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Author Topic: Too much Photoshop? Judge for yourself.  (Read 23731 times)
Kam
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« on: April 16, 2009, 10:27:13 AM »
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This story http://www.pressefotografforbundet.dk/index.php?id=11708 is generating a lot of discussion on other forums.
What does everyone here think about such adjustments of photographs for journalistic purposes. Should we really be judging raw images?

I'll reserve my opinions, but I'll ask Michael and you - what do you think?
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Jeremy Payne
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« Reply #1 on: April 16, 2009, 11:38:01 AM »
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I think the judges have lost their minds ...

Things that were perfectly acceptable in the darkroom have become unacceptable in the lightroom.

Why?  I would understand if you took a subject from one capture and inserted it into a different background.

There is a line, but in my opinion these images did not cross the line.
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Kam
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« Reply #2 on: April 16, 2009, 11:49:12 AM »
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I would tend to agree Jeremy.
A subject about this topic that has come up is that complete desaturation of colour (conversion to BW) is permissible, but saturation of colour is up to the judges discretion.
Strange in my opinion.
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TimG
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« Reply #3 on: April 16, 2009, 03:52:51 PM »
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Actually, I see how this is "could" be an issue.  If journalism is about reporting the facts, then shouldn't photojournalism do the same?  I see the saturation boost being perfectly acceptable provided it is shot as editorial, which is open to interpretation, whereas journalism isn't (or at least shouldn't be in a purist sense).
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k bennett
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« Reply #4 on: April 16, 2009, 04:34:38 PM »
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One image in particular, the aerial shot, stands out in my mind. The original raw is very flat and exposed to the right, at least when viewed using the "default Camera RAW settings" (which are almost *never* the right settings.) However, a simple Auto Levels gets an image that is very close to the photo that was rejected by the judges as being manipulated.

I suppose the photographer could have shot jpegs, using the highest contrast and saturation levels, and those would have been okay (under the theory that an in-camera jpeg doesn't lie.)

The other photos are similar. The original raw files are very flat, and I expect they don't bear a lot of resemblance to what the photographer *saw* with his eyes.
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kers
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« Reply #5 on: April 16, 2009, 04:39:26 PM »
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the photographs are so clearly artificially changed photoshop that they loose the idea of being real. Nobody will take these photographs for reflecting reality.

The fact that the contents is not photoshopped seems suprising when you first see the shots.

So the contents of the photographs has not been changed only the presentation of the contents. In this way it is not more than a personal style of the photographer and therefore i find it acceptable.

We have to realize that every picture is a non reality - only these are more obvious so.
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Pieter Kers
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Jeremy Payne
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« Reply #6 on: April 16, 2009, 04:45:40 PM »
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Would a fast aperture and narrow DOF disqualify an image?   Does the fact that my camera "sees" detail across 10-12 stops of dynamic range but my eyes/brain can see about 20 figure into this equation?  

I just don't know what this objective reality is that these judges expected to see in the final image ... nor how to capture it with a camera - using film or any known digital technique ... I guess I can never be a photojournalist ...

Oh well.

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dalethorn
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« Reply #7 on: April 16, 2009, 09:45:20 PM »
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I sat through part of a presentation tonight by a photojournalist who is a professor at Kent State, and who used to be an editor at the local Knight-Ridder paper. She referred to the audience as "rock and tree" photographers, which she said is the common term photojournalists apply to nature and landscape photographers.

Her presentation was on "Editing your photos for maximum impact", and started off with cropping - "always crop tight, very tight" she said. She did state that Photoshop was used only in special circumstances, and it's a no-no for most news photos, since the media have to earn the trust of a suspicious public.  The crops I did see were extreme, since she showed the original and cropped images for the audience to judge.  I didn't hear any complaints.

Looking back on the hour I sat there, I don't know why she was there, or what was going on in the minds of the photo club staff who invited her. It was like being in an opposite universe, where everything was backwards.  This being a conservative part of the country as far as photojournalism goes, I can only imagine what goes on in New York.  I certainly wouldn't waste time with the L.A. Times or L.A. Weekly.
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MichaelAlanBielat
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« Reply #8 on: April 16, 2009, 10:32:22 PM »
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Ansel Adams said something to the effect of:
"The negative is comparable to the composer's score and the print to its performance. Each performance differs in subtle ways."

Think that still applies in today's digital world?

In my opinion, photojournalism is in a class all of it's own. Images should reflect the realty so nothing more than just cropping, exposure and contrast should be messed with.

For everyone else though, I believe that Ansel's quote still holds some truth...

