Landscape Photographer of the Year 2012 (‘Take A View’ LPOTY 2012)

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The ‘Take A View’ Landscape Photographer of the Year awards (LPOTY) have courted controversy ever since they started 6 years ago. I say that they have ‘courted controversy’ but the reality is that the only people who actually care about these controversies are the photographers who pay to enter the competition. Any criticism is largely lighthearted and constitutes a mere murmur in the grand scale of things.

In previous years we’ve had a photo of a dog on a beach win the competition (and £10,000 prize) then there was ‘Crabgate’ (a hermit crab Photoshopped onto a beach) and last years rather spectacular ‘day turns to night’ cityscape. Intermixed with that lot we’ve had a lot of not-a-landscape landscapes, an impressive degree of repetition and some rather interesting processing.

This year the winner is a landscape, not a ‘classic’ landscape, but a landscape all the same. The image is taken by David X and is entitled ‘Lindisfarne Boats’.

Winner of the 'Take a View' Landscape Photographer of the Year 2012 - (c)David Byrne

The ‘controversy’ only comes when you visit David X’s website and see that he has derived his inspiration from Peter Clark .

“We went to Holy Island for the night, to visit the famous boat houses and castle of Lindisfarne. I’ve been waiting for a year to do this after seeing Peter Clarke’s great version of it. I hope I’ve done it justice.”

Note that this description does not accompany the image in the book and therefore unless the judges were inquisitive (at all) they could not make this connection.

(c)Peter Clark the image that David drew inspiration on

Both shots are great. I really like them. Dramatic light, strong composition and a pleasingly abstract nature to the upside down hulls. Though I would not have picked these images, they are good shots, in fact I think they would be hard to improve upon (save perhaps a lighter hand with the sky darkening but that’s my personal taste.) I can understand why David entered the image, he probably hoped like the rest of us that it would get into the book and the exhibition. I can’t say I criticise him at all, afterall he is not alone in drawing inspiration from others and why shouldn’t he produce a similar image?

Yet the fact remains that these images are remarkably similar in location, lighting, timing, composition, crop and processing. I do not see artistry or originality in the differences between the images personally (although David’s other work shows that he is a talented and creative photographer). I am left baffled that the competition organizers would select this image as a winner when clearly it is a copy of another image (pointed out by David himself). I can only assume they had no idea, which must mean that absolutely no checking went on despite the previous year’s controversies.

By this point I am probably sounding quite bitter, and I wish it wasn’t that way! The first thing I did when I saw the similarity was laugh!

I put a huge amount of effort into my photography. Readers of this blog will know that I often wild camp on mountaintops for my images and hike long distances. Here is my collection of images that I entered this year: LPOTY 2012 the first image was ‘commended’ which I was happy about.

I am not alone in putting a huge amount of effort into my photography. All over the country landscape photographers drive, hike, camp and endure our variable weather to get unique and creative images, many of which can be found in this book. All the photographers that enter the Landscape Photographer of the Year competition will hope for some recognition for their efforts. For most this inevitably ends in disappointment, such is the nature of the competition. But we all pay to enter, and we all expect that the winner should be deserving. Now David is a very good photographer, but this image did not deserve to win. A duplicate of an image before can hardly be regarded as the pinnacle of UK Landscape Photography. I really don’t want to have a go at David because the competition organizers should be responsible for the vetting of winning images. It seems rather ironic that David’s image description should read ‘I hope I’ve done it justice.’

EDIT: The Sunday Times did not publish the winning image in the awards section of the magazine. I do not know why.


A couple of people have now pointed me towards a couple of other issues with this image that indicate that it may have been manipulated in a way that contravenes the rules. Since I have received a huge number of ‘you’re just bitter’ comments related to my blog post I’ll tread lightly…

If you look again at the two images above you will see that the right side of the competition winning image is looking rather ‘clean’. Of course this mess could have been cleared up prior to the image being taken, but more recent images of the location make this seem a little unlikely. If you look to the distance you will see that the headland has disappeared as well.

One comment below calls into question the relative lighting directions of the shot. The boats appear sidelit yet the feint crepuscular rays coming from the clouds appear to suggest that the sun is directly in front of the viewer (crepuscular rays always converge on the sun). It is quite possible that these are not crepuscular rays at all, but rather artefacts of some heavy handed processing. Could it be that the sky was dropped into the image?

It would be hard for LPOTY to pick up these issues without scutinising the image very carefully (as some others have clearly done!) but then if the image is worth £10,000 and is going to be presented as the best UK landscape photo of the year perhaps scrutiny is in order. Who on being offered 10,000 wouldn’t be happy to turn over the RAW file, just to confirm that no rules were broken?

Here are some related links discussing this subject.


Updated Again!

The winning “Classic View” image “Delemere Forest” taken by David X was a composite image. You can read about it here:

An animation of the composite

Tim Parkin’s blog has also been updated to show the convergence of what he believes to be crepuscular rays. I don’t really have another good explanation for what they could be, so I suspect Tim is right. If you put this together with the face that David’s “Maria’s Tree” image is also a composite (albeit allowed by the rules for the ‘Your View’ category) and so are quite a few on his flickr stream it becomes a near certainty in my mind that the winning image is also a composite.
So it’s very likely that both the overall winning shot and the winner of the ‘Classic View’ were technically ineligible winners manufactured from the parts of 2 separate images. So some might say “Does any of this matter? Who cares about the rules? It’s art afterall”. Well I will let you all decide for yourselves because there is a massive variety of opinion. The way I see it, allowing the winning image to have a dropped in sky (and I am not 100% certain) makes a mockery of the rules. More importantly it’s a slap in the face for the other hard working entrants who actually wait to get the right conditions for the image. It may be just a competition, but it’s important to a lot of people because it’s a stepping ladder to bigger things.
Either LPOTY need to start checking that images don’t break their rules or they need to remove the rules altogether. Otherwise the rule might as well read “No addition or removal to a scene unless it’s done well and you keep quiet because we won’t check”. Maybe LPOTY should start requesting to see RAW files of the prize winning images?
No doubt David didn’t actually read the rules before agreeing to them on submission but it raises yet more questions about the competition itself.

Updated YET AGAIN!

It would appear that David has at the very least done some significant cloning on his winning image. The two images below were taken within minutes of eachother according to the Exif. The shadows are in the same place. Either David has some mighty green fingers or he’s a dab hand with the clone tool.

I still can't prove that the sky is dropped in, but I can prove that there is some serious cloning.


David has been disqualified from the ‘Take A View’ Landscape Photographer of the Year Awards. I hold the competition organizers responsible for what is a complete mess and an embarrassment for UK Landscape Photography. Take a View will shortly release a statement.

Below is my response to David made on the Talk Photography Forum. I am sure we can all now put this behind us.

I would like to say that although the issue is now solved satisfactorily I never set out to harm Davids reputation, only to criticise the competition selection and by association David’s images.

For my part I have no interest in David being ‘stripped’ of his award but perhaps it was the only recourse for the competition after so much bad publicity.

Unfortunately as I have said before if images are to be held as the pinnacle of UK Landscape Photography then they may well come under criticism, but particularly given the past history of the competition.

Whilst David has got to accept a portion of the blame for his mistake it is the organizers that are responsible for this. The writing was on the wall from previous criticism of the awards, and whilst they were fully aware they were unwilling to change their approach. The unfortunate result is that David has been left at the tail end of a backlash.

David I admire you as an artist, your work is certainly individual and has a strong graphic aspect. I sincerely hope people do not criticise you further for this because what has been said is more than enough. I wish you the best with your photography.


Take A View Statement:

Following the recent announcement of the winners of the Landscape Photographer of the Year 2012 Awards, further investigation has confirmed that the image chosen as the overall winner is in breach of the rules for the Classic view category owing to the extent of the digital manipulation techniques used. Organisers, Take a view have regrettably disqualified David Byrne’s image of Lindisfarne Castle and can announce that Simon Butterworth is the new winner of this year’s competition.
Whilst digital manipulation is a valid part of an artistic process for many photographers and is encouraged in the ‘Your view’ category, the extent of the changes made was in breach of the ‘Classic view’ category. The image was judged in good faith and was the clear favourite amongst the judges. The file that was supplied had all of its Exif data included, which gives information on the camera settings used, and this appeared correct.

