It’s perhaps unusual that something as benign and gentle is landscape photography should attract so much press attention. However the image reproduced above was recently awarded the £10,000 prize in the Landscape Photographer Of The Year competition and subsequently disqualified.
The disqualification was purely technical in that the rules of that competition do not allow cloning or adding or taking away anything from the image.
The photograph is heavily manipulated and the photographer has removed not only lobster pots from the side of the boat he also removed part of the land mass visible out at sea and substituted the sky for a new one. From what I can gather this last manoeuvre was his undoing because the position of the sun in the new sky is incompatible with the shadows cast by the boats on the beach.
The photographer has been very gracious about this and it is accepted by everyone that he entered the competition in good faith but without reading the rules and was not therefore aware that he had breached them.
He simply photoshopped the image in same the way he would treat any of his landscape pictures not realising that this was not allowed on this occasion.
Alex Nail has written a very complete article if you would like to read more
Alex Nail’s Blog
The issue of digital manipulation of landscape photography gets a lot of discussion in camera clubs. I’m sure there is no right or wrong answer. You only need to look at the Masters of landscape painting and compare the picture on the canvas with the actual geography to know that if a landscape artist has the tools and technology available to move bits of the landscape around to make a better composition then he or she will almost certainly do so.
Alex however raises a second issue in his article which needs further thought. That is the question of plagiarism.
Again this is always going to be contentious because the landscape has more or less always been there and will remain more or less the same so there is inevitably a similarity between a images taken in the same location.
The question is how close can you get to the composition of a famous or published work before you can be reasonably criticised for plagiarism.
I think in this particular instance I come down on Alex’s side. Since the viewpoint and the relationship of the boats to the castle is almost identical to a previous successful entrant in the same competition, it is surprising that the image got through the initial rounds let alone that it eventually won before being disqualified on what is essentially a technical knockout.