A friend of mine was asked to judge a local agricultural show’s photography competition. The competition was divided into Adult and Junior sections with the Adult further divided into  “Straight” (my word) photographs and Digitally Enhanced. So far so good. But he was in a range because there was one entrant in the Digitally Enhance section while at least a third of the “straight” section had been extensively Photoshopped.

Rightly, or wrongly, he thought that many of the entrants weren’t adhering to the rules. Many of the images were obviously HDR enhancements being passed off as :from the camera” images. He has no objections to altering levels and applying unsharp masking – he uses digital himself – but he thought the images he was referring to cross the boundary and were really collages. Collages in the sense that several images were melded to make the final print.

When he asked my opinion I floundered. In my own work I happily use Photoshop and I manipulate images, but I don’t do anything that I couldn’t reproduce in the darkroom. This is splitting hairs because there is no valid reason why I should not use every tool at my disposal.

On reflection though I decided that if the competition didn’t have a special digitally enhanced category there is no reason why I should I identify my prints as such, but if there is then the prints should be entered in the correct category.  If I don’t. I’m cheating. And the judge or judges are justified in excluding the work from consideration.


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