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Neil Malton
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Nature photography.

I have added the combined PSA, FIAP and RPS nature photography definition here :-

 

 Nature photography is restricted to the use of the photographic process to depict all branches of natural history, except anthropology and archeology, in such a fashion that a well-informed person will be able to identify the subject material and certify its honest presentation. The story telling value of a photograph must be weighed more than the pictorial quality while maintaining high technical quality. Human elements shall not be present, except where those human elements are integral parts of the nature story such as nature subjects, like barn owls or storks, adapted to an environment modified by humans, or where those human elements are in situations depicting natural forces, like hurricanes or tidal waves. Scientific bands, scientific tags or radio collars on wild animals are permissible. Photographs of human created hybrid plants, cultivated plants, feral animals, domestic animals, or mounted specimens are ineligible, as is any form of manipulation that alters the truth of the photographic statement. No techniques that add, relocate, replace, or remove pictorial elements except by cropping are permitted*. Techniques that enhance the presentation of the photograph without changing the nature story or the pictorial content, or without altering the content of the original scene, are permitted including HDR, focus stacking and dodging/burning. Techniques that remove elements added by the camera, such as dust spots, digital noise, and film scratches, are allowed. Stitched images are not permitted. All allowed adjustments must appear natural. Color images can be converted to greyscale monochrome. Infrared images, either direct captures or derivations, are not allowed. Images used in Nature Photography competitions may be divided in two classes: Nature and Wildlife. Images entered in Nature sections meeting the Nature Photography Definition above can have landscapes, geologic formations, weather phenomena, and extant organisms as the primary subject matter. This includes images taken with the subjects in controlled conditions, such as zoos, game farms, botanical gardens, aquariums and any enclosure where the subjects are totally dependent on man for food. Images entered in Wildlife sections meeting the Nature Photography Definition above are further defined as one or more extant zoological or botanical organisms free and unrestrained in a natural or adopted habitat. Landscapes, geologic formations, photographs of zoo or game farm animals or of any extant zoological or botanical species taken under controlled conditions are not eligible in Wildlife sections. Wildlife is not limited to animals, birds and insects. Marine subjects and botanical subjects (including fungi and algae) taken in the wild are suitable wildlife subjects, as are carcasses of extant species. Wildlife images may be entered in Nature sections of Exhibitions.

 

* I read this to include ANY cloning of parts of the image to remove grass stalks, jessie's etc.

stuart
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Questions

Couple of questions:

Source?

Are the emboldened sentences yours or theirs?

 

Neil Malton
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Nature definition.

The definition was taken from a recent international exhibition entry form and covers FIAP and PSA nature rules.

The emboldened bits are mine. I highlighted what I considered the important rules about post processing to make it easy for people to get the gist of it.

stuart
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PAGB Nature definition

I have added a page to the site, linked to the Annual Exhibition rules, giving the PAGB/RPS definition of Wildlife and Nature. Note that we follow the Nature Section rules for the Nature category of the Annual Exhibition (which are less restrictive than those for the Wildlife Section). You can see the definition here. This was obtained from a PDF downloaded from the PAGB web-site. You can find this definition on the PAGB web-site by going to the "Competitions" menu item, select the last iten "Competition entries" and then pick a competition that has a Nature or Wildlife section such as the "The Inter-Federation Print and Projected Competitions". You will find the definition attached as an appendix to the competition's rules.

This definitiion was agreed between RPS, PAGB and others in May 2014 and PPS agreed to follow it for the Nature category of our Annual Exhibition at the AGM in 2015 as far as I have been able to discover.

Tony Lovell has raised the point that it includes the following: "Infrared images, either direct-captures or derivations, are not allowed." (End of 3rd paragraph). He says that he has written to RPS to question why this should be, but has received no reply.

I can understand and agree with most of the terms of this definition. What it is saying is that the picture must be a true representation. Whilst you can do all the normal processing like cropping, adjusting exposure and colour balance, sharpening, dodging and burning, removing scratches and dust spots, etc providing the result "appears natural", you cannot add or remove picture elements. So, if there is a blade of grass in the way, you can tone it down so that it is less distracting but you can't clone it out! If the bird isn't in the best position compositionally in relation to the trees, then tough, you should have fixed that in the viewfinder before you pressed the button - you cannot move it. But, I do not understand the point of the IR clause. If you are photographing nocturnal animals then IR seems the way to go to "see" animals in the dark without disturbance. Note also that focus stacking IS allowed but stitching ISN'T. The latter seems slightly odd (although it is probably of most use for landscape and architecture).

