A question of ethics.

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A fellow user of this board, whose identity I won't reveal insists on e-mailing me over trivial things such as bad spelling and grammer. This all started because he took offence that I placed a message informing the board that I had certain items for sale.

Now, low and behold, he says that I'm unethical because of a certain image on my website.

He quotes.. "You profess high ethics, which can somehow be determined if one checks your website (how? because you can take the same picture in Canyon de Chelly that O'Sullivan did); Unquote.

Here is the link to the image that so disgruntles this chap. Take a look and see for yourself. Is this really unethical.. if so, where on earth does this leave the Landscape Photographer in 2001? If that is the case I suppose there is very little else for us to capture on film.


Leave you thoughts on the board.. I'd love to know you feelings on this subject.


-- Nigel Turner (npturner@earthlink.net), November 26, 2001


It is a common vantage point. Ansel Adams took a photo from nearly the same position, commenting as well on Sullivan's photo, and how similar his interpretation of it was to Sullivan's. Whether or not you were aware that this had been done before doesn't really have much to do with ethics at all.

-- George Huczek (ghuczek@sk.sympatico.ca), November 26, 2001.

I am trying but I can't, I can't resist it. It is 'lo and behold'. Sorry about that.

-- Richard C. Trochlil (trochlilbb@neumedia.net), November 26, 2001.

I was just reading the Michael and Paula site today because of a post I read on Azo and ran across an article Michael wrote about teaching photography (called "On Teaching Photography"). The short version is that everything HAS been photographed and a combination of emulating the greats and uniqueness should and must be used together for a photographer to develop his or her own style. While this article doesn't directly answer the question, I thought of it immediately when I read your post.

I've never been to Canyon de Chelly, but my guess is that there probably aren't a ton of great vantage points to take that photo from, and therefore doing what someone else has done in the past is inevitable.

Short answer, don't worry about it, but don't run off and photograph Delicate Arch, because that's been done. :)

-- Jennifer Waak (jen.waak@visi.com), November 26, 2001.


You didn't capture the same photons... you're clear. Vantage points are not the issue, every captures their own light.

-- Glenn C. Kroeger (gkroeger@trinity.edu), November 26, 2001.


A popular place with a limited number of vantage points is going to lead to a large number of similar photographs. What do you do in Yosemite Valley? Shoot it & enjoy. I see nothing unethical about your image. Besides, both AA & O'Sullivan made their images in B&W.

Years ago in a local gallery I saw a show of B&W photos that looked like the photographer found Ansel's tripod holes in Yosemite. I would say that that show borders on being plagarism when taken as a whole. A single photo does not.


-- Ted Brownlee (OMFBH@AOL.COM), November 26, 2001.

I believe that O'Sullivan is notorious for assuming credit for photographs that he did not actually take. Your photograph seems quite good, and very straight-forward as an image. (An actual print would certainly look much better than the web image.) I am sure that others have also seen this very beautiful site in a similar way. One might want an image that somehow has you as in individual photographer more in evidence. But that is another consideration, and aesthetic concerns need more space than these little forums can provide. I mean a real conversation in depth would be needed to even start to get close to first aesthetic principles. I do not see anything unethical about your photograph. Ii is a fine celebration of a special place. As they say, carry on.

-- Michael Alpert (alpert@umit.maine.edu), November 26, 2001.

The land is always changing. The light is never the same twice. Your film, materials and technique are different from O'Sullivan's. Above all, you are not O'Sullivan, and you do not live in O'Sullivan's age, and you have come after O'Sullivan, so your intentions cannot be the same as O'Sullivan's (even if you believed they were, they could not be). There is no ethical question here, at least with regards to plagiarism or anything of that nature, at all.

-- David Goldfarb (dgoldfarb@barnard.edu), November 26, 2001.

Hey Nigel, there is a little button in Outlook express called block sender, I recommend you use it and forget this bozo........ As to your picture, is fine, not unethical to take a pic from the same place as other have done! heck if that was the case nobody should take more pictures of Lower antelope!

-- Jorge Gasteazoro (jorgegm58@prodigy.net.mx), November 26, 2001.

yours is color and O'Sullivan's is black & white. As others have pinted out it is a pretty common view. I think you should out the person who is harassing you. Either that or just set an e-mail filter to block his incoming missives.

-- Ellis Vener Photography (ellis@ellisvener.com), November 26, 2001.

