to the original, as seen, scene and cannot possibly be acceptable in a natural history photograph!

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Cor, it seems to me that any black and white portrayal of the natural world (by Adams or whoever) must be a gross alteration to the original, as seen, scene and cannot possibly be acceptable in a natural history photograph!

Going off thread of course, but black-and-white is an interesting discussion in itself; because of course there was a time when all photography was black-and-white, most news photography was black-and-white, much of our vision is in black-and-white (all our vision at night) etc. Digital has added a new twist as all digital images are recorded in color, so every digital black and white image subtracts color, but leaves all other info intact. Ultimately it's all about truth and honesty I guess. Any Wikileaks documents on these LAUPS images? :dancing:

Edited by loftus

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.... Im not sure how this works in photojournalism. Will a war journalist be brought down if he selectively adds a mask to brighten, darken, or whatever effect you want, a certain part of an image without changing what the image is about? Anyone know how this works?

 

Plenty of images in photojournalism contests have been disqualified for over-manipulation from too much burning, dodging, saturation, etc.... Usually they are disqualified before they win. The judges just pass on them. But they are disqualified because all of that manipulation DOES change what the image is about. Just look at the classic O.J. Simpson Time cover photo. Link Yes, some over-manipulated photos will slip through but that's what a judging panel should be for - to draw the line in the sand as far as what is acceptable and what isn't.

 

In a nature photography contest it's more difficult if the judges are not familiar with the natural behavior of each and every species to determine if what they are seeing is natural. Which brings up another point. Often times what makes a photo special is unnatural behavior. So then the question is, did the photographer catch this unbelievable moment, or did they create it. I agree looking at the entire take might help clarify that.

 

As long as there are contests there will be people pushing the boundaries of acceptable manipulation and there will be people cheating. It's up to the judges and photo communities to call them out.

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Usually it's obvious to a judge or publisher if an image has been overmanipulated. You cant tell me that Time thought that was the actual photo taken. They chose to publish an obviously altered image, almost a caricature of an image. Thats not what im talking about.

 

Im talking about (minor?) modifications that photographers used to do in the darkroom, and now do in the 'lightroom'. What exactly is the difference? The idea being to improve the image, closer to reality, or closer to perfection. Yes, thats subjective, but judging is anyways. By saying these minor dark or lightroom modification are cheating because they werent done in-camera, aren't you saying some of the most recognized nature photographers in our worlds history are frauds? And if not, why not?

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Usually it's obvious to a judge or publisher if an image has been overmanipulated. You cant tell me that Time thought that was the actual photo taken. They chose to publish an obviously altered image, almost a caricature of an image. Thats not what im talking about.

 

Im talking about (minor?) modifications that photographers used to do in the darkroom, and now do in the 'lightroom'. What exactly is the difference? The idea being to improve the image, closer to reality, or closer to perfection. Yes, thats subjective, but judging is anyways. By saying these minor dark or lightroom modification are cheating because they werent done in-camera, aren't you saying some of the most recognized nature photographers in our worlds history are frauds? And if not, why not?

I agree with you Cor; this is particularly the case as more and more stuff can be done in camera - an out of camera JPEG being nothing more than the sum of these manipulations

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I dunno Cor. Reading the post, what I read from it was that image was captured as is and the subject/scene etc was not set up/made up/faked. That's how I understand his statement. I don't think he is saying that post-processing is necessarily forbidden, as RAW images do need processing, if just for the printer profile.

In photojournalism (war, human tragedy, stories about people) and in natural history there is absolutely no space for

altering of an image digitally and or influencing the moment via subject manipulation ,etc. as he credibility of what we see is then

put into question.

This is not just a conservative view from an old time pro but a mantra to live by.

I work hard to capture the moment- all 'special effects' done in-camera and at the moment of capture.

1/13th of a second is no issue underwater- 1-2 sec neither. Spending days and weeks to capture something unique

are all in a days work.

 

You can put in the time- hours days, months to get a shot- but you cannot fool pros on the

acquisition of images in the wild as we all know what it takes.

 

I know the photographer that initiated this post very wel (elbuzol- I know his style and his code of honor (yes, some shooters have this).

I know also that he has won many competitions without influencing the subject and simply by putting in the time and being there to capture the unique images that make a winning picture.

 

As for post-processing in contests, I think the limitations on post makes it easier for the organizers. Once a photograph is in post, it's sorta hard to prove what has been done and what is original. Does that limit digital artistry? Maybe. But it also makes it easier on the judges to know what is "real" and what is done in post. Perhaps one day a really good competition will insist on a .log file that comes with the RAW to show how it was processed. But then it'd be program specific and biased. :dancing:

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Usually it's obvious to a judge or publisher if an image has been overmanipulated. You cant tell me that Time thought that was the actual photo taken. They chose to publish an obviously altered image, almost a caricature of an image. Thats not what im talking about.

 

Im talking about (minor?) modifications that photographers used to do in the darkroom, and now do in the 'lightroom'. What exactly is the difference? The idea being to improve the image, closer to reality, or closer to perfection. Yes, thats subjective, but judging is anyways. By saying these minor dark or lightroom modification are cheating because they werent done in-camera, aren't you saying some of the most recognized nature photographers in our worlds history are frauds? And if not, why not?

 

You missed what I was saying. Obviously Time knew that photo was manipulated because their artists are the ones who did that to OJ. That was an extreme example to illustrate my point. What I am saying is that manipulation can change the mood, and in essence, the message of the photograph and often without going to those extremes. So where do you draw the line?

 

I agree with what you are saying that minor modifications are not cheating. RAW images need post processing. Look, this is an argument that can go on ad infinitum and really aren't germane to the original post IMO. Post manipulation is a subject that can, and has, been debated endlessly. Do you draw the line at cloning, cropping, dodging, burning etc..? There is no hard and fast line. But I believe there is a hard and fast line concerning subject manipulation. Leave your subjects alone.

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It's tough to do things right.

Two weeks ago I was tracking a lovely yellow seahorse in the Philippines. I was watching it move from one place to another (without my help, mind you) hoping it would go to a place where I could photograph it without endangering the surrounding corals. A Russian photographer saw me watching it intently, came up and shoved his camera at the seahorse and snapped away. He scared it deeper into the staghorn corals. No problem for him....he grabbed a large branch of the coral in his way and broke it off. I was so angry I aborted the dive to fume. It was hard being on the same boat and be in any way civil.

 

Good thing he didn't speak English.....

 

Sounds like a perfect candidate for the "instant weightbelt release punishment". This action accomplishes two things: 1. removes the individual from the environment they were damaging. 2. with sufficient depth, removes the individual from the gene pool preventing future environment damage.

 

Adam.

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Jeez some of these views are pretty extreme. I wonder what the punishment is for eating chocolate with cocoa supplied from Mali, Burkina Faso and Côte d'Ivoire? :dancing:

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