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‘Only a hedge fire’

So interesting when your area of research is image and knowledge credibility and you find yourself questioning the credibility of reports in your own life.

On 24 May this year we and our neighbours called Tuross Head Fire and Rescue to help with a fire at a house a few doors down from us. Later I was amazed to see a post on the Tuross Head Facebook page saying “24/5/20 17:34 p384 called to assist Tuross Rural Fire service at a house fire. Turned out to be only a large hedge alight.” [1]

A hedge? That’s not what it looked like to us!

Firefighter sillhouetted against leaping flames

The following photos were posted: very tame, aren’t they?

The fire was actually from a garden waste and rubbish burnoff – too big and too near the house. The hedge might have caught alight as a result, but it was no small fire; flames were spreading and rising several meters into the air, licking at the edges of the house. It took three hoses to keep it from setting the house on fire long enough for Tuross Fire and Rescue to arrive and put it out. My husband was holding two of the hoses.

Here are a few more photos of the ‘hedge fire’:

Reference:

All photographs (apart from Facebook post screen capture) taken by Sabrina Caldwell. CC-BY-NC-ND-SA
No alterations of the photos were done.


[1] https://www.facebook.com/tuross.head/posts/1623733504469013

 

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Kim Jong-un fauxtographs

While I have no comment on the status or otherwise of Kim Jong-un’s health, I was interested in the photos in the media today purporting that Jong-un attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony.  As I trawled through the internet looking for the photos, I found several photos released by Yonhap News, North Korea of this event and Jong-un’s participation.

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All of the photos were released under the same caption: N.K. leader reemerges after 20-day absence and with varying blurbs; here’s one:  “North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (C) attends a ceremony to mark the completion of a phosphatic fertilizer factory in Sunchon, north of Pyongyang, on May 1, 2020, in this photo released the next day by North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency. Kim made his first public appearance after a 20-day absence that sparked rumors about his health.

Because Jong-un’s health is a current public question, with media speculating that he is unwell, perhaps even quite ill or worse, I was interested.  Were these photos real evidence of Jong-un’s present robust good health?

At first glance they look pretty legit.  But there are many significant issues with this portfolio of photographs.

The first thing that got my attention was the riotous colour of the celebratory cheer by a crowd festooned with flags, streamers, balloons and bouquets of flowers, surrounded by military troops of green and brown.

KimJongUn_celebration_PYH2020050202520031500_P4

By comparison, the photograph of the assembly in the high elevation photograph is a somber affair of unrelieved black clothing.

Detail_of_factory_crowd_PYH2020050202390031500_P4

Detail of fertilizer factory crowd

Since this is a small part of the photograph it is hard to decide if any of the green and brown military are present, but where are the balloons?  the flowers? the streamers?

It didn’t seem to be a very sunny day, so I couldn’t depend on shadow evidence, so I looked for other clues. Or could I?  I visited timeanddate.com [2]  for yesterday’s weather in Pyongyang.  Hmmm, sunny day and a bit warm, ranging between 23 and 27 degrees Celcius most of the day.  And the high elevation photo does illustrate long shadows stretching towards the upper right of the photo.  As I contemplated the perspectives I could see that shadows would be no help as the assemblage seems to be tucked behind a building to the lower left of the crowd.

Now where is that building in the other photos?  Well, no buildings can be seen in the ribbon-cutting photo, so that’s no help. And the background to the photo in which Jong-un is standing and smiling for the camera doesn’t help either. The only other photo that could tell us is the one in which Jong-un is seated during a speech at the dais.

KimJongUn_seated_during_speeches_PYH2020050202180031500_P4

Now hang on, that isn’t the building either.  In fact, where is the building from the high elevation photo at all? It isn’t there!  And what are those red reflections in the windows of this photo?  Oh, they are the reflections of the red streamers from the celebratory photo.  That means that this photo and the celebratory photo (or at least most of it barring the banner and artist’s rendering) were not taken at the factory where the ribbon is being cut.

So I looked a bit closer at the artistic rendition of the factory behind the seated officials including Jong-un in the celebratory photo (quite small but visible) and and the one in the ‘seated’ photo and ‘ribbon cutting photo’.  Turns out that while they are very similar, closer scrutiny shows they are not the same.

artists_render_celebratory_photo

 

ribbon_artistpanel_PYH2020050202170031500_P4

And interestingly, note the large trees in the background (circled) that are not in the high elevation photo (below) where they should be.

artists_render_celebratory_photo_with_circle

no_trees_circled_PYH2020050202390031500_P4

The ‘seated’ photo was uploaded again to Yonhap News while I was writing this post.  It was captioned: “People watch a news broadcast on a television at Seoul Railway Station in downtown Seoul on May 2, 2020. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un appeared in public for the first time in 20 days, despite a wave of speculation that he might be gravely sick or even dead.”  Fake news for the masses.

