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Author Topic: The Ethics of Photo Manipulation  (Read 30913 times)
RFPhotography
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« Reply #20 on: May 30, 2013, 12:20:46 PM »
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"It is clear that the published photo was retouched with respect to both global and local color and tone. Beyond this, however, we find no evidence of significant photo manipulation or compositing."

Digital photography experts confirm the integrity of Paul Hansen’s image files

Yeah, I've read that.  Read it many days ago.  It's one person's (or rather two) opinion.  See my reply above.  Hansen admitted to multi-processing the RAW file and merging the three images.  That's compositing.  The image underwent more than 'retouching'.  Compare the original as published to the one entered for WPP.  That's some pretty serious manipulation.
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Ben Rubinstein
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« Reply #21 on: May 30, 2013, 12:21:57 PM »
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I think the term 'compositing' is used when they are different images. Otherwise any picture with multiple layers in PS would be as much a composite would it not? I often do 2 or 3 versions (as layers) of a B&W rendition of a file and then paint in the bits that I like for each one, does that make it a composite and ethically wrong? It's the same image. The photographer could have done the same thing with curves given better knowledge and perhaps a better raw converter, he took an easier way out but it's the same image, same pixels, end of story. Now we can talk about whether extensive dodging and burning to elicit a specific viewer response in a reportage image is ethical or moral but that is not saying the image was composited from other images. It was the same image, worked over using 3 different 'layers'.
« Last Edit: May 30, 2013, 12:29:37 PM by Ben Rubinstein » Logged

Isaac
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« Reply #22 on: May 30, 2013, 12:30:36 PM »
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Yeah, I've read that.  Read it many days ago.  It's one person's (or rather two) opinion.

I guess you'll believe what you want to believe :-)

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Slobodan Blagojevic
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« Reply #23 on: May 30, 2013, 12:39:03 PM »
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... Hansen admitted to multi-processing the RAW file and merging the three images.  That's compositing...

No, it is not.
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Slobodan

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RFPhotography
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« Reply #24 on: May 30, 2013, 12:54:02 PM »
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No, it is not.

No, technically it's not, that's true, because he could have got the same result by tonemapping a single file.  But he didn't know that.  He felt he was taking three separate files and combining them into a single image.  That's compositing.  Taking different parts of different images, even the same scene, and combining them together is compositing.

Ben, I don't agree.  If you're using different parts of different images, even of the same scene, and combining them - via automated software or manually - that's a composite image.
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RFPhotography
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« Reply #25 on: May 30, 2013, 12:54:29 PM »
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I guess you'll believe what you want to believe :-)



Yes, I guess you will.   Wink
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mikeassk
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« Reply #26 on: May 30, 2013, 01:08:26 PM »
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From this assembly of words we are talking about:

"Thinking about news photography in particular, I'd draw the line at adding or taking away something substantial, but I'm fine with just about anything else."

Substantial is Subjective. A photograph is created when light falls on a light sensitive surface. Why is it so confusing to people that when you begin to move some pixels and grossly alter (also subjective) the scene or original file or frame, then it is no longer a photograph, but now an Illustration or art piece of some kind.


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Isaac
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« Reply #27 on: May 30, 2013, 01:34:35 PM »
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(Belief is always the default, because the only reason people look at photographs is because of the long-standing implicit guarantee that this is a slice of reality. "This is something I haven't seen, and therefore I'm interested.")

People also look at photographs for reasons similar to the reasons they look at other kinds of picture (not for a slice of reality).

In the case of "nature photography," the problem is...

"Ever since I took a public stand against altering the contents of nature photography without disclosure... We have agreed that minor alterations can be made for quality reproduction, but that no changes can be made to the basic form of what was before my lens without my permission. I would easily give that permission to have one of my running grizzly bears dropped in behind a sport utility vehicle in one of those lucrative car ads that no one believes anyway. I would never allow such a content change in an editorial image that represents the natural world in the viewer's mind."

"Digital Decisions" Galen Rowell, Outdoor Photographer, April 1998
« Last Edit: May 30, 2013, 01:36:40 PM by Isaac » Logged
Isaac
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« Reply #28 on: May 30, 2013, 01:52:41 PM »
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... but I don't believe any kind of default-based false claim is being made merely by cloning out a power line and putting the result on a gallery wall. Whether any kind of aesthetic offence is being committed is of course another question.

The "aesthetic offence" would be not cloning out the 150' pine tree that blocked a lake view. No doubt Carleton Watkins would have solved the aesthetic problem by having workmen fell the tree ;-)

But if the caption read "The view of Lake..."
« Last Edit: May 30, 2013, 01:54:22 PM by Isaac » Logged
Ben Rubinstein
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« Reply #29 on: May 30, 2013, 02:14:17 PM »
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Ben, I don't agree.  If you're using different parts of different images, even of the same scene, and combining them - via automated software or manually - that's a composite image.