I will identify myself as the fellow user about whom Mr. Turner is apparently attempting to draw comment. I made the mistake of sending a PRIVATE email to him suggesting that he not advertise things for sale on the help forum. I was polite and to the point about it. This led to lectures on my need to "get a life," a claim that selling stuff wasn't revealed as a taboo by his search of the site rules (huh?) a claim to high ethics evidenced by his having a website (huh again? the Columbine killers had a website which proves...?) the interesting revelation that he was selling the same stuff on ebay at the same time he was trying to interest all of you folks in buying it (but wait, this was OK because he just wanted to know if you were interested, he never said he'd actually sell it to you, so he's got you there, etc. etc.). There was the grandiose claim that he was morally obligated to tell you all what he was selling, etc. I deleted the last several emails I got from him without reading them. There was an earlier thread (which was, thankfully, deleted) in which he took other people to task for criticizing his English. (It was YOUR FAULT for not speaking his way. The preferred spelling of grammar is "grammer," apparently, and if you don't know the right word then go ahead and use its second cousin.) I don't think I suggested and I did not mean to imply that placing your tripod where others have before is unethical, the point was that he claimed his website demonstrated his ethics which I couldn't quite comprehend. Troubled souls produce art all the time. (Placing your tripod in exactly the same spot is unoriginal, but not unethical per se, though it can happen, of course, that you work the landscape and find a spot you like that someone else also happened to settle upon as a preferred commposition. It can be plagarism or cooincidence.) Actually I liked some of his photos. His point that we are all done for and can't be original because this is 2001 is one I won't agree with. It may be hard to do if you put a pepper in a funnel and make that your starting point, but for the rest of nature I think it can be done. Nigel's behavior, however, is a little strange (this comment, like everything I say, is just my personal opinion) and whether he plays by the rules or not, don't have the nerve to attempt to educate him. Some people have one speed -- attack -- and if you annoy them by suggesting that this website isn't Ebay they have only one way of responding to you. The point of this post of his, I guess, is to have something to do since I started ignoring him. The idea is to take one sentence out of context and then publically post it to get comments from people who don't know what is going on so that he can say "tah dah" or whatever comes next with this person. He wouldn't really "love to know your opinion" unless it is his. You've been warned.

-- Kevin Crisp (KRCrisp@aol.com), November 26, 2001.

Well..... I think Kevin's response is very well thought out, I would like to see your response Niegel.

-- Jorge Gasteazoro (jorgegm58@prodigy.net.mx), November 26, 2001.

In reply to the message from Mr Crisp.

You were the one who lectured Mr Crisp. Luckily I still have all the emails, from both sides, and they show that I was polite, apologetic and humble in my repies to you. I'd be more than happy to publish them on here if you would like, then the readers can judge for themselves.

Have yourself a good day Mr Crisp.

-- Nigel Turner (npturner@earthlink.net), November 26, 2001.

Don't we have better things to do than take pot shots at each other? Encouragement, learning and sharing about photography seems to be a hallmark of this website. Please don't devolve it into something petty, personal and irrelevant. Thank you.

-- David Flockhart (d_flockhart@hotmail.com), November 26, 2001.

yeah I agree with David, lets move on, I don't think this is going to take us anywhere.

-- Jorge Gasteazoro (jorgegm58@prodigy.net.mx), November 26, 2001.

My point exactly David, I wasn't taking potshots at Mr Crisp.

Mr Crisp personally came out and identified himself as the person I was refering to in my post, with his remarks about ethics. He then procceeds into a tirad of things, that I had kept private, in an attempt to blacken me personnally.

Have I ever launched an attack on Mr Crisp here?? I think not. But I do feel that since Mr Crisp has said what he has said then I believe I have the right to defend myself. Here in the public forum.

I have a copy of all the emails, which I feel will prove wrong many of the things that Mr Crisp said in this public forum. I'll be more than happy to publish each and every email (from both sides in the order they were recieved) on this board to prove my innocence.

Then Mr Crisp will owe me a public apology.

PS. Sorry for any spelling or grammar mistakes. Luckily for me I'm a photographer and not a writer :o)


-- Nigel Turner (npturner@earthlink.net), November 26, 2001.

Can't we all just get along?

-- Jim (jimmzpace@yahoo.com), November 26, 2001.

You guys gotta chill. No need to flex those 8x10 egos to the detriment of all... including ones self. Life is too short....Let the photography speak for itself....There are no saints here!

-- Emile de Leon (knightpeople@msn.com), November 26, 2001.

Nigel: Nobody cares. I don't even care, and I'm one of the participants. If I offended you, then I'm sorry I did. Now that I've managed to become "an uninteresting thread" I guess I'll move on.

-- Kevin Crisp (KRCrisp@aol.com), November 27, 2001.

Guess what, I think its okay to have a slanging match now and again!! No one realy gets "hurt", it clears the air and everyone makes up at the end of the day! bit like real life really. If someone galls you then get it off your chest!! I can't recall any "arguments" that got out of hand, and it shows that despite communicating in cyberspace, at the end of the day we are all human. Some kind soul will always step in and tell the warring parties to chill out!! Paul

-- paul owen (paulowen_2000@yahoo.com), November 27, 2001.

