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Monday, 05 November 2012


I wonder what the definition of "too much photoshopping" is!


Linked article gives no indication of "how much" the image was altered, though. Nor does it state the competition rules (or link to them).

My immediate reaction is to write off that competition as too far behind the times, but I may just be cynical.

By this logic, virtually any Ansel Adams print would be disqualified as well...

So they only realized after awarding the prize that it was 'shopped? Seems to me that although it is "a striking image" they should have at least been suspicious of the 'shopping and could have asked.

"By this logic, virtually any Ansel Adams print would be disqualified as well..."

How do you know? Maybe David Byrne's original had a homeless man in it wearing a sandwich board that said "Pizzas £5 Today oNly."


I feel bad for the photographer, it would seem that a more clearer definition of PS use would be needed. My thoughts are simply, whatever you can do in the darkroom with burning and dodging and/or color filters then this should also be acceptably done with Photoshop. Cutting and pasting, changing the features of the landscape would not be acceptable. I find it difficult to see with this image(other then burning and dodging) what has been done or not. I am not sure why contests don't simply ask for the raw file to go along with the submission.

A bit ridiculous - this print could have been produced by any competent darkroom printer in the old days - so why blame it on Photoshop?

Like the others, I wonder what was done here that could not be done in a darkroom. I know I could add clouds and burn in a sky. I'm pretty sure I could take out a guy with a sandwich board if I wanted to badly enough and he wasn't too big - which also applies to Photoshop.

Along with Ansel, I suppose Eugene Smith would have been disqualified as well.

All in all, I'd like to know just how the rules read and in what way they were broken.

I think the replacement winner should also be disqualified for using too much lens.


Why not just skip the whole tedious trecking to places that turn out to be "not quite photogenic enough", carrying heavy cameras, lenses and perhaps even a tripod, waiting around for good light and then not get the shot? Why not just go CGI all the way?

[sarcasm off]

in a general context about contests (sorry for the alliteration),
it seems that the fear-of-digital recordings is leading to competitions where the photographer's visualization has to conform (mainly) to engineers-based presets,
and most likely, ideal weather/lighting conditions.

granted, untouched film recordings have a preset,
which is that of the film properties,
but one could hope that the advent of new recording mediums,
and ways of processing the recording,
would lead to better contests that have an artists realization:
because more people can manipulate a negative without a darkroom.

that said, I am all against contest in photography,
so this is merely interesting as an spectator.

Perhaps there should be a separate category for truly composited images where something is added to the original image that was not there before. Enhancing what is there should be allowed burning-in or dodging as we did in the darkroom should be allowed. I have a problem with an image that won in our local camera club where almost all the elements of the photograph were added in post-processing. Is that digital art or photography?

Photoshop, compositing or whatever, but this was the WINNING entry? Really?

I guess I am out of step, and of course tastes differ, but in the context of the wonderful history of great photographs over the past 150 years, it seems sad to me that this picture is judged worthy of £10000.

Hmmm, I always thought and generally read that the final look of a photo in any form was up to the photographer. This sensitivity issue about alterations may fall into the area of--What is Truth? And driven by the altered photos appearing in publications that change the visual truth to a lie. Such that the altered image is a lie and is done to support the textual story point of view. I for one would never submit the RAW file. Can you imagine having to supply the camera negative to a photo contest? Would famous photographers have done this? There are limits, and sending your most precious original capture outside your control is a serious risk.

I agree with Gato.

This is why I hate "art" competitions. Why not just put it on Flickr and count the "likes".

It would be comedy if only it were funny.

This is all BS, In the darkroom there was a lot of dodging, burning etc. The print was the result. After over 30 years of printing I can say that a print out of the enlarger without dodging and burning did not happen. It's the image you see that is important not the journey there.

My wife has been composting for years. Its a great way to get free fertilizer instead of hauling in loads of manure.

Oh, wait...


I think it would be an interesting post (by you, not by me) to set out model rules for a photography contest, in light of the ability of people to Photoshop images.

Also, I think there would be effective ways to establish with software "as-shot negatives" for a variety of purposes (contests, forensics, documentation, etc.) that would be useful. Of course, the camera companies probably couldn't agree on a standard, so that would take a hundred years or so to set up.

I followed one of the posted links with the posted article and it would appear that the "Photoshopping" was cloning and or removing some foreground and distant details. I believe the contest rules for this particular category states that the image can't altered in such a way.

I wonder what the definition of "too much photoshopping" is!


The fact that the image is an almost exact copy of another photo should be reason enough for disqualification...
I really wish juries (and the broader audience) would stop giving high marks to overdramatized science fiction landscapes. It's like they prefer Elvis impersonators over the real Elvis from the Sun recordings.

Oh my, if only photoshopping in photography WOULD be treated like attested doping in sport.

Talking about how much Photoshopping is 'too much' is a bit of a red herring, imo. The real issue is that an image was selected as being worthy of the top prize in a prestigious competition (some £10,000) that was in contravention of the rules (and was later disqualified). Clearly, the problem is that this was allowed to happen in the first place. When prestige and cash are at stake, someone should be tasked with ensuring that the winning images are examined closely enough, and in reference to other images of the same location if needed, to reveal any evidence of infringements.

This is about a process of due diligence that should have been followed and clearly wasn't. To my mind, such a farce damages the credibility of the competition. Why bother setting rules if no one is prepared to go to the lengths necessary to ensure they are followed?

