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Cheating in Aquascaping Contests

Discussion in 'General Aquascaping and Planted Tank Discussions' started by John N., Oct 14, 2010.

  1. John N.

    John N. Administrator Staff Member

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    This is a very touchy subject and I don't want anyone to point fingers at any one person(s)...

    With that said, I would like this to be a discussion on what does it mean to cheat in an aquascaping contest? How much photoshopping is permitted before someone is considered a "cheater"?

    Some of the top winners of many contests have access to professional photographers (or very skilled friends with expensive equipment)....compared to people with cheap point-and-shoot cameras. With that disparity and since the final photo is so very important, doesn't that put someone's aquascape at a higher advantage?

    Can contests really be judged evenly with all these variables? :ehhh:

    -John N.
     

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  2. Dabrits

    Dabrits New Member

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    Unfortunately, aquascaping contests don't seem to be aquascaping contests as much as they are photo contests. Honestly, post production should be kept to a minimum, but to define those lines is very difficult and can be arbitrary.
     
  3. Steven Chong

    Steven Chong Aspiring Aquascaper

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    There is such a thing as tactful post production, and there is badly or overdone done post production. A keen judge should be held accountable for judging the difference.

    Honestly though, Aquascaping is an art, it is design, and art contests are held to judge excellence of presentation. While photography skills certainly should not be the primary factor, it is inevitable that it good photography/editing will leave a stronger/better impression.

    I personally find this completely acceptable-- if you are a true artist, you care about design, and should care about how your work is presented.

    Why do you think ADA equipment is so popular anyway? It is to enhance the presentation and design of the aquarium-- just like good photography or photoshop skills. I rather judges focus on the overall excellence than try to confuse themselves worrying about some "ethical" issues or sob stories hovering above the photography/editing.

    Let's face it-- overdone photoshop looks bad, tactful photoshopping doesn't. It's not like you can add a flawless foreground of HC into a photo and have the editing go unnoticed.

    Whether or not you got the acceptable photo skills to compete, you still have to make a killer aquascape. Looking around these forums, it is much more common to see tanks that are terrifically photographed that are still extremely boring/mediocre than it is to see aquariums I'm dying for a better photo of.
     
  4. Crispino Ramos

    Crispino Ramos New Member

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    Unfortunately, aquascaping contests aren't done in person but rather by looking at still pictures. Most other art contests are done by looking at the actual art work, performer, flower arrangement, plant specimen, group of singers, etc.
     
  5. l p

    l p Aspiring Aquascaper

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    I agree with Steven that aquascaping is art ... and like every other artist, aquascaper should make an effort to better present their work.

    Photography is our presentation to the world and I see nothing wrong in using Photoshop to slightly improve images, by using options like sharpen, brightness, crop etc. Everybody do that.

    On the other hand, it is unacceptable to me that someone is using Photoshop to change the content of a photography by adding non-existent objects or lately mirroring the photo. I wonder what's wrong with these people to do something like that? :-?

    Much better and more fair option would be to require each participant a brief video of the aquarium, along with a photo, to verify authenticity and to see how aquascape really looks like.
     
  6. biguran

    biguran New Member

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    This is a on going debate in my forum also, should the picture be manipulated or not!

    Me, I always look at the "content" of the tank and aquascape, we all know what color are the plants so very sharp image (semi profesional) has the same weight as the one taken with a cell phone, what matters is the effort made IN tne tank.
    You can dress a donkey in gold, its still a donkey :)
    The idea of a video like Ip sugested is great!
     
  7. anemone-clown

    anemone-clown New Member

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    Hi John,

    I open a new topic in my own french website : you're right with opening your thread. Thanks to debate for those contests.
     
  8. Shadow

    Shadow Moderator Staff Member

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    I think the problem with photoshop or other image editing is it is very difficult to catch. Look at the movie Avatar, all those landscapes are computer generated and it so realistic. I wont be surprise if someone submit computer generated Aquascaping in near future :)).

    There are many thing that can be done using image editor such as enhance the fish color or even change the fish color. Is this still considered as OK? or cheating?

    I guess it is boil down to the scaper conscience but the temptation is so great :))
     
  9. MonoBarrientos

    MonoBarrientos New Member

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    hi, in my opinion, the photo is a "medium" for show the aquascape, for that reason must be better quality as possible.....and if contrast, brightness or some like that is not "the best", retouch them without change the nature of the layout is ok, no cheat (but great changes for example in the color of fish..maybe could be considered cheat)

    but, change or improve any thing of the layout nature with programs, in my opinion is not "fair-play" behaviour for aquascaping contest (cheat). Shadow, as you say, the problem is to difficult to catch.

    Saludos!
     
  10. Xavier

    Xavier ASW Sponsor

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    I'm not sure it's as huge an issue as it's being made out to be - clear cut, blatant cheating as defined by the rules and guidelines of a contest are contemptible, of course.

