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The prize-winning, badly Photoshopped photograph (all screenshots by the author via Facebook) (click to enlarge)

Hastily photoshopping a graphic of an airplane into a shot of some abstracted architecture could win you a Nikon prize.

Yesterday, Nikon Singapore posted an announcement on its Facebook page congratulating a photographer named Chay Yu Wei for his perfectly timed shot of an airplane flying above a ladder in Chinatown.

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

It wasn’t long, however, before internet commenters pointed out that the plane had been shoddily pasted in. As PetaPixel pointed out, you don’t have to look too closely to see a white blob surrounding the plane’s silhouette that’s mismatched from the sky, and changing the photo’s levels makes the copy-and-paste job ridiculously clear. Photographers had plenty to say about the matter. Many tried their hand at photoshopping Yu Wei’s ladder image, replacing the plane with everything from Godzilla to a bride (and leaving their creations in the comments on the Nikon Facebook post).

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Of course, this isn’t the first time an award-winning photograph has been proven to be doctored or staged. In 2010, the Natural History Museum’s wildlife photographer of the year was stripped of his nearly $15,000 prize after judges discovered he’d brought in a tame Iberian wolf to stage his shot of a species rarely found in the wild. Last year, the jury of the prestigious World Press Photo contest stripped an Italian photographer of a first prize after his photograph of his cousin having sex in the back of a car at night turned out to have been staged. And the godfather of all staged photographs might be Robert Capa’s “Falling Soldier” (1936). While a trolley bag isn’t quite on the same level as these prizes, our lucky Yu Wei is carrying on a long and storied tradition.

Nikon Singapore has not yet removed its Facebook post congratulating Yu Wei on his Photoshopped work. In the meantime, watch out for Minecraft planes overhead.

h/t PetaPixel

Carey Dunne is a Brooklyn-based writer covering arts and culture. Her work has appeared in The Guardian, The Baffler, The Village Voice, and elsewhere.

5 replies on “Badly Photoshopped Photo Wins Nikon Award and Internet Freaks Out”

  1. Who cares? An image is an image, photography is and always has been a manmade artifact anyway, and digital makes anything possible and doing it easier than ever. The real problem here is the endless series of awards competitions, the same charade movies and music burden us with, a self-indulgent political process of who knows who, not what is excellent, done for economics, not art.

  2. That is hilarious. Terrorists staged and photo shopped several shots close on the heels of 9/11 trying for pictorial indictments of Israel. Major news networks in the U.S. (and Europe) immediately picked them up telegraphing the depth of their deficient and inept journalistic credentials.

  3. Nikon people would…yeesh.

    Okay, okay, sorry people no hard feelings! Just couldn’t help myself lol 😉

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