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Thread: Here's a good topic to start a discussion!

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    Andrew76's Avatar
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    Here's a good topic to start a discussion!

    Should photos of animals in zoos still be considered 'Nature Photography'? See what National Geographic has to say HERE

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    Re: Here's a good topic to start a discussion!

    One question that comes to mind is, if the photographer does not state WHERE the photo was actually taken, how will National Geographic decide if it was in a great zoo or in the wild? Are we then required to have GPS location on all entries?? Although a tiger is a tiger, one photographed in the wild is more impressive for the skill it took to photograph it....So then it comes down to, are we judging the photograph "as it is, for it's own merit" or the photographer, and his time, effort, equipment and skill. This can be a very difficult question.

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    Re: Here's a good topic to start a discussion!

    As stated in the article a photographer was stripped of a prize for staging a "wildlife" photograph so GPS location on pictures is in no way a 100% guarantee of honesty, if people want to evade rules to win they will. Nature is nature be it in the zoo or in the wild, and yes photographing in the wild certainly has much greater risks (I get in the water to photograph alligators). NatGeo has gone some distance by not allowing Photoshopping, I can only guess to satisfy the greater populace they will have to open a catagory for "Photographed in a Captive Mode" zoos, staffed wildlife parks & refuges, aquariums, etc...

    Lesley

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    Re: Here's a good topic to start a discussion!

    A good question indeed! Here's my take on it. I think any photograph of animal, bird, insect, plant or anything living is "nature photography". I exclude landscapes, even if they include living things and even if those are important to the composition.

    I would have a separate sub- category for wildlife, which I would use for an animal, bird, insect etc photographed free living in its natural environment. That would exclude the NG wolf photo.

    They are only labels, and I wouldn't go to war on it, but I think the "wildlife" category, or whatever you want to call it, should be legitimate class for competitions.

    P.S. my avatar is wildlife

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    Re: Here's a good topic to start a discussion!

    Many photography clubs and organizations do have specifications which lay out differences between Wildlife and Nature. NG chooses the separation with whatever rules they wish as would any group or magazine run by you or I. It's yours so you set the rules. As long as those guidelines are stipulated then nobody has the self-appointed right to say you the originator is wrong do we? It's their choice. If I don't agree with the rules they set for themselves then fine, I may move along to another source that caters to my views. No big deal. There are some sites which cater strictly to digitally edited photos. I like the photos but don't/can't manipulate photos to the extremes the users do. Doesn't mean I can alter their rules to fit in. No matter what group there always seems to be the Brendan van Son's that are full of themselves with some BS thrown into the mixture. Nothing makes them happy.

    Our club has slightly different guidelines for Nature than our governing national body. Some photos allowed in our monthly club competition would not be eligible for national consideration. Neither is better or worse, just different.
    Last edited by Andrew1; 10th January 2013 at 09:56 PM.

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    Re: Here's a good topic to start a discussion!

    We all too often get hung up on labels. Personally, I do my best not to use them. If I bring a blade of grass and a bug into my studio and photograph them, you can call the type of photography whatever you want. I'll be done with it by describing the image as a bug on a blade of grass.

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    Re: Here's a good topic to start a discussion!

    Quote Originally Posted by kentruth View Post
    As stated in the article a photographer was stripped of a prize for staging a "wildlife" photograph...
    NatGeo has gone some distance by not allowing Photoshopping, I can only guess to satisfy the greater populace they will have to open a catagory for "Photographed in a Captive Mode" zoos, staffed wildlife parks & refuges, aquariums, etc...Lesley
    What in the world does the term "Photoshopping" mean?

    Does it mean that there is no cropping allowed?
    Do we have to produce the image exactly as shot in the camera?
    Does it mean that there is no sharpening allowed?
    Does it mean that there is no color correcton allowed?

    I am sure that we all are fairly certain about what National Geographic "MEANS" when they state "No Photoshopping". However, what they say is not necessarily what they mean!

    Rules that are incorrectly stated are stupid and probably cause more problems than they solve.