    However - the latest winner didn't even really have all that great of a picture. If you -really- want to get into it, there was an almost unnoticeable presence of fish to compliment the aquascape.

    While personally, this aquascape was not my favorite, professionally I am not a judge and my personal opinion doesn't matter. Art is subjective - we will never agree on the winner of an art competition, we are just subject to the whims of the judges favor in terms of what happens to appeal to them that year.

    Obviously, blatant photoshopping of objects that just do not exist implemented into the photo is not acceptable. However, there's a very fine line here and it's easy to get over-exuberant. At what point do we stop? No touch-ups in photoshop, well what about boom lighting when you take a photo? What about placing a background behind the aquarium to block the wall behind it? Using Mist-back tanks for the same effect? Using creative diffused lighting behind the layout to show an impression that isn't necessarily there? How about an upper limit on the quality of camera you're allowed to use?

    In all honesty - an aquarium layout is rarely, if ever, in the condition in which it is photographed in when done for a competition - it's a singular moment with idealized outside variables to make it so, outside of that there are periods of algae, fish death, grow out, It's all pretty fleeting for the layout to be in the condition that it's primed at it's best for the contest. Even the fish schooling in the pictures aren't always schooling like that, they typically have to be encouraged to do so (is that cheating?). Well, we can't all have access to the same layout materials - is someone else having a material you can't get also cheating? Or how about plants - if I can't get a certain type of plant in America, but you can get it where you live, is you using that plant cheating or more accurately, unfair?

    There's a point where we have to ask ourselves - are we just whining because we didn't win, or the winner wasn't the one we liked the most? (Don't answer that. That's not a question to be answered. That's just a reflective question and even if it was answered, it would probably be an unintentional lie).

    Again, blatant, clearly defined cheating is absolutely not acceptable.

    I believe that everyone should take the best possible picture and have the best quality image of their completed layouts as possible because that is the only evidence that will survive the layout itself - our art is extremely, extremely fleeting, once it's gone it's gone and the best you have is a photograph.
     
  11. MonoBarrientos

    MonoBarrientos New Member

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    hi,
    the iaplc winner is OK..(why mencioned him??). nobody recognizes cheat in that picture...is a very good picture of a great aquarium.

    ----

    do not exagerate, take the picture in the best moment, or to use carpets behind the aquarium, use hairblowers for surface movement, take off the heathers and filter returns, etc etc obviously are not cheat .....are reasonable "hints" or maneuvers for obtain acceptable pictures.... all aquascapers want to show his tanks with best pictures as possible..contests are like you asist to elegant party; you want look good and clean, and no cheat in that ....is a normal behaviour.

    in my opinion cheat is another thing, implicates intention, for example change the orientation of a image for show same old tank as different new tank (false improve) , add plants or fish in the pictures or something like that ...

    Saludos!
     
  12. CHUNTC

    CHUNTC New Member

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    I think with the cheating Aquascaping will die and the ego seekers will win. And to what end. I am not going to show my scapes, so to me cheating should stop. If you win you win if not, try harder next time. I am an agriculturist but not an artist - that's why I am not showing my scapes.^:)^
     
  13. Najoh

    Najoh New Member

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    You don't even need to make an aquascape, just make it in photoshop.
     
  14. doubleott05

    doubleott05 New Member

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    +1 to francis i like thoes points

    its all about ethics really. are you doing something ethical or not. (some people may not know any better) but in todays hobby they should.

    i admit i have a crappy camera and my lighting might suck but i get my tank as best as i can with the materials/plants i have and call it a day. and if i win i win and if i dont then i reorganize and try again. but i have never even thought about cheating.
     
  15. J House

    J House Moderator Staff Member

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    I don't think that many blatantly cheat in scaping contests. I think scapers as a whole are a pretty honest bunch. /:)

    Besides from the actual photo manipulation, what actually constitutes 'cheating'. We all know that fish are added before the shot so they school effectively. Is this cheating, not by the rules. Most advanced scapers have multiple tanks so what if in addition to fish being added before a photo they also added a group of stems from another tank that were at the perfect height and health for the scape. Is this cheating? It would be impossible to draw a line and then police what is cheating and what isn't.
     
  16. Steven Chong

    Steven Chong Aspiring Aquascaper

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    Here's a better question: Have you ever seen something that you would consider "cheating" that actually looked good because of that cheat?

    I know I haven't.

    If most of you, like me, haven't really seen the like (it's not like the animators from Pixar are getting in line to cheat aquascapes), than the point is moot, no?
     
  17. MonoBarrientos

    MonoBarrientos New Member

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  18. Shadow

    Shadow Moderator Staff Member

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    Cheating is only considered cheat if get caught :))
     
  19. Steven Chong

    Steven Chong Aspiring Aquascaper

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  20. Supercoley1

    Supercoley1 Moderator Staff Member

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