Charlie Waite, founder of the competition said: “This is extremely regrettable and it appears there was no deliberate intention to deceive the judges but the level of manipulation means that this photograph gained an unfair advantage in this category and in winning the overall competition. The integrity of the competition is very important to all involved and it was clear that disqualification was the only course of action open to us. The new winning image of Port Glasgow by Simon Butterworth is a very worthy winner. It is the first time that an urban landscape has won the main Award and its strong composition is very pleasing. ”
He added: “We will be reviewing our checking processes to ensure that such issues are picked up earlier in the judging process for 2013 and beyond.” David’s image of Delamere Forest, which won the Classic view category, has been disqualified for the same reason. A full list of revised results is below. (full release here)

The Winner is…


Tenement Buildings at Port Glasgow, Inverclyde by Simon Butterworth


Simon Butterworth’s winner of the “Urban View” category has now been ‘upgraded’ to overall winner.  Simon Butterworth is a well deserved winner you can see more of his fantastic landscapes on his website.


  1. Exactly why i really dislike competitions…

  2. Simon says:

    I avoid LPOTY because it always looks the same to me. That’s not a real criticism as there’s some very accomplished imagery in there, but it all (mostly) leaves me flat emotionally. It’s not a book I go back to much.

    Your images are very accomplished technically and obviously you go to heroic lengths to get your images, but they leave me flat too (sorry). I’e they don’t generate feeling within me, I just admire the technical accomplishment.

    This winning image does have emotional impact – so I really like it, but I do think the point you raise (without actually saying ‘plagiarism’) about whether the image is derivative of not and whether that’s fair, is a valid question.

    For me, were it a construct, e.g. an egg on welding gloves (which has caused the same controversy, albeit ruled against in that instance) then I’d side strongly with you on this.

    However, what do you do when others take an image from the same vantage point as another’s? What if the same vantage point you shot your images from was used by others? (Unlikely perhaps but just suppose – and this does happen a lot at sites of recognised photographic interest) Should that bar others from producing images from the same POV?

    An interesting question. How many have tried to emulate Ansel Adams shots of Yosemite?, or of that famous (horseshoe?) arch where photogs line up to take a shot as the sun sest through it?

    It’s often a fine line between plagiarism and inspiration – I agree, but in this instance it looks like no secret was made of it and maybe that’s what got him off the hook? It was accepted as inspired not copied.

    One of their better decisions IMO

    • Alex Nail says:

      Hi Simon, I’m sorry that my work leaves you flat emotionally, in my defence I can only say that I photograph what I enjoy :)

      Your points are fair but the key issue is intent (I have said this in a previous blog). If you set out to recreate an image then you are not being original. This is clearly the case here. If on the other hand you are just influenced by someone else or by coincidence end up with a shot very similar then I see no issue. These are the judgements that should be made in my opinion on competition winners.

      As I mentioned in the article, I’d be surprised if the competition organisers knew to what extent it was a repeat of a previous image to be honest.

  3. Matt Clark says:

    It’s a great shot, even though I agree on the overdarkened sky (its a bit of a theme in B&W photography at the moment) but like you say, to win copying someone else’s shot is a bit lame to say the least.
    That said, it’s a lovely shot and each image has to stand up on it’s own which I think it clearly does. Well done to Mr Byrne, you can’t blame him for entering it, and it’s something different from past winners, so that’s a good thing.
    You know, these things really are subjective and this is a classic example of what winds some people up. But tell me who hasn’t wanted to ‘mimic’ a shot they loved, or been ‘inspired’ by someone else’s photography. It’s so hard to separate ‘originality’ from what just looks really effective as a photograph that you’ll always upset someone whichever shot the judges choose to win it.
    Personally I think this is my second favorite winner of this comp, after that shot of the lightning strike near wind farms won it a while back. That was the best for me, and this is an excellent second, whether he nicked the idea from someone else or not!

  4. Esen tunar says:

    I think you are spot on with your post Alex. While it is a great shot, judges shouldnt award the winner on a copied shot – even if it may be admitted by the photographer. It definitely doesnt show the pinnacle of uk landscape photography

  5. Tim Parkin says:

    It’s not the first copied image but it’s the first winner that is an admitted copy. However, so many people are copying without admission that it’s probably moot..

    I do think that the organisers could have checked the provenance of the images and should have taken this into account – if only for the reputation of the competition …. then again it’s probably too late to think about that too much..

    At least the guy admits his influence which we should give him credit for.

  6. Tim says:

    It’s an interesting ambiguity in “I hope I’ve done it justice” – what, the scene of the boats, or the previous “inspiration” image?

    To answer Simon’s question about using the same viewpoint, I’d say that there are several factors to originality: viewpoint is one thing (there’s a slight subtle lateral shift in this case); choice of time of day and lighting is another (after thinking a bit, I actually prefer the “copy”‘s sky for having light and clouds not intersecting the upturned hulls); heck, if there’s any merit in the “capture a message saying more than just admiring a pretty landscape” argument, then it’s up to the photographer to do so and these discussions of copying wouldn’t arise.

  7. John Lever says:

    All of your images are fantastic, Alex!

  8. Chris Miles says:

    Only seen this on my phone as I’m at work atm, nice and atmospheric and well processed, but hardly original, also hasnt this been commended etc elsewhere, which should disqualify it according to Lpoty rule 3

  9. John Pretzen says:

    I notice the text on the photo has changed from ..

    “I’ve been waiting for a year to do this after seeing Peter Clarke’s great version of it. I hope I’ve done it justice.”


    “I went to shoot this after seeing a friend’s version at my camera club and it inspired me to go there and put my style on it. This place is no photographers secret and has been taken hundred’s of thousands of times but it’s still worth visiting the classics.”

    It’s quite sad that the picture has changed from ‘a version of’ to ‘inspired by’.

  10. Chris Beesley says:

    Interesting, so how come you know who the winner is, it hasn’t been announced yet! There’s nothing on the Take a View website or on the winners website?

  11. Chris Miles says:

    Chris, it’s because Amazon made an error in judgement and pre released the book before they should have, so the winners etc are now known before they’re announced properly.

  12. Michael sa says:


    You shouldn’t worry about this – put your energies where they count. This is stating the obvious, but its a subjective competition with sponsors to please and a book to sell. How many of the judges are world class landscape photographers? There are so many subjective variables at play. Im not sure that the rules stipulate anything about originality, and the winning image is certainly moody/evocative, which is a big step up from a dog or a flourescent hermit crab!! It’s just a competition. If you win it, so what? Ok, 10k is nice, but it won’t give anyone more hours in the day to produce stunning images for their book, it won’t in itself improve one’s photography. The most important thing is to do what you love, push your own boundaries and not worry about being acclaimed (in my case that’s not even a possibility so that’s easy for me to say!!). Regards, Michael.

    • Alex Nail says:

      To be fair Michael I feel like I do put my energies where they count, at least I try to!

      Im afraid that I just can’t agree that it’s okay that the winning image isnt creative or original just because picking a winner is subjective. This is art isn’t it? I have actually never agreed with the winning image but then it would be surprising if I did, it’s all a matter of taste.

      Really though it’s not something I lose sleep over and aside from replying to comments regarding this blog it hasn’t been plaguing my mind. it’s good to have a bit of balance of opinion though and no doubt many will agree with you so thanks for the comment.

  13. It is understandable that some photographs are going to be duplicated. Take the Dark Hedges here in Northern Ireland for example – the strong composition that stands out is the long telephoto shot looking down the road. Everyone who visits takes it, and I don’t think anyone who has previously shot the scene would begrudge future visitors the pleasure.

    However, this example is different. So many elements of the shot have been copied, right down to the crop, that I hope David Bryne feels a little bit hollow inside about the ‘victory,’ and eats a large slice of humble pie prior to giving any interviews etc about the photograph.

  14. Fortunato says:


    I agree, no one should worry about this, but…The point is that take a View presents itself as the most prestigious landscape photography competition in the UK. What they have showed (once again) is in my opinion a “wrong” way to perceive the photograph. It is not fair that allegedly copied picture is overall winner. Besides, for my personal taste I do not see anything exceptional even if it wasn’t a copy.