Come along now please chaps. There's a place for this kind of bickering - it's called www.photo.net

Would be nice if the LF forum could maintain its traditional ego-free status.

-- Stuart Whatling (swhatling@hotmail.com), November 27, 2001.

michael alpert - i believe it was matthew brady that is credited with large numbers of photos which he did not take. o'sullivan worked for brady during the war, but most of his photos are generally from the later western exploratory expeditions on which he served as photographer, so there isnt too much doubt that he actually took those views.

inre: the chelly photo - i am not aware of where adams actually gave o'sullivan credit for the original view - can someone point me at a reference where adams discusses this? as far as adams "interpretation" of the scene being so different from osullivan's, i think old tim was just trying to document the view, not create some dramatic, enhanced view using a red filter. documentary photographers are, by definition, trying to record a scene as it appears, not to create an alleged work of art.

-- jnorman (jnorman34@home.com), November 27, 2001.

RE: The Adams reference. I remember reading it, but can't remember which book. Adams was talking about the difference in the final prints, specifically the "old" version which was done on glass plates that had extended blue sensitivity, and Adams could not match the shadow detail with his film. Or something like that. I do not remember who he referred to as the photographer. I only have 4 of his books, so it's in one of them: The Camera/Negative/Print and The Making of 40 Photographs. I'd guess The Print or The Making...

-- Dave Mueller (dmueller@bellatlantic.net), November 27, 2001.

Re: JNorman's query on the source of Adam's commentary on the O'Sullivan view of The White House. It is referenced in Examples, The Making of 40 Photographs on page 127:

"A blue filter like the No. 47 would have given values very similar to those of the O'Sullivan photograph, but I had lost my blue filter. I used a green filter (Wratten No. 58), which better defined the sunlit areas; it also darkened the shadows in the recess."....

-- Fred Leif (frederickl@aol.com), November 27, 2001.

Seriously, this is wasting everyone's time. Take it out in private guys, this isn't a schoolyard and we're not going to take sides. I find there's been an increasing number of off-topic postings lately and it's starting to take away from my enjoyment of this forum, which I cherish as the most professional *public* discussion board on the net. If this trend continues an invaluable resource for amateur LF photographers will be gone and a community destroyed.

-- David Leblanc (davi_leb@alcor.concordia.ca), November 27, 2001.

Regarding Adams & O'Sullivan: Adams' comments on the similarity between his and O'Sullivan's White House Ruin photographs were inconsistent over the years. In the Examples book he either strongly suggests or states outright (sorry, I don't have the references at hand at the moment) that he only remembered the O'Sullivan photograph after printing his negative, some weeks or months after making it. In the published collection of his letters, however, there is a letter to Buemont Newhall (I believe) written within days of Adams' visit to Canyon de Chelly in which he makes clear that he had the O'Sullivan picture in mind when he made the image and was trying to duplicate it.

-- Chris Patti (cmpatti@aol.com), November 27, 2001.

Well it seems that answering this posting is a bit like two photographers taking pictures from the same place...... .

We all answer the question, some of us perhaps give the same answer which somebody else did, yet, each answer matters to at least two people, the one who posted the question and the one who is answering, to say nothing about all those who so patiently read all these answers.

If anybody makes a point of being "Original" it would be like saying that playing classical music is unethical because you offer an interpretation which might be kind of like (but not exactly....) the one anybodyelse would offer while interpreting the same piece.

Most of us like doing what we do and we might engage ourselves in the interpretation of classics without having to bother about those who are merely Bullies.

Bully-ism is very common everywhere, photography hasn't only Gentlemen and Dames among its followers and some of us might have been the nasty school Bully who has ruined your youth and in some sad cases , your life.

This site has, unfortunately ,some followers who like picking on other people. Any posting is scrutinized and where some can hit hard...... they do it. It is a low blow to hit on somebody's language or typing skills. However, I'd quote and try to translate the Italian Bard, Dante Alighieri, who wrote : " Take no notice of them, just look .....and walk on"

-- andrea milano (milandro@wanadoo.nl), November 27, 2001.

Hi Nigel, well, I caught the Adam's photo at the Eastman House show this summer, and it was inspired by the previous photograph, and as I remember, Eastman hung both prints side by side. It was a great show. I think you would have enjoyed it. I remember once I shot this scene on the Columbia near Vantage, WA. I showed it to a friend, and his response was something to the effect, did I notice all the tripod marks on the ground at that point. Turns out it was one of the most photographed vistas in the region. Does that mean I'm going to drive past it? I don't think so. Best, David

-- david clark (doclark@yorku.ca), November 27, 2001.

Drop the egos.Find positive and constructive critics of your work and refrain from airing your petty grievances here.

-- Andrey Belo (sabaca10@hotmail.com), November 28, 2001.

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