Will Computer Generated Images Pass as Photography?

I have always been one to poke at boundaries particularly if they are artificial and based on bias, so this year during the lockdown I had no opportunity to shoot and real models in my studio as I had been ordered to shield as a person on the high-risk register. This put a crimp in many peoples plans not least my camera club who could not run a print competition over zoom so all the images had to be PDI’s (Projected Digital Images) so for a bit of fun, they changed the open print competition into a series of themed PDI competitions, the two that made me think were monochrome and portrait.

I do not enter competitions as a rule as I do feel competition is an effective way of testing an image and the result comes down to the opinion of one person who is not necessarily the best person to comment. So this year I decided to break with tradidtion as an experiment and put some images into the competition but in this case I was intending to create a set of images with varying degrees of the uncanny valley to see how the judge would react the following six images were entered into two of the rounds the first three into portrait and the second set of three into monochrome:

In the first competition the images all scored highly except the third one which the judge thought should have had a much heavier half shadow, which is debatable but his opinion so fair enough however he did not spot the uncanny valley in anyof them assumed they were shot in a studio and marked the first two highly saying that I had a great control of my lighting. No that last bit is interesting and true as in the animation studio I had to create the lighting just as I would in my studio the principles are exactly the same thus someone with no skill at lighting but an ability to use the animation studio would struggle to acheive the same result.

A few weeks late cam the monochrome competition and I created 3 more the first one was supposed to mimic those art nude body landscapes and I chose not to show the head as this really removes a lot of the uncanny vally features, this worked, the judge was completely taken in and it was held back as scored a 9.5,  The second image seemed to rock the judge a bit as it was deliberatly made to look uncanny however he scored it highly and let it pass. The third image was deliberatly really uncanny and was actually a joke as it was mimicking anoth club member who puts lots of images in of a lady playing a recorder this was not a serious attempt but it still di quite well even though he was even more disturbed by there being something not quite right, I messed up a bit by not noticing that the trumpet I created was rendered with a glass skin rather than a metal skin so looks a bit transparent, this was the thing he picked up and marked it down for go figure.

So after all of that it seems I got away with it I then came clean and had a discussion with the members of the club to some very mixed opinions as to the legality of doing this, however, the rules clearly do not prohibit this so the results stand, I did not enter the other two rounds as the marks were quite high and I really did not want to end up with a trophy and a mob of angry photographers on my tail