    By the way, no matters, I will continue to live my passion for photography as I’ve always done, but I would advise people not to be influenced by these competitions.

    PS: sorry for my poor English


  15. Mike Hanson says:

    The original photograph is my favourite.

  16. valda bailey says:

    Can’t help but wonder how Pete Clark feels about all this……
    First time of entering and having already
    received the book (thanks Amazon) I’m struck by how seemingly arbitrary the choice of published images is. To my surprise, one of my entries managed to claw its way into the book, however people I know had far, far better images rejected.

  17. Shanktastic says:

    While I can see the appeal of this subject in fact I’ve been there my self. I don’t see that just because the picture that was copied was less well know it does not good enough excuse. I feel this should be relinquished of it’s winning title. In same way Wildlife photographer of the year photo was a few years back.

    The plus point as stated above is at least it’s a landscape photo. More to the point since it’s suppose to be a landscape competition. It would be nice for the judges to stick to just landscape photos natural or urban as so many none landscape images seem to get in. This is despite the number of perfectly good landscape photos which get rejected.

  18. Well to add to the mystery the Sunday Times which is one of main sponsors and supposed to announce the winner – haven’t done so

    I’d be devastated to win and not get announced, maybe the ST editor is taking a retro judgement in not announcing

    Previous winners were amounted and printed, this time no mention at all…

    P.s. I like the image, and the original, and anyone else’s version which is the same but not published, as I am sure Peter Clarke wasn’t the first either… But he probably didn’t copy, or was “inspired”

  19. Dav Thomas says:

    Judging by his recent blog post it would seem that Humble Pie isn’t in the menu:

    Of all of LPOTY’s many controversies, this one I find the most annoying. There are so many photographer’s out there producing personal work that is inspired by their love of the environment. This winning image, isn’t “inspired” by Peter Clark’s original image, it’s a blatant, heavy handed attempt to replicate it. On top of this, it looks to me that there’s some pretty heavy truth moving manipulation going on which intervenes the competition’s rules – the rules appear to count for nought anyway as this and another one of the winner’s shortlisted images have already won international award.

    Why do I care? Well, I care little about the competition – it a ‘keep your granny happy’ book of pretty pictures far removed from my world of landscape photography. What I find worrying is that this is the popular face of landscape photography in this country; a country where the art of landscape photography is seen as being anything but ‘art’ by everyone from galleries to the general public. What this decision sets to vindicates and promote is that copying other people’s work, over processing and photographing honey spot locations is the ultimate in landscape photography expression – it’s all OK; this is what you should be doing.

    When I do photography talks I try to express upon anyone who’ll listen (admittedly not many), that seeing the world through your own eyes, not someone else’s; engaging with the subject and being honest to the scene you’re portraying is an honorable aim that will lead to more compelling, orignal work that will push the genre forward – how far removed is this principle to that displayed year on year by this competition?

    Of course, I’m sure that, there will be some great work amongst the pages of the LPOTY book this year – a number manage to work their way through each year. How hard can it be to pick a winner that isn’t controversial – how much time’s involved in researching an image to find out about its past?!

  20. michaelsa says:

    Hi Alex

    I should say that I agree with some of your sentiments in principle, but I think one needs to understand a few things about Take a View – and realise that the competition should be taken in good heart and that it is a bit of fun – and that it is not some kind of ‘Masters’ competition where the winner is – in your words – ‘the pinnacle of UK landscape photography’, and I should clarify by that statement that I’m not trying to put down any of the winners (quite the opposite…read on…) That kind of accolade is still very subjective but perhaps might be aimed at someone who has dedicated a large part of their life to the art and has produced a body of work that is so outstanding that it largely speaks for itself, probably someone who has had a very profound influence on the art in the UK and globally. I’m not sure that there are many candidates, but I can think of one or two possibles…..!

    In its own right, I do think the winning image is very creative with stunning light and shade that reinforces a strong composition (one that has important differences compared to the image which ‘inspired’ it). As you say, this image may not be completely original. But is that an issue? In some cases, perhaps, though not by the rules of this competition. Also, it is important to remember that this is a competition which has commercial drivers which may be why the images tend to have a ‘mass market visit Britain’ appeal, or dare I say it, a ‘Sunday afternoon feel’, hence images of swans, deer, shopping trolleys, cityscapes, climbers, waves, dogs, more dogs and fluorescent crabs!! When a new sponsor comes on board, the selection of images is clearly influenced – we saw this with the images of railways and trains. Technically, there have been some ‘interesting’ winners in the past – as you point out – but this probably isn’t surprising if you look at the judging panels (ever spot representatives from any of the sponsors, and how much experience do they all have making landscape images?!) My point is not that there is anything wrong with this, but that the competition should be taken in a light hearted way, enjoyed for what it is as a mass market enterprise aiming to attract exciting entries from every man, woman and child, (not from their dog, but perhaps of it!), but not seen as in any way ‘pure’, and for that reason I think the winning image deserves to be considered on its own right, and that the winner should be duly congratulated for a stunning image.

    More broadly, your question about originality is fascinating. Like you, I like to get off the beaten track and explore, and I enjoy making images that are ‘original’, though I’m sometimes disappointed to find after the fact that they aren’t actually original (and often that they are poor!), and sometimes I’ve made images of scenes that I know have been photographed before – but you can impose your own interpretation, usually helped by different weather/seasonal conditions/light. In 200 years time, if someone wants to produce truly ‘original’ work, they’ll probably have to head further than Mars!

    Finally, the whole ‘competition thing’ is interesting – what is its purpose? I think it is about encouraging people, and a bit of fun, no more than that. So many photographers are ‘award winning’ but that is just marketing fluff. What matters is the quality of their work, and from a business perspective, also their passion, professionalism, client skills etc.



  21. Sam Jones says:

    Hi Alex

    Very interesting post! I should declare an interest in that in 6 years of entering this competition, I have had an image commended for the first time. Needless to say it’s not one of my best.

    Having received my book from Amazon yesterday, I looked at the winning image and thought ‘how interesting, bet it’ll look good printed up big in the exhibition, and it’s much better than some of the previous winners’ (I love dogs but I’m sorry that dog image was not worthy of the LPOTY title and as for crabgate…..). Reading your blog has made me splutter on my Talisker. How depressing. I note that David Byrne’s website now simply says “We went to Holy Island for the night, to visit the famous boat houses and castle of Lindisfarne” rather than “We went to Holy Island for the night, to visit the famous boat houses and castle of Lindisfarne. I’ve been waiting for a year to do this after seeing Peter Clarke’s great version of it. I hope I’ve done it justice.”

    Will you be at the private view? I shall be travelling down from the Hebrides as an excuse for a few days in London and in Dorset. It would be good to say hello.



  22. I think it’s hard to photograph any classic view location these days without repeating history. Some locations, compositionally speaking, only have a few angles that work strongly.
    To give Dartmoor examples I’m sure you’ll agree most photos of Bowerman’s Nose or Brentor Church are usually taken from the same spot.

    I’m not familiar with Lindisfarne but it looks to me that this heavily photographed location falls into a similar category where there is only one strong composition that works to get the angle of the boat sheds and the castle in the frame.

    Ask yourself honestly. When you set out to the Isle of Skye to photograph the Storr stack ( ) did you not research other photographers and have a composition in mind before you left?
    A composition, if you excuse me saying, we’ve seen time and time again in calendars/books. Your image and others have been in the LPOTY books and if it had won then this criticism and of copying and unoriginality might easily have been directed at you.

    • Alex Nail says:

      Hi Mike,

      You may have missed the thrust of the article or perhaps I didnt make it clear. The issue I have is the intent of the image making process. I have never set out to replicate an image, even if I have had a shot in mind and in fact I have always intentionally avoided doing something that has been done before wherever possible. Of course sometimes I do indeed photograph locations that have been heavily photographed and I am influenced by the works of others. Storr happens to be a bad example because back in 2008 I didnt really research locations, and the only images I had seen of the Storr were in Joe Cornishes ‘First Light’. It’s not about influence, inspiration or going over old ground, it’s about the intent. If you set out to replicate another image you are not creating art, you are creating a duplicate. There are many creative decisions that could have been made even in the seemingly simple example above and still realised an excellent image.

