It was around the time when I saw this photo of owl and mouse on National Geographic when I decided I'm done with nature photography. I immediately noticed the mouse shaped hole and the absence of tracks, meaning - the mouse was thrown there for the owl to catch. It is, arguably, a normal practice. And there're countless other examples of this kind of borderline (for me) practices.
It's fine, it's according to the rules. I'm not arguing the rules are bad or flawed, but I have a choice either to follow these rules or not, either to take part in the kind of contests which force them or not. I've chosen not to. It doesn't mean I don't shoot nature, it's about how I do it.
It reminds me a story my Israeli friend told me. The Israelis, mostly, don't eat pork, because it's prohibited by Torah. It's also prohibited by Torah to grow pigs on the holy land. But... There's a growing population of not so religious people, many from Russia and other countries with long pork eating traditions, who still do eat pork. Meaning, there's a great demand for pork. Where there's demand, there supply. So how do you grow pigs in conformance with Torah? You don't grow them on holy land, you build the farm on pillars, above the holy land. True story, I'm told.
There're are rules and there're people who bend them. Have you heard about kosher switch?
And that's exactly what's happening on the nature photography scene. Everybody is growing pigs on pillars.