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Aquascaping Contest Scandal

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20 May 2020
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Kew Gardens
In IAPLC 2018 people got upset by the grand price work closely resembling a layout made by Takashi Amano years before. This year IAPLC rank 4 has been disqualified from another contest, the AQSC, a Spanish competition, due to evidence of photoshop use. Here is the layout in question and sorry for the poor quality.
F5DFE817-6AC2-4402-8F68-EDA49399E45C.jpeg

And this is the Statement made by AQSC on Instagram @aqscontest
5FD437DF-A580-4786-9DDA-449236D7DE22.jpeg

And the evidence of photoshop found on @salvador.maciastorres , but I don’t know his relationship to the contest.
59CE805D-E50E-4F5F-A940-3D76840BBD17.jpeg
DC3D03AC-F4F9-4658-ABAB-78A46A863D76.jpeg
8E78CA55-9569-48D0-97C9-C2EEE49386B9.jpeg
276B01FE-83A9-4989-A839-5F3619AF7135.jpeg
1D0FEB18-7925-46CD-9FD8-EB1C60B756AA.jpeg
82803BE6-B9DE-4B4A-A9F1-7780E646EEE5.jpeg


I haven’t seen any public reaction from the IAPLC or ADA, but I‘m sure they’ve been made aware.
 

Tim Harrison

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I find that incredibly sad; it's the total antithesis of Takashi Amano's Nature Aquarium and the spirit it was supposed to engender.
Even worse, for me it's a double corruption of those values, not only is it a diorama but also a photoshopped fantasy.
But I guess where there is competition there will always be cheats, unfortunately.
 

Nuno Gomes

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I find that incredibly sad; it's the total antithesis of Takashi Amano's Nature Aquarium and the spirit it was supposed to engender.
Even worse, for me it's a double corruption of those values, not only is it a diorama but also a photoshopped fantasy.
But I guess where there is competition there will always be cheats, unfortunately.

If a "nature aquarium" with mirrors inside will not be disqualified, I don't see why a photoshopped image should.....both should be out tbh
 

Nuno Gomes

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It's a bit different. Using photoshop for white balance etc is fine, but to clone, remove and just plain create something that was not/is not there is cheating

I agree, I just meant that we have very high ranking tanks that use artificial items, like Steven Chong's tank, and somehow I don't think that would fly if Mr. Amano were still among us.
 

glasscanvasart

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Though Diorama goes against the principles that Takashi Amano cultivated, the competition is not a Nature Aquarium contest. I would defend the use of ‘artificial’ items, for ‘natural’ albeit abstract, effects.
 

Tim Harrison

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zozo

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It was waiting for it... :) And who knows how often it already happened. I have seen incredible photoshop artists creating impeccable pieces of art indistinguishable from a real photograph.

The only way to get around it is by asking for the raw files from the camera... Checking the metadata in the file it will reveal any kind of altering, all 3th party software will leaf footprints in the metadata.

The only way around this is by taking a picture from a shopped picture... Thus we are never safe.

It's sad this happens, even sadder are the people getting away with it. I'm not so sure if they proudly take their secret to the grave. After all, in reality, they didn't win a thing... I've met a few crooks in my life (in my bartender days) and all of them have a facade and actually are unhappy frustrated people deep down inside.

(I remember a story from 2003 about Microsoft Windows XP Operating System, it contains audio files, created with illegal software with the famous criminal hacker's nickname as footprint still in the file. Uncle Bill, fond of fighting and protecting against illegal software caught launching his baby on the market in cahoots with illegal hackers. (Back then i did check it out and the files indeed are in it)

Swallow the Red pill...
 
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Wookii

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This is all very disheartening to see. Why would someone be so desperate to win a competition like this by cheating.

Though Diorama goes against the principles that Takashi Amano cultivated, the competition is not a Nature Aquarium contest. I would defend the use of ‘artificial’ items, for ‘natural’ albeit abstract, effects.

Its not a nature aquarium contest, but the scoring structure is laid out to suggest that only nature aquariums should reasonably expect to be in the top 50. Over 60% of the points are available to the “Recreation of a natural habitat for fish” and the “Presentation of natural atmosphere in layout works”:

1604828000066.png


No matter your thoughts on diorama scapes, it should be very difficult to allocate many points to one under those two categories. Somehow the judges still manage to though.
 

Nuno Gomes

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Though Diorama goes against the principles that Takashi Amano cultivated, the competition is not a Nature Aquarium contest. I would defend the use of ‘artificial’ items, for ‘natural’ albeit abstract, effects.

Even though I much prefer the classic NA style, I'm not against Diorama layouts entering and winning, I'm against artificial items in the layout and of course, against fraudulent editing.
 

Nick potts

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Its not a nature aquarium contest, but the scoring structure is laid out to suggest that only nature aquariums should reasonably expect to be in the top 50. Over 60% of the points are available to the “Recreation of a natural habitat for fish” and the “Presentation of natural atmosphere in layout works”:

View attachment 156226

No matter your thoughts on diorama scapes, it should be very difficult to allocate many points to one under those two categories. Somehow the judges still manage to though.

I've not seen that before and didn't know the scoring criteria. Do the judges just completely ignore it then? The tank in the op should have scored a max of 30/100
 

zozo

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What exactly had he done? Hard to tell!
The photographer used Photoshop Clonestamp tool... Then for example if you want to edit the flashlight flare or reflections in the glass from the image by selecting a region next to it and clone that part as a layover. Or copied a section, with the Magic Wand Tool, moved it, rotated it a few degrees and merged it back into the image. :)

See 1st,2nd and 4th circle, they are all identical clones
276b01fe-83a9-4989-a839-5f3619af7135-jpeg.jpg



If used smartly you will not see it or very hard to notice... Obviously this editing was done by an amateur... :) He did a bit too much.
It's like cooking, the art of omission and do not clone that close together.

But there are many other ways in photoshop to push an image over the edge without seeing it is edited. For example, if there are dark spots in the image under overhangs in the hardscape with less contrast and pale colours. Then you can duplicate the image edit the brightness, contrast colours etc. etc. Then overlay both images and erase the pale section to reveal the edited section below it. Then merge both layers as 1 and you're done.

I bet my life on it this technique is used over again in contest images... Simply because the camera's never can see what the human eyes will see when it comes to detail and light intensity... There can/will always be shadows showing more obvious in the picture than in real life. Now, this kind of editing isn't really altering the layout in its true form, but only highlighting sections that wouldn't be obvious and hidden from view without editing.
 
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mort

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I'm not familiar with the contest, it isn't something I follow but I have looked at the aquariums in the similar biotope competition and they always have a video of the tank. It would surely be both interesting to people following the contest and to promote fairness, to have a video of each tank as part of the competition.
 

zozo

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Back in the days, before the internet and international competition we had (maybe still have I dunno actually) national unions competition for Dutch scapes (Anything, not Dutch wasn't even considered an aquarium). Then you got personal visite at home from the judges, tearing your aquarium apart and throwing you under the bus if so...

I remember one rule, less then 12 fish of a schooling sp. isn't considered a school and critical minus points. If you claim it are leftovers from the previous population, you had to provide solid proof. They were pretty critical and strict. :) Lighting, filtering etc. etc. they looked at and judged it all.
 
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