  23. Brandon says:

    Hi Alex,

    The competition seems to be for camera club members. I think that anyone with a serious ambition to make it in the photography world should stay clear and get their heads down to produce new exciting work that galleries will take seriously. Let the weekend snappers have the competition and give each other boozy slaps on the back. Anyone serious about art should look elsewhere to progress their careers.


  24. Fortunato says:


    - same location
    - same composition
    - same time of the year (check the shadows…)
    - almost the same clouds coverage
    - same post processing

    I don’t think there is something more to add.
    I’m not even complaining as I’ve been lucky enough this year to place four of my picture on the book, but let me say once again that “Take a View” choices are at least controversial.


  25. Caroline says:

    Alex, you’re starting to sound like a real moaner here, trying to justify bitching about someone else’s success and dressing it up in terms like ‘intent of the image making process’. It’s just a competition, not some lifechanging experience, lighten up:)

  26. Dom says:

    Don’t blame the photographer (although he must be blushing) – blame the judges and the competition organisers for not doing their job. With a £10K prize they need to get it right. Anyone who paid for entry has a right to be angry when decisions like this are made.

  27. Jools Elliott says:

    Caroline, if you look more closely at some of the past winners then it has been a life changing competition. The media coverage and the huge spotlight that will be shone onto them is nothing to be sneezed at.

    It is right for this to be questioned because when you enter a competition surely the idea behind putting up an entry for judgement is that it is something you’re proud to have created. Not the fact that you have made a near exact copy of someone elses work.

    If the winner has now removed the line about being inspired by the original then that does show a case of the guilts.

  28. David Clapp says:

    Anyone fancy a pint?

  29. Stewart says:

    I do have to question whether the image that won and the other images that the author, David Byrne, had awards for in the POTY2012 competition are even valid entries.

    The POTY2012 rules state that: “Images that have won an award (including winner, runner-up, highly commended, commended) in a major competition (including previous ‘Take a views’), or that have been entered in such a competition where the results are still pending, are not eligible for entry.”

    When you look at Mr Byrne’s web site and in particular his awards page,, you see that all images have previously won awards.

    Whether these competitions or the timings of the entries fall into the POTY2012 definition pertaining to the rules remains to be seen.

    Mr Byrne claims to have previously won a Silver Medal for his Delemere Forest image in the PAGB National Print Championships. It would also appear that he is claiming to have won a Gold Medal in the FIAP for his winning image in the POTY2012, Lindisfarne Boats.

    I would have thought that both of these awards are sufficiently big enough and prestigious enough to have meant exclusion from the POTY2012.

    These are all very nice images, but should they even have been in the competition?

  30. I think the image and the processing are both excellent. I wasn’t aware of the origins of the ‘inspiration’ behind the shot when saw it on Flickr earlier. I suppose its one thing trying to take an original shot of a classic view but on this occasion the boats form a foreground that makes the shot what it is. I do like the different interpretation via the processing and presentation that masks the detail of the Castle and gives it more of an air of mystery. What does disappoint me is the removal of the reference to Peter Clarke from his website. Credit where credits due. Having looked through Davids website I think he is an extremely talented photographer with some beautiful work and I think he is a deserving image. Its just a shame that there is likely to be a fair bit of comment made about the winning shot.

    A pint would be quite nice :-)

  31. [...] style to create an almost identical picture.There is also a very interesting chat going on here.We can only bring facts on this page, opinions about the subject will be all yours. You may leave [...]

  32. Mattw says:

    thank you for pointing out the winner, as I had not seen it before.

    Judging photo competitions always comes down personal preference of the judge. For this reason I rarely enter competitions these days. However I do still enter the take a view competition, because I think its a good ‘shop window’ for our hobby/interest. And it has provided a good ‘break out’ moment for some talented photographers in the past.

    However it is still just about the whims and fancies of the judges. I think you just have to enter your best work, and then let it go, and except any good fortune which comes your way as just that – good fortune.

    Regarding this particular winner, I’m not that bothered by it. Copying a photo to that extent is not stylish, but I don’t think it is against the rules. A photo (in the competition) should be judged on it’s own merits.

  33. Dave Byrne says:

    Mark Littlejohn, you quite right, I must admit i panicked when i started getting the verbal abuse and removed it, but your dead right, i should be proud where i got the idea from, as he is a friend.

    He thinks my version is great i showed him a year ago when i printed it out for the first time, he also is delighted i won with it, funny, considering how he’s been so wronged.

    Your words made me realise the mistake i made and i have put the credit back, thanks for your kind words, and the rest of the people who have stuck up for me on here.

    The rest of you will not spoil what has been a great surprise for me, I just take pictures for a hobby, i dont make any money from it, if im lucky i may sell a couple of prints. This sort of thing only happens once in a lifetime and im going to take it with both hands. Ive done no wrong and i will enjoy it while it lasts, ill be forgotten in a couple of months anyway and you all can move on to your next controversy.

    Thanks and goodbye

    David Byrne

    • Alex Nail says:

      Hi Dave,
      Thanks for commenting.
      This was always a difficult article to write for me because there is an unavoidable personal aspect to this. I tried to stay away from criticising you personally (although I do still feel the image is copied) because you are entitled to capture images as you see fit and enter them into competitions. There isn’t a question amongst the people commenting on this blog that you are an excellent photographer too. I won’t hammer home the points that have already been made, because there is little point, but needless to say, it’s about the competition itself, not you. I apologise for any offense or worry I might have caused, it’s just something I felt had to be addressed. I genuinely hope that you enjoy the success :)

  34. Simon Byrne says:

    Congratulations David. It’s a great photo, and I’d be overjoyed if I won the competition too.

    I don’t think people are angry or sour with you, more with the competition organisers and judges. To be honest I don’t think a photo so close and clearly heavily influenced by someone else’s shot down to composition, crop, light a post processing should win such a competition, especially when it’s the biggest competition of its kind and it has won other awards already violating the entry rules.

    When people pay to enter such competitions and it seems that an inappropriate amount of care is taken in selecting winners it is going to be frustrating. The recent direction of the competition is also a bit grating as for the past few years there have been an increasing number of non-landscapes. It’s only going to be photographers who are bemused, as the general public who see the exhibition and the book are just looking for great images and don’t really care how they were made. Just to reiterate this is a great image.

    I’m just bitter anyway as I had 3 in the final and none got in the book ;)

    Some of the judging decisions are crazy. I saw several shots by Nigel Morton which are stunning and I would put on my wall that didn’t even make it past the first round.

  35. Dave Byrne says:

    im going to say this just once and go, The processing style IS MY STYLE, look how i’ve processed my mono landscapes for the last 2 years, i havent studied anybodies style i do it how i like it!

  36. Adrian Hall says:

    +1 for David Clapp

    Guys – it is what it is and what it will be. Flawed, divisive, pointless, enriching, beautiful and encouraging. You are all great, fantastic, dedicated and fabulous photographers but just enjoy it for what it is, or not :o

    We all really know whose work we like / dislike and this award will not change that. 


  37. pinpin says:

    This is a paid competition, and that means there is only one winner. The organiser. If only stunning images made the book, it would put many people off, and they dont want to do that, as they would loose on entry fees. This way their objective is fulfilled- next year, after many people saw this year book, will enter. The photographer will enter and try to win and have doors to the stardom opened to them; the amateur who just bought DSLR will enter and try his luck because he has seen images in the book that blindfolded moneky can do.

    And Charlie is rubbing his hands all the way to the bank. He might even get an idea, of collating some of his favourite images into limited edition book that he will sell for £300.

    It’s year 2013: read from the top and repeat every year thereafter.

    Wake up and smell the Arabica.

    • Alex Nail says:

      I can see why you might leave that comment anonymously, because you’re not really beating around the bush! Many photographers have become disillusioned with the competition for precisely this reason. Whether it is true or not, I don’t know.

      I was left a litle unimpressed earlier in the year when the LPOTY mailing list was used to promote one of Charlie’s books.

  38. Dom says:

    For what it’s worth I think the post-processing in the winner’s image is better than the original “inspiration”. But it’s not a Photoshop competition is it. Or is it? It seems to me that’s often what landscape photo comps boil down to.