Well, aside from the fact that we can perform our edits and then save it to our hard drive so it never changes where he had to re-produce every print and there are subtle variations that come with that process...
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Nick Rains
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« Reply #9 on: April 17, 2009, 12:06:35 AM »
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Quote from: Kam
This story http://www.pressefotografforbundet.dk/index.php?id=11708 is generating a lot of discussion on other forums.
What does everyone here think about such adjustments of photographs for journalistic purposes. Should we really be judging raw images?

I'll reserve my opinions, but I'll ask Michael and you - what do you think?

 I don't like the shots but there is not much here that slightly underexposed Velvia and a grad ND filter would not have produced. A bit of d+b and there you have it. Why can B+W shots be dodged and burned but not colour?

What a crock...

But I agree that RAW images are no more true than anything else, including film. In fact less so as they are often 'overexposed' for maximum tonal capture.
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Nick Rains
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pegelli
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« Reply #10 on: April 17, 2009, 12:17:41 AM »
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The rules of the contest say:

"Photos submitted to Picture of The Year must be a truthful representation of whatever happened in front of the camera during exposure. You may post-process the images electronically in accordance with good practice. That is cropping, burning, dodging, converting to black and white as well as normal exposure and color correction, which preserves the image's original expression"

My personal belief is that the judges went too far in the interpretation of their own rules because I think main changes the photographer used between developing the raws (some have extreme ETTR for other IQ reasons) and the finished publication is levels, saturation and contrast. I agree the final pictures are quite contrasty and saturated, but I think this type of processing increases the impact of the message the photographer is giving about the environment he shot.

In my mind he did not alter the colors of his original capture (contrary to what one of the judges says), we all know that especially with level adjustments the saturation gets impacted. That's why the very pale yellow chair is now bright yellow, that's why an almost grey wall (with just a tad blue hue) is now bright blue. As far as I can see no colors were "replaced" by others, only relative luminosity and saturation changes.  I wouldn't know how to do it, but I think with extreme developing techniques you could have produced color slides that looked close to his final images, and therefore the series should in my mind not be disqualified.

Just my $0,05, but remember when you submit pictures for a contest, the jury is always right. The only freedom we have is to disagree with them.
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pieter, aka pegelli
Kam
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« Reply #11 on: April 17, 2009, 12:22:39 AM »
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Quote from: Nick Rains
I don't like the shots but there is not much here that slightly underexposed Velvia and a grad ND filter would not have produced. A bit of d+b and there you have it. Why can B+W shots be dodged and burned but not colour?

What a crock...

But I agree that RAW images are no more true than anything else, including film. In fact less so as they are often 'overexposed' for maximum tonal capture.

Nick,

I think you hit the nail on the head, as well as another previous poster who mentioned highly contrasted jpegs. Raw files are just that... raw data that requires editing to bring the scene back to 'reality' from the what is created within a digital capture. In film, using a high contrast film and a filter may lead to similar results.

Is the general public, including perhaps the judges, still viewing film as more 'real' than raw? Is it? Is it on par or less 'real'?
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TaoMaas
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« Reply #12 on: April 17, 2009, 11:45:01 AM »
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Quote from: Nick Rains
I don't like the shots but there is not much here that slightly underexposed Velvia and a grad ND filter would not have produced. A bit of d+b and there you have it.
 Sorry...Velvia wouldn't have come close to the amount of saturation in those pics.  Or certainly, not under the circumstances as seen in the RAW files.
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TaoMaas
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« Reply #13 on: April 17, 2009, 11:46:26 AM »
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Quote from: MichaelAlanBielat
For everyone else though, I believe that Ansel's quote still holds some truth...


"Some" truth, maybe, but it's totally off for slide shooters.
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Geoff Wittig
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« Reply #14 on: April 17, 2009, 07:27:27 PM »
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Quote from: Kam
This story http://www.pressefotografforbundet.dk/index.php?id=11708 is generating a lot of discussion on other forums.
What does everyone here think about such adjustments of photographs for journalistic purposes. Should we really be judging raw images?

I'll reserve my opinions, but I'll ask Michael and you - what do you think?

The relevant criterion has to be the photographer's intent and how he/she represents the resulting image. If these photographs were represented as journalism, then to me there's no question about it; they are way over the line. This degree of manipulation is a gross abuse of the viewers' expectation that the images depict reality with reasonable fidelity. The difference is day and night; the dreary grey reality of Haiti versus a dayglo tonemapped bizarro world.

