Organisers of Landscape Photographer of the Year have promised to review their judging procedures after they were forced to disqualify the winning image.

Picture credit: David Byrne

On Friday, Landscape Photographer of the Year 2012 winner David Byrne was stripped of his title and £10,000 winnings after judges ruled he used too much image manipulation.

Byrne has since said he did not read the rules, admitting that he digitally added clouds and ‘cloned out small details’ on a b&w image of Lindisfarne Castle in Northumberland which triumphed over thousands of other entries.

However, he claims the changes he made were ‘not major’.

Byrne told Amateur Photographer that he has received many emailed messages of support since being disqualified.

‘I don’t feel I have done anything wrong with the photo – adding clouds and removing small boats from the harbour in the background was a natural thing to do in my eyes,’ he said.

‘I did not remove anything that was fixed down and if you stand in that spot my photo is what you will see.’

Certain image editing, including HDR and the ‘joining together of multiple frames’, is allowed in all categories.

But, competition rules state that for ‘Classic view’ – the section in which Byrne’s image had been entered – ‘the integrity of the subject must be maintained and the making of physical changes to the landscape is not permitted’.

Banned editing procedures include removal of fences, moving trees and stripping in sky from another image.

Byrne’s triumphant photo had drawn stinging criticism from photographers online.

Photographers Tim Parkin and Alex Nail were quick to cast doubt over certain elements of Byrne’s entry, including the way sunlight falls on the scene.

Disqualifying the winner, competition founder Charlie Waite said on 2 November: ‘This is extremely regrettable and it appears there was no deliberate intention to deceive the judges.

‘But, the level of manipulation means this photograph gained an unfair advantage in this category and in winning the overall competition.’

Byrne admitted: ‘Unfortunately, I did not read the regulations and certain editing, such as adding clouds and cloning out small details, is not allowed.’

Writing on his website after being stripped of his title, he said: ‘While I don’t think what I have done to the photo is wrong in any way, I do understand it’s against the regulations so accept the decision. I apologise for any inconvenience caused.’

Byrne said he has never passed off his photographs as “record” shots.

‘The changes I made were not major and if you go to the locations you will see everything is there as presented – I did not remove permanent structures etc and the only reason this has come about has been due to my openness about how and what I do to my images. I am proud of my work and stand by it.’

Charlie Waite added: ‘The integrity of the competition is very important to all involved and it was clear that disqualification was the only course of action open to us.

‘We will be reviewing our checking processes to ensure that such issues are picked up earlier in the judging process for 2013 and beyond.’

Meanwhile, a photo called ‘Tenement Buildings at Port Glasgow, Inverclyde’ by Simon Butterworth, has been confirmed as the new winner of Landscape Photographer of the Year 2012.

Butterworth’s photo was the next highest scoring entry across all four categories.

More than 100 of the best entries will go on show in the Take a view – Landscape Photographer of the Year 2012 exhibition at the National Theatre in London from 12 November 2012-12 January 2013.

A feature article about this year’s competition appears in Amateur Photographer‘s issue dated 10 November 2012, which goes on sale on tomorrow.

BREAKING NEWS: UK-based photographer wins £12k portrait prize

The new competition winner. Picture credit: Simon Butterworth

  • Julie Taylor

    I agree with both Brian and CosmicD! What annoys me is why did they award it and take it back, it is like winning Olympics and being stripped from the award. Please award it correctly in the first place!

  • CosmicD

    Replacing a whole sky is pretty major editing in my book, and a massively unfair advantage. If you can’t get it right in camera then it’s not really a photograph anymore is it ?

  • brian mcdonnell

    i despair. what did the judges see in simon butterworths image that warranted it first prize? there have been better images in the APOTY competition. is there any hope left for decent images?

  • john hallett

    Can’t you ask Damien what he thinks about it? He’s on the judging panel after all…

  • Paul wheeler

    While not being a huge fan of too much manipulation I have to say I find the original winning picture absolutely stunning! OK, the photographer admits he did not take sufficient care with reading the rules BUT, a great image, never the less. All this raises a significant question in my mind, in this age of computers where do we draw the line at what is acceptable and what is not. Even more taxing, how do we police that line?

  • Libby Stack

    Today any photo submitted is a judgment call. The major contests should either just require Camera Raw files or make it an editing free for all and be done with it. Because when you allow “some” editing, peoples’ interpretation of “some” differs vastly.

  • Brian Dicks

    I really feel for David. A sky is not part of a LANDscape and taking out clutter is what we all do. What is the point of spending loads of money on computers, software, and printers if all we can do is take “record” shots. We may as well go back to slide film.

  • Paul Chambers

    I agree its a good image but i would consider that Architectural and not Landscape

  • Nadine Illingworth

    This is not a landscape not a field in site?!?!?! It’s architecture. Please abide by your won rules. lol

  • Robert Gould

    Therefore an Ansel Adams landscape photograph would have been disqualified because of too much tweeting in the darkroom! I think not. In my opinion image creation does not end when you press the shutter.