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Author Topic: The Ethics of Photo Manipulation - 2  (Read 1471 times)
Rob C
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« on: June 10, 2013, 09:47:34 AM »
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My Parthian shot has left the bow.

; -)

Rob C


Enjoy this instead.

http://youtu.be/EXSmAcJqsGI

« Last Edit: June 10, 2013, 09:49:46 AM by Rob C » Logged

John Camp
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« Reply #1 on: June 10, 2013, 11:33:48 AM »
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That virtue is the essence of photography.

Exactly.
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Slobodan Blagojevic
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« Reply #2 on: June 10, 2013, 12:33:07 PM »
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Good question, which highlights the dilemma. A completely truthful response might be, "Wow! I've never seen an unmanipulated photograph. I didn't know they exist. How many do you have in your collection? They must be extremely valuable."

A slightly more recondite response to the potential buyer, might be along the lines, "By 'straight unmanipulated' do you mean, only manipulated by people who were not present at the scene I photographed, such as the engineers who designed the camera's electronics and lenses, or the chemists who formulated the type of chemical coating on the film, and the chemical composition of the film and print developers?"...

Ray, the two options above are just some of the many possible smart-ass, condescending, and arrogant answers jerks can come up with (not you, god forbid).

Another way to answer the genuine question would be, for instance: "Straight? I'll tell you what: here is what I did, and you decide if you find it 'straight'"
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Slobodan

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Slobodan Blagojevic
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« Reply #3 on: June 10, 2013, 01:24:58 PM »
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Take a photograph and get it right the first time to show me you know what your doing the first time. Otherwise you suck as a photographer...

Ken, I am not sure if I can fully agree with that.

When I started in photography, my first camera (of my choice, not a gift) was a camera with a manual metering, although there were already models with auto exposure. Not only manual, but also semi-spot (again, the prevailing mode in those days was center-weighted). It was a Canon FTbN, by the way. Why all that "torture"? I wanted to learn the kraft. I wanted to measure the light myself, and from the area of my choosing. Shooting slides (Kodachromes), precise metering was essential, both to preserve the highlights and for overall impact.

Also, given that slides were, for most practical purposes, the final product, I had to do everything "right the first time," in camera. Once it was out of camera, that was it. No further changes possible (except with duplicating, sandwiching, or similar). Not doing it right the first time meant lousy photographs, thus making you "suck as a photographer." So far you are right.

Enter digital. Knowing that what I snap today is not the end product, but just the beginning, the equivalent of a negative film, rather than slide, switches my efforts from front-loading to back-loading. I do not need to make everything right the first time (although it might help). Instead, my effort are concentrated on getting all the information I need, instead of just the "right" one.

Therefore, the definition (of that a good photographer is) is changing with the times. Today, it is the one who knows how to capture all the necessary information at the time of capture, plus the one who knows what to do with that information in order to produce the final product.

Yesterday, you sucked as a photographer if you did not know what to do at the time of capture. Today, you suck if you do not know what to do after capture (assuming you are shooting digital and RAW, of course). If you are still a traditional film photographer (or jpeg, no post), your definition would still apply.

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Slobodan

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« Reply #4 on: June 10, 2013, 01:33:51 PM »
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Ken, I am not sure if I can fully agree with that.

When I started in photography, my first camera (of my choice, not a gift) was a camera with a manual metering, although there were already models with auto exposure. Not only manual, but also semi-spot (again, the prevailing mode in those days was center-weighted). It was a Canon FTbN, by the way. Why all that "torture"? I wanted to learn the kraft. I wanted to measure the light myself, and from the area of my choosing. Shooting slides (Kodachromes), precise metering was essential, both to preserve the highlights and for overall impact.

Also, given that slides were, for most practical purposes, the final product, I had to do everything "right the first time," in camera. Once it was out of camera, that was it. No further changes possible (except with duplicating, sandwiching, or similar). Not doing it right the first time meant lousy photographs, thus making you "suck as a photographer." So far you are right.

Enter digital. Knowing that what I snap today is not the end product, but just the beginning, the equivalent of a negative film, rather than slide, switches my efforts from front-loading to back-loading. I do not need to make everything right the first time (although it might help). Instead, my effort are concentrated on getting all the information I need, instead of just the "right" one.

Therefore, the definition (of that a good photographer is) is changing with the times. Today, it is the one who knows how to capture all the necessary information at the time of capture, plus the one who knows what to do with that information in order to produce the final product.

Yesterday, you sucked as a photographer if you did not know what to do at the time of capture. Today, you suck if you do not know what to do after capture (assuming you are shooting digital and RAW, of course). If you are still a traditional film photographer (or jpeg, no post), your definition would still apply.



Well said....
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John
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« Reply #5 on: June 10, 2013, 01:47:06 PM »
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Yesterday, you sucked as a photographer if you did not know what to do at the time of capture.  If you are still a traditional film photographer (or jpeg, no post), your definition would still apply.