  39. david @breenster says:

    well as I read it we have an interesting discussion where spme folk have scored points and some haven’t…

    well done the DByrne for responding, despite th toen of his second post being a bit prickly. well done to ANail for starting it, well done to everyone else with balance and well thought out commentary…

    then there is that other fella… theres always one isn’t there, who seem to be of a level where they believe that everyone has to think like them…

    and finally we have David Clapp… well what can i say but… make mine a large one, i have a boozy slap coming your way…


    “its all fun & games until someone loses an eye”

  40. steven f says:

    Interesting read, being a LS tog down under, i looked out for the winners this year, for inspirational purposes, having just spent a few weeks back in blighty. Love wha t Dave has done to his winning shots great work.

    Without starting another controversy and this just adds some food for thought, in a recent Better Photography competition (Mag/website) see link

    Check out this years winning image in the landscape section, superb picture of a waterfall in Iceland. great image, wish it was mine…….Now take a breath and go back and check which image got 13th spot in the previous years comp with EXACTLY the same image… albeit a touch of contrast or similar added…
    Strange how the same image got 13th one year and the an outright win the next… Same image…
    As i said great image, wish it was mine…
    Interesting how pics are judged…
    Same comp a pic that came 11th or so, took out first place in the Loupe comp this year..
    I guess you gotta be in it to win it…

    Keep clicking that shutter peeps… :-)

  41. Tim Parkin says:

    I’d like to hear on peoples comments on where the sun was when this picture was taken. The two clues that can be used are the direction of the shadows and the convergence of the god rays in the sky.


  42. Now the God Rays would certainly put the sun above the clouds…that’s an interesting point Tim.

  43. Stewart says:

    @ Tim Parkin. I’d say just off to the right, fairly low.

  44. Tim Smith says:


    It seems to me that there is a growing band of so-called photographers who prefer to create a defining image in a PC rather than in-camera. Perhaps comps now need to be categorised to accommodate this? By the way I am firmly in the latter camp!

    • Alex Nail says:

      Yes its a tricky one isn’t it Tim. I could harp on all day about “the power of photography over other mediums being it’s perceived replication of reality” but I would quickly sound like a broken record. Whilst my images are edited (you could argue significantly look at the bottom of this page) I firmly believe in the truth an I have never cloned out or replaced subjects. To be honest though its a really grey area generally. In this case however the rules are clear cut.

  45. Matt Clark says:

    You know, the thing that was really outrageous about this year’s competition was that none of my entries were selected. I can only assume corruption at the very top, what other explanation could there be :-)

  46. Matt Clark says:

    Damn, the truth hurts :-O

  47. Michael sa says:

    Hi Fortunato

    I was re-reading this and should have said that your English is very good. Tim – good question!

  48. Stuart says:

    Checking and plotting the direction of the shadows is easy enough using any of the online ephemeris tools.

    The Lindisfarne photo’s exif is 28/12/11 at 11:28am. Plotting this on suncalc shows the shadows appear to be correct. (Unless I have the wrong boats. You’ll need to click on “satelite view”) See here:,-1.7956,18/2011.12.28/11:28

    You can also plot the shadows and their path at

    If the sky has been stripped in or other parts cloned out, only the photographer will know for sure.

  49. Stuart says:

    The Lee Harvey Oswald photo was supposed to have several different light sources and shadows. This was busted beyond all doubt. The scene was recreated in 3d and produced the exact same shadows and light. The conspiracy theorists still wouldn’t believe it.

    There are numerous scientific studies of the human visual reasoning system that show it is incredibly poor at piecing together a 3d realisation from a 2d image. Spot the ball competitions exploit this very fact. In 3d modelling, we use the classic pyramid photo to fool the visual system. One view, the pyramid looks like it is floating. Change the light source and it looks like it is on the floor. The visual system thinks there are multiple light sources and is fooled.

    You could pick any photo and create doubt and conspiracy. It’s rational reasoning and scientific method that provides credibility.

    As I said above, the shadows appear to be correct for the boats. This casts doubt on Tim Parkinson

  50. Stuart says:

    ‘s theory (apologies, hit the button before I’d finished typing)

  51. Tim Parkin says:

    Hi Stuart, as mentioned in our comments on the other blog I’m not relying on subtle shadow directions so the comparison with Oswald/NASA isn’t really valid. The overal shadows from the boats show the sun to be on the right. If we forget general shadow direction just look at how the boats are lit.

    Even if the exact position can’t be calculated by the shadow direction we can rule out it being to the left or being above the picture frame surely?

    This is incompatible with the location of the sun from the converging crepuscular rays.

    Either you think the shadows and boat lighting are caused by the sun being above the boats or you think that crepuscular rays don’t converge on the sun. Which do you think it is?

    If you think the shadows are caused by the sun being above the boats then we have a problem because the exif shows a winter photograph and the sun cannot possibly be in that position.

    If you think the crepuscular rays don’t point at the sun then how can that be and what are they pointing at?

  52. Mike Green says:

    Hi Tiim,

    What about option 3: they’re not crepuscular rays at all but something to do with the editing process? (I’m not suggesting any of these options is correct, merely pointing out that it’s not /necessarily/ quite such a binary question as it might appear!)


  53. Rob knight says:

    Inspired or copied, yes there’s the ‘original’ image but there’s also a relatives (assumption ad links on each others sites to each others site) which is almost identical, the lights moved along a little The composite issue does irk as it flounts the t@c’s.

    The whole thing leaves you feeling a little empty as to the validity of the LPOTY as the pinnacle of Uk landscape photography, that said there are some truly inspirational entries in the book / comp so the judging process and rigour is the true debate.

    • Alex Nail says:

      So many fantastic images! In fact I would even say the majority are very good or excellent. But then given the number of entries they should ALL be excellent. These issues do overshadow the winners for me, which is such a shame. I flicked through the book again yesterday and I have to say I really did enjoy it, better than previous years.

  54. David O says:

    I thought I wasn’t supposed to take “The Making of Landscape Photographs” too literally….

    This is all desperately unsatisfactory.

    If (and I say if), all the above is true, then the competition cannot remain in this format.

    The website of Take a View proudly tells us that there are “terms and condition” for entry. This should mean something – a contract between Punter and Competition provider – and is the basis on which people pay money and enter. People who paid hard earned cash could ask for their money back.

    Punter pays his money and expects the Competition to run the rules as advertised. If Competition doesn’t do this, its repuptation is tarnished, together with that of its sponsors. Reputation is key and am not sure how all this can just pass under the radar of disgruntlement. We’re talking about the competition here, not the photographer.

    One condition says:

    “However, for images entered in Classic view, Living the view and Urban view, the integrity of the subject must be maintained and the making of physical changes to the landscape is not permitted (removing fences, moving trees, stripping in sky from another image etc). The organisers reserve the right to disqualify any image that they feel lacks authenticity due to over-manipulation.”

    People must judge Delamere Forest against this condition….and perhaps the overall winning entry, even more so.

    The other point is the condition about awards:

    ” Images that have won an award (including winner, runner-up, highly commended, commended) in a major competition (including previous ‘Take a views’), or that have been entered in such a competition where the results are still pending, are not eligible for entry.”

    If, as has been suggested here and elsewhere (and in particularly from the winner on his website and forums), several of these images would appear to breach this condition; so, same point as above really.

    The only person who knows all this will be the image-taker. Ultimately, this is his responsibility.

    Personally, am not sure that what looks like a heavily-edited IR image should win the “classic” view section as all these words which I use to describe the image, when taken together with “classic”, are at odds in my view. This is just my personal view.

    I think all this convinces me that the current TAV needs to either recover the lofty ambitions it held at its inception or else, the conditions are now ripe to have a separate competition (Mr Parkin – thank you).


  55. Tim Parkin says:

    Hi Mike, I did think about the fact they may be ‘fake’ crepuscular rays – however this still means a level of manipulation that is probably too much for the main image of the competition.. cheers for pointing that out though..

  56. Tim Parkin says:

    Hi Rob – Phil’s image is beautiful and it’s interesting as it was taken only nine minutes after David’s..

  57. The proof is in the RAW file. End of story. Either it is a composite which breaks rule 11

    “11) Digital adjustments.

