Top Black Friday Deals For Photographers

How far is "to far" in post processing?


Mark_24 8 19 United Kingdom
20 Oct 2020 10:47AM
I'm studying for my Photography Degree and we were discussing yesterday the use of manipulation that has been used since photography began. With the end result of showing the truth of what was captured by the photographer, and we came up with 2 scenarios.


Scenario 1 - You take a landscape image, could be anywhere, but there are a few things that you don't like about the image. There is a big tree that sits to the left-hand side of the scene and is distracting and would "look better" if it wasn't there. Plus the sky is a little dull, so you decide to replace it.

Scenario 2 - You shoot a portrait of someone, and they have a "lazy eye" and the lights are reflecting on glasses. Do you correct the eye and remove the reflections?


My own personal feeling is that if it is "realistic" enough to be believable, that's fine. However, if it is "obvious that the scene isn't real" then it's too far. I guess the question I really am asking is, how honest are we, as photographers in the images we create?

And what is our intention when we press the shutter. Do we intend to capture real life, or a perception of what real life should be?
thewilliam2 3 1.5k United Kingdom
20 Oct 2020 11:21AM
During the good 'ol days of film, there was plenty of manipulation. In Stalin's Russia, it was quite normal for a "non-person" to be retouched out of official record photographs.

When we had the portrait studio, we'd retouch images to make them look better. The bigger the print, the more work we'd do.

Paul Delaroche is said to have exclaimed "from today, painting is dead" when he first saw a photograph. Wasn't the reality that painting had been liberated and no longer needed to depict "reality" so the Impressionists and others followed?

Photoshop has liberated photography so why not embrace the possibilities?
Dave_Canon Plus
14 1.8k United Kingdom
20 Oct 2020 11:39AM
As a camera club member, we are interested in art and creating images. Capturing is one part of this process. We have a range of competitions and a few require the truth (Nature, travel and Photo Journalism) but most of the rest place no limitations. In fact some sections positively encourage post processing being labelled creative or Altered reality. There can be nothing dishonest about heavy post processing and presenting as altered reality. The scenario you are generally relating to is our believable reality sections where any post processing is fine if the final image could have been captured that way even if it it was not.

This applies internationally so not just a local club thing. The idea that a photograph should just be what is seen captured at the time was challenged right at the start of photography as you have discovered. Looking back at the history of my club, we found that a member was giving a lecture on how to replace a sky in an image in 1928. Oddly replacing skies is something I rarely do now as the dynamic range of modern digital cameras means we rarely get boring white skies now. I will happily photograph an interesting person and later place them on a different background but would never alter any nature shots for competitions.

What is reality anyway. Is it what your camera captures or the image in your brain at the time? Remember the image you see is not just what is captured by your eyes but as processed by your brain which may add things that were not there or leave things out. Even landscape photographers may try to recreate what they saw and felt at the time rather than the unrepresentative capture from their camera. It is difficult to get away from post processing now anyway. Although I only use Raw files, many use JPEG files which have be automatically post processed in the camera.

Dave
clicknimagine Plus
10 723 101 India
20 Oct 2020 11:47AM
You can see in many competitions, the rule is that you can crop the image, clone any dust particles or spot or convert your image to monochrome etc. but any kind of serious alteration as you are saying removal of tree or sky or anything that may seriously alter the story or theme, they don't accept it...It actually depends on you to define how far is too far...but i prefer to see how beautiful the eyes behind the camera have seen the world and been showing us by his images...
Dave_Canon Plus
14 1.8k United Kingdom
20 Oct 2020 12:12PM

Quote:You can see in many competitions, the rule is that you can crop the image, clone any dust particles or spot or convert your image to monochrome etc. but any kind of serious alteration as you are saying removal of tree or sky or anything that may seriously alter the story or theme, they don't accept it...It actually depends on you to define how far is too far...but i prefer to see how beautiful the eyes behind the camera have seen the world and been showing us by his images...


I am involved in many competitions but have yet to see this limitation other than for nature, travel and photojournalism. Where would you find this?

Dave
Minty805 Plus
4 37 7 United Kingdom
20 Oct 2020 12:23PM
The answer is, surely, it all depends. What are you setting out to achieve when you take the picture? Who is it for and what are their requirements?

If it's for yourself, or someone else in an informal situation, then creating an attractive or powerful scene is probably your imperative, and manipulation or otherwise is largely irrelevant. If you like it, that's all that matters.

As noted above, competitions may have different rules, or a commercial assignment may have specific requirements. I once worked with a newspaper editor who told his photographers that every picture for the paper had to be exactly what they saw; no changes were permitted, not even improving a dull sky.

I would argue that, providing there is no attempt to deceive anyone, making improvements is harmless, as long as the altered aspects are not specifically relevant to the image's message.

So, to answer your question, the intention when pressing the shutter must surely be informed by what is going to happen to the final image.