If on the other hand the photographs were explicitly represented to be an artistic interpretation, all bets are off. But that must be made explicit!
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Jeremy Payne
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« Reply #15 on: April 17, 2009, 09:08:48 PM »
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Choose not to award them prizes? - sure ... Disqualify them?  Seems like an over-reaction.
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Justan
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« Reply #16 on: April 18, 2009, 02:49:10 PM »
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Quote from: Kam
This story http://www.pressefotografforbundet.dk/index.php?id=11708 is generating a lot of discussion on other forums.
What does everyone here think about such adjustments of photographs for journalistic purposes. Should we really be judging raw images?


Interesting topic.

It was a beautifully done work. But I’m not entirely sure the judging was completely arbitrary, if at the expense of being a mockery of the judge. I think the reason the decision was made is because the original RAW image sucked. Compared to the original the work is a very highly produced work.

This raises the question of how far to “sweeten” an image for competition? If fidelity to the original image is a core value of the competition, then this suggests it has to be done right in the camera.

The idiotic hypocrisy of this case is that they acknowledge and accept normal work flow techniques but insist that someone should restrain themselves. That is why the judge needs an, uh, attitude adjustment. Maybe several smart raps to the head would help. After all, it would be insane to have a tool such as Photoshop and not take as full of advantage of it as possible.

But…but if the judge is insisting on his or her notion of fidelity to the original image as basis for their decision, they do have a duplicitous kind of point.

Sadly, the judge falls along the footfalls of judges who criticized Caravaggio for his use of vivid, luminous colors and dramatic lighting.
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Anders_HK
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« Reply #17 on: April 18, 2009, 02:55:42 PM »
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Quote from: MichaelAlanBielat
Ansel Adams said something to the effect of:
"The negative is comparable to the composer's score and the print to its performance. Each performance differs in subtle ways."

Think that still applies in today's digital world?

In my opinion, photojournalism is in a class all of it's own. Images should reflect the realty so nothing more than just cropping, exposure and contrast should be messed with.

For everyone else though, I believe that Ansel's quote still holds some truth...

Well, aside from the fact that we can perform our edits and then save it to our hard drive so it never changes where he had to re-produce every print and there are subtle variations that come with that process...

Hi

There comes a point when too much processing becomes like painting on a photograph. To me that is what those competing photos look like. Not even Ansel did that. In my opinion that is not what photography is about. At such extremes it becomes a different line of art. Ansel created images firstly at the capture moment. I shoot landscape and search for best light. The competing photographs do not seem captured at such times, but seem "re-" created to such by very extreme processing, which looks "fake" after careful observation. I am a landscape shooter and also shoot people living traditional lives on travels. I tend to agree with the judges, processing was too extreme and much beyond what you can expect from different film types, or what Ansel did in print process. To compare the processing of the competing photos to what Ansel did would be an insult to landscape photography, albeit I think calling them painted would be better description. This was on journalism though, but... if we shall resort to simple snaps and then creating in computer an environment that we thought or imagined..., then... why do we need advanced / professional photographers? Seems would suffice with anyone carrying a digicam and not knowing quite when or how to shoot. Journalism should proper represent the scenes, should it not? And... clearly those shots did not with such extreme processing.

Above is my frank and honest opinion.

Regards
Anders
« Last Edit: April 18, 2009, 03:05:25 PM by Anders_HK » Logged
Jeremy Payne
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« Reply #18 on: April 18, 2009, 03:12:03 PM »
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Quote from: Justan
I think the reason the decision was made is because the original RAW image sucked

They didn't suck ... they were exposed in a manner appropriate for digital and alien to a film shooter ... I still think the judges are imposing an objective reality where none exists.

Should people NOT be allowed to white balance and correct the exposure if the 'as shot' white balance was UNI-WB the exposure was "to the right"?

The camera standard jpeg and the raw converter defaults are very strange benchmarks.
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Justan
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« Reply #19 on: April 19, 2009, 08:59:10 AM »
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> They didn't suck ...

Based on the results the RAW file was obviously workable but so flat that most of the details are not apparent. Were I to come across something that listless, I’d be thinking that it was going to be a lot of work in photoshop to get it where I wanted. Evidently the judge had a similar view.

> they were exposed in a manner appropriate for digital and alien to a film shooter ...

If you say so. The only times my RAW images are that lacking in color is when they are poorly exposed.

> I still think the judges are imposing an objective reality where none exists.

I mostly agree, except there was not much that was truly objective in the judge’s call.

> Should people NOT be allowed to white balance and correct the exposure…

That is the question. I would say it depends on the stated rules of the competition. This competition allowed work-flow like changes, so it should have not been an issue. It was the judge that screwed up IMO. But clearly the source was so lacking in color that the judge thought the work too highly produced for the competition.
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