Controversy Tuesday! Disqualified from Smithsonian and Oprah Grabbin’ Rights! – Stuck in Customs

Controversy Tuesday! Disqualified from Smithsonian and Oprah Grabbin’ Rights!

Usually I post one new photo per day, but I thought I take a break today to talk about some interesting controversy. Both are worth discussin’, but I’ll start with the Smithsonian deal and finish with the Oprah thing.

So, I’m proud to have the first HDR photo to hang in the Smithsonian a few years ago. This year, I decided to enter again, and I did so with the New York Times Square photo below. It was a finalist out of 17,000 entries, and I thought that was pretty cool. Just recently, one of the editors emailed me to ask if it has been “digitally enhanced”. I was of course honest and I said yes, and explained the HDR process. She then said I was disqualified. To me, I thought I did the appropriate level of adjustment. I didn’t do any “painting” on top, no “cloning”, none of that sort of thing. I do not think my photograph belongs in the “Altered Images” category, because that is full of entries such as this. So, ultimately, I remained calm and told the editor that I understood, and made a good argument back:

“You have a tough job nowadays figuring out where that line is crossed. There is so much software INSIDE the camera that does adjustments for light. Similarly there is software OUTSIDE the camera too. Even the “Raw importer” for Photoshop allows drastic alteration of the photograph. Anyway, I understand the situation completely… and now that film is no longer used, really, every single pixel has a long road from the click to the final .jpg.”

Here are a few more things to consider… Here is the category from which I was disqualified. You can see that amusement park ride is in 3 places, and I assume it replaced DQ’ed entries. But, even lookin’ at that one, how are SOME people in focus but not the others? Could be a big aperture, but that’s pretty far away. And look at that barn. I GUARANTEE you that barn is HDR. No offense to the photographer, but it is kind of a sloppy HDR with the telltale halo around the barn and a dirty gray sky.

I am hesitant to submit other photos to the contest. I posted a few other shots below with questions…

Oh well. I’m kind of fed up with that contest. And here is ANOTHER contest that sticks in my craw.

Oprah, or now better known as @Oprah, is having a Nature Photo Contest which I almost entered until I saw that Harpo is claiming EXCLUSIVE rights forever for any photo that I submit to the contest. Comon Oprah… that’s not cool… Tell your lawyers to take a chill pill.

You can DIGG that Oprah story here and see a pic of the crazy terms, or read an article that is up on “Photo Attorney“.

Times Square at Dusk

The next shot below is one that would also fit into the Americana category. It is also an HDR, but probably not as evident. The photo after that of the Muslim woman in Mumbai is certainly not Americana, but it would fit into several of the other categories. With that one, it’s not HDR, but I did use Unsharp Mask and a few contrast adjustments. Is Unsharp Mask okay? I don’t know…

The Lonely Trinity

This is Secret