Flickr cheaters

Posted in Society at 17:37 by RjZ

What an amazing picture. If you read the comments on that photo you’ll see so many people are blown away by this once-in-a-lifetime capture. There’s no question it’s an amazing image, but it didn’t happen once-in-anyone’s-lifetime.

It’s a fake. It is a real image, of course, but if you’re like most everyone looking at it, you’re likely to think the photographer actually pushed the button on his camera and snapped this image. Unfortunately, that’s pretty much physically impossible for a Minolta Dimage to take such a shot, and it’s impossible for any camera currently on the market to have this peculiar range of depth of field. The leaves are out of focus, and the moon is only mildly sharp, but that bat, he’s almost sharp as a tack.

Who cares that it’s not really the result of a serendipitous opening of a shutter? It’s a fantastic montage and the whole bat-flying-in-front-of-the-full-moon is a classic motif. The problem I have is that the creator won’t admit that it is a montage. True, he’s under no much obligation to explain how he created his art, but the fact is, the majority of those dozens and dozens of comments address just how amazing this capture is. He thanks them for their encouragement, but he won’t be honest with them about what’s really going on here.

When I contacted this photographer she promptly admitted that her photo was made with a Photoshop plug-in filter and it’s even listed in the tags. (I recognized the filter) She’s still receiving plenty of misplaced comments, but by not hiding behind some obfuscating philosophy, we can appreciate her photo for the quality image it is without feeling like we’re being cheated.

Meanwhile, even when asked by a couple of fellow flickr members and photographers, the artist refuses to admit it’s not really a once-in-a-lifetime capture. “What is real?” he asks, but that’s as far as he’s willing to go. Several comments begin pointing out it’s not really a unique capture and our artist has this to say:

There are revolutionary differences between digital and analog photography as our traditional family album is different with virtual amazing word of Flickr, and obviously that is way we are here.
In analog photography after releasing the shutter we are almost disable to change or edit the images but in digital photography we are privilege to work with the pixels and using the tolls to Modify, edit and in fact to create new generation of artwork and photography that it was impossible with analog photography. So if you even think that it is an adapted Image please do not call it fake because it is not.

- [a commenter] said : “I just don’t understand why you didn’t clarify that this is not a real picture”, But as far as I know a photograph simply is visual face of data, cached from reality and saved on the memory and no photograph whether analog or digital can be real by itself (except in material of physical memory ). And in the other hand as a creator and owner of this picture I think that I have a little right to tell or not about the details and technical information of it, so would you please accept it as it is ?

So, I guess he’s admitting that it’s edited. Sort of. Kind of. Maybe.

We all edit our pictures. We crop and sharpen and boost color. Digital cameras do those things even before we download the picture to our computers. We might use a polarizer or a filter. We might turn a color image black and white or turn our demon friends in to mere mortals by removing red-eye. All of this is still a far cry from putting our girlfriend’s face on Pamela Anderson’s body.

Well, since he asks, I accept the picture and so do those kind souls who pointed out what it really is. They just want to let people know how it was likely made so that the poor folks who are misled into thinking this really is something that, with enough patience and a tripod, they too could capture with their point-and-shoot cameras (or any camera for that matter.) Like many, I waste so much time on flickr looking at photos to learn technique and to be inspired. When I see a shot that’s so much better than anything I’ve made before I start to wonder what they did and how could I learn how to do it too. I don’t think I am alone in this and that’s one of the problems here.

When I asked the creator about it others followed up by saying it “just doesn’t matter.” And maybe that’s true. Maybe those folks who thought this really was an amazing capture are just naive. I still wonder why, in the face of a direct question, the artist refuses to stand up and be proud of the work he did do. I think it is simply disingenuous. What do you think of the flickr cheaters?


  1. Mirm said,

    June 15, 2007 at 10:45

    I’m the photographer who used the photoshop plug-in filter you named here above. I never did hide I used the filter and I never wanted to cheat. I listed it in my tags, so is that cheating? I don’t think so! There are a lot of photographers using this filter on Flickr and not admitting they used it.

    You never told me you were going to use this in a article, so you cheated on me! If you publish something you first have to ask the person in question.

    You say: When I see a shot that’s so much better than anything I’ve made before I start to wonder what they did and how could I learn how to do it too.
    When I see something I like very much, I ask that person how he did it and try to learn from it. That’s how I jumped in to plug in filter.

    By the way the picture I used, was made by myself and a very good one too!


  2. RjZ said,

    June 15, 2007 at 13:07

    I am sorry you feel that way Mirjam! After all, I singled you out as *not* cheating! I said you *weren’t* hiding behind any obfuscation. I think what you’ve done is absolutely alright and I think I said so. If that wasn’t clear I apologize, but keep up the good work on Flickr!

    I sure don’t have to ask to publish a link to flickr (which might have gotten you a few more views, I hope) and I don’t have to ask to publish my personal experience where you told me you used a filter and that you were real nice about it!

    I hope you’ll read this again and it will become clear that you are described only in a positive light.

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