Nikon awards poorly 'shopped photo a prize - sarcastic photographers shop even more

Nikon Singapore made the mistake to award a photographer named Chay Yu Wei for capturing this image of an airplane framed by a ladder in China town. Except of course that airplane is a edited there with PicsArt, and upon closer inspection clearly has a white box around it. Unaware Nikon Singapore announced it like this on their Facebook page.

Yu Wei chanced upon a set of ladders while on a photowalk with his friends in Chinatown, and thought the view above would make an interesting perspective. Little did he expect to catch an airplane in mid-air. We’ll try looking up too, Yu Wei; your shot has won you a Nikon trolley bag. Congratulations!

The sarcastic responses were like a game of photoshop tennis - everyone trying to get a sillier thing in the ladder-image.

The fun times just keep on coming, the jokes have now spilled over to twitter where @tenoq tweeted this animated gem.

Meanwhile, Petapixel has received a statement from the photographer, who claims he's been trying to contact Nikon to sort this out but got no response. He has also posted an apology on his Instagram account named yuuuuuwei to all fellow photographer.

I am the one who submitted the Chinatown plane post, and I would like to address it.

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.

This has been a great lesson to me, and I hope I will be a wiser person to use this as encouragement to polish my photography skill. Thank you for taking the time to read this, and I also appreciate all the supports from friends around me.

However, it's not over until the fat lady sings. The idea for this photograph could have come from Singapore photographer Yikkeat who posted this side by side comparison to Twitter of a photo they took over a year ago with the shopped airplane image.

But wait! There's more! Nikon has taken it all in stride, with this thoughtful response: "At Nikon we believe innovation and imagination is at the heart of every image"... and now they're having fun wth all the comments! Social media team for the win. While Nikon will soon remove the image, they've given us all a heads up so that we may take a gander at it now and enjoy the comments.

about the author

Dabitch Creative Director, CEO, hell-raising sweetheart and editor of Adland. Globetrotting Swede who has lived and worked in New York, London, San Francisco, Amsterdam, Copenhagen and Stockholm.

Comments (3)

  • David Felton's picture
    David Felton

    Talk about a storm in a teacup. So, Yu Wei used 'PicsArt', whatever that is. Which modern photographer doesn't use image manipulation software these days?

    Jan 31, 2016
  • Dabitch's picture
    Dabitch

    I don't even know where to begin with that comment.

    First of all, if you think "good photography" is happening upon a ladder and then when you take a pic a plane suddenly appears, then good photography is all luck, and never about timing, skills, and planning.

    Second, if you think photography never manipulated or posed what reality is, you don't know much about photography. Even Nicéphore Niépce staged his motifs, thereby affecting the reality he sought to document.

    But here we have a photo competition, one where the gentlemans agreement between photographers is that lightroom & photoshop is used to clean up dust, stray hairs and correct light issues - and this kid grabbed the first clip art .png found in a google search and dropped in on his image using a collage making app called PicsArt. You can *clearly* see the white square on an well calibrated screen (read: the kind we Art Directors have) - and yet this won a prize despite obviously cheating. Not to mention, the motif has been for real before by another Singaporian Instagram photographer.

    Now, instead of just throwing their hands in their air and complain all contests pretty much suck (they do), the photographers had a meme-tastic moment, and Nikon's social media team had to learn to roll with the punches (which they did), while looking over the competition rules. So I thought it worth writing about this "storm in a teacup".

    Feb 01, 2016
  • David Felton's picture
    David Felton

    The reaction is obviously worth writing about; my confusion comes from how the issue blew up in the first place.

    We're not talking about a prestigious competition, just a bit of Facebook fun, a "casual photography contest" with the winner getting a small prize. Clearly photographers (of which I count myself, albeit a casual one) took this pretty seriously. Now had I been in this competition I would have pointed out 'Hey, this winner is just a piece of bad image manipulation, it doesn't even look real!' - but personally I don't see why the original author felt compelled to apologize so profusely, as if they had done something immoral or deceptive.

    Feb 08, 2016

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