Photo_on_NK_TV_PYH2020050203460032000_P4

And one more little thing to point out before I stop – Jong-un’s sister’s hair seems to have grown quite a bit in one day!

Conclusion – these photographs are montages of pieces of photos taken at 2 different events at a minimum.  As evidence of Jong-un’s public appearance on Friday 1 May 2020?  Fail.

 

References
————-

[1] Yonhap News 2 May 2020. https://en.yna.co.kr/view/PYH20200502021900315?section=image/general Accessed 2 May 2020

[2] https://www.timeanddate.com/weather/north-korea/pyongyang/historic Accessed 2 May 2020

All original photos downloaded from Yonhap News and used in accordance with Fair Use provisions of copyright law. All derivative photos are licensed CC:BY:NC.

 

 

 

 

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That moment when …

… your photograph inexplicably comes out of the camera looking like a watercolour painting.

Peach-coloured Dahlia, Yea, New South Wales Australia

Peach Dahlia

 

I took this photo back in 1999 with my (then) brand new Sony Mavica FD-91. It wrote to 3 1/2″ floppy disks.  I still have that disk – along with the other thousand or so!

 

 

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Wildlife weekend: n=8

I photograph wildlife in and around Tuross Head practically every weekend.  There is a diverse and thriving ecosystem here, and it is a privilege to be able to turn my camera lens in so many enticing directions.

This weekend I noticed that I had captured quite a few different animals, including ones I had never seen here before, black sea hares. It has spurred me on to create an ongoing challenge for myself: how many different wild animals can I get (good) photographs of in a single weekend?  I’m calling my new goal ‘wildlife weekend,’ and I’m starting now with my first offering in this series with a gallery of 8 animals, taken 17-18 September, 2016.

Click on the photos to see them in greater detail.

 

From top left spiraling to center:

Seagull looking over its shoulder, resting on stratified layers of sand
built up while Coila Lake was open to the sea this winter

Beautiful small bronze lizard growing a new tail

Black sea hare, one of many dozen in a feeder creek to Coila Lake

School of baby salmon, about 40 shown here

Rabbit with a pompom tail about to disappear into the bracken

Glossy magpie eyeing me to see if I’m going to
interrupt his lunch of backyard worms and bugs (I’m not)

White crane on a roof – if you look carefully you’ll see how
its neck folds up into its body, and its graceful fine long skirt feathers

A sleepy red-belly black snake.

 

Photographs: All photos by Sabrina Caldwell.  All photos except red-bellied black snake and magpie cropped to allow animals to be seen easier, all photos resized for web-use.  No other alterations.

 

 

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2016 Photo Competitions: Reality rules!

Here we are a year later. 2016 has arrived on our doorstep, and the photo competitions of last year have in the main been renewed.

Less_image_editing_quoteHappily, it seems competitions are placing even more value on real photographs. Most of the pre-eminent photography competitions have been firmly grappling with the issue of photo manipulation, with World Press a particularly notable advocate this year of reality in photography.

Overall, in 2016 we can expect less image editing by major photographic competition entrants, and more transparency in that editing when it does happen. Contextual elements too have been targeted, with misleading captions, copyright infringement and false representations of staged photos as naturally occurring all under more scrutiny.  Some of these changes took place mid-year, and not all photo competitions (Canon, National Geographic) have yet to publicly confirm 2016 competitions and their rules. I will update this post as news comes to hand.

First and foremost, hats off to World Press.

World Press Photography Competition 

Estimated schedule: assume entries for 2016 due in December as they were in 2015

WPCodeofEthics

Fig 1 World Press Code of Ethics

After the debacle of having to disqualify a crafty winner in their 2015 photo competition (World Press Photo Award Withdrawn), I was interested to see if World Press was going to make any changes to its competition terms and conditions for this year. I am very pleased indeed to see that they have taken this issue seriously. World Press conducted a global consultation within the press community not just to adjust rules relating to manipulation, but to create a Photo Contest  Code of Ethics (Fig. 1).

