How'd Terje Helles win the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency's top prize for 2010? By capturing so many incredible shots of endangered species! And how'd he miraculously find all of these rare animals? On internet stock photography sites. So busted.
Helles' award-winning cheating was discovered by Swedish animal conservationist Gunnar Gloerson, who called him out on his own blog after noticing fishy photographs. Not only were Terje's photos suspiciously in appearance, but he was taking a highly suspicious number of them, noted Gloerson: "In less than a year, [Helles] became friends with six wild lynx in Mullingar! A total of 150 lynx observations at 9 months!...Most nature photographers are struggling for life for the perfect shot where the light is perfect and the wild animal is in the right place. This photographer seems to take such a picture [every] week!"
Helles' photos seemed too good to be true because they were—he was ripping animals off of stock photo sites and calling composites the real thing. And he wasn't even doing it well.
Did this revelation really need Gloerson's skepticism? If you look at Helles' work, a lot of the stuff is completely ridiculous. This "photo" of a Lynx looks like it was pieced together in MS Paint, not captured in the wild.
His photo of a Siberian jay looks like CGI to begin with. How did this stupid-looking, blurry charade fool anyone, let alone the Environmental Protection Agency? Shouldn't the people whose jobs it is to recognize the rarity of animals raised an eyebrow when they started popping up everywhere? PetaPixel Helles might lose his prize, but it seems like some people at the Swedish EPA should lose their jobs—a little too ignorant of both tech and the wilderness. [UPI via PetaPixel]