It's the same scene, same picture, same RAW file, same pixels captured during the same single split second. I don't understand why you insist on calling it a composite? Applying different layers to an image (which is essentially what he did) is not and has never been called compositing however much you would like it to be.
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Isaac
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« Reply #30 on: May 30, 2013, 02:18:59 PM »
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I think we need to regain the Victorians' sophisticated view of the art of photography.

Instagram.


Quote
Like many professional photographers, Avedon maintained a subtle and nuanced view of photographic veracity. He recognized that the exquisite realism of the camera image is often taken as a guarantee of authenticity, and he warned repeatedly against the common tendency to accept photographs at face value, summing up his views with his famous line, "All photographs are accurate. None of them is the truth."

 p157 Faking it: Manipulated Photography Before Photoshop
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Ben Rubinstein
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« Reply #31 on: May 30, 2013, 02:21:57 PM »
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A fuller version of the quote from Avedon:

The moment an emotion or fact is transformed into a photograph it is no longer a fact but an opinion .... All photographs are accurate. None of them is the truth. - Richard Avedon
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Isaac
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« Reply #32 on: May 30, 2013, 02:26:12 PM »
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Substantial is Subjective. A photograph is created when light falls on a light sensitive surface. Why is it so confusing to people that when you begin to move some pixels and grossly alter (also subjective) the scene or original file or frame, then it is no longer a photograph, but now an Illustration or art piece of some kind.

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"The minute you pick up the camera you begin to lie -- or to tell your own truth," he said. "You make subjective judgements every step of the way -- in how you light the subject, in choosing the moment of exposure, in cropping the print. It's just a matter of how far you choose to go."

Richard Avedon 1967, p157 Faking it: Manipulated Photography Before Photoshop
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Alan Goldhammer
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« Reply #33 on: May 30, 2013, 03:34:58 PM »
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This exhibition was just at the National Gallery of Art here in Washington DC.  Alas it closed on May 5.  My photographer friend and I spent about 2 hours walking through and looking at all the images and it was fascinating.  As I recall the earliest images were from the Civil War and about 95% of what was on display predated Photoshop. 
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Rob C
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« Reply #34 on: May 30, 2013, 04:35:34 PM »
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I don't remember anyone complaining about W. Eugene Smiths's pre-Photoshop photoshopping...

I remember it as being highly successful photography. Nobody in his/her right mind thinks that skies or rivers or people and factories look like they do in his images; the images are a form of art, and that art was used to highlight what the photographer saw, to tell the tale the best way the man knew how. He can't lie about that unless he removes things or adds them intentionally in order to fabricate something germane to the 'story' that did not exist. That's not retouching - that's propaganda.

Regarding club rules: that's one of the things I hold in contempt. Non-commissioned photography, such as the work one assumes amateurs offer for club shows, is about freedom; why remove that and manufacture bonds and hinder personal development?

It's all crazy; porn sounds honest by comparison.

Rob C
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RFPhotography
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« Reply #35 on: May 30, 2013, 04:43:44 PM »
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It's the same scene, same picture, same RAW file, same pixels captured during the same single split second. I don't understand why you insist on calling it a composite? Applying different layers to an image (which is essentially what he did) is not and has never been called compositing however much you would like it to be.

Ben, I think there may be some confusion.  No, simple adjustment layers aren't a composite.  Nor would be the use of masks to hide/reveal certain parts of the same image on different layers.  And technically what Hansen did isn't a composite because there's no benefit to doing what he did.  But he didn't know that.  He was intending to create a composite image via HDR software.
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BJL
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« Reply #36 on: May 30, 2013, 04:51:24 PM »
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As far as I can tell, it is three copies of exactly the same image, with each pixel corresponding to the same part of the scene, with modifications of color and brightness. No object in the scene was added to, removed from, or moved, AFAIK. That is only "compositing" in the same sense that a half-tone color print made from three color separations is.
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Isaac
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« Reply #37 on: May 30, 2013, 05:14:37 PM »
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As I recall the earliest images were from the Civil War ...

The earliest shown was probably "Capuchin Friars, Valetta, Malta, 1846" taken 5 years after Fox Talbot patented the calotype process - a 5th Friar was inked-out on the paper negative, so vanished when it was printed.
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Isaac
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« Reply #38 on: May 30, 2013, 05:25:19 PM »
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Compare the original as published to the one entered for WPP.

There probably are readers who haven't seen the photos, so -- World Press Photo of the Year 2012 vs Photo published in Dagens Nyheter

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Slobodan Blagojevic
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« Reply #39 on: May 30, 2013, 05:44:22 PM »
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There probably are readers who haven't seen the photos, so -- World Press Photo of the Year 2012 vs Photo published in Dagens Nyheter

Thanks, Isaac.

So, what exactly is the controversy here? Which one is manipulated more? Which one was published first (I assume the more colorful one)? To me, the difference looks like the difference between, say, Canon's Landscape camera profile (the bottom image) and the Neutral profile (top image). In that sense, the WWP one appears to be less "manipulated." What exactly is the "big deal" here?
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Slobodan

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