I don't know about the photoshopping thing, but this (and other pictures in the same competition) look to me like covers from a certain kind of science-fiction book: the world just does not look like that.

There is too much stuff like that for me, and it increasingly makes me feel physically ill. It's essentially pornographic: once you've been exposed to enough of this stuff you will never want to look at the real world again because it will never be as good, and you'll end up in a spiral of more and more idealized images which have less and less to do with reality.

I don't know if anyone has seen "war horse", but the end of that is a prime example in a slightly different medium. Natural light is not like that.

And I think that's the difference between this stuff and, say, Ansel Adams. :is pictures looked like something you could imagine seeing and might want to spend time going to see, while this stuff doesn't: all it makes you want to do, if it succeeds in its aim is spend more time in front of a computer. It's stuff like this which justifies Lomography.

Actually, it's not the fact that the images past and present may be composites that I find jarring, it's that to my eye a lot of the shots seem screamingly over-saturated!

The grass in the shadow is what ruins the image from a editing perspective.

Poor chap.

Entering photo-competitions can be bad for one's ego.

It is clear, having read the first linked article, that the image went beyond the divide between photography and graphic design. Those shadows couldn't have been cast at that angle, so the image is not what was captured by the camera at that moment. The decision was fair. It was a photography contest, not a graphic design one. Even at the risk of sounding like a conservative old f**t, I have to say I'm glad there are people who remain true to the spirit of photography. (Even if it is legitimate to ask what "spirit of photography" is.)
That said I concur the boundaries of acceptable need to be clarified when it comes to image editing. Compositing, as in adding layers in Cs, is distorting what the photographer saw through the viewfinder, of course - but what about manipulating shadow radius and local contrast, or applying unsharp mask? Is that acceptable, given how much it affects the image? And what of HDRI?
No one who photographs in the digital domain can reasonably expect to get perfect images out of the camera, even when the best equipment available has been used. There's always the need for some sort of image editing, and that's not too different from the days of film. (A striking example of the kind of manipulation employed in film days is the famous picture of André Malraux from which his cigarette was removed.) A clarification is called for.
Manipulation poses one or two ethical questions: to what extent should it be employed before the image falls off photography to become graphic design? Isn't adding or subtracting elements from the composition a deceit, rather than a depiction of a particular object in a particular moment in time? If, as they say, a photograph is an illusion, Photoshop Cs has the power to turn it into a lie.
Thus I believe the jury did well by stripping Mr. Byrne off his prize. Which is a shame, because that is actually a beatiful image. Yet that's the whole point: it is an image, not a photograph.

Why pick on photoshop? Using flashes or filters also distorts reality, as indeed, if one was being pedantic, does shooting in black and white.

None are reality but all are acceptable artistic techniques.

Whilst I am a fan of basic point and shoot photography using any old camera, I still love photoshopping and think it's amazing at turning what first appears to be one of your reject photos into a keeper.

Yes, some people need to cut it back at times but it is the same for everything...moderation.

All the photos on my blog (http://www.seepointshoot.com) have been edited but, even if sometimes they may have been edited too much, I'd say 90% are better than the original.

We need more specific terminology. In particular, "photoshopping" is being used by some (mostly those who are against "it") to mean compositing and significant cloning; but photoshop is also the tool many of us use to do all the post-processing things equivalent to simple darkroom techniques that nobody ever questioned the propriety of -- exposure, contrast, color balance. Dodging and burning. Cropping. Enlarging!

Furthermore, in paper prints, it's conventional to do spotting on the print to handle various problems like dust spots. Today we'd use cloning to fix a sensor dust spot -- so any rule completely banning cloning (or spot healing brush) takes away something that was routinely done to darkroom prints.

We need, I think, to start with a top-level definition (or two of them), and widely-accepted short terms for each of them.

One of them is a wide-open category, which I'll call "artistic images". In this category, you can do anything at all, from painting by hand to writing your own software to create pixels in exactly the pattern you want. This is the category for work coming primarily out of your head; realizing the physical result can use any technique available, photography, painting, CGI, compositing all three, and anything new you can invent too.

There's already a category that I think of as "record shot". News photographers and some landscape and wildlife photographers adhere to these rules. The idea is that the photograph very literally records an aspect of reality.

Do we need an intermediate category? It seems to me that people like images that clean up some aspects of reality a little bit (like suppressing bits of bad bokeh in the background, or patterns that lead in unfortunate ways into the main subject, or even suppressing the background significantly by blurring and darkening), perhaps use HDR to cope with extreme brightness ranges, retouch zits off faces (but don't treat the whole exposed skin to a plasticizer), perhaps extend a background along some edges to make composition better (especially when doing lens correction, I find I sometimes need to extend backgrounds to get a rectangle of the size I need). The idea is that the image realistically represents one single view at an instant in time, with quite modest removal of distractions, but no addition of significant elements. This seems to me what many people think of as "a photograph" :-).

Forensically verifying a photo to these rules is yet another set of problems, but having the intent, and the current rules, clear to start with is an important starting point. Sometimes we have to just trust people to follow the rules, and slap their hands if they're caught cheating.


Well thought out. A "Photographic" category should allow any post processing technique that does not actually use parts of another image (ie the sky or any objects) or elements created by the photographer that did not exist in the original.

The area of debate is about removing distractions - sometimes this cannot be avoided (dust spots, electricity wires etc.) and if the image is primarily an art piece (not intended to be a record of the scene) I don't think this matters.

But removal of major elements of the scene (such as a person) is probably more debatable. Where do you draw the line?

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