I belong to a local camera club, as I’m sure many other readers do, too. In the last couple of years the club has started to hold a club contest in October. The members seem to enjoy the opportunity to show their photos and, for those who do not print, it helps them to understand the printing process, either in-house or through an outside printer. It’s required that the prints are matted, but not framed. This year a new committee was formed to see the process through. Working on any kind of a committee can be fraught with all kinds of emotional hazards, as anyone who had done so most likely knows (and committee work is something I try very hard to avoid). Recently, the committee emailed their contest rules for the upcoming 2018 contest to the club members. Apparently, the club voted on the contest categories (I missed this meeting) but the committee put together the actual rules of entry for each category.
When I read the rules a certain line in the wording gave me pause for thought as did other wording about the specific category rules. It seems to me that people are still struggling with what digital photography is versus what film photography was and there does seem to be confusion and misunderstanding about digital photography in general. A paragraph from the official rules:
Landscape... These photos include but are not limited to landscapes, outdoor scenic, sunsets,
and farms. NOTE: Not manipulated. No insertions, no merging. Must be single image. ALSO: We are encouraging contestants to use their true photography skills capturing beautiful landscapes in a
single image. Time of day, weather conditions, choice of lens, & location to photograph from are more important than post processing skills for this category.
The wording in italics (I put the italics in) particularly struck me as did the fact that they wanted the image to not be “manipulated” and no “merging.” Plus, the committee said that taking the photo was “more important than post processing skills” for the Landscape category and this struck me as well. I found these words of interest to me not necessarily in the context of this contest (if I don’t like the rules I just don’t enter the contest) but in the greater context of the newness and growth of digital photography. How does anyone take a digital photograph and have it be “not manipulated” given that it must always be edited in some fashion to end up on the screen? Why does it have to be a single image? Why does it matter if someone chooses to do HDR given the complexity of the shooting situation? Why encourage photographers to NOT use all the tools available in 2018 (it is, after all, not 1918!) to create a beautiful work of art? And what the heck are “true photography” skills? They obviously mean the part where I pick up the camera and aim but skillful editing of a digital photograph can make all the difference in the end, especially when I shoot in RAW and I do need to be skillful to get it right. I don’t let the camera edit for me by shooting JPEG. In the end, however, both formats are edited, it’s just the way it is in this new digital world we live in.
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