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divegypsy

Has Our World Underwater got "Macro" wrong?

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I have looked at the categories in the Our World Underwater photo contest and I believe that the definition given for the two Macro categories is misleading. The definition given in the rules is "Any image captured with a macro lens, where the size of the subject on the image sensor is life size or greater."

If the image on the sensor is life-size (1:1) or greater, only shots taken at 1:1, only pictures taken at the extreme close focus of most macro lenses would qualify. This means that most "macro" shots taken with normal macro lenses should be disqualified, including Luc Rooman's 2016 Macro Traditional winner of a clownfish with a parasite in its mouth. Since the whole clownfish's head covers about 10% of the alongside of the image, which would be about 3mm on a full frame sensor or 2mm on a cropped sensor, this is clearly less than 1:1 magnification.

To get "greater" than life-size magnification with almost any available macro lens, you need to add additional optics to the macro lens. I thought that this is the definition of "super-macro".

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Hi Fred,

 

I note your now "traditional" complaint about the Our World Underwater contest!

 

In the case of Luc's image, the subject is not simply the clownfish, but also includes the "swirl" effect. Hence it is still a macro image. Note that this would apply solely to images wherein the negative space is definitely a part of the image, like Luc's example.

 

As the contest allows for images that are greater than life size, this would also allow super macro images to be entered into it. Images created with additional macro optics are acceptable and in no way limited by the rules.

 

All the best

 

Adam

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Adam,

 

You refer to this post as my "traditional" complaint about Our World Underwater. I have only commented once before, to the best of my memory, about this photo contest. That was when a shark picture, taken from a shark diving boat in Rhode Island which typically uses bait to attract the sharks, won the contest. I stated that if the contest rules said no bait was to be used in the taking of pictures entered in the contest, then that picture should have been disqualified. I was not, in any way, saying that the shot of the mako shark was not a good picture. I was only questioning the reason for having contest rules that are not adhered to.

 

In my current "complaint" I am asking for a clarification of the definition of the term "macro" as regards the contest rules definition. If the contest rules state that subject must be the same size or larger on the camera's sensor as it exists in real life, that means that the magnification of the picture is at least 1:1. Or greater. And that shots taken at magnifications of less than 1:1, should not be allowed. I understood that the rule, as stated, would allow pictures of greater than 1:1 magnifications, i.e. "super macro" shots. But as written, the rule would exclude most of the "macro" shots that most divers take, which are at magnifications of less that 1:1. And because the clownfish in Luc's picture is at a magnification of considerably smaller than 1:1, I was asking/suggesting that the contest definition of "macro" ought to be changed to include magnifications of less than life-size. Perhaps changed to include magnifications down to 1:10. Or simply say that any picture take with any macro lens, which can be verified in the IPTC data, is acceptable.

 

I made no comment as my liking or not liking Luc's winning photograph. Only that it was taken at a magnification considerably less that 1:1 and should not have been enterer and allowed in the category according to the category's specific rules.

 

Why do you find that my suggesting that your own contest's rules be adhered to such a threat? Aren't the rules there for a reason? Why have rules if they aren't enforced?

 

It would be nice if you and I could get past these petty issues. You have written elsewhere that you would like to make your living as an underwater photographer, something which I have been able to do for the last thirty years. I would be happy to talk with you and offer some suggestions and ideas of things that you might be able to do to make this possible. We might even be able to do this in person if you happen to be in Florida at a time when I'm home and not off diving somewhere else in the world.

 

Fred

Edited by divegypsy

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Hi Fred,

 

Traditional:

 

 

 

I have only commented once before, to the best of my memory, about this photo contest

 

1. In 2013, we had an extended discussion about the cost of entry fees for OWU, which you felt were expensive.

 

2. After the contest, you felt that Sam Cahir's winning mako shark image, that was taken in the Neptune Islands, off South Australia (not Rhode Island as you state), had been captured using bait. The rules at that time stated that the use of live bait was prohibited. In the case of the image in question, no live bait was used. Hence there was no breach of the rules.

 

3. In 2014, you pointed out that the Rules page for the contest was briefly down, for which our thanks.

 

4. We had a break in 2015, but it seems that you are having issues with OWU in 2016 again. Actually, you are now having an issue with the 2015 result, so maybe we didn't have a break... :)

 

Definition of macro.

 

I understand your desire to understand the way the contest's rules are interpreted.

 

 

 

And because the clownfish in Luc's picture is at a magnification of considerably smaller than 1:1, I was asking/suggesting that the contest definition of "macro" ought to be changed to include magnifications of less than life-size.

 

As I pointed out in my reply above, when graphical elements significantly contribute to an image, they are considered a part of the subject. Hence the subject of Lu's excellent image is not only the anemone fish, but is also the graphical element of the image too. Hence the image size is at or greater than life-size.

 

In this instance, you are defining what the subject of this image is wrongly. The rules have been correctly interpreted and enforced by the judging panel and contest administrators. You are completely incorrect is stating that the rules were not enforced.