    The New York Subway System once had a sign stating "No smoking allowed"

    What does that mean? Think about it before you jump to a conclusion!

    After thousands and thousands of riders were cited and paid fines for their transgressions, one citizen fought and won his case by stating, "That sign doesn't say that I am not allowed to smoke. It says that I am allowed not to smoke!"

    Although I am a non-smoker, I have to agree with his interpretation (and the interpretation of the court) as to the literal meaning of the sign...

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    Re: Here's a good topic to start a discussion!

    There are no points for difficulty in judging a photograph. However a very difficult to take photograph may make it novel or unique and that certainly does influence a viewer. I think if nature is portrayed accurately and honestly then the how, when, where and what adjustments have been made are almost irrelevant.

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    Re: Here's a good topic to start a discussion!

    Quote Originally Posted by rpcrowe View Post
    The New York Subway System once had a sign stating "No smoking allowed"...one citizen fought and won his case by stating, "That sign doesn't say that I am not allowed to smoke. It says that I am allowed not to smoke!"
    That being the case, the court made the wrong decision in my mind. If the sign had said, "No-smoking allowed," (including the hyphen) the court would have made the correct decision.

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    Re: Here's a good topic to start a discussion!

    NG seems to lay out quite understandably what they wish to see for submissions to their magazine. Different collections/contests may also have different guidelines from time to time. I would think their own photographers are probably under much tighter rules than the general contests they run. I could not find a reference in NG regarding the "Documentary" classification which allows zero manipulation and would doubt it's even used any more.

    http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/ng...lation-notice/

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    Re: Here's a good topic to start a discussion!

    Over the years, I have seen many changes in National Geographic. I remember the anticipation, when I was very young, of seeing photos of exotic animals of which I was in awe; as I aged, Nat Geo was my introduction to the female anatomy. Although I still enjoy occasionally reviewing National Geographic, it comes with the realization that the mere exposure of our society has corrupted the peoples of these remote societies. I for one would love to go on African safari, but at what cost? I truly believe that the current popularity of these safaris is going to come at a steep price; ancient migration patterns will be disrupted, predators will become habituated to our presence. In the North American continent, bison no longer follow their ancient migration patterns, wolves base their territories on the roads built by man. I really think that it may be better to shoot our pictures of token lions, tigers and bears in the zoo and leave their wild relatives alone!!

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    Re: Here's a good topic to start a discussion!

    Randy, too late. Notice how many vehicles are at the end of this.


    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yjUgWoVouCA

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    Re: Here's a good topic to start a discussion!

    I am 100% certain that 99% of all shots on NG are photoshopped to some extent.

    Btw, remember that anything you submit becomes their property.

    Safaris? Nowadays these are just open zoos. A cheetah will come up to you because he is curious? No way!

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    Re: Here's a good topic to start a discussion!

    Isn't it mostly a question of what is promised/implied about the image?
    A photo claiming to be of a wild animal in its habitat, but which is taken in a zoo, is dishonest, however nice/spectacular the image may be.

    To go back to the situation of the bug on its grass stem:
    - take the picture where you find the bug, and you document the bug in its natural environment ('that bug can be found in such and such a situation')
    - take the picture in the studio, and you can document the bug (perhaps in more detail than in the wild) ('it has that many segments in it's antenna')
    Both equally valid pictures, but don't try and sell the second one as documenting where the bug can be found...

    So it's not so much the situation in which the picture is taken, but whether that situation is accurately reflected in the image or accompanying text.
    Which seems to be the position of NG as well: the tiger photo was stated to be taken in a zoo, the wolf photo was claimed to be taken 'in the wild'. So the first was honest about the conditions, the second cheated, and that's called fraud when there's money involved.

    And I'd say the same goes for PP: it's mostly down to intent and not claiming more than you can.
    Some PP has to be done always (especially with RAW...). For an image that is an artistic impression (with no documentary intentions) I don't see any limits in what can be done. If the photo is supposed to be documentary, cloning out or moving objects could be too much PP.