Even that wasn't universal with film.  Yes for colour neg. film.  Generally yes for colour slide film, although altered development is possible there.  Most definitely not true with b&w neg. film; however, where development and printing play such a large role in the end product.  What gets captured by the camera is, really, just the starting point.
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John Camp
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« Reply #6 on: June 10, 2013, 02:37:16 PM »
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If someone was admiring your "straight photo" of the landscape sans roaring expressway would you tell them - Yes, that's what it was really like?


I probably wouldn't take a photo like that, although I have been very tempted to take one showing a four-lane highway going down into Santa Fe, NM, a very beautiful scene except...for the highway.

But, on that very subject, I occasionally write photo articles for The Online Photographer, and here is what some very, very famous people did, plus me:

http://theonlinephotographer.typepad.com/the_online_photographer/2010/12/rancho-de-taos.html
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Rob C
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« Reply #7 on: June 10, 2013, 03:52:50 PM »
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Taos. Isn't the prevention of something like that exactly what St Ansel was trying to do for Yellowstone?

Rob C
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Ray
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« Reply #8 on: June 10, 2013, 06:12:28 PM »
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Ray, the two options above are just some of the many possible smart-ass, condescending, and arrogant answers jerks can come up with (not you, god forbid).

Another way to answer the genuine question would be, for instance: "Straight? I'll tell you what: here is what I did, and you decide if you find it 'straight'"

In that case, Slobodan, you would probably lose the sale for no good reason. If it seems clear that the potential buyer is under a misapprehension that a 'straight and unmanipulated' image can exist, he should be put right first.

The impression created by describing the adjustments you have made after the camera has recorded the data in accordance with its own inbuilt rules, might be one that appears very extensive and manipulative to the uninformed who might think that the 'camera never lies', to use a metaphor. (We should all know that inanimate objects cannot possibly lie).

The reality might be that many of those adjustments you made were to undo, or correct for, some inappropriate adjustments which had resulted automatically from the peculiarities and/or deficiencies of the equipment used to take the shot.

On the other hand, I recognize that there can be a genre of photography in the digital age, sometimes referred to as SOOC (straight out of camera). It's quite possible that some collectors might only be interested in prints from jpeg images straight from the camera, and to ensure the minimum amount of manipulation, such potential buyers could insist that the camera had been plugged directly into the printer.  Wink
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Slobodan Blagojevic
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« Reply #9 on: June 10, 2013, 06:25:46 PM »
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In that case, Slobodan, you would probably lose the sale for no good reason...

So be it.

That is the essence of ethics, by the way. Standing your (ethical) ground, even if you stand to lose. Even a hard-core thief would choose to be "ethical" if it would result in an immediate material benefit bigger than the alternative.


Quote
...  If it seems clear that the potential buyer is under a misapprehension that a 'straight and unmanipulated' image can exist, he should be put right first...

Guess what? I tend to agree with that "misapprehension."

Quote
... The reality might be that many of those adjustments you made were to undo, or correct for, some inappropriate adjustments which had resulted automatically from the peculiarities and/or deficiencies of the equipment used to take the shot...

I totally agree with that. However, I would still let the buyer be the judge of that, after my explanation.
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Slobodan

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Isaac
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« Reply #10 on: June 10, 2013, 07:14:21 PM »
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I probably wouldn't take a photo like that... But, on that very subject...

Why do say that is "what the place really looks like"?

Is the experience of standing at the buttress behind the church very much like the experience of standing at a busy roadside?

Do we need to ask if you manipulated the camera viewpoint and focus to create that particular image?
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kencameron
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« Reply #11 on: June 10, 2013, 08:21:36 PM »
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The reality might be that many of those adjustments you made were to undo, or correct for, some inappropriate adjustments which had resulted automatically from the peculiarities and/or deficiencies of the equipment used to take the shot.

I totally agree with that.

So you have now come round to totally agreeing with a proposition that you earlier described as ridiculous?

It does you great credit that you are so willing to change your mind under the influence of sound reasoning  Wink
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Slobodan Blagojevic
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« Reply #12 on: June 10, 2013, 09:09:51 PM »
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So you have now come round to totally agreeing with a proposition that you earlier described as ridiculous?

It does you great credit that you are so willing to change your mind under the influence of sound reasoning  Wink

Or you simply do not understand what I considered ridiculous then and what I am agreeing with now Wink... I did not change my mind.

EDITED to include a smiley. Without it, the sentence might sound unintentionally confrontational

« Last Edit: June 10, 2013, 09:47:21 PM by Slobodan Blagojevic » Logged

Slobodan

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« Reply #13 on: June 10, 2013, 09:32:03 PM »
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Or you simply do not understand what I considered ridiculous then and what I am agreeing with now... I did not change my mind.
Quite possibly or maybe (also) you simply did not understand what I was saying then, since it is exactly what I am saying, or implying, now, in agreeing with the proposition you also agree with.

