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Are photographers becoming clones?

paul_indigo 17 259 United Kingdom
12 Aug 2006 12:22PM
Now that programmes like Photoshop have made it relatively easy to clone things out just about everyone seems to feel the need to alter the real image their camera captured.

As an advertising photographer I understand the need to control and keep every element of the image clean so everything is focused on communicating the marketing message.

As a photojournalist (the mode I work in most of the time) I have a real problem with cloning things out unless they are absolutely inconsequential and even then I would think twice eg. a discarded plastic cup in the background - unless it is of course material to the story.

What are most photographers showing today on sites like epz. - some kind of sanitised version of reality? What is the real value to people if what you show in your pictures does not reflect the truth of the moment when you captured the image? By that I mean cloning out people, buildings, landscape features etc.
macroman 17 15.3k England
12 Aug 2006 12:48PM
I think you have a good point there Paul.

In 'the good old days' of film you used to get it right in the camera (not alaways) and trained yourself to look out for intrusive rubbish in the viewfinder.

Now it's so easy, just take the pic and work on it afterwards.

I'm not saying that it's neccesarily wrong, but I still prefer to study the subject, get it right and the press the button.

Saves a lot of playing around with the PC.

If I have to clone then I generally consider it a failed pic, unless it's something very minor.

Wait for trhe Flak!
KenTaylor 16 3.1k 2 United Kingdom
12 Aug 2006 12:58PM
No flak from me.
No different from the time photography was invented and is a very old argument. Only difference is it`s easier to do with a PC. This or similar has been thrashed out on another thread.
keith selmes 17 7.4k 1 United Kingdom
12 Aug 2006 1:00PM
What is the truth ?
The reason we have to train ourselves to spot intrusive items, and learn which lens to use, is because our vision system filters out a lot we don't need to see and highlights what we do need or want to see.
If a person viewing a scene would not have noticed the telephone wires, should I leave them in ?
Is it truthful to leave in something that you wouldn't normally notice ?
If you are trying to produce a picture that you want, rather than an accurate record, does it matter ?

Actually, I can change reality a huge amount just by adjusting levels and curves, without any cloning.
Quite often, cloning a few distractions would be less far reaching than simply adjusting exposure and contrast, or maybe desaturating to mono.

On the other hand, I do save the originals, so if I want an accurate record, its still there.
Carabosse 17 41.5k 270 England
12 Aug 2006 1:06PM
And of course people NEVER manipulated images in darkrooms did they - oh, perish the thought! Grin

The only difference is that digital has made it easier. Indeed shooting in RAW forces you to fiddle with the image. The temptation to do a bit more than is strictly necessary - e.g. over-saturate - is always there.

But, so what? If we see photography as an art rather than a mechanical recording process does it really matter?

Obviously a purely record shot should be just that - a forensic image taken for legal purposes for example.
JJGEE 15 7.8k 18 England
12 Aug 2006 1:22PM

Quote:The only difference is that digital has made it easier

Yes - easier to keep adjusting this, adjusting that and ending up with a mess - Well it is for me anyway ! !
riprap007 16 1.6k 37 England
12 Aug 2006 1:40PM
About 95% of all images I take and post are untouched, cloning only occurs to remove dust/sensor spots on mine, but I will often get comments suggesting I should have cloned out compositional aspect of my posting!
Carabosse 17 41.5k 270 England
12 Aug 2006 2:02PM
The clone tool can become a lazy photographer's alternative to actually using the feet and moving the viewpoint! Not a particularly satisfactory alternative either.

However, there are situations where a picture may be ruined artistically by something unavoidable in the frame and that's when cloning out - for artistic reasons - comes in handy.
macroman 17 15.3k England
12 Aug 2006 2:07PM
I know the feeling, the......"is it as you took it or have you manipulated it?" comment.

You just can't win can you.
I rarely do anything that couldnt easily, be achieved in the darkroom, ie contrast, lightness, burning in occasionally.

What used to really get my goat in club comps was the all too often judges comments, "now if it was digital, you could have cloned that out." or similar.

It never occured to the ruddy idiots that I may have left the object in because I wanted it there.
cambirder 16 7.2k England
12 Aug 2006 2:08PM
In general the best pictures are those that need very little manipulation. A crap shot will always stay that way whatever you do to it.
macroman 17 15.3k England
12 Aug 2006 2:20PM
I reckon that the most important/useful tool is the crop tool.

A bit of judicious cropping can improve almost any pic.
joolsb 16 27.1k 38 Switzerland
12 Aug 2006 2:29PM
Generally, I don't clone things out - although I'd make an exception if it's something that really upsets the composition and that I wasn't aware of at the time of shooting.

The worst manipulation I'm guilty of is replacing part of the sky in an image with the same patch of sky as it was 20 mins later. This was in a recent upload to my pf and I was entirely honest about what I'd done (mainly, it has to be said, because I was rather proud of the way it turned out... Wink )

Cropping? Well, only a handful of shots in my pf have not been cropped in some way...
Carabosse 17 41.5k 270 England
12 Aug 2006 2:37PM
You crop any scene immediately you look through a viewfinder. You can crop it further by zooming or changing the lens. So further cropping in software does not, IMO, come into the category of 'manipulation'.

Sky replacement, unless very skillfully done, is often not wholly successful, so although I have tried it from time to time I have usually ended up not bothering. Maybe that's just my relative lack of PS skills.
kate_a 14 1
12 Aug 2006 2:50PM

Quote:What are most photographers showing today on sites like epz. - some kind of sanitised version of reality? What is the real value to people if what you show in your pictures does not reflect the truth of the moment when you captured the image?

Hmm...while I agree you have a point and that it is possible to be over zealous wth digital manipulation, I wonder if the picture is any less 'true'? This assumes that using a camera is meant to objectively record an image. The camera might, but the person operating it doesn't - there is usually a reason/agenda for taking a photograph and taking it from a particular perspective. And if we view photography as an art form, the camera is as much a way of not recording 'truth' as using manipulation software afterwards.
conrad 16 10.9k 116
12 Aug 2006 3:23PM

Quote:What is the real value to people if what you show in your pictures does not reflect the truth of the moment when you captured the image?

I can understand that question coming from a photo journalist, but then the reason you take photos is different from the reason others take photos.

Some take photos to show what they saw, like photo journalists and tourists, for instance. Or to record an event, like a birthday or an anniversary. And I agree that in such cases it is unnecessary and maybe even undesirable to clone things or people out.

Some, however, try not to record what they saw with their eyes, but try to create an image like the one they have in their minds. In that case it isn't about showing the truth, it's about conveying an idea or a feeling, etc.

And some people go even further, because they have completely different reasons for taking photos, like those who use it for art. My wife, for instance, uses them for collages and blends. She has no intention of just showing the truth, she wants to create art.

So I don't have any problems with people using PhotoShop, as long as they don't pretend that what they manipulated was exactly as they shot it.


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