Nikon Singapore promised to tighten its image review standards after it unknowingly chose a doctored image as the winner of a photography contest.
In January, in a Facebook post, Nikon Singapore announced that Singapore man Chay Yu Wei won their contest with an image titled “Look Up,” which showed a passenger jet flying above a large ladder in Chinatown, Singapore. However, Yu Wei later admitted to the photography news website Peta Pixel that he’d superimposed the jetliner onto his Chinatown photograph with the computer app PicsArt and then posted the resultant montage on Instagram.
Though he declined to respond to questions from iMediaEthics about the deception and photo, Yu Wei issued a statement to Peta Pixel, saying, “That’s how I use Instagram, sometime it’s to showcase the work I’m proud of, sometimes just to have fun,” he said. “This case, that small plane was just for fun and it was not meant to bluff anyone. I would have done it with photoshop if I really meant to lie about it.”
Nikon Singapore has since deleted its Facebook post about the winner, and Yu Wei has withdrawn his photo, New Straits Times reported. They added a follow-up Facebook post on Jan. 31 explaining why they disqualified the image for fakery: “‘Look Up’ should not have a place beside other good contributions from the community that represent this standard.”
Yu Wei apologized publicly to Nikon. “I crossed the line by submitting the photo for a competition,” he said. “I meant it as a joke and I’m really sorry to Nikon for disrespecting the competition. It is a mistake and I shouldn’t have done that. I also shouldn’t have jokingly answered Nikon that I caught the plane in mid-air and should have just clarified that the plane was edited in using PicsArt. This is my fault and I sincerely apologise to Nikon, to all Nikon Photographers, and to the photography community as general.”
Nikon responded to reader complaints about the photo and its original decision to award the fake photo, saying that “moving forward, we will tighten our image review process.”
The BBC noted Nikon Singapore’s “terms of the competition say the photos must be original works, though doesn’t specifically bar editing.”
Photography news site Peta Pixel flagged how you can tell the photo was doctored — there is a white box around the plane. See below, via Peta Pixel.
Yu Wei posted the photo on Instagram here on Jan. 10.
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The BBC posted a timeline of the controversy.
iMediaEthics has written to Nikon to ask more about it choosing a fake photo as a contest winner.
Nikon Singapore said:
“Regarding your query, we believe we have made a mistake in our image review process. We will take every effort to tighten this process as we move forward to avoid similar situations in the future, and to ensure that we stay true to the standards that our community has come to expect from us.”
Hat Tip: Asia One
UPDATE: 2/19/2016 11:18 AM EST with Nikon Singapore’s response