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Old Oct 4, 2003, 10:08 AM   #1
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Default Image Manipulation

I know that ethically, if you're taking a "news" photograph, you shouldn't play tricks with it, and turn it into something it isn't.

However, for other stuff - how much (if any) of a limitation should there be on what you do to a picture to make it look better? If you go into Photoshop and use the crop, image adjust, and filter tools to get something you think looks "good" to your eyes, even if it looks "better" than the original, is that fair?

Like.... you get a great landscape shot, but there's a distracting pole with wires messing up your shot - is it "fair" to delete it? How far can you (or do you) go, in getting the finished image to look the way YOU want it to look?

My answer is there's no limit. What your eyes did when you selected the particular viewpoint was just the beginning, and what you do to improve the image afterwards is just the more of the same. If someone (or something) is in the photo that you don't want there, using Photoshop to get rid of them is the same as had you asked them to scoot when you shot the picture, or just used more of a telephoto lens to keep them out of the picture.

NOTE - I'm ONLY talking about images you want to make look very good, as you would had you been painting the scene. I know this isn't fair for "news" shots, as they're expected to show what was really there, rather than shots to look goood...... but then again, there's a gray area in between those two extremes. If the photo were to be the cover shot for a major magazine, is more "editing" permitted than if the shot were to be on page 1 of your local newspaper?
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Old Oct 4, 2003, 11:38 AM   #2
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Default Magazines

Have digital editors on staff just to manipulate images. Take a look at Maxim lately? Some of the girls look like they are made of plastic they are so overworked. I saw something on TV a few months back about that business & they were able to make girls taller, thinner, have longer legs/torso/necks/etc.

Personally, I shoot for myself as a hobby. I want to make the best image possible for myself & the person (if I'm shooting one) in the image. If somebody likes my work enough to pay me, who am I to complain?
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Old Oct 4, 2003, 1:33 PM   #3
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Here's some link that I use which discuss photo ethics and doctoring, has the infamous Time magazine photo of O.J. Simpson and how they doctored it to make him look guilty:

Here's a site which shows how much editing can be done, and why women shouldn't trust fashion magazines:


(Yes, it is a model in a bikini, but it opens up on the face only so you can ignore the rest if you wish. It's worth the view, even if you just look at the picture of the face. Note that this site probably requires Java, and you have to wait a few seconds for the second picture underneath the first to load, but run your mouse over the picture once the page is loaded.)

But it's not just news and glamour magazines, just imagine looking at a travel brochure of a scenic view, but when you get there there's power and phone lines all over the place that were digitally removed for the photo...and how about National Geographic, they've been caught editing some photos, like removing a worn path where people have trodded on and replaced it with grass to make the historic site appear untouched.
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Old Oct 4, 2003, 2:03 PM   #4
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Thanks for posting that site - this guy's an expert!!!!

........by comparison, I'm still in kindergarten....
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Old Oct 4, 2003, 3:39 PM   #5
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Default Ethically?

I don't think it's an ethical issue unless you misrepresent the picture. I think the question is when does he change from being a photograph to being graphic art.
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Old Oct 5, 2003, 12:56 PM   #6
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The one that I remember was many years ago. National Geographic took a picture of a man with his camel in the desert and one of the great pyramids behind him. I'm assuming two were in view, but maybe only one was.

Turns out, the edited the picture digitally to move the left pyramid over to the right to fit the cover better (or at all?) That picture could not have been taken! What people got madder about than them actually doing the editing is that they didn't say they did it at all.

We won't even get into the photojournalist for an LA paper in the Iraq war who edited two pictures together and (by mistake he says) send in that as one of the pictures he took. Unfortunately for him that is the picture they used. He was caught when the same person was in two places in the picture. He made it look like the solder was pointing his gun at a civilian instead of the original picture where he was actually waving him to sit down (with his hand.)

Personally, as long as you donít hid that it was edited (I always say what types of things I do when I post it) than its fair game. But I also donít do much. Crop, levels, contrast. Nothing too serious.

People donít seem to realize just home much could be done in the darkroom. In many ways, you can do the same amount of alteration in the darkroom as in a computer (its just easier in the computer, and without the chemicals!)

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