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Photoshopped Image Wins Nikon Photography Contest on Instagram


No matter how impressive you might make an image look on Photoshop, it will never be a patch on one that looked like that before it was ever edited. Admittedly, you're far less likely to snap a picture of a seven-headed dragon orbiting a supernova in real life, but the art of photography comes principally from capturing a moment, freezing it in time, not making one up.

That's not to say there's no legitimacy to photoshop manipulation as an art form, but it's not really the kind of art people should be submitting into standard photo contests, especially without disclosing the fact that the image is doctored, but imagine if that happened, and said image ended up winning. Thanks to Nikon, we don't have to, it happened last week.

A photo posted by Yu Wei (@yuuuuuwei) on


For the January edition of their monthly Nikon Captures contest, the company asked people to send in their best monochrome shots. The turnout was impressive, to say the least, but the prize ultimately went to Singaporean photographer Chay Yu Wei, with an image entitled 'Look Up'. Pictured below, it features an enclosed ladder, with a plane flying across the skyline above, framed perfectly within the ladder's surrounding cage. It wasn't long before photographers on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook all starting singing the same tune: the plane had been photoshopped in.

A photo posted by Yik Keat (@leeyikkeat) on



On its own, that doesn't sound so bad, what makes it worse is that the plane was edited in so badly that even the quality of the photoshopping couldn't be complemented. What makes it even worse still is that an almost identical image had been posted by another Instagram user about a year previous, but that user had never submitted his image to a contest, or made any secret of the fact that it was a composite. Guess what though, it gets even even worse. 2 months after the original plane image appeared, Yu Wei posted another virtually identical one, meaning that he had not only copied the idea from another user, but that he'd done it twice.

Hello everyone, This goes out to everyone who has seen my Chinatown plane post. I'm sorry! This is going to be quite a read so that's the first thing I would like you to read if you don't have time to read below; I would like to apologize for the mistake I have done. I've been quiet so far because I've been trying to contact Nikon and have been waiting for them to contact me back to discuss about this. I understand that what I would say might affect Nikon's brand hence I decided to wait for their advice. However, since more than 24 hours have passed and I have not managed to have discussions with Nikon, I think I shouldn't wait and it's important for me to come out to address this issue. Like one user commented, I was on a photo walk in Chinatown and I chanced upon that set of ladders. I snapped a picture of it, and subsequently felt that a plane at that spot would make for an interesting point of view. Hence, I inserted the plane with PicsArt and uploaded it to Instagram. That's how I use Instagram, sometime it's to showcase the work I'm proud of, sometimes just to have fun. This case, that small plane was just for fun and it was not meant to bluff anyone. I would have done it with photoshop if I really meant to lie about it, but no, it was a playful edit using the PicsArt app and uploaded to Instagram. When my friends commented with some questions, I also answered it jokingly, saying it's the last flight of the day and saying it was my lucky day that I did not wait too long. At that time, of course everyone who read it took it as a joke, before this issue arrived and it is taken seriously. However, I made a mistake by not keeping it to Instagram as a casual social media platform. I crossed the line by submitting the photo for a competition. I meant it as a joke and I'm really sorry to Nikon for disrespecting the competition. It is a mistake and I shouldn't have done that. I also shouldn't have jokingly answered Nikon that I caught the plane in mid-air and should have just clarified that the plane was edited in using PicsArt. This is my fault and I sincerely apologise to Nikon, to all Nikon Photographers, and to the photography community as general.
A photo posted by Yu Wei (@yuuuuuwei) on


He has since apologised to his followers for the mishap, within which he reveals that the image was not edited with Photoshop, but rather with the far more limited PicsArt. He also repeatedly asserts that it was only ever meant jokingly, and that his error was entering it into the competition, more than anything else. Whether or not you want to grant him the benefit of the doubt, it's really Nikon who come out of this the worst, as it's evidence that their judging process for this particular contest was, at best, half-arsed.



Callum is a film school graduate who is now making a name for himself as a journalist and content writer. His vices include flat whites and 90s hip-hop. Follow him @CallumAtSMF


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Photoshopped Image Wins Nikon Photography Contest on Instagram Reviewed by Callum Davies on Wednesday, February 03, 2016 Rating: 5

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