THE NATURE DEFINITION AND INTERNATIONALS – A CAUTIONARY NOTE
With the introduction of the new definition for Nature, adopted and launched jointly by FIAP, RPS and PSA, and its adoption by the PAGB, this is an opportune time to look at a particular related issue. Dave Coates ARPS EFIAP/p APSA EPSA MPAGB APAGB FIAP Liaison Officer (PAGB) Page 9, e-news 123, Aug 2014
A unified definition has to be welcome to nature photographers. For too long we have had varying definitions, which has often lead to confusion. Let us hope that this spirit of co-operation between these bodies will lead to greater commonality in the exhibition rules, for example in the case of Monochrome. FIAP have one definition but PSA have three!
The differing definitions of Nature have enabled differing interpretations. One issue has been about what modifications can be made to a nature photograph during post processing. I am not expressing agreement or disagreement with the definition, I am simply stating what the position is. The matter, despite what some might say, is not open for dispute and what follows has been cleared with FIAP.
I have been present when it has been advocated that, during post processing, you can remove inconvenient items, such as bits of grass or inconvenient twigs, or even more. That is wrong. You are not allowed to alter the content of a nature photograph (except by cropping). To put it simply, you can “garden” before you press the shutter release, but you may NOT do so afterwards. You can remove camera created artefacts. You can also apply changes that improve the quality and appearance of the photograph, but anything you do must look natural and must not change the picture content. (See the full definition-GPC News of 8th July,2014 about e-news 120 en120120714_Clark_APMworks_JackW_NatDef.pdf
What is more concerning is that, on more than one occasion recently, I have been faced with ‘up and coming’ exhibitors who have been given guidance by recognised ‘experts’. The guidance has been so wrong that, if the recipient had followed it, it could have resulted in them being banned for life from International Exhibitions.
FIAP and PSA, and the PAGB for that matter, maintain lists of persons who are banned from entering salons under their patronage. These are circulated to salon chairmen and applying the ban is compulsory. The reasons include plagiarism, using more than one title for the same photograph as well as other deliberate breaches of the definitions and the rules of entry.
In the case of PSA the length and extent of bans varies but can be for life. FIAP maintain the “Red List” and anyone placed on it is banned for life. Both organisations go to some lengths to give a person under suspicion chance to justify their actions and FIAP have appointed an officer dedicated solely to chasing up and enquiring into suspect cases. Where suspicions arise the original camera image will be sought, and also a sequence of original images taken immediately before and after the one in question. Pleading ignorance to the rules is unlikely to be accepted and failure to respond will be taken as a sign of guilt. It is also apparent that the number of bans being imposed has been increasing substantially over the last couple of years.
You should also be aware that most salons in the UK co-operate and circulate information between themselves, even in advance of an official ban by FIAP or PSA. UK Salons may also make similar requests for original files where they have suspicions. Please also bear in mind that these procedures are not just limited to nature sections but, where relevant, to any other sections of international salons.
No-one is expecting salons to vet every photograph in minute detail; clearly that would be impractical. Salon chairmen and their volunteers are not there to police the system, and the international organisations must not try to push them in this direction. However, I draw the parallel of camera club competitions. When was the last time, entering a club competition, that you were asked to confirm that you had actually taken the picture? This is our hobby and we start out on the basis of trust. But, just as would happen at your club, where a cheat (and let’s be clear that is what we are talking about) does come to light before, during or at any time after the event, then the full force of the rules and/or regulations can be brought to bear.
After all, it is only fair to those entrants who do abide by the rules.