    So the problem is not the image, it's whether what it claims or what is claimed about it (by the photographer or publisher) is true.

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    Re: Here's a good topic to start a discussion!

    Quote Originally Posted by Bobobird View Post
    I am 100% certain that 99% of all shots on NG are photoshopped to some extent.

    Btw, remember that anything you submit becomes their property.

    Safaris? Nowadays these are just open zoos. A cheetah will come up to you because he is curious? No way!
    About a year ago I was contacted by a publication a little like NG saying that they had seen one of my images on flicker and would like to enclude it in a publication they were doing. I was a bit dubious as I had done a fair bit of enhancement and sharpening to get it to how I wanted it. They requested the RAW file which I sent with a confession about the adjustments I had made and said if they did not want to use it I would understand. They did use it and certainly matched all my photoshop adjustments. My understanding is that the RAW file request was more to do with authentication and copyright than adjustment and enhancement which I think is now considered just part of the development process.

    P.S. No pay just acknowledgement and a copy of the publication.

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    Re: Here's a good topic to start a discussion!

    I for one would love to go on African safari, but at what cost? I truly believe that the current popularity of these safaris is going to come at a steep price
    You are right to be concerned about the disruption to migration routes, but quite wrong to target safaris. Africa is a continent with a growing and hungry population: population growth and farming are the main "disrupters" - as you say, across North America, and even more so in Europe, wildlife has been decimated.

    Safaris run sustainably and for the benefit and with the involvement of local people are, I am quite convinced, both the way to maintain animals in their environment and to provide a real economic boost to the local economies. Choose carefully, and you can have a great holiday, take some great photographs, and sustain what you are seeing.

    Dave (veteran of many African trips, though never had the opportunity to live there)

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    Re: Here's a good topic to start a discussion!

    I do agree about population growth and farming being the primary disrupters and also acknowledge the economic benefits to local economies. I just feel that now is the time to regulate the level of intrusive activity before irreparable damage is done. I feel that a balance can be achieved that is beneficial to all involved. As much as we love our Yellowstones, Yosemites, and Grand Canyons; we are loving them to death.

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    Re: Here's a good topic to start a discussion!

    I feel that a balance can be achieved
    H Randy,

    Yes I think you are quite right that a balance has to be achieved (though having visited Yosemite, I suspect that El Capitan will still be there long after there are human eyes to gaze on it).

    The particular point about safaris (you can maybe tell that I'm a bit passionate ) is that it is only the economic benefit that the parks and reserves bring that prevents the encroachment of local human life on wildlife. If the local people don't get the benefit, they will eliminate their wildlife - as we did five hundred years ago in England.

    Of course it is up to anyone whether they do or don't wish to go, but I would hate someone not to go and believe that they are helping preserve wild places, when sadly I am sure the opposite is the case. All this also relies on well managed parks and reserves, with access properly controlled and limited.

    All the best,

    Dave

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    Re: Here's a good topic to start a discussion!

    Quote Originally Posted by rpcrowe View Post
    ...Although I am a non-smoker, I have to agree with his interpretation (and the interpretation of the court) as to the literal meaning of the sign...
    This is what is wrong with the US when decisions like this are handed down in court. Common sense has been cast asside and right/wrong are defined by the courts and rediculous literal translations. The famous "what is is?" argument by people in positions of leadership was the faintly chiming death nell of one society and the conception of another based on completely different principles. It's neither right nor wrong. It just "is what it is" but that implies knowing "what is is". How does a society claim to embrace diversity of thought, culture, etc, then place so much emphasis on literal translations of the English language which is used differently by people based on those very cultural differences etc. It is an insane do-loop.

    My mind has been telling my fingers to stop typing since I started this.....

    Can we talk about baiting now too ???
    Last edited by NorthernFocus; 11th January 2013 at 05:58 PM.

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    Re: Here's a good topic to start a discussion!

    I take rather the hard line on this one. If is taken in a human constructed environment or with a human habituated or tame animal it's not "Nature Photography". That is not to say it is dreck; it may be a technically and artistically excellent image. But nature it an't.

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