Very best of luck with your degree. Allan
clicknimagine Plus
10 723 101 India
20 Oct 2020 1:10PM

Quote:
Quote:You can see in many competitions, the rule is that you can crop the image, clone any dust particles or spot or convert your image to monochrome etc. but any kind of serious alteration as you are saying removal of tree or sky or anything that may seriously alter the story or theme, they don't accept it...It actually depends on you to define how far is too far...but i prefer to see how beautiful the eyes behind the camera have seen the world and been showing us by his images...


I am involved in many competitions but have yet to see this limitation other than for nature, travel and photojournalism. Where would you find this?

Dave



There are so many actually, like this one...

As i have said earlier, it depends on you, how you take it, many competitions in India also follow these rules...
Dave_Canon Plus
14 1.8k United Kingdom
20 Oct 2020 1:36PM
The example you gave is World Press but I already said that Photojournalism is excepted. These rules are horrendous as they do not even allow set ups (or re-enactments) as this would be manipulating the scene. The many thousands of photographic salons and Exhibitions around the world sponsored by FIAP, PSA, GPU, PAGB and others are much more open as photography is about art for most people. This is probably why Photography is in the Art dept. of Universities and colleges. Of course photographers can put any limitations they wish on themselves. Personally, I hope the press are totally honest because we expect unbiased reporting but the press and art are different. It may be this freedom is what attracts some professional photographers to join amateur clubs; we always seem to have 2-3 professionals in my club.

Dave
clicknimagine Plus
10 723 101 India
20 Oct 2020 1:49PM
This link may give some light in this discussion...
20 Oct 2020 4:01PM
I always think it surprising that B&W is allowed. To me there is nothing so altering as changing an image to B&W. I suspect it is allowed with the freedom it is as it was all that was available in the early days of photography. One has only to put any photograph through something like Silver Efex to see the vast range of B&Ws that are possible.

P.S. Mark - it is 'too far' not 'to far' - you may lose marks, depends on the seriousness of the 'Degree'.
JJGEE 15 7.8k 18 England
20 Oct 2020 4:08PM

Quote:I always think it surprising that B&W is allowed.

As far as I am aware there are a limited number of B&W digital cameras on the market, Phase One & Leica for example

On that basis I think allowing B&W conversions is OK.
Dave_Canon Plus
14 1.8k United Kingdom
20 Oct 2020 4:50PM

Quote:I always think it surprising that B&W is allowed. To me there is nothing so altering as changing an image to B&W. I suspect it is allowed with the freedom it is as it was all that was available in the early days of photography. One has only to put any photograph through something like Silver Efex to see the vast range of B&Ws that are possible.

P.S. Mark - it is 'too far' not 'to far' - you may lose marks, depends on the seriousness of the 'Degree'.



I think that you will find that B&W are allowed in the B&W sections of a competition or salon only. As for how far is too far, images which breach the rules are normally disqualified and in serious cases the photographer may be banned worldwide from any salons by the affected sponsor. As I have repeated several times (and it seems to be ignored) in club, national and international salons, restrictions generally apply to Nature, Travel and photojournalism. Of course other rules do insist that all the work is your own and there have been examples of plagiarism. At one time nature rules were tougher but they now allow HDR, focus stacking and a few allow the removal of minor blemishes providing the basic truth is not changed.

Dave
clicknimagine Plus
10 723 101 India
20 Oct 2020 5:33PM

Quote:I always think it surprising that B&W is allowed. To me there is nothing so altering as changing an image to B&W. I suspect it is allowed with the freedom it is as it was all that was available in the early days of photography. One has only to put any photograph through something like Silver Efex to see the vast range of B&Ws that are possible.


It is not favouritism as i do or like mono images...but it is in fact much more challenging to work with mono images because you are working with an image where you are excluding the beauty of colour from the image, so you have to work hard only with other elements, like light, composition, shape, atmosphere, pattern etc. and of course the ambit of monochrome processing is not only limited to Silver Efex, it is limitless...

And i can see you don't like monochrome images GrinGrinGrin...
Mark_24 8 19 United Kingdom
20 Oct 2020 6:55PM

Quote:And i can see you don't like monochrome images GrinGrinGrin...


Many thanks for the replies everyone, as well as the links, and has raised MORE questions. Especially if converting to B&W (Sepia and Cyanotype) takes away from the "truth"

Whatever gave you THAT idea @clicknimage TongueTongueTongueWinkWink
altitude50 16 20.5k United Kingdom
20 Oct 2020 7:00PM
Many cameras have a 'black & white' or 'dynamic monochrome' effect in camera. so how will a judge know how it was captured?

Sign In

You must be a member to leave a comment.

ePHOTOzine, the web's friendliest photography community.

Join For Free

Upload photos, chat with photographers, win prizes and much more.