In a way, it is similar to watching a glorious Olympic athlete win a gold medal, only to have the medal be stripped away because a performance-enhancing drug test came back positive. Photographer Harry Fisch, experienced this firsthand when his winning entry for the 2012 National Geographic Photo Contest was disqualified 72-hours after it was awarded because of his unfortunate decision to clone out a plastic bag from the far right side of the photo.
Here is the original unretouched photo that was submitted to National Geographic upon winning the contest.
While the contest rules allow the use of dodging and burning, it specifically prohibit the digital removal and addition of elements in the photograph. Had Fisch burned the bag to complete darkness or simply crop the bag out, he would have been fine. Harry pleaded his case to the juries and to Monica Corcoran, the editor of the magazine, but the ruling was not overturned.
In Corcoran’s e-mail back to Fisch, she stated that “it is unfortunate you did not crop the bag or just leave it in, as it really had no impact either way.”
This costly lesson is an example that we can learn from. It is important to read the rules of a contest, especially one that is as major and as strict as the National Geographic contest.
You can read the rest of the story from the article in Nomad Expediciones Fotográficas Blog: National Geographic, how I won and lost the contest in less than one second
Thanks to Peta Pixel for the find!
Image credits: Harry Fisch