That Professional Photography You Love is Probably Fake

Learning how to professionally develop digital photography is hard. It’s taken me years to learn how to set the colors, tone curve, and detail just right. It’s even harder when developing astrophotography, and I’m still learning. In weeding out the good techniques from the “faking it” ones, my eyes have also learned to spot a lot of the fakes. You may be disappointed to learn that quite a lot of today’s professional, award-winning photographers and ambassadors have come to depend on techniques that fake their photos, in order to earn those awards – and successfully doing it. Many, brazenly enough so as to teach others the same through expensive workshops and paid tutorials. A good photo will usually have a little bit of embellishment worked in, just like a good story does, but today’s landscape photography has gotten almost as fraudulent as food photography, and companies like Epson, Zeiss, and Canon are rewarding professionals for creating sometimes blatant fakes of otherwise mediocre shots. A lot of professionals are faking it just as badly as amateurs with photoshop, they’re just better at it.

It’s difficult to explain the extent of this endemic problem without outing the professional photographers who depend on them for their livelihood, and my goal here isn’t to make enemies or to publicly shame anyone. Without providing samples to prove my point, I’ll simply give a few examples of typical fakes, and explain some of the techniques they’re using.

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Tourism is Changing the Face of Iceland

There’s a long held belief in the concept of “leave no trace” when visiting a place, but there’s one very noticeable artifact western tourists have been leaving on Iceland that you unfortunately can’t simply pick up and throw away. With tourism growing 500% in Iceland over the past decade, western tourists have placed higher demands on the country than it’s been capable of adsorbing without affecting the country’s foundations. While the economy in Reykjavik has no doubt experienced a boost, this has come at the expense of cultural and geographical changes that are not necessarily welcome by many Icelanders.

In 2010, the number of international visitors to Iceland was 488,600. As of 2017, that number swelled to 2,224,600. As a result, Iceland built out infrastructure. Significant infrastructure including large excavation efforts to build attractions, tour bus companies, and expansion of roads and bridges. During this period, local economies also adapted by building out their own tourist infrastructure within previously rural, untouched cities. The end result has been a very large tourist industry that has both changed the culture and the face of Iceland to conform more closely to western tourist ideals. Much of this change has been driven from the western sense of tourist entitlement which has changed local economies in many ways that are foreign to Icelanders. Money is a powerful thing, and because the economy has become so dependent on tourism, rather than the fishing and farming industry that Iceland used to depend on, it’s become easy to manipulate a country into change that many otherwise wouldn’t want.

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