Specifically, they noted in their consultation brief that:

“This review process is paying particular attention to the question of manipulation, and includes the drafting of a code of ethics for the contest, as well as clear guidelines and visual examples to inform contest entrants what is and is not acceptable.” [1]

They have done an admirable job in developing a well-considered Code.  There are many welcome stances against mis-representative photographs including resistance to staged scenes, avoidance of misleading content, caption and context, and insistence on transparency in image processing. In effect the Code gives practical direction for competitors to keep it real:

“Entrants to the World Press Photo contest must ensure their pictures provide an accurate and fair representation of the scene they witnessed so the audience is not misled.” [2]

World Press, I am delighted!

Canon Photography Light Awards

Estimated schedule: to be confirmed but in 2015 they were themed monthly competitions rolling up into an annual judging event

As at 28 December 2015 Canon’s 2016 Light Awards competition had not been confirmed for 2016.  However, at some point in 2015 Canon made the image manipulation rules for their Light Awards even more explicit, thus removing any ambiguity about their desire for entrants to submit unmanipulated photographs:

“Entries must be true photographs and not composites or digital manipulations. Basic editing such as cropping and basic colour adjustment is permitted. Selective colour adjustment is not permitted. Other than cropping, removal of pixels is not permitted.”[3]

By ruling out selective colour changes and pixel removal, Canon has effectively ruled out most of the more harmful types of image manipulation. So another well done!

Epson International Pano [PhotoART] Awards

Estimated schedule: entries for 2016 open in April

As you can see, I have not given the Pano Awards the distinction of being photography awards but instead have named them as photoART awards.

This is because after a close examination of the rules, and a very detailed critique of the 2015 winning image, Max Rive’s The Ice Prison, I do not feel that this competition can be said to be judging photographs, but is rather a contest of photographically-based photoART submissions.

This is because the Pano awards actually encourage photo-manipulation, and reward images that have significant elements of photo-manipulation. As I noted in my critique, their statement about manipulation for 2015 says only that manipulation may lessen the photographer’s chances:

“Images may be from single capture or stitching software, film or digital capture, but must be 100% photographic in origin. Manipulation is allowed but excessive manipulation may be scored down by judges.” [4]

National Geographic Photography Awards

Estimated schedule: to be confirmed but in 2015 entries were accepted between 1 September and 16 November

Like the Canon Light Awards, as at 31 December 2015 National Geographic’s photography awards for 2016 had not been confirmed.  However, at some point in 2015 National Geographic made the image manipulation rules for their Light Awards even more clear, tightening their definition of acceptable manipulations, with compositing having been removed from their definition of what is acceptable:

“Only minor burning, dodging and/or color correction is acceptable, as is minor cropping. High dynamic range images (HDR) and stitched panoramas are acceptable. Any changes to the original photograph not itemized here or in the NGS Your Shot Photo Guidelines are unacceptable and will render the photograph ineligible for a prize.”[5]

Additionally, they have made stated that misleading captioning or statements of originality will not be tolerated.

“The caption must be complete and accurate, sufficient to convey the circumstances in which the photograph was taken. Disguising or misrepresenting the origin of your content is cause for disqualification.”[5]

Smithsonian Photography Awards

Estimated schedule: to be confirmed but in 2015 entries were accepted from March to November
The Smithsonian competition has not yet released 2016 rules, however, the current rules clearly rule out manipulated photographs:
“Cropped photos are eligible in all categories. We do not accept digitally or otherwise enhanced or altered photos, except for those entered in the Altered Images category. Minor adjustments, including spotting, dodging and burning, sharpening, contrast and slight color adjustment or the digital equivalents, are acceptable for all categories. If the judges determine that a photographer has altered his or her photo, they reserve the right to move the photo to Altered Images or to disqualify it.”[6]

In summary…

These enhanced photo credibility-related terms and conditions in photographic competitions are welcome news.And as ever, I welcome the growing importance being placed on the relationship between the aesthetics and meaning of photographs and the real world they purport to interpret on our behalf.

Postscript: If you believe there is a competition I should include in my investigations into photo competition credibility rules, please don’t hesitate to let me know in a comment to this post.

 

References
———
[1] World Press Photo gathering feedback for 2016 Photo Contest. http://www.worldpressphoto.org/news/2015-08-13/world-press-photo-gathering-feedback-2016-photo-contest
[2] World Press Code of Ethics. http://www.worldpressphoto.org/activities/photo-contest/code-of-ethics
[3] Canon Light Awards Terms and Conditions http://lightawards.canon.com.au/terms/19
[4] International Pano Awards http://www.thepanoawards.com/rules.php
[5] National Geographic Photography Contest Rules. http://photography.nationalgeographic.com/contest-2015/rules
[6] Smithsonian http://www.smithsonianmag.com/photocontest/rules/
All websites listed [1-6] above accessed 28-31 December 2015
 

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