    Digital adjustments, including High Dynamic Range (HDR) imaging techniques and the joining together of multiple frames, are allowed in all categories. However, for images entered in Classic view, Living the view and Urban view, the integrity of the subject must be maintained and the making of physical changes to the landscape is not permitted (removing fences, moving trees, stripping in sky from another image etc). The organisers reserve the right to disqualify any image that they feel lacks authenticity due to over-manipulation. ”

    The RAW file should end the controversy.

    • Alex Nail says:

      I imagine Graham that you will find my latest update conclusive that some major cloning has gone on. It’s not too much of a mental leap given the evidence to see that the sky was dropped in too.

  58. Colin Bell says:

    I think David O has hit the nail on the head for me with regards to the image manipulation. Clearly folks can make their images in any way they like (edited / composited), its a personal choice. Whether there is ‘photographic document’ integrity left in the resulting image is arguably neither here nor there until it comes to the context of viewing. Now this is where David O has got it right, the context of viewing, as far as this competition is concerned, is completely defined in the T&Cs. They should be stuck to and enforced especially for the showcase winners. Had the rules been enforced (which I would think was a basic expectation for other entrants to the competition that have adhered to them) then we would at least be ‘only’ arguing about the subjectivity of the chosen finalists, but that is to be expected in a competition.

    As an aside, since I come from the video games development industry, I’ve seen and worked with many exceptionally talented artists (artist first, photographer second or not at all) who have incredible composite creation and composition skill far outweighing those of any photographer (that I have seen) that ‘turns his or her hand’ to digitally making images. I expect, given the prize money involved, one or two might think about entering next year given the tolerance of that skill that is apparently shown in this case.

    All of this detracts from the original point that Alex made re the originality of the winning photograph. As with any competition, the judges word is final however I think to call for originality but not demonstrate the appreciation of the same when judging, will lead folks to change their views on what they enter next year, or whether to enter at all. And that will be a shame.

  59. The boats is a fantastic image without a doubt but what happened to the strip of land that’s supposed to be on the far right?

  60. Marie says:

    Perhaps the competition name should be changed to:
    Make a View – Manipulated Landscape of the Year.

  61. Andrew Wiltshire says:

    We seem to have a competition with considerable financial benefit where the rules for the Classic View specify fairly strict criteria to limit manipulation, and yet those rules seem to have been ignored by certain entrants so that the judges are not comparing like with like. I am at a loss to know why Lpoty does not follow the lead of Wildlife Photographer of the Year and get two experts to check the integrity of all the short listed entrants before final judging. To my mind the whole credibility of LPOTY has been called into question.
    I can only speculate that the significant financial reward of LOPTY has seduced people into submitting entries which on a personal level they must know do not accord with the artistic integrity that the competition was originally intended to embrace. It is also worrying that numerous people will probably follow this trend as it will be seen as the way to be successful in the photographic world.

  62. David O says:

    ..or A View to (making) a Kill(ing). Is Skyfall any good?

  63. Guy says:

    Alex – any response from the organisers on any of this?

  64. mark littlejohn says:

    I am extremely disappointed by all this. Although I have only recently seen Davids work I have been extremely impressed. I guess they were the sort of images I’d like to aspire to. I do a fair bit of processing myself on occasions but composites, cloning things in etc (apart from taking out dust spots and that sort of stuff) are not my thing. We are into the realms of digital art as opposed to landscape photography. From what I’ve seen of other images this year the standard was very high (although I still don’t know how one of Nigel Mortons in particular did not get through or how folk like Joe Rainbow have never had one through). To be honest I think David should contact Take-a-View himself if the images are indeed composites and that what he did was an honest mistake.

  65. Astrid M says:

    Take-A-View have been investigating the issue and will make a statement shortly. So they say on twitter.

  66. michaelsa says:

    Hi Alex

    As you know I’ve supported the winner in terms of the original thrust of this post (originality), but obviously the thread has changed. IF the image has been significantly cloned/the sky dropped in, that’s a different matter, and I would be really annoyed having offered some support to the winner. I hope I’m not left to feel like a muggins.

  67. Stewart says:

    It is absolutely shocking that this has been allowed to go on. Sadly it throws the integrity of this once prestigious competition into question.

    I feel Mr Byrne should ‘do the right thing’ here, come clean with the organisers and relinquish his awards on the grounds that his images do not meet the rules criteria and he admits that he didn’t read the rules.

    If that doesn’t happen then Mr Byrne should be disqualified if the organisers wish to try and maintain the integrity and credibility of the competition and future award winners.

  68. Valda Bailey says:

    This does put another, more sinister slant on the controversy. As a first time entrant I made sure I read the rules backward and then discovered that the one image that did get through to the book could have been entered in a different category, so loose is the term ‘landscape’. It now sits in all its uncloned, un-composited glory in the My View section alongside many heavily manipulated images.
    That, however, is a minor and entirely personal grumble; if deception on such a scale has taken place, then it is surely beholden upon LPOTY organisers to be seen to be taking steps to address the situation.

  69. Stewart says:

    From reading Mr Byrne’s vague responses to alleged manipulation of images used in the competition, it is apparent to me that he either knew all along that his images did not meet the criteria, or it suddenly dawned on him that they didn’t when people started talking about rules and what was allowed in each category.

    I am talking about his responses as cannockwolf in this thread

  70. Stewart says:

    ‏Mr Byrne claims to have been disqualified from the competition.

  71. Sophie Carr says:

    Wow, this is all getting really interesting. Maybe it’ll make the judges of all the photo competitions out there check that the winning entries adhere to their terms & conditions…

  72. Stewart says:

    @ Sophie Carr: Both parties have a portion of blame in this, both Mr Byrne and the competition organisers. Mr Byrne should have read the rules and the organisers should be checking that images that at least make their shortlist should be checked thoroughly.

    Utterly embarrassing for all concerned I am sure.

  73. Lorraine Parramore says:

    I have read yours (Tim’s and others’) blogs on this issue with interest, growing indignation, and finally a belief that justice has been done.

    I just want to register my thanks and admiration in exposing the blatent disregard of rules, and for having the cojones to stand up for what you believe in and state it publicly. Far too many folk are prepared to turn away. I think you’ve stated your views respectfully and without rancour on all forums considering – so well done!

    Let’s hope finally the LPOTY judges will check out raw images in future PRIOR to winning announcements. Surely not too much to ask to avoid arguments/embarressment all round.


  74. Byker28i says:

    I don’t think anyone has come well out of this. I’m sure David feels very embarrassed by the whole thing and has ridden a whole week of emotions since discovering he had won.

    Whilst it’s easy to get carried away with the forensic examination of the images, it’s also easy to forget about all of the possible outcomes. It’s correct that he has been disqualified, but these sort of things tend to attract the wrong sort of moral outrage from some people.

    I sincerely hope that the abusive messages that David has received now stop.

    What a cock up for the organisers. I believe the books have been printed?

  75. neuron says:

    What a fiasco! I see also that some of the Talk Photography links referenced here have been taken down.
    Sorry to hear that David has been getting abusive messages but I guess a timely reminder to be vigilant and read the small print.

  76. Tim Parkin says:

    Hi Byker, I completely agree that this will affect David quite significantly and it’s somehing that will take time to get over. However much we may think that he knew or did n’t know about the rules, we’ll never be sure and the guy has suffered enough through this. I would strongly suggest people leave him alone now and if they must discuss the issue, keep his full name out of it. With the world as it is now, these sorts of ‘public hangings’ can be seen on the internet for years into the future.

    I’ll be removing mention of his surname from my posts at some point as I think it isn’t really relevant to the story. The news is all about the images, how they were/werent checked and the discovery of the manipulation, etc.

  77. Gregww says:

    I’ve been following this whole saga with much interest and now it is over I can only congratulate Alex for sticking to his guns throughout. It was amazing to see how attitudes changed over the course of the week as more and more evidence was presented.

    This was the first year I’ve entered, I got one image shortlisted, but I took very careful note of the rules like everyone should without exception (I have to say, working in contracts as I do, they are woolly at best). I was actually fretting over the fact that I had a couple of dust spots on my image that I had cloned out…was that too much digital manipulation? I needn’t have worried on the evidence of this. However, I do feel very cheated that images were allowed to get through and win without checks that I assumed to be normal taking place, especially considering I had to pay to enter.

