30 October 2012

Landscape Photographer of the Year

I told myself I wouldn’t post anything about the landscape photographer of the year competition this year but a few pictures have made me think twice. I’ll ignore the controversy over the winning image (Alex Nail has written well about this already here – however my one major doubt would come from looking at the direction of the god rays) so I’ll move quickly onto a couple of others that need some attention. Firstly we’ll look at Kersten Howard’s ‘Old Tree in Towy Valley’. All I’ll say for this one is flood plugin (and check out the gallery listing where there are other examples. However the particular category this image was in allows these sorts of modifications and Kersten did state her photoshop edits in the book.

The second image that I think deserves a little more attention is another of the original winners. This one is of a tree in front of Rugeley power station. The only problem I have with this image is that I think it’s a montage. However I can’t be sure so I need to do a little bit of detective work.

The main thing that makes me suspicious is that the chimney’s are all different heights. “well”, you might say, “They would be because of perspective!”. Ah yes! But the amount of reduction in height is proportional to the distances involved. For instance if I was 100 yards away from the first chimney and the second chimney was 200 yards away, the second chimney would be 50% shorter. However, if the chinmeys were one kilometer away, the difference between the chiney’s would only be about 10%. So what about the image? Well you take a look. My rough calculations from looking at the map below (confirmed location from Maria’s Tree group on flickr) is that the rear chimney’s should be 5% shorter than the front ones.  However, just look at the alignment of the chimney’s if you were looking directly at the chimney’s – oops! It appears that we should only be able to see two chimneys as the other two should be hidden behind them. Other pictures confirm a lack of power station in the background.

Anyway – the rest of my moans would all be about a bit of genre madness (quite a few I wouldn’t call landscape but that is up to the organiser) and the quality of the images that suffered rejection, etc etc.. you know the score..

As I’ve said elsewhere the issue isn’t the individual photographers it’s that we have two separate issues.

One is that one person has won an award with a very good image. There is nothing wrong with this at all and whether the image passes all of the criteria for the competition is a matter for the judges – they presumably have done their homework. The original winer is a very good photographer and he should be very happy that he has won such a prestigious award.

The main problem for most people is that the competition is billed as “Landscape Photographer of the Year”. If you care about landscape photography in the UK and the way it is perceived around the world this “label” is important. The competition has a huge amount of coverage and influences the whole countries perception of what great landscape photography should be. This is why it creates such high feelings.

If the competition kept it’s original title “take a view” then there would be no real controversy. I hope people can understand this when they start calling people who care about landscape photography and wish to discuss it openly as “bitter wierdos” and “prissy artists”.


Sadly any discussion of the competition ends up being taken personally by the people involved. I didn’t realise that the ‘your view’ section allows composite images and so the chimney’s picture is allowed to be completely made up. However the original winner has denied it is a composite. Having seen this google street map view which is within a hundred yards or so of the tree I can’t believe this personally. Whatever, it doesn’t really matter as, admission or not, the competition allows this – which is one of the things that annoys me; not that the image is manipulated but that the manipulation is allowed without any associated information.

However, the top prize doesn’t allow more than the minimum of manipulation and so I was quite surprised to see that the sky has been composite in on it. It isn’t immediately obvious and it was only when I payed a little more attention that I noticed the ‘god rays’ were converging at a point up above the two boatsheds and the shadows cast from the boats converge way to the right of the picture.

Add this to the composite of the chimney’s picture and the open admission of a composites in the original winner’s flickr stream and I am 99% sure the image doesn’t pass the criteria set in the competition.

Looking more closely, the area to the right of the boats looks a little odd too. I remember an anchor and various lobster pots here but more importantly I remember Budle Bay being over that side. For example if you see this picture from Robbie484 you can see that behind the boat should be the Budle Bay area..


A photographer tries to reproduce the ‘Marias Tree & Chimneys’ photograph click here for more


A quick look at photographers ephemeris suggests that the sun couldn’t be in this location according to the Exif on the image…


I’ve been told that shadow directions are not good evidence and I would agree. Moon landings and Lee Harvey Oswald go to prove that. However if you connect a point on the object casting a shadow with the actual point on the shadow that it is casting, these are a reliable indicator of light source direction. Take two of these and they will converge on the light source. However, in our case we don’t need more than one, we’re only interested in finding a difference between the direction of light source implied by shadows and direction of light source implied by crepuscular rays. A lot less rigorous level of proof is needed for this.


I was hoping that this was it for controversy but it appears that the Copse photo, which was in the Living the View which doesn’t allow modifications is also a composite [“.. in Classic view, Living the view and Urban view, the integrity of the subject must be maintained and the making of physical changes to the landscape is not permitted (removing fences, moving trees, stripping in sky from another image etc”].

Whilst browsing the talkphotography website for a reference I found this post. It’s fairly obvious that the copse is from the top of the hill in the first and second images. However it’s the repositioning of the gentlemen in these images that gives the game away. Resizing this gentlemen shows a perfect match for the Copse’s walker.


Both sadly and correctly, the original winner has been disqualified from the competition. We have no more information than what that means. He states

“I have to inform you after a conversation with Charlie Waite I have been disqualified from the Landscape Photographer of the year awards, unfortunately I didn’t read the regulations and certain editing like adding clouds and cloning out small details are not allowed, while I don’t think what I have done to the photo is wrong in any way, I do understand it’s against the regulations so accept the decision whole heartily.

I have never passed off my photographs as record shots and the only reason this has come about has been due to my openness about how and what I do to my images. The changes I made were not major and if you go to the locations you will see everything is there as presented”

Now regardless of what we think about the level of manipulation admitted to I think we should let the original winner be now – he made a mistake that was allowed to creep all the way through to the finals and he should not be persecuted for that. I left a message on the forum saying.

“Really sorry this has happened and I wanted to reiterate that the blog post I wrote about the competition was not intended to attack you personally but to try to point out that three out of the four images that were entered were not compatible with the terms and conditions.

I do feel truly sorry that you had to suffer for this because all of this could have been avoided if the competition organisers could have checked things thoroughly.

I should add that your images are very strong and whilst I don’t think they are the best landscape photographs I have seen – they are certainly very good and this situation should not make you think differently.

Don’t forget that if the images had been compatible with the terms and conditions they would still have won, they can’t take that away from you.

My personal favourite is the Delamere forest – a very nice, original image.

I really hope this doesn’t stop your enjoyment of photography and I’m sure you’ll get lots of support from the forum here.”

The forum thread has, rightly or wrongly, been deleted.

We should applaud the organisers for making the right decision and also the original winner for accepting it.

Comments (skip to bottom)

104 Responses to “Landscape Photographer of the Year”

  1. On October 31, 2012 at 10:35 am breenster responded with... #

    Your post has reminded me of a comment I read and skipped over logging it as “oooh thats naughty if true”

    heres the link


    and the damning comment

    “Congratulations!! LOVE the second image.

    Also love Ria’s tree and have photographed it many times myself and know that from that angle, the power station should be behind you and to the right “

    • On November 3, 2012 at 12:45 pm Mark Gould responded with... #

      And in the same thread the original winner responds “On my children’s life that power station is definitely there, just above the house rooftops of slitting mill, taken down the hill on the path, looking towards Rugeley, when you go back I would appreciate you posting up the error”

      Sounds like he is fairly confident of the authenticity of his photograph!

      • On November 3, 2012 at 12:50 pm timparkin responded with... #

        You might be able to say that technically he is correct. The station is there just above the houses – just not as he presented it in the photograph. It was certainly an attempt at deception which is really silly considering that the category that this image was in allows manipulation of this sort. To be honest it’s this attitude that prompted me to take a closer look at the other images.

