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Author Topic: The Ethics of Photo Manipulation  (Read 32435 times)
RFPhotography
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« Reply #60 on: May 31, 2013, 06:11:40 AM »
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Right.

Only photographers.

Or only geeks.

Or only geek photographers...

... would argue that the power of a photo, showing children as casualties of war, stems from the pixel position.

 Huh



Wow!  That may well be the oddest attempt to misconstrue comments I've ever seen.  I have to be completely honest and say that is completely fucking ridiculous.  I never said, nor intimated that it wasn't a powerful image.  I simply said it shouldn't win the WPP competition because of the extent of manipulation.

John, for purposes of clarification, I don't care what people do to artistic photos, like those of Adams you cite.  I'm very much a fan of Jerry Uelsmann's work.  There's probably no more perfect example of manipulated images from film.  I do a lot of impressionistic photography and have no issue with the 'unreal' nature of those images.  I don't really care what people do to photos for advertising, although the concept of truth in advertising does place some needed limits.  The problem here is that this is a journalistic image and the rules are different.  For documentary and journalism the rules are different.  If he had submitted the same image that was published originally, it would have been fine.  But he didn't.  
« Last Edit: May 31, 2013, 06:28:01 AM by BobFisher » Logged
jeremyrh
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« Reply #61 on: May 31, 2013, 07:29:05 AM »
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Stirring the pot are we? My point was that in general no photo could lay claim to being an objective truth unless presented as such. Making claims as to the politics of posters is just trolling at this point.
No stirring - just pointing out that your comment was misplaced, since you had already yourself introduced politics into the thread. Likewise your accusation of trolling misses the mark - nobody is making any claims about the politics of posters here, only about the politics of those who whipped up this storm in a teacup.
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SunnyUK
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« Reply #62 on: May 31, 2013, 08:43:27 AM »
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I find the view that "straight out of camera equals truth" very strange. If I go out in the middle of the day, screw my umpteen stop ND filter on the lens, set the exposure to 1/8000 sec f/32 iso 100, would anyone believe that my picture is a "true" representation of what it looked like that day?  Yet, despite it looking like a dark coal mine at the middle of night, it is straight out of camera with zero manipulation of neither picture nor scene.

Or if I do the opposite and shoot it at f/1.4 30" iso 256,000 - has the world suddenly disappeared and turned white? No, of course not. And yet it's straight out of camera with zero manipulation of neither picture nor scene.

So if there has to be "rules", I think they should be about how much the picture looks like the reality. Which means that dodging / burning is okay, since our eyes have far wider dynamic range than the camera. It also means that cloning power cables or coke bottle sout is okay, since our brain has a wonderful ability to ignore things that we don't like looking at.

If the question is how to get a picture showing "truth", then artificially limiting post processing is not the answer.
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RFPhotography
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« Reply #63 on: May 31, 2013, 09:43:59 AM »
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Slobodan,
My guess is the photographer did not use a lens that was wide enough. If he had, he wouldn't have needed to point his camera downwards, thus creating that impression that the walls are toppling over.



Or that he was in an elevated position relative to the crowd. 
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HSway
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« Reply #64 on: May 31, 2013, 09:48:59 AM »
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The objective truth?

That canít really be even discussed in context of this and similar threads.
Conveying of what was seen in a photographic record involves inevitably the photographer and his actions, his/her individuality, intentions and it is all based on it.
No camera does it without it. No out of camera jpeg or film (processing) means Ďmore precise recordí, quite the opposite, it is very inaccurate, needs corrections all the time depending on every single part of the chain that eventually results in presented representation via specific viewing device used to see and perceive.

One needs to define this exact meaning to oneself and then strive to achieve this objective.

He will need to learn study and work for it as with any other goal. The efforts canít be measured objectively and although the results can have the highest value (to him, to others) they will always be in principle based on subjective assessments no matter how refined they are. It is not a shortcoming. If anything, itís the advantage. It is human, nature of our very existence, the way we see, perceive and live. It is very meaningful; a reflection of our own mind and soul stretching all the way from fleeting moments on every level of our lives to the deepest philosophy and it will stay that way. There is no need to struggle with our mind with the nature of photography but rather to recognize it, realize it fully and possibly bring it as high as we can or (if) wish. - Depending on our individual and somewhat always shared values as well.

As for the matter of questioning or doubts about a concrete work being in line with what the photographer claims - everyone should willingly offer the proof if asked. As long as the raw file exist, or even whole series and versions of the same scene, itís easy.

Hynek
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theguywitha645d
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« Reply #65 on: May 31, 2013, 10:19:49 AM »
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I don't think you can go to such an extreme to say that photography is purely subjective. There is a reality to the spacial and temporal factors. People do look like their pictures. The photograph is made in a specific time. Science understands the objective value of an image.

