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12-19-2008, 06:33 AM   #1
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ethics of digital photo editing

I was wondering what everyone thinks about photo editing in general. I know back in the darkroom days you could do much of the same things, but at todays click and change it seems a bit like cheating.

I was always under the belief that photos were the best when you captured them as is. , any editing made them fake short of crop ad zoom. Now that I've been reading the boards, I'm beginning to see that it is common practice in digital to play with all elements to gain the best results.

Opinons, practices?

12-19-2008, 06:57 AM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by shadowraven Quote
I was wondering what everyone thinks about photo editing in general. I know back in the darkroom days you could do much of the same things, but at todays click and change it seems a bit like cheating.

I was always under the belief that photos were the best when you captured them as is. , any editing made them fake short of crop ad zoom. Now that I've been reading the boards, I'm beginning to see that it is common practice in digital to play with all elements to gain the best results.

Opinons, practices?
IMO it just depends on what the shot is. You're right though back in my darkroom days we hand cut masks, used filters and on and on. Digital just makes it easier and less of a craft. There are certain things that, except for color correction just shouldn't be messed with, others the sky's the limit. A couple of the weddings I've had to do a member or two of the family isn't there, so we leave space and add them. Some of the product shoots, customer decides they want a different background Things like that to me are fine. Quite a few of my product shoots now are on a chroma background just so I can change it faster.
12-19-2008, 07:13 AM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by shadowraven Quote
I was wondering what everyone thinks about photo editing in general. I know back in the darkroom days you could do much of the same things, but at todays click and change it seems a bit like cheating.

It does seem a bit like cheating, doesn't it? I think it really depends on what type of picture you're taking and what your intentions are. Are you trying to portray a scene as accurately as possible, as in photojournalism or nature? If so, then I think the post processing ought to be kept to a minimum. No fair adding extra antlers to a deer to make it seem like a more impressive specimen or changing out backgrounds, getting rid of zoo visitors, and replacing them with a shot of the Rockies. But if your intentions are purely pictorial, then I think anything goes.
12-19-2008, 07:18 AM   #4
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If the results faily represent the scene I have no problem with editing. If they represent something lovely that never existed then it's graphic art which might also be lovely.

For example, I have some panoramas of an archeological site. Since I used software to "stitch" separate photos, is it ethically flawed? I don't think so.

Someone posted a picture that took elements from three seperate photos and merged them into one picture. It was lovely but, to me, it wasn't a photograph. It was graphic art. I wouldn't consider a picture of me with Kirk Douglas' chin, Mick Jagger's lips, and Bette Davis' hair a portait of me. Perhaps a great picture.

12-19-2008, 07:37 AM   #5
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is this art or a photo? After and Before?
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12-19-2008, 07:38 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by patrickt Quote
I wouldn't consider a picture of me with Kirk Douglas' chin, Mick Jagger's lips, and Bette Davis' hair a portait of me.
No, but to most it would be considered an improvement.

It doesn't "seem" like cheating, it "is" cheating. (Now it depends on what your meaning of is is).
Back in the darkroom days it was done. Don't say it wasn't because it was. It still is. It's just gotten easier for the unskilled to do with Photoshop and the rest.

It just looks like you did color adjustments. I personally don't consider color adjustments as monkeying around with the picture. Adding things and other mods, yes.

For Damn Brit:

12-19-2008, 09:50 AM   #7
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Cheating depends on the purpose of the image and how you present it. To me, cheating involves dishonesty. I don't think it is cheating so much if you don't misrepresent what the image is.

I do agree that at a certain point and image is more graphic art than photograph, but if it looks good it looks good.

I often find myself cloning out power lines. Is it cheating? Probably, but I also usually point out that I've done it. That's usually as far as I go with a photo (I hate post processing for the most part), but I also wonder is it any different than getting rid of dust spots from an image. Same process just a different result.
12-19-2008, 10:22 AM   #8
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the ends justify the means

art is art

to me photography is art, in all shape and form

even a photo of a potato peeler in a magazine add can look intresting if you try hard enough, digital editing is just another tool.