        • On November 3, 2012 at 8:44 pm Mark Gould responded with... #

          I agree with you Tim, I was really trying to draw attention to the fact that the image had not been manipulated in the way the poster to the thread on http://www.talkphoography.co.uk suggested. Infact on page 7 of the thread the poster of that comment has also posted a phot showing the tree and power station showing that her comment was inaccurate and has apologised.

          I simply felt that the quote highlighted by David Breen was misleading (though to be fair David says ‘naughty *if* *true*’) as actually, it wasn’t true.

          • On November 4, 2012 at 11:08 am timparkin responded with... #

            Absolutely right – however the original accusation was that the view was not possible, which it wasn’t as evidenced by another image by David earlier in the Talk Photography forum and the lady’s photograph. Thanks for making things a bit clearer though.

  2. On October 31, 2012 at 11:25 am Astrid M responded with... #

    It makes me very sad to read about the controversy, be it about the winning images, whether they were eligible in the first place, the cooling towers or the reflection plug-in. And in the forums I can now read that everybody who raised questions is talking nonsense and is jealous. It has brought nasty comments and return comments on those comments, which makes for a very sorry state of affairs.

  3. On October 31, 2012 at 11:43 am Richard Hurst responded with... #

    There has been lots of criticism of the winning image and wether it should of won or not. I for one have not studied it in detail to see if it has been manipulated in the way he has with “Maria’s tree” if so then it shouldn’t of one as it’s not a true replica of the Landscape as seen with the eye. I feel it a bit harsh to say it shouldn’t of won because its a rip off of a friends composition as there are only so many ways to compose a picture of a certain subject and what image can we say is truely unique in this day and age as most subjects in the country have been shot to death so getting an image that no one else has done before is near on impossible. The removal by him of his wording on the website and changing it to read something else has really not helped his case with people and I’m sure he now realises this. The main thing I would like to see is a comment or statement from the judges as to why they awarded the 1st place and on what basis, do they now regret it?, they wouldn’t say so if they did i doubt.

  4. On October 31, 2012 at 12:23 pm Guy responded with... #

    I knew you wouldn’t be able to resist!

  5. On October 31, 2012 at 1:56 pm Tim Smith responded with... #

    As ever Tim insightful and totally correct. There has to be a dividing line between true landscape images and those that have been manufactured and or manipulated. Perhaps MLOPTY. I am surprised that the esteemed panel of judges have fallen for it given that they preach reality and getting it right in camera. LPOTY is becoming a parody and just another vehicle to earn revenues.

  6. On October 31, 2012 at 1:58 pm Duncan Fawkes responded with... #

    Interesting post Tim, and good detective work. At least you raise a fresh controversy! :)

    What most upsets me about these competitions and their controversies is the view by others that if you speak out, it’s a case of sour grapes or envy. Some of the stuff Alex has had to put up with (and you’ve now put yourself in the firing line of!) is pretty out of order.

    Everyone’s entitled to their opinion, and I’d rather listen to some original thoughts from people with the love of the genre close to their heart rather than those fawning at the result and decrying anyone questioning it.

    I don’t think anyone is doubting any of those included’s right to take an image and do what they like with it – art takes on all forms after all.

    Rather it’s the integrity of the competition, which sets itself out as the ultimate in landscape photography in this country, which has been damaged. Originality, creativity, something that moves you, should be what such a competition searches out not manipulated images and overshot locations.

    Personally I like the winning image (and many of those included) but given its dubious background and it being a rather overshot location in my eyes it’s not worthy of winning *with respect to what I think the comeptition’s standards should be*. And that’s the point, if most of us feel that the competition and it’s winners do not reflect and represent the art of landscape photography in this country then I would hope a growing number of us would turn our backs on it – it claims to champion our cause, but let’s us down.

    Sadly there are those that can’t separate criticism of the competion and its standards from the people that win the competition, as if questioning the competition is a personal assault on the individual. And so they jump on to the sour grapes bandwagon.

    Reflecting, I guess it is exactly these people that the competition caters for, head in the sand, wanting some pretty pictures. Picture takers and camera owners.

    Perhaps it’s time to find a new vehicle to shout about some of the wonderful and unsung landscape photographers this country has to offer, and the art – for that is what it is – that they produce?

    (sorry for the length! I probably should have put this on my own blog. But then I’d get the abuse and not Tim! :wickedlaugh:)

  7. On October 31, 2012 at 3:25 pm Chris Pattison responded with... #

    Aren’t you assuming here Tim that the photographer is at the same ‘altitude’ as the cooling towers. The image seems to have been taken from a lower altitude, and this will accentuate any height difference between the towers.

    • On October 31, 2012 at 3:45 pm timparkin responded with... #

      If the photographer was at the same altitude as the towers then the tops would line up no matter what the distance from them. As soon as the photographer is below the altitude of the top of the cooling towers then the towers can appear to be different heights.

      • On October 31, 2012 at 4:04 pm Chris Pattison responded with... #

        Tim, I’m not talking about the tops. That’s impossible without a crane and a very very large tripod.

        • On October 31, 2012 at 4:13 pm Chris Pattison responded with... #

          I should have said ‘level’ instead of ‘altitude’. I think the image was taken from lower than the ground level of the towers, with the lens pointing upwards slightly, all accentuating the height difference of the towers.
          I think the only way to really resolve this one is to stand in the spot where the image was taken.

      • On October 31, 2012 at 4:11 pm Duncan Fawkes responded with... #

        I think Chris means if the camera were below the bottom of the towers it would exaggerate the difference in height further?

        That said, just had a look using TPE and if the position of that tree is accurate it suggests that the base of the towers is actually 40m below the tree.

        • On October 31, 2012 at 4:33 pm timparkin responded with... #

          OK I think I see. In order for the height level of the photographer to make this much difference he would have to be a few hundred meters below the towers though?

          • On October 31, 2012 at 4:51 pm Duncan Fawkes responded with... #

            Certainly quite far – and as I say he’s actually above!

  8. On October 31, 2012 at 5:01 pm Adam Long responded with... #

    I don’t need any convincing here but for those that do hop on google street view, take a wander round Rugeley and see how the cooling towers look from various distances, eg: https://maps.google.co.uk/maps?q=rugeley&ll=52.758665,-1.938186&spn=0.002759,0.012295&oe=utf-8&client=firefox-a&hnear=Rugeley,+Staffordshire,+United+Kingdom&gl=uk&t=h&z=17&layer=c&cbll=52.758662,-1.938185&panoid=71RWTIkg2_RRNBueVuo09w&cbp=11,124.12,,0,-4.16

    Tim, isn’t it time OnLandscape ran a competition for ‘real’ photographs?

  9. On October 31, 2012 at 5:09 pm Adam Long responded with... #

    Ps cooling towers would never be built on a hill as you need a massive water supply, hence why they are usually next to large rivers.

  10. On October 31, 2012 at 5:29 pm Dave Byrne responded with... #

    Brilliant, now I know how NASA must feel with the moon landings LOL if you look closely at my Delemere photo you might see a yeti!

    Can you tell the 10 year olds to stop emailing me now please i’m trying to do my day job that pays the mortgage, I only do the photo’s for a hobby you see, I’m going to go to Wales Sunday to take some more, you ought to try it, it’s fun.

    • On October 31, 2012 at 6:19 pm timparkin responded with... #

      Hmm… this comment does really sound smug.. whatever. In case anyone is interested here’s a Google street view of the road next to the tree..

      Google street view

    • On October 31, 2012 at 7:03 pm timparkin responded with... #

      I should also add that I’ve just come back from two weeks in Scotland and a long weekend in the Lake District thanks – and yes it was wonderful fun (a hell of a lot more fun that sitting in front of a computer)! Also my day job is commenting on the state of landscape photography.

      p.s I also don’t know any 10 year olds let alone any that are emailing you. Do you have any names?

