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Old Mar 5, 2007, 7:48 AM   #1
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This subject came up in another post, and I thought it was worth getting different viewpoints on. The question to be discussed is:

Is there a point at which edits to a sports photo for display/publication as a sports photo (i.e. not creating a poster or other work of art) become dishonest? Or is any amount of editing acceptable or should no editing take place?

Here's the thread where the topic came up. I really am curious to see what people's feelings are on this. But let's keep it to just sports images rather than other types of photography. And remember - the context is non-art so we're not talking posters, trading cards, etc but photos. Curious what you all think.

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Old Mar 5, 2007, 10:04 AM   #2
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This is an interesting subject and with the work I'm selling I try to keep it as real as possible. Now just because your camera has not nailed the exposure or your horizon was off I don't think correcting either of these are an issue as when working with film these things were sorted but chemically/with variance in time etc. I'm not a fan of cloning out large areas e.g. where there is a player in the way however occasionally the head of a hockey stick just creeping into the shot will be removed but as for adding something that was never there personally I would not go for this. Yes it would be nice as it would make our lives a lot easier (quite a few times I have wished a hockey ball could be added in the shot) but with practise it is possible to nail the shot with the ball included. You are right, posters are different and when my work is used for advertising etc the editor/graphic artist will have a play around and that is fine. I've had shots sometimes that would

My general rule is keep the editing to a minimum while giving the client an accurate representation of what would have been seen by the eye at the point of taking the shot.
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Old Mar 5, 2007, 10:24 AM   #3
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I guess it depends on the look you are going for. I find if it looks fake then don't do it but if you can make it look real then its fine.

I just try to edit to make the photo look better and sometimes you have to clone someone out.
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Old Mar 5, 2007, 1:08 PM   #4
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This is an intersting question. Dishonest? Depends on what you are trying to do with the photo. In the shot that spurned this thread it was edited to take out some annoying part and add the ball to get the point accross, the ball had been there at one time and it was put back in. At this point I do not call it dishonest. If more editing had been done to increase the action say cloning in an opposing player trying to head the ball at the same time I would call that dishonest as it never actually happened. I have news for all, when it comes to photos being published in newspapers or some other rag many are modified to make it more interesting. In this day of the digital image it is more prevelant than ever.

How much is too much depends on the eye of the beholder. I do not change much in a shot unless I have too. Mostly I will take out a stray hand, elbow, head, knee etc. Would I go as far as the photo in question? Probably not but that is just my opinion and I can't really see where anything bad was done to the shot that started this thread. This is one of those questions that will never have a clear and defined answer. We as photographers always want the perfect shot and rarely get it so once in a while a little help does not hurt.
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Old Mar 5, 2007, 1:42 PM   #5
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This is a good topic to discuss and for meI sell a lot of sports photos to parents and other athletes. I will usually shoot a couple hundred pictures or more of one event, go through them tossing out shots that are blurred too much, wrong timing or just simply because the 'shot' doesn't jump out at me and then from the keepers I will edit for noise, exposure levels and sharpness.

The only time I will clone something out is 1) when the athlete has aGREAT BIG HONK'Ncold sore on the lip or nose or has a zit ready to explodeon the face or 2) a bobsleigh athlete came up to me at the end of a race very upset explaining to me that the push bar that they push the sled with when their running along side the sled at the start was not pushed down when everyonejumped in. Seeing that he was very upset and wanted the photo of the race, I offered to PSthe push arm out of the picture and make it look normal. He was very releaved. (I would not have done this if the athlete didn't make such a fuss and also this race was the LAST one of the season and because this picture formed part of the year end powerpoint show, he did not want to be laughed at and humiliated by the other bobsleders at the banquet.)

So as far as adding or taking away from the picture to enhance the moment that didn't happen due to bad shutter timing, ...I'm not for that. If there is a shot that I wish I took but missed, I will watch for it next time and be in place and ready for it when it happens again.

Take for example the soccer goalie jumping in mid airto makea save. There would be no point in investing the time to change the picture to suit the photographer when goalies are in the business of jumping in mid air to make saves. It would only require the photographer to show up for another game; know what shot their looking for; and be ready. Then wow us all withwhat actually took place.

There is a fine lineto question theintegrity of the photographer who can post with the illusion of what actually took place when cloning is done to changethe picture and does it without telling the viewer versus doing the cloning and giving full discloser.

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Old Mar 5, 2007, 2:59 PM   #6
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What is the purpose of the photograph in question? If it is sports photojournalism, taken for publication as a part of a game account, then I find myself in strong agreement with JohnG. Take the following example of a play that could have been highly controversial.

The player in question clearly extended an elbow to knock away the ball. To move the ball closer would have made the violation far more clear, and also resulted in a more aesthetically balanced photo. Had it been in a controversial match, it also would have provided a greater focus on the referee's error in not calling the foul, which would have resulted in a penalty kick. However, it also would have been providing stronger evidence of the blown call than actually existed.

By the way, in this case, the missed call against my player occurred in a non-controversial JV match that we lost 4-2 anyway.

If however, the purpose of the shot is an artistic rendering of an outstanding athletic move, then I have no problem with extensive cutting and pasting. Generally, though I prefer realism.

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Old Mar 5, 2007, 8:16 PM   #7
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Ok, I'll bite. I'm relatively new to sports photography and I'm not out there selling photos...full or part time. Sports photography to me is working with what is there and with what skill I have. If I miss the big shot...well, I miss it. I can't add something in or take something out and not feel that I have misrepresented what I can do. I guess I feel that I am somehow cheapening (is that a word?) the skill others possess through clicking the shutter thousands of times. I respect what serious sports photogs "have"...and I'm sure the good ones possess a sense of pride for what they can do with the camera, and rightly so.

I guess I wouldn't have a problem with it as long as it is stated up front that the photo was digitally altered.

To others it's just a photo...just my two cents.

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Old Mar 5, 2007, 8:48 PM   #8
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Either you get the shot or you don't! Is it real or not! I am very new to sports shooting, but I believe the whole challenge is to get the shot, isn't it? Cutting and pasting the pic to make it the shot you wanted instead of the one you got, undermines & devalues the whole process in my opinion.

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Old Mar 5, 2007, 9:05 PM   #9
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It's a lie.

"1 : to make an untrue statement with intent to deceive 2 : to create a false or misleading impression" - Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary

If you're only lying to yourself, then there's no harm done.

Themore people that see it, the bigger the lier you are.

The more editting you do, the bigger the lier you are.

When you placed the ball in the frame, you lied.

Confessing to it later doesn't change that.
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Old Mar 7, 2007, 10:27 PM   #10
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If it is to represent the moment in sports. I find that altering the photo which adds/takes awayto/from the actual action that took place would be too far.

Improving the image and some judicious cloning of distracting elements IMHO is acceptable when thereis no other alternative.

For ones personal use I find whatever your heart desires is fine and the sky is the limit. For sharing and/or selling it should be as close to the real deal as it gets.
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