At what point does changing the image start to cross a line. One problem is we do not have a very sophisticate audience--if we remove a piece of garbage it throws into question the "truth" of the entire picture? An in politics there is the use of doubt to call into question everything. Environment and gun politics does this--most people are not good at data analysis or logic and just want "facts" to affirm their position. When the "look" of the photograph is "enhance" for "impact" at what point are we leading the audience with sentimentality? But in many cases, the photography is purely illustrative and use to "show" what is written about in an article. A single image is just a single data point and not very valuable.
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Isaac
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« Reply #66 on: May 31, 2013, 11:32:57 AM »
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I don't think you can go to such an extreme to say that photography is purely subjective.

Isn't that exactly what you did say, 10 hours ago?

Photography is subjective. That is it fundamental nature.
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Slobodan Blagojevic
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« Reply #67 on: May 31, 2013, 11:48:17 AM »
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Touchť, Isaac!  Grin
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Slobodan

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« Reply #68 on: May 31, 2013, 07:10:23 PM »
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No idea why this is so controversial to some.
Everyone follows the path they want to. For me I will make minor adjustments as and when needed in LR. However I forbid adding or removing elements (such as rocks or objects in a scene) I will never render in a sky or add another one from a photo.

I rarely use a polariser, seldom for landscape work. I never use coloured ND grads as I don't feel it's realistic/
What you do for your own work is entirely up to you. I admit that I make life harder for myself, but I like that approach nothing beats reading the light IMO.

I don't ask others to follow my own route, and I ask you don't try to convince me to follow yours! Pretty simple I think  Tongue
Some areas of photography IMO have overuse of software (the wedding vignette is rather tedious and overused one example) But then the wonky angle PJ style is also overdone. The issue isn't enhancement or post processing, it's really down to overcooking the hell out of a steak dry as a bone thrashed do death over and over again. People follow trends and that is a block to creative work (IMO)
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Ray
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« Reply #69 on: May 31, 2013, 07:14:17 PM »
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Or that he was in an elevated position relative to the crowd. 

Of course, Bob. It's understood if one needs to point the camera down it must be because one is in an elevated position. However, using a wider angle of lens may remove the need to point the camera downwards, allowing one, in this case, to get the lines of the buildings vertical whilst also being able to fit the main subject into the lower part of the frame which can later be cropped in post-processing.

If one still needs to point the camera down, despite using a wider angle of lens, then at least one is likely to have more space around the subject, which allows one to correct for such distortions of perspective, using Photoshop's Free Transform, Distort and Warp, whilst still retaining the elements of the main subject after cropping.

If you examine my distortion corrections in the photo of the 'deepest well in suburbia', reply #53, you should notice that the window in the top left corner has mysteriously increased its width. This was done in order to avoid excessive cropping of the left side of the image as a result of the unavoidable effects of Free Transform and Distort.

I used Context Aware Fill in that top left corner. Now that could be considered a genuine breaking of the spirit of the rules (when no manipulation is allowed) because I have misrepresented a physical object. The window in the uncorrected image is clearly shown as having 6 vertical bars, maybe 7, but definitely not 12, as are shown in the corrected image.

However, I consider the altering of the window to be a trivial misrepresentation of 'reality' compared with the huge misrepresentations in the unaltered image where the well is shown as having an elliptical shape, instead of circular, the ladies are shown as having congenitally deformed heads, and the buildings in the background appear to be absolutely dangerous because they are leaning so much.
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Alan Klein
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« Reply #70 on: June 01, 2013, 04:25:45 AM »
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People understand a painting to be interpretive.  Even when it's suppose to be a representation of a person or view of a landscape, people acknowledge that the artist has liberty to use his feelings to create only a representation of reality, or none at all.

In photography, most people still feel that it is a slice of reality snapped in a fraction of a second.  We stop the clock and make a copy of an instant in time.  90% of pictures taken by the average person are not manipulated.  They go from camera to Facebook or a small print with no manipulation or very minor changes (ie cropping to fit the paper format).  Most people in the past had a high belief that a photo was this slice of reality.  Today, they often ask if you Photoshopped it, meaning not that you changed contrast or lighting but that you distorted the truth of what the camera really "saw".  Although we side step the issue, we all know what we're talking about here.

Photography is losing it's "truth" telling.  That's a shame.  It would be nice if we could develop a system labeling which photos are truth and which are photo art.
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RFPhotography
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« Reply #71 on: June 01, 2013, 06:13:43 AM »
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Ray, such corrections would not be permitted in a documentary or PJ image.
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Ray
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« Reply #72 on: June 01, 2013, 07:01:38 AM »
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Ray, such corrections would not be permitted in a documentary or PJ image.

Bob,
Such non-corrections and distortions which are so obvious in the unaltered image I showed, will not be permitted by me. I would not be interested in submitting any of my photos to a documentary or photo journal, or photo competition, that have rules that exclude sensible corrections but allow ridiculous distortions that are sometimes produced by camera and lens.
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« Reply #73 on: June 01, 2013, 07:13:53 AM »
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In photography, most people still feel that it is a slice of reality snapped in a fraction of a second.  We stop the clock and make a copy of an instant in time.  90% of pictures taken by the average person are not manipulated.
I could only speculate about what most people feel. You may have a better source of information. I do know quite a few young people whose camera is their cell phone, who take manipulation through camera apps entirely for granted, whose images often look manipulated and who are a long way from either assuming or expecting that photographs depict any kind of unmediated reality.