  11. On October 31, 2012 at 5:41 pm Paul Morton responded with... #

    Hi Tim

    Many thanks for bringing to everyone’s attention some serious flaws once again within the judging process of this ‘prestigious’ competition. It seems that every year one of the winning images has some air of contention to it.

    Without standing in the field next to the tree in question I can’t say 100% that this image is photoshopped, but the evidence is certainly compelling that it has. It would seem that David Byrne is not overly phased or concerned by this, just look at his ‘Two Towers’ image and his own comments; http://www.flickr.com/photos/cannockwolf/8139467486/in/photostream

    The question’s that need to be answered are not by the authors of these images, but the judging panel themselves. Either the rules need to be seriously tightened up and made much stricter or the panel need to do some investigation work prior to awarding any prizes.

    Its a real shame as I know the vast majority of entrants into this competition are extremely talented and hard working photographers. Perhaps next year we will be left with nothing to talk about other than admiration for the winning images.


    • On October 31, 2012 at 6:55 pm timparkin responded with... #

      You can do the next best thing and go to google street view though.

      The issue here isn’t even that the image is composited – it’s within the rules in ‘your view’. It’s the fact that the competition is so lax in its rules and that truth to nature is so unimportant.

      When pointed out in the talk photography forum that the chimneys can’t be seen in this way David went on to defend its veracity on his children’s life though, odd with such strong evidence against it. Again though, my initial point of critique is not against David himself, it’s against the competition’s representation of the very best of British landscape photography. If I’d won £11k in a photography lottery I wouldn’t care what anyone thought anyway!

  12. On October 31, 2012 at 6:11 pm Tristan Campbell responded with... #

    I think it’s about time people who find this competition frustrating simply stop entering it. I know for myself it is no longer something I wish to be associated with and has been for a couple of years now. If it were to ever improve I think they need to look extremely carefully at who judges it and the overall winner(s) should most likely be judged on a portfolio rather than any one single image (which has probably been suggested many times). I guess it’s hard but I also wish the winners and entrants would stop taking criticism of the competition too personally, it is the competition itself that is being criticised here more than anything.

    • On November 4, 2012 at 11:12 am Richard Childs responded with... #

      I decided early on to have nothing to do with this competition. I entered and got nowhere in year 1 and then realised it would always be a waste of my time, energy and money entering. I didn’t want any thought of competing tainting my photographic experience, landscape photography should be about a personal experience and relationship with the outdoors that to me clashes with the ethos of a competative event. This is the first I have heard of this years’ fiasco because I don’t follow the competition nor subscribe by buying the books etc. Far better in my opinion to discover and follow photographers (past and present) who inspire through their imagery rather than those who chase X factor style fortune and fame through competition. I prefer to trawl through the Beyond Words website to find the true heroes of photography.

  13. On October 31, 2012 at 8:04 pm Matt Clark responded with... #

    Interesting article Tim. To be honest, the image that really concerns me is of the misty tree with the ‘ripples’ plug-in that you have pointed out. I really liked the image when I saw it until I looked in the rear of the book to discover it said ‘reflections added in photoshop’!!! Now this is blatant nonsense. How can this possibly be allowed? It really makes a mockery of the landscape artform to manipulate an image in this way and for it to be accepted.
    This kind of rubbish concerns me far more than someone taking a shot from a ‘similar view’ to someone else.
    Like any walk of life though, people will indulge in all sorts of dodgy behaviour to get ahead and grab the glory. :-(

    • On November 3, 2012 at 2:17 am James Rush responded with... #

      What is the problem? The rules state – Digital adjustments, including High Dynamic Range (HDR) imaging techniques and the joining together of multiple frames, are allowed in all categories. However, for images entered in Classic view, Living the view and Urban view, the integrity of the subject must be maintained and the making of physical changes to the landscape is not permitted (removing fences, moving trees, stripping in sky from another image etc)…. The judges will allow more latitude in the ‘Your view’ category, which aims to encourage originality and conceptual thinking…. Like it or hate it digital adjustments (however large or small) are part of photography these days.

      • On November 4, 2012 at 11:07 am timparkin responded with... #

        Not sure I understand where you are coming from James? The main picture that won the overall competition was a composite of two completely different skies. The image that won the classic view was a composite of two different photographs from different locations and the copse that won a commended had people pasted into it. Whether I like it or not (and I personally don’t do this but love some of the work from people who do) that was against the terms and conditions of the competition. The your view winner was a composite but within the rules of the competition – the only reason we were looking at it is because the photographer categorically denied it was a composite – this is a ‘quasi-legal’ issue, not a moral one.

        Personally I think there is a fairly strong demarcation between digital adjustments and digital additions – the latter, where elements are added to views which didn’t have them in the first place, can be very creative but. in my mind at least, has migrated into graphic art or photomontage – two valid forms of art that have been practised for over a century but the distinction should be made.

        • On November 5, 2012 at 11:58 pm James Rush responded with... #

          I was replying to Matt’s comment. He asked how it could be allowed and I was pointing out that it was entered into the right category where this sort of manipulation can take place.

          When he said he liked it until he saw it was manipulated is crazy. And as for saying it is using dodgy behaviour to grab glory…. Good grief man join the 21st century will you….?

  14. On October 31, 2012 at 8:50 pm Dav Thomas responded with... #

    Does Jo Brand judge this competition too?… that would explain a lot

    • On October 31, 2012 at 9:20 pm Hamish responded with... #

      Dav, I think it may be more Russel Brand…

  15. On October 31, 2012 at 10:05 pm breenster responded with... #

    as a point of balance i would like to add to the debate about the competition, not this years winner.

    The last two years we had a copse of trees, which to the best of my recollection, were actually trees, in a field somewhere without an imposed or created light source. And the year before we had Antony Spencer who I am pretty sure is actually mad enough to keep getting up at silly o clock until he actually got that light, mist etc…

    now both of these we may or may not have liked, but i cannot recall finding conspiracy with.

    so its not all that bad… notwithstanding the dog, crab gate, boat gate, tower gate, ripple gate, that actual dodgy pic of a gate didnt like, and Tim & Pauls image last year being cropped without permission

    isnt it all part of the rich tapestry of life?

  16. On October 31, 2012 at 11:38 pm Hamish responded with... #

    All joking aside I think what this appears to allude to is the accepted perception of photography, or perhaps more accurately, landscape photography today is perhaps becoming skewed by far more mainstream images. We could bounce around myriad reasons why particular images are chosen over others, it’s no secret that some of the judges own stock libraries (agenda?!), if the reasons were simple to understand then decisions would be easier to accept.
    Although I can’t quite believe it myself, has it really been reduced to little more than a series of one-hit-wonders instead of memorable and well executed photographs? Don’t get me wrong a good number of images are certainly worthy and rightfully selected, by the aforementioned judges, though we typically find as are highlighted here (again!) so many are in the final selection that seem only loosely connected to the criteria let alone blatantly beyond the rules that the majority adhere to.
    I fear that whilst the unaware onlookers continue to utter coos of admiration over the final images and fan the flames of the ‘success’, those in the know are left baffled and no doubt concerned if this is what’s meant to be the pinnacle of, and an advert for, landscape photography [in the UK]…

  17. On November 1, 2012 at 12:29 pm Stuart responded with... #


    Very interesting theory, but such analysis on the 2d plane of the light direction and source is flawed. 2d does not equal 3d and cannot be accurately compared.

    The human visual reasoning system of piecing together a 3d perception from a 2d image is spectacularly poor. This has been shown in numerous scientific studies. It is easy to create doubt on any photo by drawing straight lines on the 2d plane and suggesting many light sources. Take the classic pyramid study in 3d visualisation. We can make the same pyramid look like it is floating in thin air in one photo then resting on the floor in another – simply by changing the angle of the light source. Thus the human visual system is fooled in the 2d plane. (Spot the ball competitions have exploited this for years.)