However, as far as I can see, the Open category of our Annual Exhibition is defined as "All images not defined in any of the above may be entered in this class" - so an image that fails the definition of the Nature Category, can by definition be entered into the Open Category! And, or course, out internal competitions have no sections or categories, so anything goes for those. The only time we need worry is when selecting images for entry into inter-club competitions such as those run by NEMPF and PAGB.

Duncan Kirkwood
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Nature photography rules are too narrow and restrictive

Nature photography rules are rather 'flat earth' in some respects e.g. they seem to be in denial of the fact that the electromagnetic spectrum (the most natural of all phenomena and upon which, in the broadest sense, all life depends for existence) includes wavelengths far beyond those 'visible' to the 'human' naked eye. If I want to photographically illustrate the internal organs of an interesting insect digesting its dinner, by illuminating the critter with IR light to photographically penetrate the creature's chitin, and thus show the world and his wife the process, why should the learned societies' executive committees conspire to exclude my snaps as exhibition and competition entries? Surely a panel of 4 or 5 images of the same creature with its gut internals working and visible and in varying states of functioning, would be more educational and 'box office' than e.g. a caterpillar merely nibbling on a leaf? Furthermore, is it not a fact that some cameras actually do record some IR illumination of the subject by virtue of their sensors' filters not blocking same? Should such cameras (eg the Leica M8) be banned from natural history photography use - because the image includes a little more IR induced detail than that captured by another camera model?  Please note there is no exclusion of UV images. If the learned societies exclude IR, but do not exclude UV images, (UV also being invisible to the naked eye) I'd like to know why. Please also note there is no provision for palaeontological specimen photography in either the nature or wildlife sections - thus not acknowledging the vast fossil heritage so important and essential to the science of evolution ... evolution which has determined all the Earth's botanical and zoological species. Palaeontology is one of my interests and I often photograph fossil specimens - but they are relgated to the 'record' class in our annual exhibition even though they can be far more interesting natural history subjects than e.g. tethered captive raptors or caged apes.  Furthermore, as has been mentioned by Stuart and Tony, if we wish to document nocturnal animals without disturbing them with the use of flash, then surely it makes sense to use IR for imaging the creatures. And if resultant IR images can subsequently be post processed into normally toned B&W photographs - indistinguishable from 'regular' B&W images and with no hint of IR tones - then why should they be banned? Another anomaly in the rules is the fact that HDR nature images are eligible but stitched nature images are not. An argument could be put forward that, HDR, and also stacked nature photographs, are both 'stitched' (in the broadest sense) ... just as the components of a panoramic nature image can be stitched together. Surely there are situations where panoramic photographic stitching of natural history subjects can communicate far more to the viewer than a regular wide angle image.The controversy could so easily be settled if IR, stacked, and stitched derivatives (and also UV for that matter) were all deemed eligible - but with a rider that all such images showed an indication of the process employed. Suitable symbols included in the title could communicate same e.g., H (HDR), I (IR), U (UV), S (stitched), M (stacked multiple image), P (palaeontological), F (film), A (astro). Regarding the latter, i.e. astroronomical photography (one of the fastest growing but least understood branches of nature photography) is deserving of a whole special nature category to itself - but I doubt if many judges have the foggiest idea of the time and effort and groundbreaking post processing methodologies employed to produce such stunning astro compositions. Photographers' nature imaging efforts, often employing many, many hours of both planning and practice, are deserving of wider recognition than that currently permitted by the learned societies' hierarchies. Their rules over-govern our images' dissemination, and unfairly discriminate against innovative, practical, and what should be quite valid forms of nature photography. Use of suitable symbols to indicate the perfectly sensible photographic and post processing methods employed, might prevent the governing bodies digging themselves further into the narrow minded, restrictive and somewhat ridiculous rules' hole they've so far created. 

Best wishes

dunk 

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