IMO there is no such thing as an unmanipulated digital photograph. You either let the camera defaults do the manipulating or you do it yourself.
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Ray
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« Reply #74 on: June 01, 2013, 09:14:21 AM »
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IMO there is no such thing as an unmanipulated digital photograph. You either let the camera defaults do the manipulating or you do it yourself.

Or better still, allow the camera to do the best job it can, with its predesigned electronic engine, then improve upon the results in post-processing.

I find it very strange, for example, that any photo publication, or photo competition organisation, would not allow the use of HDR. The limited dynamic range of a single shot of a contrasty scene is a clear example of a lack of manipulation resulting in an unreal and distorted image, from a tonal perspective. The eye simply doesn't see blown highlights and impenetrably black shadows in a real scene, except in very extreme and unusual circumstances. The eye dilates and contracts its pupil in a fraction of a second in order to accommodate the changes in brightness in any particular scene, as it peruses the scene from the brightest part of the sky to the darkest shadows in the undergrowth in the foreground. The eye, in conjunction with the mind, is an HDR device.
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barryfitzgerald
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« Reply #75 on: June 01, 2013, 11:13:56 AM »
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I could only speculate about what most people feel. You may have a better source of information. I do know quite a few young people whose camera is their cell phone, who take manipulation through camera apps entirely for granted, whose images often look manipulated and who are a long way from either assuming or expecting that photographs depict any kind of unmediated reality.

IMO there is no such thing as an unmanipulated digital photograph. You either let the camera defaults do the manipulating or you do it yourself.

I consider enhancement/adjustments quite different to full scale manipulation. I'm not alone in that thinking either.
I've heard arguments from some saying even if you shoot jpeg or even film there is processing (and yes there is) entirely different than putting a new sky into a shot though or moving stuff around to manufacture that perfect composition.
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Alan Klein
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« Reply #76 on: June 01, 2013, 11:15:57 AM »
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The brain doesn't see in HDR.  It allocates brightness, shadow, contrast.  HDR flattens that out something the brain doesn't do.  This is why so much of HDR looks unnatural.
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Slobodan Blagojevic
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« Reply #77 on: June 01, 2013, 12:25:21 PM »
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... IMO there is no such thing as an unmanipulated digital photograph. You either let the camera defaults do the manipulating or you do it yourself.

With all due respect, Ken, this is just plain ridiculous. I know it is a widespread belief and not just yours, so it might not be fair to label yours as such, but ridiculous it is.

Degree matters. If not, we could be all easily labeled as criminals just because we jaywalked or were speeding at least once in our life time. Even the degree is irrelevant in the above discussion, as there simply isn't any "manipulation" with default jpegs, at least not according to the standard meaning of the word.

For the record, I am not among the "purists," I freely admit that I manipulate my images, sometimes quite aggressively. But I do not call default jpegs "manipulated." Which brings us back to the matter of opinion. Mine is that yours is ridiculous, and I am sure you think the same Wink
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Slobodan

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« Reply #78 on: June 01, 2013, 12:51:06 PM »
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It's all down to semantics now.   Shocked  I tend to agree with Slobodan here...all photographs are processed but not all are manipulated. I'm also quite comfortable manipulating when I deem it necessary or just desirable. As I've said here at LuLa before (I think), photos are not windows onto the world. They're abstractions. The degree of reality they convey is relative, not absolute.

To manipulate or not? Depends...

-Dave-
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kencameron
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« Reply #79 on: June 01, 2013, 05:21:10 PM »
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With all due respect, Ken, this is just plain ridiculous...
Degree matters...But I do not call default jpegs "manipulated." Which brings us back to the matter of opinion. Mine is that yours is ridiculous, and I am sure you think the same Wink
Slobodan, in calling default JPEGs manipulated, I am certainly stretching the meaning of the word, to make a point - the point being that in default JPEGs, settings have already been chosen by the software engineers for all the variables that are used for basic manipulation in post processing (brightness, contrast, color, saturation, sharpening, noise reduction etc), that they could have chosen different settings, and the photographer can usually adjust those settings inside the camera as well as outside it. Put that way, it sounds bleeding obvious, but I think it is worth pointing out as part of an argument against the view that what comes out of the camera has some special status as truth which is diluted by anything done in post-processing.

I doubt this is a view that you actually hold, so I would need to find some other line of argument if I were to conclude, as of course I would love to, that your view is ridiculous.

As for my view, I certainly agree that degree matters, in various ways, and in particular that there is a significant difference between changing the value of pixels and adding blocks of new pixels. This carries over to the various possible meanings of the word "compositing" - ie, (1) using layers in photoshop (2) combining shots of the same scene as in HDR or focus stacking) or (3) combining shots of different scenes. I see (1) and (2) as usually having little effect on the historical veracity of images and (3) as being where the trouble starts in photojournalism but also as an important and legitimate technique in the art of photography.

I am sure there is something ridiculous in that, and that you are the man to find it Wink
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