    By actual example of how the visual system is fooled, take the Oswald photo. It was subjected to the same flawed methods using straight lines to interpret light direction from the shadows.The claim was then made that the shadows were incorrect, inferring different light sources and therefore a doctoring of the image.(This was never accepted by science.) The scene was later recreated 3d and the exact same shadows and light were reproduced when a photo was taken.This proved beyond doubt that the image was genuine.

    Proving the direction of the shadows on the boats and the light source is both easy and accurate using any of the ephemeris calculation tools online.

    From Flickr, the Lindisfarne photo’s exif is 28/12/11 at 11:28am. Plotting this into suncalc shows the shadows appear to be correct. (Unless I have the wrong boats – switch to satellite view). See here: http://www.suncalc.net/#/55.6701,-1.7956,18/2011.12.28/11:28

    You can also plot the shadow path and light direction at http://www.sunearthtools.com/dp/tools/pos_sun.php Again, they appear to be correct.If I could post an image you would see this.

    As for the other parts of the image, yes I agree that they do “appear” to have been cloned out, but I have neither visited not photographed the area, so it’s not for me to say.

    Without proper reconstruction and the exact placement, angle, camera, lens etc, it is not possible to conclude for certain that the image was manipulated.

    • On November 1, 2012 at 12:55 pm timparkin responded with... #

      I agree it’s difficult looking only at shadows but we’re looking at crepuscular rays that cannot point anywhere but at the sun? And as you say using any sun direction tool shows that the sun is out of the picture on the right. How can it be both to the right of e picture and above the picture at the same time? Also, presuming crepuscular rays do point at the sun, we have a problem that the sun cannot appear in the part of the sky at the date the image was taken. So, the key ‘physics’ question is “Do crepuscular rays point at the sun?”. Thoughts?

      • On November 1, 2012 at 2:24 pm stuart responded with... #

        Crepuscular rays radiate from the sun – not at it 😉

        I am not doubting the fact the image could have been manipulated. I am doubting the method of analysis. It’s not accurate or precise. Many photos can “appear” to be overwhelmingly false or manipulated when they are in fact not.

        Regardless of wikipedia or scientific definitions, the only accurate and sure way to find out is by proper and correct scientific evaluation. This can be by recreating the scene in 3d, retaking the photo from the exact point and using the exact same equipment – or viewing the original image. As I said above, the human visual system is very easily tricked. Images from a 3d world are compressed into a 2d plane. This compresses perspective, depth, form, shape, texture etc.

        There are lens phenomena that can account for visual misrepresentations to the human system. To illustrate this, look at one of my own photos (below) that demonstrates the flaws in the straight line method. This is a straight shot and I’m happy to provide the raw file. The red line shows the direction of the shadows in the foreground plants do not radiate from (or point back at the sun) and conflict with the crepuscular rays of the middle ground. Image here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/54191867@N02/8144702009/in/photostream/

      • On November 1, 2012 at 2:30 pm timparkin responded with... #

        Yes but we’re not talking about shadows. Can you see any way that crepuscular rays could point anywhere but the sun (and its polar opposite)?

        • On November 1, 2012 at 2:53 pm stuart responded with... #

          You’re missing your own point.

          Quote “the ‘god rays’ were converging at a point up above the two boatsheds and the shadows cast from the boats converge way to the right of the picture”

          The God rays in my image converge at a point above. The shadows in the foreground converge at a point way to the right of the picture (using your straight line method)

        • On November 1, 2012 at 3:01 pm timparkin responded with... #

          Yes but we know where the sun was in the main picture because of the exif and your analysis and this shows it is to the right of the image. We also know that it is on the right of the picture because of the ‘general direction’ of the shadows and the light dark areas of the objects. Two items of supporting information – not just a single shadow. And we don’t need a perfect analysis of shadows for this, just a general direction. Also we know that the ground is flat where the boats are (having been there a few times already). I’m also not relying on a single shadow for the analysis which I agree can create anomalies. The anomalies are caused by the angle of the ground to the sun and we also know that the ground here is approx flat over the area the shadows cover.

          Anyway – if we’re right and the sun *is* above the boats, confirmed by the crepuscular rays which we appear to agree don’t lie, it defies solar physics according to the exif and also would light both side of each boat equally. The only way one side of the boat could be fully in shadow is if the sun were to the right of the image.

          So – do you agree that the location of the sun can be calculated from the crepuscular rays? And if so do you agree that the boats should be equally lit on both sides if that is correct?

        • On November 1, 2012 at 4:23 pm timparkin responded with... #

          I should also add that I haven’t used the direction of the shadows to calculate their source, If I had they would be pointing a lot lower down. I’ve used single points on the boats and the estimated position of their cast shadow to work out a vanishing point. It may not be accurate but it’s accurate enough to show the light source is ‘somewhere off to the right’.

    • On November 1, 2012 at 12:57 pm timparkin responded with... #

      P.s. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crepuscular_rays this wikipedia article suggests that the definition of crepuscular rays is those that converge on the solar position. Of course wikipedia could be wrong.

  18. On November 1, 2012 at 2:24 pm Andy M responded with... #

    Just curious, but what exactly is great landscape photography? From my view there seems to be a very narrow vision of the genre in Britain. I wonder how the likes of Godwin, Southam and Davies would be viewed in such competitions never mind the American greats like Adams, Ruscha, Baltz etc. It’s all just a bit samey and technique heavy, even before you get into the trigonometry.

    • On November 1, 2012 at 2:35 pm timparkin responded with... #

      Well in my book they are all landscape photographers – however I think the judges want some form of ‘wow’ in their selection. This comes from selecting ‘hero’ images and not selecting based on a photographers ouevre.

      • On November 2, 2012 at 9:27 am Andy M responded with... #

        Wow factor is usually immediate impact but often that can be like sugary or salty snack, immediate gratification but little in the way of substance. The problem I see is with the way we consume a lot of this photography (and comp judging) you have a 10 second window to make that emotional impact before the mouse is clicked again. Anything that challenges the viewer to look deeper at the shot and it’s context will usually be passed over. Whilst accepting that a lot of landscapers have incredible skill the notion that British landscape should present this idealised vision of beauty as all there is to the British landscape is facile and narrow viewed. Britain is big, varied, ugly in huge parts and landscapers really need to embrace that.

        Do landscape photographers want to win the X-Factor (LOPTY) or produce a classic album that will stand the test of time? How many will be buying this LOPTY winners print in ten years time and how many will be buying Land?

        Ayway bookmarked your blog now that I’ve found it, all the very best in the future

  19. On November 1, 2012 at 10:12 pm David B responded with... #

    Well done on bringing this to peoples’ attention, Tim.
    It’s a disgrace really in my opinion, but all the better that you’ve raised the issue.
    Don’t suppose CW will be all that happy with this great publicity 😉

  20. On November 1, 2012 at 11:14 pm Graham McPherson responded with... #

    Awesome Tim. Charlie Waite should get you on board as a credibility judge. Well done for the work you put into this. I got an image into the book and the exhibition and paid my entry fees like thousands of others and don’t like to feel ripped off. You have brought to light a very real issue that must be responded to by Charlie Waite or the Take a View LPOTY competition will lose all credibility. If I had a hat on I’d take it off to you and Alex for standing your ground despite the accusations that you were jealous or had sour grapes.

    • On November 1, 2012 at 11:20 pm timparkin responded with... #

      I’ve a thick skin… I don’t really blame Charlie for this – he has a team behind him so any responsibility is across the whole board. Charlie acts as a figurehead and I wouldn’t expect someone who has primarily worked in film and who is also very trusting to be able to recognise these sorts of edits. However there are sufficient other people on the judging panel who have a great deal of experience in post processing that should have spotted this a mile off and done a bit of research. Like Alex has said, it would be really nice if LPOTY transformed into a competition with the credibility of the Wildlife Photographer of the Year (and when they find an issue, as may inevitably happen in any competition, they go to great lengths to fix it).