 

 

 

I made no comment as my liking or not liking Luc's winning photograph.

 

I am pretty sure I made no mention about whether you liked it or not in my reply, so it seem strange that might chose to suggest that I did?

 

Your offer:

 

 

 

I would be happy to talk with you and offer some suggestions and ideas of things that you might be able to do to make this possible

 

Thank you for your offer to share ideas on how I might "make my living as an underwater photographer". I think we may be at cross purposes regarding my desire to make a living from underwater photography. I guess I am fortunate in that I do indeed actually already derive the bulk of my income from taking images underwater although I am alway open to learning more.

 

Again, many thanks. I am based in the UK however, so meeting up in the US is probably unlikely given both our hectic travel schedules.

 

I hope this gives you clarity on why I referred to your complaints about the OWU contest as 'traditional" and also clarity on the way the rules were enforced in the case of the image in question. I trust this settles the issue and that there is hence no need for any further posts in this regard.

 

All the best

 

Adam

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Hello again Adam,

 

I have read your most recent post on this topic and feel that there is good reason to continue my discussion about OWU's definition of "macro" and adherence to that definition of "macro" in the contest's winning images.

 

Again, OWC's definition as given for both the traditional macro and unrestricted macro is/was, "Any image captured with a macro lens, where the size of the subject on the image sensor is life size or greater." Do you not agree that this limits macro entries to image whose magnification is at least 1:1 or greater? When I first posted, I saw only the picture by Luc. I have gone to the OWC website itself to look at other winning images.

 

The gold medal awarded in the OWC 2016 contest in Macro - Traditional is a shot of two argonauts, also called paper nautilus, taken by Neil Hoogenboom. I have also photographed argonauts and they are much large than 24mm or 36mm, the size of the sensor on most DSLR cameras. So this image is at a magnification of much less that 1:1 and therefore does not conform to the category rules.

 

The bronze medal awarded in the OWC 2014 contest in Macro - Traditional is a shot a snake eel with shrimp on it taken by Alfonso Eposito. This is a subject common photographed at Lembeh and is again at a magnification of much less that 1:1

 

The bronze medal awarded in the OWC 2014 contest in "Unrestricted Macro" is a shot a juvenile pike and its taken by Anders Salesjö. This is again a shot that was almost certainly taken at a magnification of than 1:1.

 

There are additional into the "macro" categories in those years and where the magnification appears to be less that 1:1. So clearly the OWC judges are not insisting that entries to the Macro categories conform to their own rules.

 

So we are back to the rule concerning "macro" in the contest. In older traditional photographic text books, particularly prior to the introduction of a multitude of "close focusing" optics, the definitions for shooting smaller subjects were often defined as follows: Pictures shot at magnifications between 1:10 and 1:1 was "close-up" photography. "Macro photography usually defined as being from 1:1 up to about 10:1. And true micro photography began at about 100x. Then Nikon introduced their Micro-nikkor line of lenses and the early 105mm Micro-Nikkor only focused down to 1:2 or half life-size. Now most close focusing lenses focus to 1:1 and are called macro lenses by their manufacturers. I.e. the Canon 100mm f2.8 Macro lens. But several macro lenses, such as the Zeiss 100mm f2, still only focus down to 1:2. The lenses that most underwater photographer use for shooting small subjects are what are sold as macro lenses and usually focus to 1:1.

 

My feeling, concerning photo contest rules and categories, and not just OWU, is that if a category that insists that the magnification of images entered should be at least 1:1 or greater, it should be called "Super-Macro". And that if the term "Macro" is used for the category, then the contest should allow entries of images shot at lower magnifications, perhaps as large as 1:5 or 1:10, and the acceptable magnification range should be clearly stated in the contest rules.

 

So far Adam has been the only person to respond to this topic. What do other underwater photographers think?

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Hi!

 

I do have a request for clarification on the official rules for macro for this competition.

 

First of all, I don't know either of you, and I don't want to feel like I'm taking any sides or anything. I am strictly wanting to clarify the rules.

 

Per the website, macro is defined as "Any image captured with a macro lens, where the size of the subject on the image sensor is life size or greater."

 

To simplify the discussion let's assume a full frame sensor (36 mm x 24 mm). This means that our subject would need to be 36 mm wide and fill out the full sensor to be 1:1. If we shoot something that's 50 mm wide and we fill the sensor with it then we would be "shrinking to fit" the subject and it would not be macro according to the guidelines. If we shoot something that's 20 mm wide and we fill the sensor then we would be magnifying it and it would be OK per the guidelines.

 

My question is because I was looking at the rules, and since I am using a cropped sensor, a majority of my nudibranch shots would not qualify as macro shots per these rules. I would need to select only shots of nudibranchs about 17 mm long (the width or my sensor) or smaller.

 

Again, I am just searching for clarification. Thank you!

