A new photographic competition, The International Landscape Photographer of the Year Award, run by local company IC12 Pty Ltd in partnership with noted Australian photographer, Peter Eastway, is highlighting the ongoing debate about the role of post-production, and especially Photoshop skills, in contemporary digital photography.
International Landscape Photograph of the Year, Craig Parry, Australia.
Representing one side of the debate is Joshua Holko. His photographic specialty is landscapes of The Arctic and Antarctic regions. He also runs regular photographic expeditions to those icy and photogenic locations. On the other is Peter Eastway, universally respected, and with a list of awards and credentials which places him near the top of the professional photography establishment in Australia.
Eastway is an absolute master of post-production. His (literally) fantastically beautiful images start with a photographic exposure, but most of his creations are a synthesis of what was captured in the camera and his imagination.
‘I really don’t care how an image is created.’ he said. ‘All I care about is the end result. To me a great landscape is a great landscape no matter how it was created.’
‘Useless Loop’, Peter Eastway (from the 2016: Shark Bay exhibition with the ND5 group of photographers).
What Joshua Holko would describe as digital art based on a landscape photograph, Peter Eastway maintains is a landscape photograph, albeit an imaginary one. (And whether it is an imaginary landscape or a real landscape is irrelevant if you don’t believe photographs depict reality!)
The two points of view can be found in the photographers’ respective blogs. Joshua Holko was first to plunge in when he questioned the rules for the new competition, particularly this one:
– The Entries…must be photographic in origin (taken with a camera), but there are no restrictions on post-production except that any post-production must be the work of the entrant. You cannot have someone else edit or work on the image for you. We consider this part of the art of landscape photography.
Joshua Holko’s argument is that it’s simply not fair for ‘purist’ landscape photographers to have their work judged alongside largely digital creations: My issue with this new competition and these ‘anything goes rules’ is it pits what might be purist photography that a photographer worked incredibly hard to achieve in the field against the skills of the photographer in Photoshop to create something that did not exist. And that makes it a basket case of a competition in my book. There is just no way for any judge, no matter how experienced, to accurately compare the photographic skill of the entrants when the parameters are so broad.
Peter Eastway simply doesn’t see why the comparison needs to be made: ‘So, does an imaginary photograph have an advantage over a photograph of a real landscape? Not to my mind.’ he wrote.
When asked why there wasn’t a section for ‘purist’ landscapes (where photographers might perhaps be required to supply the original RAW file for comparison with their entry) and a separate one where ‘anything goes’ in the new competition, Peter Eastway responded: ‘I guess I didn’t really see it as an issue. In many ways I thought the debate had passed.’
He did, however, concede that in a nature photography competition a landscape photograph would need to abide by stricter rules regarding what could be described as the integrity of the content.
Presented here are the (modestly post-produced, it should be noted) International Landscape Photograph of the Year, and one of Peter Eastway’s images. (Special thanks to Peter for his co-operation in producing this article.)
> Keith Shipton, www.procounter.com.au
This is an abbreviated article from Photo Review Sep-Nov 2014 issue.
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