      • On November 4, 2012 at 11:48 am Richard Childs responded with... #

        It will never have the credibility of Wildlife Photographer. It’s a chicken and egg situation. It needs to attract true world class entrants in enough numbers to garantee that one of them wins to give it the weight it needs but none of them ( Noton, Ward, Tove, Muench, Dykinga, Cornish, Wakefield, Prior, Fatali, Cramer, Burkett, Neill etc etc etc) would particularly want to enter or have to deal with the inevitable after event melee of discussion. Something that the landscape greats aren’t particularly interested in but I believe other photographic disciplines perhaps are. While amateurs and semi-pros do go through to win the wildlife competition it’s hall of fame is littered with names like Jim Brandenberg, Frans Lanting, Ben Osborne, Thomas Mangelsen etc. All full time photographers who dedicate their time to the pursuit of their chosen craft. And most importantly a truly international cast.
        Time to roll out a new competition Tim?

      • On November 4, 2012 at 12:28 pm timparkin responded with... #

        Well I’ve floated the idea for one but we realised it needed a bit of backing for more credibility. A work in progress perhaps…

  21. On November 1, 2012 at 11:33 pm Guy responded with... #

    So I wonder if LPOTY will respond? Has anyone actually complained to them?

    • On November 1, 2012 at 11:36 pm timparkin responded with... #


      • On November 1, 2012 at 11:41 pm Guy responded with... #

        interesting…given your “position” / contacts within the world of landscape togs in the UK

      • On November 2, 2012 at 8:50 am Dom responded with... #

        Well it’s been a bit of a Lance Armstrong year in the world of landscape photography hasn’t it! Perhaps they should declare no winner, refund everyone’s entry fees and concentrate on cleaning up the sport.

  22. On November 2, 2012 at 11:23 am Hamish responded with... #

    Something came to mind regarding the BBC wildlife photography competition, unless I’m mistaken they do request raw files to check the validity of each potential winning image prior to making their final judgements. There’s clearly a difference between careful editing of an image to get the best out of what was already there (we all know raw images need a little tweeking) and photoshopping it to within an inch of it’s life by adding or moving components to produce completely different results. It may not always be feasible for such a stipulation within the competition but it’s certainly worth a try, no doubt would bring some (needed?) credibility to the process. The emphasis then being on good photography (lighting, composition etc) and not photoshop skills…

  23. On November 2, 2012 at 11:32 am Mark LJ responded with... #

    Interestingly the Copse images now appear to have been removed from Talkphotography and the site that was hosting them. I would rather David would just come out and be upfront about all this. It is quite clear that some of the images were not eligible and the lack of clarity makes me doubtful of them all. I noted a comment on the talk photography thread “Thats the one for me mate. Like it better with the people on the right for some reason. It changes the dynamic of the image, I don’t know why.
    Oh, and I like the sky as well, brooding and dangerous looking” makes it appear as though a fair bit of manipulation has been going on. I was in support of David at first but feel a wee bit daft now. A bit of honesty is required.

  24. On November 2, 2012 at 11:51 am Sam responded with... #

    Hi Tim,
    I’m glad you’ve written this blog and highlighted yet again the very shaky integrity of the judging of some of the images in this high profile competition. If all of what you are saying in your analysis is true then I think it’s awful that some people have seemingly bent the rules and got away with it.
    I entered my first competition this year, it being the LPOTY and was shorted listed but got no further. I was very pleased with getting as far as I did on my first go even though initially I had my reservations with entering because of the past controversies.
    It makes me very sad that yet again nothing has been learnt and someone such as Mr. Waite doesn’t seem to have taken any criticisms from the past on board. I do hope what you have discovered is publically addressed by the completion and its organisers this time. Otherwise how can they expect people to spend time, money and put their trust in the competition and judges again next year if the outcome is going to be the same.

  25. On November 2, 2012 at 2:09 pm Hamish responded with... #

    Quick update; It appears the images by Mr Byrne have been effectively disqualified and removed from the competition due to their infringement of the rules…
    It is sad it came to this and could have been avoided though such a result was inevitable in the face of the evidence.

  26. On November 2, 2012 at 2:54 pm Lorraine Parramore responded with... #

    I have read yours and Alex’s blog on this issue with interest, growing indignation, and finally a belief that justice has been done.

    I just want to register my thanks and admiration in exposing the blatent disregard of rules, and for having the cojones to stand up for what you believe in and state it publicly.

    Let’s hope finally the LPOTY judges will check out raw images in future PRIOR to winning announcements. Surely not to much to ask to avoid arguments/embarressment all round.

  27. On November 2, 2012 at 3:18 pm Simon Byrne responded with... #

    Wow. I was annoyed when I read Alex’s blog. This has made that 10 times worse.

    Guess I better brush up on my PP skills 😀

    I’m actually off on a workshop next month with Charlie Waite and would be interested to know his opinion on this. I’m sure they organisers weren’t aware, but maybe this is something they should look to clamp down on.

    • On November 3, 2012 at 8:21 pm Paul Arthur responded with... #

      I would be very surprised if he will comment on it other than what the company as a whole has said…

  28. On November 2, 2012 at 9:20 pm Richard responded with... #

    Regarding the “Natures Struggle” image of the tree in front of the power station, if you import that into PS and adjust the levels, you can see that the shadows on the power station fall on the left, yet the shadows on the tree fall on the right… simple elemental composite failure.

  29. On November 3, 2012 at 5:16 am Gary responded with... #

    Well done, Tim. What a sad farce.

  30. On November 3, 2012 at 10:07 am CHINA responded with... #

    The photo industry is friggin’ FINALLY coming around to my way of thinking: Photoshop and HDR is not “real” photography. That’s great if you can sell your ‘shopped images to travel magazine and guidebooks (because they too are trying to market an ILLUSION, rather than the reality, of a place), but there’s a point when you must stop calling yourself a photographer – a photographer being someone who captures life AS IT IS through his lens – and instead start referring to yourself a “digital artist.”

    The industry needs more bullsh*t-caller-outters like Tim Parkin!

    • On November 3, 2012 at 9:24 pm Tim responded with... #

      Like i said on the Petapixel blog article, capturing an image “as it is” is open to interpretation, since the camera cannot possibly see the world the same as the human eye. And what makes you think you see the world the same as the person next to you? In the context of this article and what happened in the competition, nobody was trying to “bullshit” anyone, the photographer simply failed to read the rules before he submitted the photos. And Tim Parkin certainly would not want to be accused of calling David Byrne a “bullshitter”. It was an honest mistake by both David and the organisers of the competition, who should have been more vigillant. The rules of the competition are clear, so this is not really the place for a discussion about whether photoshop should be allowed in photography.

      • On November 3, 2012 at 9:34 pm timparkin responded with... #

        Agreed, and we’ll never know the full measure of honesty/dishonesty so it’s pointless to speculate – As for Photoshop, the right place for that discussion is possibly in “On Landscape” and I’ll hopefully be covering it in the next few issues.

  31. On November 3, 2012 at 12:37 pm Roy Tait responded with... #

    A fine piece of work Tim. I was approaching a point where I felt I could sell all my camera gear, stay indoors in the warmth and spend the next ten years compositing my back catalogue to create new and original images. Digital tweakery has its place, it is an integral part of modern-day image creation. Nothing wrong with, we all admire the darkroom tweakery of the silver generations. Nor is there anything wrong with creating the perfect image from separate images of the perfect sky, the perfect sea and the perfect unicorn. Photography is after all still an art. What is wrong though is passing off that perfect picture in a way that is “intended to deceive others, typically by unjustifiably claiming or being credited with accomplishments or qualities.” There’s a legal word for that. David Byrne may well have misunderstood or misinterpreted the extent of manipulation permitted under the rules, it happens. However given the controversy that has surrounded many high profile competitions in recent years, I simply don’t understand why as part of their due diligence, the competition organisers did not require even a cursory review of original raw files as now required by some competitions. Yes they can still be faked but it helps swing the balance of probability towards an image being what it is claimed to be. The organisers could have avoided this humiliation and should be deeply embarrassed by this.