12-19-2008, 11:01 AM   #9
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There is no reason to have an "ethical conundrum" over post processing!

Other than a documentary photojournalist, there is no reason for any photographer to not use whatever tools he wishes to make the final image match his vision. I'll admit that I do personally like to know if an image has been manipulated after the initial capture (discounting the manipulation that occurs by default in the camera itself) but there is no real responsibility for any artist to honor or even acknowledge my desires. This desire on my part is more "how the heck did he do that?" rather than "can I trust this image to be truthfull?"

If a person's artistic vision requires post-capture manipulations, then more power to him. If another artist's vision requires that the image present the world as accurately as possible at the moment the shutter was tripped, then more power to him.

Neither artist though holds any "moral high ground" or has any right to claim the other is wrong, misguided, deceitful or evil. Art is created between the ears of the artist and realized between the ears of the audience. Thus what is art is very personal and individual. What I like, you may find to be garbage and visa versa.

(I will say that I believe art requires "human thought and decisions" thus making the paintings done by zoo elephants, "non-art" unless you consider the real "artist" to be the human that gave the elephant the paint brush.)
12-19-2008, 11:23 AM   #10
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What I'm getting is that in todays age of digital photography (I'm new to digital SLRs) digital manipulation is just the way it is done.
Back when I last was big into SLRs I was shooting my Spotmatic and a newer PZ-1P. I never learned how to process (still want to) and was paying ritz camera/york, etc to develop my film at $1.99-$10 a roll. Back in the 36exp day that got expensive and I could no longer afford to do it. Now that I'm back to SLRs I'm just trying to learn all this stuff that I never did before.
12-19-2008, 11:45 AM   #11
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I could do just about anything in the darkroom that one can now do in PhotoShop.

The only difference is that today it is much easier to repeat a process and mistakes are not expensive disasters. Paper and chemicals got to be real expensive when you were trying to do anything fancy and messed up seeral times before you got it right.

Today, all it costs is some electricity and whatever time you care to spend in front of your computer.
12-19-2008, 12:03 PM   #12
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Whilst I am one for PP, I tend to agree that in many ways it could be called ART in lieu of photography. This is something that sticks in my mind.
Yes, you have to have a fairly decent photo to begin with, but it comes down to the person who is the most capable on a computer PP program can be classed as the best photographer and takes all the accolades. Mind you, not in all cases.

The photo that comes out of the camera is what I call real photography.

But what the heck, that is what Digital photography has evolved into, and no doubt will evolve further, so I say one can only go with the flow.
12-19-2008, 12:37 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Bramela Quote
Whilst I am one for PP, I tend to agree that in many ways it could be called ART in lieu of photography. This is something that sticks in my mind.
Yes, you have to have a fairly decent photo to begin with, but it comes down to the person who is the most capable on a computer PP program can be classed as the best photographer and takes all the accolades. Mind you, not in all cases.

The photo that comes out of the camera is what I call real photography.

But what the heck, that is what Digital photography has evolved into, and no doubt will evolve further, so I say one can only go with the flow.
so a camera with its IR filter removed taking an IR photo is photography

but running your image through a digital IR converter is not?

:ugh:
12-19-2008, 12:44 PM   #14
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Point taken, I'll concede your point.
12-19-2008, 01:13 PM   #15
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I don't think there are much ethical issues with some exposure and color enhancement. The camera is already doing some of that anyway when we go into the menu and set things up the way we want. For photogtaphy/art I don't see any problems. The ethical issues come up with photoshopped pictures end up in courtrooms as evidence or passed off as journalism by a reporter. The photoshopped pictures of the Iran missle test last summer comes to mind. The photos were phoney but the press, several governments, and the defense dept. got suckered on that one. The price of oil made a big jump. The sheiks made a few billion and laughed all the way to the bank.
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