Hand Of Man

April 28, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

Wharariki, South Island, New Zealand. Taken on the Photographic Counsel with Tony Hewitt last year.
Places are available for the 2015 workshop/tour in June 2015.

Ken Duncan, Andris Apse and Kevin Raber are judging a new photography competition, called The Real Australia Landscape Awards. In fact, Ken is behind it, claiming that photography today is separated into two very different streams, photo realism and photo illustration. He is very careful to say he loves both types of photography, but he is concerned that photo realism scores a poor second in photography competitions and hence it needs to be represented separately.

I'm not sure that I agree about the latter claim. In many competitions, 'photo realism' is still winning lots of awards. I look at our own 2014 International Landscape Photographer of the Year awards and, to the best of my knowledge the majority of the winning images are 'realism'. By this, I mean they are not composites, but they have been tweaked in Photoshop or Lightroom by adjusting the tonality and colour. I think they would pass the rules for Ken's competition, but whether or not they would be judged as being 'realism' is harder to say.

Ken and I are good friends and we have had an entertaining email exchange about this. I think his competition is a great idea because, even though statistically it's not correct, there is a perception that heavily manipulated images win against more realistic entries. If a part of the landscape photography world wants a competition just for photo realism, fantastic!

But where are we going to draw the line? This is where Ken didn't really make a stand. The line would be determined by the judges - so it's a subjective position for his competition. I can't argue with this stance because I think it is impossible to define the line objectively. How much contrast or saturation is too much? It depends on so many variables. In the end, it depends on the judges.

Now, I'm thinking the image above would not be allowed because I did too much post-production. Some inconsiderate photographers had walked right across the sand, leaving big foot prints in my Wharariki seascape. How do I know they were photographers? Because I was one of them! The 'photo illustration' is up above, the 'photo realism' is down below. What I should have done is waited five minutes for a wave to come through and that would have sorted it all out!

If you're interested in joining Tony Hewitt and me on our next trip to New Zealand this June, we have some places left and we are definitely going. Think of it as nearly a week of high-powered photographic instruction, from our capture secrets all the way through to one-on-one post-production instruction in the New Zealand High Country. It is going to be epic!

But don't take my word for it! There's a great little e-brochure I've created which has all the details - click here to have a look!


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