  32. On November 3, 2012 at 2:04 pm Stewart responded with... #

    Third David Byrne image, The Copse, now confirmed by Take-A-View, as being disqualified.

  33. On November 3, 2012 at 9:32 pm Brian responded with... #

    I was wondering what will happen on the book front, with so many copies having already been sold?.do they replace them, reprint them etc..as someone who has their image in the book i feel slightly angry when we photographers spend our time taking the best shots we can only for someone to win with photoshops skills.

    • On November 4, 2012 at 11:09 am timparkin responded with... #

      If the precedent of the Wildlife Photographer of the Year is anything to go by, they never did anything about the book with the wolf shot so I don’t expect anything to happen.

  34. On November 4, 2012 at 3:38 pm Andrew Herbert responded with... #

    Have been reading all the above comments with interest and agree with most that the competition is at fault for allowing heavy manipulation. I have purchased the book since its inception and now feel like i have been duped. I did always think that to be called “landscape photographer of the year ” on the strength of one winning image was wrong, maybe Landscape Photograph of the year would be more appropriate , I think last year Slawek Stasckuk ( one for onlandscape Tim) had five images in the book , surely that would be more worthy of the winners gong !

  35. On November 4, 2012 at 5:04 pm Julian responded with... #

    I don’t think it’s been mentioned here but the latest news is that both of David Byrne’s images have been disqualified for ‘too much Photoshopping’. Simon Butterworth’s shot of Glasgow tenements is the new winning entry. At last a worthy winner…

    Ho hum. Perhaps it’s finally time to scrap this fiasco of a competition?


    • On November 4, 2012 at 8:09 pm Stewart responded with... #

      He has actually had 3 of his 4 ‘winning’ images disqualified from the competition. His fourth, which was a composite, was allowed to remain because of the category it was entered in.

  36. On November 4, 2012 at 10:48 pm David Marshall responded with... #

    What a sad state of affairs, and while I sympathise with David Byrne for all the abuse that’s been hurled at him, I can’t help feeling that he has brought some of it on himself by being unwilling to be totally honest and upfront about what manipulation he actually did.

    He can be given the benefit of the doubt for not reading the T&Cs, and manipulation (while not to everyones taste) isn’t yet a hanging offence, but it should be readily owned up to, not denied.

    It would seem that David can be caught out making contradictory statements, e.g. you earlier linked to his Two Towers (Lindisfarne and Bamburgh Castles) photo on Flickr so I looked at it and one of his replies to a comment said “I suppose if i had my 300mm telephoto I could have stood further back and compressed the landscape to create this effect but i only had my wides with me”. Yet in the same stream of photos is one of Bamburgh (identical to the distant Bamburgh in the first photo btw) which the exif says was taken with 300mm lens just 2 hours 1 minute after the first one.
    Don’t intend to extend the witchhunt, and noticed the above by chance not trying to catch him out, but one false statement tends to cast doubt on everything.

  37. On November 5, 2012 at 4:15 pm a snapper responded with... #

    WOW – you have way way too much time on your hands pal.

    But then I guess only those interested in winning competitions at all cost will be bothered by all this.

    I certainly am not.

    • On November 5, 2012 at 4:20 pm timparkin responded with... #

      You’re right if you look at this from a simple “What’s in it for me” context but people’s perceptions of landscape photography are changed by this and if you’re selling landscape photographs then it is an issue. Obviously if you only take pictures for yourself then it doesn’t really matter. As for having time on my hands – not really, but then again I write about landscape photography for a living…

  38. On November 5, 2012 at 5:11 pm David Higgs responded with... #

    oh dear,,,,

    just caught up with this – I’d decided not to enter next year after reaching the final then failing again. However, with me making images without PS adjustments on film, maybe I’ll stand a better chance next year!

    Seriously though, it’s a sad state of affairs and makes you wonder for the longevity of the competition as a whole. I hope Charlie can hold it together as sponsors get nervous over htese things. I also feel for Simon Butterworth – surely not a way anyone wishes to win.

    I guess the best that can come from it is that the competition moves on, as it had seemed to have got stuck in the Flickr EXPLORE mentality for a while now. I’m obviously biased as even colour is a bit tricky for me, let alone digital artestry. It would be great to see some avenue for more ‘classic’ work.

  39. On November 5, 2012 at 10:08 pm David G responded with... #

    The Lindisfarne boats shot is an excellent pic , and is one that many people would be happy to hang on a wall. The others are none-too-shabby either.
    Image manipulation has been going on for 150 years or more, and I don’t believe for one second that David Byrne set out to win by deliberately cheating the rules. I believe that image editing should be within the rules, whatever that editing may be, and I speak as somebody who was masking, dodging, burning and cropping in his own darkroom 38 years ago. If it’s good and unnoticeable, without the aid of Google Street View, which wasn’t available before the digital age, of course, then it will stand on its own merits. If it’s poor and clumsy, then it won’t. Let us remember that a digital image is manipulated by a dSLR before it ever gets near an editing program.
    Photography is all about interpretation, and that includes the landscape category too. Otherwise, surely it is just a record of a moment in time, captured for posterity.
    The forensic examination of David Byrne’s images came about because, technically, he broke the rules, and being fair to all competitors is of paramount importance.
    However, maybe it would be better to lighten up and relax the rules. Then lighten up some more ; this is 2012 after all.

    • On November 5, 2012 at 10:19 pm timparkin responded with... #

      Do you think ‘made up’ scenes should be judged alongside images that are predominantly as seen? I think this is one issue and another is openness about what has happened. People don’t need to be open but a photograph with no notes implies a certain level of truth in my opinion – hence the fuss when people find out about the fact nearly all magazine models are photoshopped to hell and back.

      There is a section that allows composite images so there is no problem in the competition overall with composite images – he just entered in the wrong category.

      • On November 6, 2012 at 12:48 pm Astrid M responded with... #

        David G,
        Dodging, burning and cropping are allowed in all categories anyway. Street view was only employed after David B. denied making major changes and declared them as minor. I think I would rather like to see the rules tightened than relaxed for this particular competition as it is intended to celebrate the British landscape, i.e. is more orientated towards pictorial images than digital composites.

  40. On November 5, 2012 at 10:47 pm Ed Law responded with... #

    Methinks the “God Rays” affected someone who has more time than ability.

    Such is the current self importance attitude.

  41. On November 6, 2012 at 1:52 pm Ken Latham responded with... #

    Despite the fact that he ‘came clean’ David will be forever now known as the guy who was disqualified and this is a shame.as David G says maybe it is time we relaxed the rules a little, there is no doubt that the image is one that many of us would be proud of and who can stand up and say that they wouldn’t have done some manipulation to their images too.
    Coming to David Byrne’s images there does seem to be quite a lot of ‘Photoshopping’ being done and maybe not admitted to, a good example of this is his (excellent) image entitled ‘Wind Torn’ ( http://www.85mm.co.uk/gale-force/ ) of a barn and tree in Felinheli north Wales where David says ‘Saw this tree on route to another location in north wales, the tree has been shaped by the wind and been quite deformed, making for a great shape’ (his quote) now I live within ten minutes of this location and pass it several times a week and unless I need to go to Specsavers then this tree has been moved by about 50 meters and given a much more accentuated lean, now I will admit the image does look much better for Davids jiggery pockery as there is a very empty space between the trree and the barn but this is not alluded to in the spiel at all, neither is the fact that quite a lot of clutter has also been cloned out, such as stock feeders some fencing etc. Should any images that have been manipulated have a ‘Health Warning’ on them to say that what you see ain’t what you get in reality, this sort of artistic licence has of course been used for centuries and will go on I’m sure for the next generations to come, the classic painting done in 1799 of Dolbadarn Castle by William Turner is nothing like the real life scene at all by a country mile, in fact the crags have been moved a country mile to dramatise the picture, was Turner any different to todays ‘artists’?
    I think there is a danger that many of us who would like to submit their images to competition such as ‘Take a View’ will be very wary of doing so in case we are ‘named and shamed’ and this is a real shame and loss as people may miss out on seeing great images, maipulated or otherwise.
    I really hope that David Byrne does not loose his enthusiasm or loose face due to what has happened as the guy has a definite eye for a good image, maybe just a bit more information and honesty will go a long way.