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Dear Fofo,

 

You are reading and interpreting the written rule for the contest Macro categories exactly as I did. And as I also said, this should have disqualified a number of the winning images in this contest over the last few years. I gave examples of shots that were awarded prizes and which were clearly shot at lower than 1:1 magnifications. So I felt I was justified in asking that this category's rule be clarified and hopefully broadened because if subjects cannot be any lower magnification than 1:1, what else can you enter in these macro categories except "super macro" shots?

 

If you look at virtually all of the underwater photography books, such as Alex Mustard's new book, no one of these authors say the lower magnification limit on macro photography is 1:1. Usually "macro" is considered to be from about 1:5 (or even 1:10) up to about 1:1. And super macro goes from 1:1 upwards into higher magnifications.

 

I do a lot of my "macro" shooting with a 70-180mm Micro-nikkor zoom whose highest magnification (without supplementary optics) is .75x when it is at minimum focus distance and 180mm. That's behind a flat glass port. If I use it behind a small dome port, which I do frequently, it only focuses down to about .4x. I have shots that I think might be worth entering in the OWU contest, but I'm not interested in throwing away the entry fee of $15 per image if they are not going to be considered as suitable for that category and be disqualified. And like you, I have a lot of images that I shot with a 105mm Micro-nikkor and which at not quite at absolute minimum focus. And again these images do not fulfill strict interpretation of the OWU macro category rules.

 

So I started the topic to ask for clarification and possibly revision of the OWU definition of "macro".

 

Fred

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As with most things, there is de jure and de facto especially in art. For clarity's sake, I think your definitions of macro and super macro are acceptable.

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You could also read the rules as 'any shot with a macro lens capable of 1:1'. Competition I entered had 1:3 or greater as definition, but I'm sure that is not actually enforced. I think the approach of 1:10. - 1:1 as macro and beyond that as super macro would be a quite logical approach. I don't think a strict enforcement is really necessary.

 

 

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PS I don't quite understand the negative space or swirl explanation. The subject say 20cm would be larger then just the anemone fish say 10cm. So to have that at 1:1 you would have to have a sensor of 20cm. (Instead of 10 cm )

 

 

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PS I don't quite understand the negative space or swirl explanation. The subject say 20cm would be larger then just the anemone fish say 10cm. So to have that at 1:1 you would have to have a sensor of 20cm. (Instead of 10 cm )

 

Hi Cerianthus.

 

I agree. Including the swirl effect would make the subject even larger. I was confused by this as well.

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Hi Guys,

 

Thank you for participating in this discussion. You clearly understand my problems with the original OWU definition of "macro". I hope that someone from OWU is also watching these comments.

 

I had picked the 1:10 mark as the lowest magnification because that used to be the approximate magnification of many non-macro lenses at their minimum focus distance, such as a 50mm lens that only focused down to about 18". And was the range given for "close-up" photography in some photo books many years ago.

 

I just checked the specs of the current Nikon 50mm lenses both the 50mm f1.8 & two 50mm f1.4's. All focus to a minimum focus distance of about 18", which gives a maximum magnification of .15x or 1:7. So 1:10 may be going too far away. But in any case, it is that difference, from 1:7 or so down to 1:1 that separates a 50mm or 60mm macro lens from a traditional 50mm lens. And that is why these macro lenses are so popular with nature and underwater photographers. The original Nikon 105mm Micro-Nikkor only focused down to 1:2, so we have tools available to us now, that photographers didn't have only 20 years ago.

 

Like Fofo and Cerianthus, I was totally confused by Adam's remark concerning the "swirl effect" on the magnification of Luc Rooman's photo. And am not quite sure if a shot with swirls should have been entered in the macro traditional or macro unrestricted category. But that is a totally different topic.

 

What I was interested in was simply getting more clarity what the minimum magnification in the OWU contest actually is, both as stated in their own rules vs what they were awarding prizes to. Interested because it would have a significant affect on which images, if any, I could enter into their contest.

 

OWC is not the only contest with this macro definition problem. I also looked at the Ocean Art photo contest and they begin their definition of macro with the "same size on the sensor" 1:1 rule. But in the following line of their rules, they go on to say that typical macro subjects are about 6" in length or smaller, which is a total contradiction of the 1:1 definition and is slightly less than 1:4 if the shot was taken with a full frame sensor. That contest had already closed, but the response I got when I wrote to them was a very polite comment that I was right in questioning the definition's contradiction and that they would discuss the matter prior to next year's contest.

 

Fred

Edited by divegypsy

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Here is a recent photo of a small snakefish, a species of lizardfish, attacking a small pufferfish, which it eventually was able to swallow. This shot was taken with the 70-180mm Micro-Nikkor lens at less than its maximum magnification, which is .75x. I consider this to be a macro shot, but under the current OWU rules, it should not be allowed in either Macro category.

 

So in which category, if any, could I enter this photo or other shots from the same series?

post-1375-0-87591300-1482068875_thumb.jpg

Edited by divegypsy

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