Monday, November 06, 2017
New York Times - February, 2015
Significant questions have arisen after a large number of images were disqualified from this year’s World Press Photo competition because of excessive — and sometimes blatant — post-processing. After independent experts examined the images being considered for prizes in the final rounds, and presented their findings to the jury, 20 percent of the photos were disqualified by the judges. This was often because of significant addition or subtraction to the image content....
Lars Boering, managing director, World Press Photo
As of 2015 all participants are required to provide files as recorded by the camera for all images that proceed to the contest’s final stages.
Contest rules 2017
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.
This means that entrants:
Should be aware of the influence their presence can exert on a scene they photograph, and should resist being misled by staged photo opportunities.
Must not intentionally contribute to, or alter, the scene they picture by re-enacting or staging events.
Must maintain the integrity of the picture by ensuring there are no material changes to content.
Must ensure captions are accurate.
Must ensure the editing of a picture story provides an accurate and fair representation of its context.
Must be open and transparent about the entire process through which their pictures are made, and be accountable to the World Press Photo Foundation for their practice
Entry rule 11 states “the content of a picture must not be altered by adding, rearranging, reversing, distorting or removing people and/or objects from within the frame.”
There are two exceptions to this: (i) cropping that removes extraneous details is permitted; (ii) sensor dust or scratches on scans of negatives can be removed.
The process for ensuring compliance with this rule takes place in the second-to-last round of judging. Entrants whose pictures remain in the contest and are eligible for the final round are contacted and required to provide the file as recorded by the camera. These files could be:
Full format JPEG file(s). These must be as delivered by the camera, and provided in a series showing at least three frames before and after the contest entry
For smartphones, the image captured with the built-in, stock camera app, emailed from the phone
Scans of film negative(s), provided as a contact sheet to show a series of at least three frames before and after the contest entry
Failure to provide these files will lead to the elimination of the entry, making it ineligible for the final round and a possible award.
Two independent digital analysts compare original files with contest entries to determine whether the content of any picture (either a single picture or frame in a story) has been altered. The guidance on manipulation describes and shows what alterations to the content of a picture are not allowed. The workflow of the manipulation review is provided here.
RAW is a file format that captures all image data recorded by the sensor when you take a photo. When shooting in a format like JPEG image information is compressed and lost. Because no information is compressed with RAW you’re able to produce higher quality images, as well as correct problem images that would be unrecoverable if shot in the JPEG format.
From National Press Photographers Association:
World Press published a research paper in November 2013 called "The Integrity of the Image" in order to examine "the current practices and accepted standards relating to the manipulation of still images in photojournalism and documentary photography."
"We put out that paper to figure out whether there is a basic understanding, whether everyone understands that moving pixels around is a no-go," Boering said today. "But some people think it's perfectly fine to move these [Photoshop] 'sliders' around [in Levels and Curves], and that's much more difficult to have a standard because then you start to get into a thing called 'taste.' And you see that these images are also put into print, and they have worked the print file differently than the file they put on the Internet. These are the files where we need to come out with some standards.
Otherwise, very fast we'll be entering into the 'art' world. But here at World Press, journalism is at the core."
Boering said most of the images thrown out this year either had things added to, or removed from, the photograph. "It's clumsy Photoshop, and it's too bad because some of the pictures were contenders right up until the end."
It wasn't solely a matter of adding or subtracting content, Boering said. This year the jury was also looking very closing at toning.
"They looked to see if you make a photo so black that you lose information, and you don't see anything anymore," he said. "That is a line crossed."
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