  42. On November 6, 2012 at 8:21 pm David G responded with... #

    Points taken, Tim and Astrid.
    I still think though, that Mr. Byrne’s images are good ones, and, in the category of landscape shooting, nobody can tell me that ‘made up’ images haven’t been adorning gallery walls and photo mags for a long time. Drag a tree stump in here…..splash a boulder with water there…. Stuff that has to be thought of as scene manipulation, and not as first viewed. Steichen’s ‘Flat Iron’ pictorial was manipulated using chemicals, to produce lovely, muted colours. It has always, however, been described as a pictorial, although it may not have been quite so popular if it had been in competition with untouched black and white images !
    I mentioned that I dodged/burned etc. a long time ago, because I wanted to make the point that pictures almost always need touching up to some degree, and we’ve been accepting that for so long.

    I realise that basic stuff is allowed, although I take the point that all manipulation should be declared at the outset, and I wholeheartedly agree with that one.

    Personally, I side more with Ken Latham, but maybe I’m just too liberal, and, after all, it’s not my competition.

    Funny, but on first reading this article, and its excellent, grown-up discussion, I wondered at the picky nature of each message. Looks like I’ve joined in quite seamlessly !

  43. On November 7, 2012 at 12:37 am Kevin Thomas responded with... #

    The sad fact is that the photo could have been created using light(s) to illuminate the foreground while capturing the dramatic background. Adding light when shooting on location is standard practice in cinematography. If David Byrne had used this approach would he still be disqualified?

    In today’s digital age it is a bit of a nonsense to disqualify a photo simply for manipulation – it really isn’t where photography is today. I also care about photography – I have recently gone back to shooting to film -but in the age of the instagram being purist about images is not in most peoples mind.

  44. On November 8, 2012 at 3:49 am Peter Hordern responded with... #

    Having taken landscapes for 40 years, fistly with Nikons, then Rollei 66 and 5x4s, and all with FILM and AGFA Papers and chemistry, all manipulated (The printing, burning/dodging, chemical combinations etc.. for the changes) I find this whole discussion rather trite. I have shot exclusivly digitally for more than a decade now and use Photoshop for my darkroom. What I do with that is my business and attributes to my style and finished image. Now 100 years ago I could really only ride a bike or walk to some of my locations, whereas today I can 4×4 in or if I am really wealthy get a chopper…blah blah blah. I suppose what my point is, is that we use the tools that are available to us at the time we live in to the best of their/our ability. When I shot with a 5×4 you really needed to know about the science of photography, len optics, reciprosity, exposure control etc. Now days with digital imaging most high end cameras drive themselves and Pshop out of the box does a pretty good job. Surely we have better things to do than indulge in torturous analysis of each and every image, rather look at it and enjoy it. This is really what photography is about, a visual experience. Enjoy

    • On November 8, 2012 at 8:58 am timparkin responded with... #

      I think you’ve missed the point that this is not a morale judgement against compositing images together but a little bit of detective work to discover whether a photograph won a competition fraudulently… I really enjoyed the landscapes in the film Avatar but it has little relationship with the photography that I know and love.

  45. On November 8, 2012 at 5:09 pm Denise F responded with... #

    I must admit that I haven’t read every comment in this thread (there are rather a lot…) I would however like to make a very simple point… In this age of digital photography and manipulation, I believe that we need a new term to cover images created using digital software, as opposed to analogue technologies. Could we not coin a new term, instead of ‘photography’, something like ‘digitography’ might be more appropriate.

    I am a bit of a Luddite, I admit, but I have to say that I cannot bear to look at images which have been worked on. So often, it is all too obvious, even for someone who knows nothing about ‘God rays’. I believe that images which have been worked on in obvious ways do nothing to celebrate the wonders of the natural world; they seem more about the ego of the technician who fiddled about on their computer to create the drama.

    Can we get back to showing the beauty of the world without the showing off that goes with so much digital photography nowadays?

    With all best wishes,

    • On November 8, 2012 at 5:26 pm timparkin responded with... #

      I don’t see the process being called ‘photography’ but the end result, if things have been added or combined, should really be terms ‘graphic art’ or ‘photomontage’. The line will always be difficult to draw though and each will have their own preferences and my personal is that nothing should be added and nothing obvious should be taken away.

      • On November 9, 2012 at 10:37 am David Higgs responded with... #

        the line is difficult to draw….

        Like you I assume, I scan film and perform analogue style darkroom techniques in PS. Does that cross the line?

        If there’s some dust spots or development marks, and I do some cloning – does that cross the line?

        If there’s the tip of a distance electricity pylon showing, and I just clone it out, does that cross the line?

        If I add in a dramatic sky from another image – does that cross the line?

        I use a lot of B+W film, no human with normal vision sees in monochrome – isn’t that a perversion on reality?

        It’s a minefield.

        “the integrity of the subject must be maintained and the making of physical changes to the landscape is not permitted (removing fences, moving trees, stripping in sky from another image etc)”

        The rules are almost explicit, although the word ‘integrity’ is open to interpretation.
        When I was short listed (long time ago!) for WPOTY I had to send my original transparencies – they appear to have a more robust system.

        The real shame is that David could still of won, if he’d put the image in the correct category.

  46. On November 14, 2012 at 1:26 am Chris responded with... #

    Slightly off track but still with regards to composites and competitions. Back in January this year, Ian Thomson wrote an article for OnLandscape about truth in landscape photography, where his manipulations were applauded. Now, this wasnt a competition, but, i believe i may of found something that if correct could cause egg on faces. Is this the same Ian Thomson who won an entry called Storm Force in Countryfiles calender competition? If it is, this is another competition that does not allow manipulations or montages. Ive written to the BBC and am waiting a response. Be good to see if you can check this out with the same level of detail and desire for justice as for the LPOTY entry.


    • On November 14, 2012 at 12:59 pm Chris responded with... #

      Additionally as a side…Mr Cornish is head judge of Best Shots competition, and within their guidelines, I cant find anything to say either about manipulation or montages…and yet this again rates itself as recognising outstanding photography as well as charging a high fee per image to enter. Is this again not a marketing and money making scheme? If manipulations are allowed, wheres the integrity in this competition either? Monies btw may go to a so called charity (which in my mind is worthless as its just a railway station, and helps no one with real needs)…but still seems to be just as a weaker model for a competition if i saw one…

      • On November 14, 2012 at 1:20 pm timparkin responded with... #

        Definitely a money making exercise…. whats the problem? I don’t think there is any integrity issue – personally I’m not a fan of over manipulated photos but I’ve broken the rules of this competition on occasion by removing rubbish or a stray strand of grass etc.. If they state in the competition clearly that there is no problem with manipulation then I don’t see an issue. I might not agree that it’s a great competition for selecting the best ‘art’ or best ‘landscape photograph’ but this is a competition for public consumption and doesn’t pretend to be anything else – no issue in my opinion.

    • On November 14, 2012 at 1:13 pm Stewart responded with... #

      There was a follow up article in the following edition of OnLandscape by Tim Parkin himself. I don’t know if that covered your points or not.