Also edited. It seems a case of total mutual misunderstanding. Unfortunately not so rare on this or any other forum. I suspect my use of the word "manipulation" was the source of the problem. I meant by it something defensible in terms of its various dictionary definitions, but maybe wide of the mark in terms of its most common meaning. I suspect that you took it to mean "all photographs are altered in the way you find objectionable" - but that wasn't what I meant.
« Last Edit: June 11, 2013, 04:29:54 AM by kencameron » Logged

Michael West
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« Reply #14 on: June 10, 2013, 11:00:52 PM »
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My Parthian shot has left the bow.

; -)

Rob C


Enjoy this instead.

http://youtu.be/EXSmAcJqsGI

thank you. that was most refreshing


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Ken Richmond
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« Reply #15 on: June 11, 2013, 07:00:09 AM »
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On the ethics question, Slobodan, I have no issue at all with your technique because there's no intent or attempt to defraud.  It is self evident that HDR is a photoshopped or stacked/merged presentation of a scene that appeals to your personal taste.  I have stacked and filtered 1000's of astro-photos artificially colored to please my own eye.



I have, and use sets.  

"Yesterday, you sucked as a photographer if you did not know what to do at the time of capture. Today, you suck if you do not know what to do after capture (assuming you are shooting digital and RAW, of course). If you are still a traditional film photographer (or jpeg, no post), your definition would still apply."  

I have and use a Canon 17 mm. TSE and have rented a Hasselblad HTS and would not attempt to publish, display or sell anything that did not meet the requirement's of Hasselblad's Master's submissions.  Take a look at one of my favorite site from which I personally draw a lot of inspriration:  1x.com.  Notice the category "Creative Edit".  The point of referencing this site and Hasselblad's is that in these cases there is photographic "art" without being photoshopped.  I won't call in the skills of Jeff Schewe and his programming buddies to "assist" me with photoshop and then describe the product as entirely my "own" work, as though it came entirely from my own equipment, my own inspiration, vision and adventitious or arranged opportunity.

In spite of the frivolous one line responses and adolescent insults exchanged, no one suggested burning "painted" photographs, or forbidding someone from adding matching eye shadow and lipstick to a portrait to meet a client's specific desire.  That is what that client is purchasing after consideration of (usually) a few different choices in how they wish to appear in something hanging on their own wall or on a cd cover.

There are scenes, sets and greenscreens that alter reality for products, weddings, babies and even judges where the intent of the
photographer is to satisfy the client, but never to fool or defraud the public about his skill with a camera, as opposed to skill with photoshop.  

Digital photography, especially the uploaded kind, has indeed changed the world and Photoshop has taken on destructive connotations or associations for which I participated here posing, at first, what I thought was pensive and reasonable.  In law and life we punish evil intent, not the act, but the intent that drove the act.

Ken Richmond

« Last Edit: June 11, 2013, 07:38:15 AM by Ken Richmond » Logged

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« Reply #16 on: June 11, 2013, 07:06:54 AM »
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If you substitute defraud with interpret, it seems to make things a little better.

Peter
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« Reply #17 on: June 11, 2013, 07:48:34 AM »
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Black and white conversions.  Ethical?

In order to achieve the best quality b&w image in the digital realm one has to start with a colour-converted RAW original.  Yes, there have been a few dedicated monochrome cameras in the past from Kodak and Leica has one now.  Those are/were niche products not in wide use.

To generate a b&w image we have to start with colour then 'rely' on software to create the b&w end product.  Relying on someone else's 'programming skils'.  Relying on an external tool to do what we couldn't do in camera.  Rely on sliders and curves and levels to achieve contrast.

This idea that digital software editing tools are the devil's playthings and only used by less than competent snapshooters is utter nonsense and completely belies any knowledge or, at least, recognition of the history of photography.

No one has answered the question I posed earlier of whether Le Gray was 'cheating'.  Does anyone even know who Le Gray was or what he did without resorting to Google?  The statement was made that Adams always disclosed what he did.  Really?  If you bought an original Adams print there'd be a datasheet accompanying the print telling you what he at the time of exposure, what he did in developing the film and what he did in printing?  That's what some people seem to be indicating is a requirement with digital.  Why impose a higher standard now than was used in the past? 

Was Prokudin-Gorskii cheating when he created colour images from b&w plates?  He may have told people, we really don't know if he did or didn't, that he exposed the plates through different filters then projected the plates back through different filters but who would have understood that even if he did?  Is a level of understanding required on the part of the viewer or buyer to verify that what the photographer is saying is valid and true?  If not, why not?  If not then why does disclosure matter? 

Was Bresson 'cheating' because he didn't do his own printing?  He relied on the skill of someone else.  Was Ray?  Was Newton?  Was Salgado?  How is that different from relying on the skill of programming engineers?  Why does disclosure make it acceptable?  The photographer has still relied on an outside source to do something s/he couldn't or wouldn't.  Why does disclosure forgive those 'transgressions'? 

Art Wolfe, reputedly, doesn't do his own editing or printing, or at least much of it.  Cheating?  Unethical?

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Chris Sanderson
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« Reply #18 on: June 11, 2013, 10:46:39 AM »
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Test
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Christopher Sanderson
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