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Maximum Fine For Cloning Out a Power Line: $220,000 In Melbourne, AU

November 19th, 2012


Dave Williamson sent me this article about a controversy in Melbourne, AU were a real estate agent or photographer photoshopped out a power line. Turns out the Aussies are serious about not fooling around with the view in real estate marketing photos and have a maximum fine of $220,000 AUD if you get caught.

When challenged about where the powerline went, the listing agents say:

“It’s a dusk shot, with long exposure and there’s a deep, dark sky behind the black power line”…”Everything is retouched, colours are always enhanced and darkened and lightened but we don’t do it to hide powerlines. It’s illegal. You do it so the photos look lovely.”

OK… and if you believe that story, I have a bridge I’ll sell you! You can go look at “168 Esplanade, Brighton, AU” on google street view to see the real view.

But the Real Estate Institute of Victoria ruled they are going to let it pass this time:

… no photograph could perfectly represent a property and encouraged consumers to visit during the open inspections. The displaying and advertising of property can be a little subjective and of course everyone wants to portray the property in the best light possible.  Agents are not supposed to add or subtract things from a property, but can play with light and lens angles to make it look more attractive,.

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9 Responses to “Maximum Fine For Cloning Out a Power Line: $220,000 In Melbourne, AU”

  • Another falsity – the sky has been photoshop-ed clear – if anyone has been to melbourne they would know it is never that clear

  • I was just having this talk with the agents in my office. There is a company offering retouching photos and virtual staging. I warned them of cases like this… Never good to mislead the customers.

  • Larry,
    A few years ago, I photographed a beautiful home on the in-land water way in FL. The exterior ground level view looked wonderful. But when I did the elevated image at 45 feet, not only did it show the boat dock and the beautiful landscape; it also showed the smoke stacks from the Electrical power plant in the far distance. The agent asked me to remove the smoke stacks which I told her would be deceiving. Unhappy with my answer, I instead, just did a tight crop, which I felt was more truthful.

    I always feel uneasy when an agent asks me to modify or remove an object. Whenever possible, I just shoot at a different angle to avoid these issues. The one thing I tell my agents, (as was once told to me) “when you do an elevated or aerial image, you invite the entire neighborhood to join in”

  • Funny how cropping is not viewed the sames as removing the phone lines….same result with a slighly different angle. so how do you permit the ommission… and not the adjustment? The point is it has the same result. Wide angle lenses are not how things are “Naturally Seen” yes you may see it all with moving your head or eyes but it isn’t the true way we see. Same with colors, and more and more people have learned how to “Adjust the Picture” with mulitude of free software available. I say again pictures should be “Marketing” and not considered “Documents” In this case your not selling the view just the property, and the ownership of the lines (looks like they are across the street) is out of your control…just as if a new set of lines had to be placed in view. Are you responsible then?

  • Tom, I agree with you. I look at our type of photography as both a documentary and marketing type of photography, with the emphasis placed on marketing. Since elevated images are not a normal way clients view the property, I have more leeway in cropping.

    For instance, let us say I photograph the front shot of a home from ground level or on my 6 foot ladder and don’t see any power lines in my shot as they are up too hi, or across the street. If I shoot the same image, from 45 feet in the air, but have to back up far enough to get my wide shot and now the power lines are in the shot, then I feel I have some freedom to remove the wires from my shot. But I truly will not remove anything I feel would be deceptive and I tell the agent it is un ethical.

  • Who would ever buy a home on the pure basis of photos? Usually, its bad to fake this much(clone away or choose angles that hide too much of the bad), as people might get dissapointed when seeing the real deal. When my clients ask about something i should remove or hide in eccess, i usually tell them this.

  • I often photograph new construction for contractors who use the images for their web sites and brochures. In such instances I always take out any offending power lines or other such distractions because it improves the resulting image. I feel that in terms of real estate the primary objective is marketing and getting prospective buyers excited about a property. So presenting it in the best possible way is OK. After all, we are not making a documentary about the surrounding neighborhood. So I think all the fuss about cloning out power lines is much ado about nothing.

  • Mikael: It happens, ask any Realtor that does a fair amount of business, they will know or have been a party to properties purchased site unseen by investors and even home owners (Coincidentally ((or not)) a PFRE photographer I know sold his home unseen to someone 1000’s of miles away). But showing the home in its best light/angle is always a good idea for you and your client.

    Everett: In my experience the intent of new construction photography is generally different than marketing single properties, oftentimes you are marketing that floor plan, elevation, or the company’s image more so than that particular lot/view. To arbitrarily do that for a specific property is clearly misleading/deceptive and can land an RE agent (your client) in hot water. Power lines in particular are a big deal because they do effect the homes sale-ability. Many people will not buy homes near power lines for potential health reasons (unfounded or not) again ask any experienced agent how power lines running through a backyard effects a listing. If you choose a great angle that minimizes defects that’s one thing, if you create a false view with photoshop, that’s lying.

  • Is it just me or is this a totally different shot from a different angle. In That case the power lines may not have even been there. You only have to look at the street/road angle and the trees across the road. This comparison is crap, they are NOT the same shot..

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