    I feel sorry for David, I really do, I’d hate to be in his shoes. It’s a great shame because his photos are very nice, he is clearly talented. I will admit though to being somewhat underwhelmed by the winning image when I first saw it, but photography is so incredibly subjective you have to look past that.

    Am a bit gutted that I forked out for the book only yesterday, it’ll be like having the Tour de France Almanac 1999-2006!

  78. Stewart says:

    @ Gregww: I wonder what they will do with the book going forward. It’s not an accurate representation of the actual winning images. At least 3 of them, Lindisfarne Boats, Delemere Forest and The Copse were composites and ineligible for entry.

  79. Tim says:

    Just because two people get similar images from the same scene does *NOT* make one a copy. Your statement `when clearly it is a copy of another image’ is false.

    • Alex Nail says:

      Actually Tim, I agree with you there. That is where my personal opinion has got in the way. As I have said, its very hard to write these articles in a totally abject way. I should have rephrased to something like “when in my opinion the intent was to copy another image”. Anyway it’s all been said I think, it’s all just a great shame.

  80. So if the Lindisfarne pic has been disqualified, what/who’s the winner now?

    I also have to disagree about the competition being “a bit of fun”. Most landscape photographers can’t make a living out of what they do but if they win this competition, they can. And that, to most of us, is the Holy Grail.

    And thirdly, why is there no central discussion board for LPOTY when it generates so much opinion? Or is there? And if so, where?

  81. Stewart says:

    The news from Take-A-View says that only 2 of Mr Byrne’s images have been disqualified. The Copse commendation still stands, which is strange.

    Simon Butterworth is the new LPOTY2012

  82. Byker28i says:

    It appears all Davids images have been removed. They dont appear on the press release as winners anymore

  83. Stewart says:

    @Byker28i Yes but I thought there was evidence to suggest that The Copse was also a composite. Maybe it wasn’t, maybe the judges didn’t review this image.

    As well as the stuff Tim Parkin dug up on it there are 2 versions of The Copse image floating about, one with the figure and one without.

    Both have the same EXIF data etc. Maybe the original had the figure in it originally, I don’t know.

  84. Graham says:

    I think this whole episode shows the absurdity of photography competitions nowadays. Photo manipulation is like CGI in the movies, there’s no apparent limit to what can be done. While I like the work that David produced, it’s more suitable for a photoshop competition than a photography one and it’s down to the organisers of Take a View to separate the images that blatantly break their very own rules.

    The new winner’s photo is of tenements in Port Glasgow, Scotland by Simon Butterworth. I don’t want to take away from Simon’s photo but I live nearby and know that it’s a simple shot from a well known viewpoint. Is this really the best landscape photograph submitted to this year’s competition? This whole episode has made a mockery of the competition and it’s completely at the hands of the organisers.

  85. John says:

    Alex, you need to get a life. What a dick.

  86. Mark Gould says:

    A little off topic, but I think the competition should be renamed Landscape Photograph of the Year, not Photographer.

    I would look at a portfolio of photographs before deciding if a photographer was good, which is not something the competition does. After all “One swallow does not a summer make”

  87. [...] on the subject by Alex Nail which you can read here goes into the story in more [...]

  88. Tim Parkin says:

    Ha ha John, ha ha … so funny… ha ha… ha… really rofl… not

  89. Earlgrey says:

    This is all terribly sad. I have just read about this via the Facebook feed from TAV. For David I echo other comments, what is done is done, now let him be able to get on with his life and love for photography. I thought the image was exquisite, though the print in the award book did not do justice to the amount of information I saw when I viewed it on his photographic club’s website. This is something that can have a profound impact on a person and while I don’t know him personally, the emotions of the last couple of weeks would cause most people a lot of difficulty.

    For the judges and organisers, they need to consider the competition rules in light of the episode. The suggestion to require the submission of the raw image has some merits, though it does pose the question if the image was captured in another format. Or should they allow more post capture work? It does seem to be an intrinsic part of the photographic process these days. I was only thinking a few days ago how things have changed since we captured images on film and the very limited nature of manipulation available in a wet darkroom. In modern times the tools of manipulation are mind boggling.

    And for all other entries that have been awarded this year, do we now need to go and review them all in light of this revelation? When you realise that post treatment is a must for a raw image, can we really have confidence in the integrity of anything we now see published? It can take you to a position where you reluctantly have to consider the option of allowing people to process their images as they wish, which could inevitably lead to the best graphic artist having an ‘unfair’ advantage.

    This particular element of photography has been controversial since digital photo manipulation has come into the mainstream (I wonder if similar arguments raged about those people with their own darkrooms?). Unless a robust method of controlling the submission of entries can be found, for example providing a raw image and sidecar file (that is if you use an Adobe product for post processing), competition rules may have to change.

  90. Shanktastic says:

    It’s a shame that people are not so honest and play by the rules however this I guess is human nature.

    I do feel heavy manipulation of a photo would really change the whole photo and ruin competition. With photos like this taken from a very famous spot. It would not be very difficult for them to check the validity of the photo with others taken around the same time with little google search.

    the raw file is great idea or at least would be if every camera used this type of format however alas they do not. So would be a little unfair.

    While I feel sorry for David to be honest (no pun meant) it’s his own fault for not sticking the rules.

  91. Chris says:

    I was intitially pleased to see black and white photographes winning such a competition I have no sympathy for David, he knew the rules of the before entering and if he did not thats no excuse and he does not seem to be rushing to amend his website either.
    Where does such a competition go from here ?

  92. David O says:

    One postscript to all this and perhaps a different point but I think, looking at the book, that only one image (Ian Cameron) was shot on film (either that or very few indeed)…and personally, for someone who has reurned to film over the last few years and thoroughly enjoy the medium, I think this is also quite sad. I don’t think that there were any large format images. Given the quality and technical control available to LF shooters, I find it astounding that either none made it through or LF shooters aren’t entering (the latter point, making it doubly sad).

  93. Stewart says:

    Third David Byrne image, The Copse, now confirmed by Take-A-View, as being disqualified.

  94. nathan mccreery says:

    Ah, The pitfalls of digital. Time was when all these things had to be taken care of before we made the exposure. Now, often the attitude is, I’ll take care of it later in Photoshop… then you get caught with your drawers down. Craftsmanship rules the day, from the initial exposure to the final rendering. The issues the maker addressed in Photoshop, housekeeping in the area that will be portrayed, should have been addressed in the field. Except for the obviously faked in sky (which is probably the only excusable modification only it should have been done better) the rest could have, and should have, been handled in the original exposure. That would have avoided this mess.

  95. Louis Neville says:

    Im hoping that they ask for RAW’s for shortlisted images next year.

    Do we get a new book now? I was going to send it back anyway as mine already had creases/marks in it. There is a smudge right next to my caption as well so I’m not too pleased.

    Has anyone brought up page 167? I read in a forum that the effect on the water is a flood plugin or something? Be good if someone could notify the judges so they can request the RAW.

    Hopefully next year due to this people will submit photographs instead of digital manipulations/digital art…

  96. Stewart says:

    @Louis Neville. You are talking about the Kersten Howard – Dawn Reflections image? The exif data for the image doesn’t give any clues as to what was used but that is quite easily manipulated in this case. What category was the image entered in?

  97. Louis Neville says:


    Yes thats correct. Its in the ‘Your view – Adult class’.

    The water movement looks too perfect to be natural, If it is real then well done to Kersten as its very nice and i apologize for commenting on it.

    Just read that Tim Parkin thinks its the so called ‘flood plugin’….

  98. Shanktastic says:

    I’ve not see the book yet, but I can only guess from the talk about Kersten photo. That she did not say in her description weather the reflection was done post production. I wish I could say hand on heart that this means it’s real but having seen so many over the last few years which where defiantly modified post production and in no way specified this in the description. Which when submitting full res file to the second round you are suppose to do.

    All I can say is if you have nothing to hide then you no reason to not specify.

  99. Shanktastic says:

    Forgot to say I realise this is allowed in that category, so really there no issue in saying otherwise

  100. Louis Neville says:

    I had no idea that was allowed. Reading up on that flood plugin thing and looking at sample images, that scene may not have even had water anywhere near it before the edit. Oh well…

    I do love David’s ‘Delemere Forest’ before the alteration and i’m sure it would still have been in the book had he submitted that one over the manipulated one.

