Photo contest winner revealed as fake amid social media storm

Photo contest winner revealed as fake amid social media storm

The winning image in a popular amateur photography competition has been exposed as a fake.

Look Up, by Singaporean photographer Chay Yu Wei, was declared the winner in the January edition of a monthly social media contest run by camera company Nikon.

In a post since removed from Facebook, the brand said: “Yu Wei chanced upon a set of ladders while on a photo walk with his friends in Chinatown, and thought the view would make an interesting perspective.

Look Up

A photo posted by Yu Wei (@yuuuuuwei) on Jan 10, 2016 at 6:00am PST

“Little did he expect to catch an airplane in mid-air.”

However, within hours of the announcement, amateur photographers and social media users were pointing out that the image was a composite and that the plane had been added afterwards using Photoshop.

The image has been removed from the Facebook page, but on Yu Wei’s Instagram account, run under the moniker yuuuuuwei, users pointed out that there was a box of a slightly different shade of white around the aircraft, and that the plane itself appeared pixelated.

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One user wrote: “It’s so immensely clear that this photo isn’t real… It’s unfair to the numerous other people enduring devastating conditions for a photo, whilst you sit there in the comfort of your bedroom photoshopping.”

Others were more forgiving: “Nobody’s perfect, everyone makes mistakes.”

Yu Wei’s image, which has more than 800 likes, became yet more controversial when it emerged that a similar photo had been posted on Instagram a year ago.

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The classic lookup #putaplaneonit @instagood #featuremeinstagood

A photo posted by Yik Keat (@leeyikkeat) on Jan 20, 2015 at 5:23am PST

User leeyikkeat, or Lee Yik Keat, posted an image captioned as “the classic lookup” with the hashtag, #putaplaneonit.

He told the BBC: “I declared to my audience that it was two images into one edit.

“I think this kind of editing is fine as long as it is declared, sometimes creative edits can spark other people’s imagination so it can be useful.”

Indeed, it seems Yu Wei has taken a similar photo before, with an image posted on Instagram last year, with a plane at its centre.

????, ????? ?????, ?????????????? #vscocam #vsco #sgvsco #vscosg #instasg #igsg #sgig #exploresingapore #createexploretakeover #createexplore #RIPLKY #thankyouLKY #rememberingLKY #LeeKuanYew

A photo posted by Yu Wei (@yuuuuuwei) on Mar 24, 2015 at 4:40pm PDT

The Instagram user has, however, since garnered some credit for coming clean, posting an image that said: “Dear fellow photographers, I’m sorry.”

Hello everyone, This goes out to everyone who has seen my Chinatown plane post. I’m sorry! This is going to be quite a read so that’s the first thing I would like you to read if you don’t have time to read below; I would like to apologize for the mistake I have done. I’ve been quiet so far because I’ve been trying to contact Nikon and have been waiting for them to contact me back to discuss about this. I understand that what I would say might affect Nikon’s brand hence I decided to wait for their advice. However, since more than 24 hours have passed and I have not managed to have discussions with Nikon, I think I shouldn’t wait and it’s important for me to come out to address this issue. Like one user commented, I was on a photo walk in Chinatown and I chanced upon that set of ladders. I snapped a picture of it, and subsequently felt that a plane at that spot would make for an interesting point of view. Hence, I inserted the plane with PicsArt and uploaded it to Instagram. That’s how I use Instagram, sometime it’s to showcase the work I’m proud of, sometimes just to have fun. 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, but no, it was a playful edit using the PicsArt app and uploaded to Instagram. When my friends commented with some questions, I also answered it jokingly, saying it’s the last flight of the day and saying it was my lucky day that I did not wait too long. At that time, of course everyone who read it took it as a joke, before this issue arrived and it is taken seriously. However, I made a mistake by not keeping it to Instagram as a casual social media platform. I crossed the line by submitting the photo for a competition. 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.

A photo posted by Yu Wei (@yuuuuuwei) on Jan 30, 2016 at 5:06am PST

The caption explained how he added the plane “just for fun” but said he “crossed the line” by submitting the image to a competition.

“This is my fault and I sincerely apologise to Nikon, to all Nikon photographers, and to the photography community as general [sic].”

Nikon has also issued a statement, explaining its decision to remove Look Up from its page.

Dear fans,We are heartened that the community is so passionate about maintaining the highest standards of pure…

Posted by
Nikon on 
Sunday, 31 January 2016

“Thank you once again for your candour, your honesty and the continued support you have shown us,” it read.

“We are heartened that the community is so passionate about maintaining the highest standards of purest photography.”

While Nikon and Yu Wei may not have enjoyed the drama over the last few weeks, the internet did, with a number of photoshop fans putting their skills to use.

Photo contest winner revealed as fake amid social media storm  Photo: Glenn Guan

Photo contest winner revealed as fake amid social media storm  Photo: John Hrynluk

Photo contest winner revealed as fake amid social media storm  Photo: Render Brant

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