    • On November 14, 2012 at 1:17 pm timparkin responded with... #

      I’ve had a look at the image and I can’t see anything wrong with the image myself. What makes you think that is a composite?

      • On November 14, 2012 at 3:56 pm Chris responded with... #

        Its not that I “know” its a composite, Im enquiring whether you may know, or whether you should ask the photographer? I can only go on what was uploaded within the article, and then cross reference the image and name to the one in the Countryfile calender. It may just be a coincidence and is a different Ian Thomson altogether. I dont know?

        But it raises a more troublesome issue for me. For instance, should this image be a fake, knowing that the rules of the BBC doesnt allow composites, should it be raised now or not? Just like this whole fiasco with LPOTY? I mean, you, me, we are not on the judging panel, those responsibilities lay with the panel assembled. So who are we to start enquiries or to make trouble out of some self righteous sense of what is justice? If the panel hasnt spotted it, then surely that is their mistake, their failure as a panel, otherwise, the public should be the panel, rather than those chosen? Both competitions have been finalised, announced, by the teams in place. To raise some sort of witch hunt and enquiry, puts yourself in authority, rather than allow what is done to be done, by the teams already in place. No matter whether the guy made a mistake in LPOTY or even in Countryfile should it be the same guy using same techniques, I dont believe anyone should be saying anything with regards to pointing out people mistakes or deliberate attempts to decieve judging panels. Surely the truth always comes out in the end, and shows nothing more that the organisers have little experience in photography or spotting these things anyhow?

        I contacted the BBC because I wanted to definately know for sure if montages are allowed or not for that competition. Ive asked them to ask the photographer if it is, should they deem it suitable now. However, I would never argue against the decision made already, thats down to them, not me. If it concludes it was a montage, I would never say, well, ban him then, thats not my choice. If they allowed it then they allowed it, if they decide no it shouldnt of been allowed, but allow it anyway, I will not raise any concerns, even though I entered it myself. All I would know for next time that these things slip by because of a lack of experience on a judging panel and I would simply not enter it again. The same goes for LPOTY. I entered this, but I dont feel angry or bitter against anyone on the panel, so why should you or anyone else? The panel is the panel, if they cannot do the job you think they should be doing, then why not start your own competition, with the rules you want, and promote that instead? None of us should be using energy to bring people down or desire blood in instances like this. Simply allow it, and move on to something suitable for yourself instead? Making plans, images, sun direction diagrams, dont you think thats pretty sad? So many have put the competition down, and yet make a big song and dance about it anyway when things like this happen? Why? Why bother to say anything if the competition doesnt mean anything to anyone? It hits nerves because no one likes a cheat, no instantly people want justice. But that justice isnt down to us, its down to the panel to make choices at the time. We simply have to submit to that authority in place if we want to enter this competition, which we do at the time of submitting. We all knew who the panel was, descriptions of who they are were given, so why make a song and dance about it now that they have made a mistake and allowed an image to go through that wasnt right? As I say, its their thing, the panel is the panel, and after so many years of this competition, lets just give it a wide birth and not bother to enter it because we already know what its all about dont we? Move on…

        • On November 14, 2012 at 4:16 pm timparkin responded with... #

          “Surely the truth always comes out in the end,”

          How – if nobody says anything?

          ” Making plans, images, sun direction diagrams, dont you think thats pretty sad?”

          Not really – why do you think it’s sad?

          “Why bother to say anything if the competition doesnt mean anything to anyone?”

          Because it does mean a lot to a lot of people..

          “But that justice isnt down to us, its down to the panel to make choices at the time.”

          Well I disagree. The panel made the wrong choice and perhaps we helped them make the right choice. Nowt wrong with that in my eyes.

          Just to be clear – I didn’t enter the competition.

          To be honest Chris I haven’t a clue where you are coming from. If you don’t think it’s worth commenting on the competition, surely commenting on a comment on the competition is pointless as well.

          You also seem to be telling me I shouldn’t be saying anything about the competition? If so then why are you raising issues with a photograph that you don’t even know is a fake in a competition that you’re not completely sure whether they allow fakes?

          I respect your choices on whether to comment or not on things, why can’t you respect mine. You’ve also accused me of raising a ‘witch hunt’ and calling me ‘pretty sad’. Now I didn’t go out telling people to ‘raise hell’ or ‘contact the organisers’ etc. so I don’t know why you think I’ve instigated a witch hunt. If you want to call me ‘pretty sad’ then that is your prerogative. I will disagree of course.

          Personally I think you’re out of order contacting the BBC about a competition that has passed on a picture you have no evidence of a problem with – but i think you have a right to do that if you wish.

          In the case here with LPOTY there were clear indications that the image broke the competitions own rules. Would it have been a better solution had the original winner taken away the £11,000 and become the UK’s acclaimed Landscape Photographer of the Year?

          • On November 14, 2012 at 4:50 pm Chris responded with... #

            But you had no evidence Tim, only hear say from other sites? Then you went about doing diagrams on how it cannot be true and took it further? You contacted the organiser after the winner announcement did you not? Now youre telling me I shouldnt be doing that? Hypercritcal isnt it? You say they made a wrong choice which you helped to put right, but then, I argue you are not a judge, they are, and to be honest, yes, i would of rather seen the prize money go to the winner they announced, because it was THEIR decision. You cant have a go at a panel of people who you say made a wrong choice when all they have is an image to look at and whether they like it or not? Only the best in photography would actually see any error like this. They see thousands of entries at 800px for goodness sake. Youre complaining about them and what they didnt do, but so what? The competitions a PR stunt anyway? You and others on your site rant on about landscape photography being this so called “deeper craft”, but LPOTY is nothing like this? So why create an issue and not do your own comp? You have many followers do you not, you have JC as a business partner, do something what you believe in and champion that, and leave LPOTY to them? Whether it gets decisions wrong or not. If you had started your own landscape comp years ago instead, especially after the “dog” and “crab” incident, you may well be joined by thousands of landscape photographers that want a really good comp to enter into? And Im making a comment in exactly the same vain you guys are…you know LPOTY is a farse, but it hasnt stopped you making a massive deal out of it? Id ask the same question to you? If LPOTY is the joke you claim it to be, and all your other followers, why even run this article, question the image, do diagrams etc etc? They messed up, like theyve done before…big deal? Thats LPOTY for you? The guy who made the image will now be known for the mistake man, or even by many, the guy who tried to con the judges. You say hes admitted it, and you give off this attitude like you care, but deep down your motive was to out someone and get justice. Thats not a right motive. You come across to David like oh im so sorry, but only after lots of picking apart his work and making you findings available for all to see and discuss. Youre not sorry for him at all. You wanted to pick him apart, and make him a scapegoat for the competition. Its not right. And to be honest now everyone knows about it and the results have been altered, I think you should delete this whole article, images as well, and let the thing go. It makes no difference to anyone anymore, and certainly not to David. So show him some respect.

          • On November 14, 2012 at 5:40 pm timparkin responded with... #

            I’m taking this conversation off the blog now, it’s become boring and I think Chris has made his point quite clearly – if he wants to continue to rant he can put them up on his own website.

  47. On August 12, 2013 at 6:36 am Chris Flees responded with... #

    Tim that is some awesome detective work. Very interesting and while I was not in the photo competition I understand your point and position. A tough but good call on pointing out what you did and something for everyone who competes to think about “Check the submission rules fully and thoroughly”.

  48. On February 14, 2014 at 2:43 pm Werner Meier responded with... #

    There used to be photography, where the basic added value was created on site. Nowadays, we call it photography, but we do digital art, where the creative added value comes mainly from screen and keyboard, not from conditions onsite. Not to say that this isn’t art nor the images are not pleasing – but it isn’t photography anymore. It’s a different genre.


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