  101. pinpin says:

    I’m greatful to Alex for doing all this work and research so I don’t have to and I can have a life.

  102. [...] you want to read more about the issue, there is plenty of debate , opinion and discussion [...]

  103. Matt Clark says:

    Fair shout to you Alex, you helped to spot this crazy situation and you’ve been proved right. I thought it was a worthy winner and on first viewing it looked real enough, but the truth is now clear for all to see.
    Can we start another discussion now, along the lines of ‘Is the announcement of the new winner a joke as well? Is this seriously the best shot entered, absolute farce number two!’

  104. Nox Talbot says:

    “It may be just a competition, but it’s important to a lot of people because it’s a stepping ladder to bigger things.”

    That’s the real problem. Sheep for editors, sheep for viewers, sheep for collectors. You end up requiring sheep for photographers and shepherds for curators and editors. So many folks afraid of just being people looking at and making pictures. You’d prefer “creating” pictures? Sheep talk.
    You don’t like that chimney sticking out of the Pennines? Got no Photoshop? So grab a marker and blat it out. You might end up with a great picture by and for humans.

  105. [...] photographer and photo blogger Alex Nail has posted a long analysis of Byrne’s images, comparing EXIF data and gif animations of Byrne’s and determines the [...]

  106. [...] Plagiarized from another image and heavy cloning. its the cloning he was disqualified for. Landscape Photographer of the Year 2012 (‘Take A View’ LPOTY 2012) – Dartmoor Land… __________________ [...]

  107. Colin Bell says:

    I think its probably fair to point out that Kersten Howard says in the book (and therefore one assumes that the judges were well aware) that the reflections are added in photoshop. That the rules allow this is one thing, but the photographer in this case was completely open about it at least.

  108. martino says:

    All a bit sad really isn’t it!

    It’s hard to know what to feel when this happens.
    If it was a genuine mistake (not reading the rules correctly), then it’s a tough lesson to learn. If it was a deliberate flout of the rules, then what happened should have happened. However, I would agree that this should have happened much sooner than it did, for which the organisers have to take the responsibility for. Maybe the right decision was reached at the end of the day, but the way it was handled has left a lot be desired, and I do wonder if this may put off entrants next year, as people will now never be quite sure if the winning entry is as it’s supposed to be. A case for a submission of the RAW file for winning entries? However, if you shoot in JPEG, I’m not sure this will work?

    I did happen to quite like the original winning image and as said above, David is still a talented photographer. I’m sure it wouldn’t have been my favourite from the one’s that made the book, but then again, none of the others have been either, but that’s not my decision!

    The horizon levels each side of the right hand boat don’t appear to be the same level either!

  109. It is tough to be caught manipulating when one is claiming an actual photograph with only cropping, contrast, color balance, sharpening, dust spotting, etc.

    I like the idea of including a RAW file as “proof”…think this would pretty much stop the undisclosed manipulations.

    That said, the artistic value of the image was great, just not with the rules of “originality” applied.

    I’ve done so much similar manipulations myself that I’d have to compare to RAW before submitting…

  110. Well done Alex on raising and doggedly pursuing the issues discussed here. 1st rule of competition photography – READ THE RULES. 2nd rule – STICK TO THEM!

  111. [...] die ganze Diskussion, welche letztendlich in der Disqualifikation David Byrne mündete, durch die tiefgehende Bildanalyse des Fotoprofis Alex Neil der darüber schrieb, wie stark das Siegerfoto verändert wurde. In die [...]

  112. [...] Alex Nail has written a very complete article if you would like to read more Alex Nail’s Blog [...]

  113. Easel Adams says:

    I really feel for DB for being stripped and I hope he bounces back. I think the TAV organisers need to have a review and have a good look at their core values and the processes they have in place to promote the same. Taste is completely subjective but some of the winning images down the years have been a mystery to many people. I’d suggest that TAV ask for the RAW file for all shortlisted images and even telephone interview the winners to confirm they have played by the rules. I know someone that won the classic view category a few years ago and he was left pretty flat when no-one from TAV made any contact, other than by email, nor make any arrangement to meet him at the private view, even to receive the award/cheque. When his copy of the book dropped through the post it was simply signed ‘Congratualtions, Charlie Waite’ – he hadn’t even personalised it. They used three of his images in the book and I think he felt used.

  114. Dom says:

    Are we to assume that the competition organisers get to pocket the £10K prize money and increase their profits as a result of this shambles? There should be real financial penalties for their incompetence – refund the entry fees!

  115. [...] photographers took issue with David Byrne’s image, not least Alex Nail and Tim Parkin. A look at the ‘Talk Photography’ forum thread tells a sorry tale [...]

  116. [...] a imagem submetida por David Byrne e chegaram a conclusões curiosas. A primeira foi a de que a imagem de Byrne é quase idêntica à de um outro fotógrafo, de nome Peter Clark – mas, curiosamente, a falta de originalidade não foi invocada como fundamento da [...]

  117. Fortunato says:

    I agree with Dom. They should refund the entry fees. There are no winners this year. I can just see a competition which need to be reviewed, updated and changed in many side.

    - if it’s a landscape competition I don’t understand why at least half of the pictures I can hardly show the landscape photography side.

    - if it’s a Photography competition I don’t understand why heavy digital manipulations are admitted for the “Your view” category. Do we need digital art to make something original and creative? I don’t think that’s a good message for a beginner.

    - I can understand it’s actually a huge business, but why are most of the judges NON photographers?

    I hope next year something is going to change otherwise I would probably save some money.


  118. [...] prize is above, and the takedown of the photographer has been widespread. A lot of it started with Alex Neil, who posted about how the winning photograph was heavily influenced by other work. The allegations [...]

  119. Steve M says:

    I hope the publicity generated by this story goes some small way to changing the current obsession with style over content. The image simply looks artificial which detracts from everything else, it leaves no room for any emotional dialogue.

  120. Simon says:

    Alex I sounded harsher than I meant – probably was having a grumpy old git day (one of the penalties of increasing age)

    Some of your shots ( like the one I mention in the ps are great.

    Re topic under discussion, I agree intent is all. Trying to copy someone else’s work is one thing, inspiration is another

    Still a fin line though, e.g. what if you’re trying to emulate someone else’s style ( something that most students do) and by chance you create a masterpiece. is it plagerism or not.

    All too complicated for me but an interesting discussion nonetheless

  121. [...] Y Eric, dar una respuesta tan visceral sin informarse previamente no es muy prudente. Landscape Photographer of the Year 2012 (‘Take A View’ LPOTY 2012) – Dartmoor Land… Responder Citando googletag.cmd.push(function() { [...]

  122. chris says:

    Hi Alex,
    Just catching up on all this, as usual I,m a bit slow!
    Can I congratulate you on speaking out here, and generally show support.
    personally I like to avoid shots that have been done and done in the past, but thats just me, nothing wrong with it, just prefer to avoid it.
    If the organisers and judges wish to allow new skies, lots of cloning etc, thats fine, but I doubt that it it is long term winning strategy, figure much more of this and it will just lose interest from sponsors and the public alike
    a dead end street.

    ps love your Fisherfield forrest suff!

  123. [...] la foto ganadora del concurso "Landscape Photographer of the Year" por exceso de retoque Landscape Photographer of the Year 2012 (‘Take A View’ LPOTY 2012) – Dartmoor Land… Y por ultimo decir que esta forma de robar fotografias me parece lamentable y [...]

  124. John P says:

    Methinks Fine art photographers should refrain from entering into competitions, these are organised and judged by who we now see may be lacking sufficient and appreciative knowledge. Life is not a competion.

  125. Chris says:

    Hi Alex,

    Wasnt sure if this came up as i didnt read it all but has it been possible to claim your entry fee back in the past? I cant believe how much photoshoping has gone on in many of the category winners, how is it possible for those who have worked so hard to find and photograph the natural drama of Britain when so many are literally borrowing skies, moving the suns position and cloning there way to perfection??


  126. Andrew Williams says:

    LPoTY represents a school of landscape photography that’s purely illustrative. I’ve never seen an image among the winning entries (even among the commended) that tells the viewer anything they don’t know already. Having said that, we are a nation which generally lacks a visual aesthetic so perhaps LPoTY is no less than we deserve.


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