Jump to content
cor

This Must Be Photoshopped

Recommended Posts

I too am a little mystified by the perception that eliminating post-processing somehow "levels the field" for those who don't know to use Photoshop. I understand the prohibition against composing multiple images or duplicating elements, but the no editing rule seems overly restrictive. Like it or not, Photoshop has become as much a part of imaging as choosing fstop and shutter speed.

 

Most of what I do when editing images for myself is what I call subtractive editing. The goal is to simplify by removing distractions. If there is wayward fin tip, I will clone it out. If there is too much backscatter, I reduce it. If there is a hot spot I dodge it.

 

When I then want to enter some of these images in competitions, I find myself "unediting" my images. Fortunately this isn't too hard since I do all editing nondestructively on separate layers. However, when I am done with my "unediting" I invariably find that I don't like the image as much. I do it because the rules require it, but it is somewhat unsatisfying.

 

The prohibition against cloning or healing tools has the side effect of biasing the results towards crystal clear tropical waters over green cold waters. Good strobe positioning is essential for both, but it is WAY easier to get clean images in tropical waters. There have been some competitions that recognize this fact and have specific categories for cold water, but the bias still exists.

 

Having a category for Photoshop free entries leaves me wondering if we shouldn't also have a category for images taken in program mode, to be fair to those who don't know how to use manual :)

Edited by drsteve

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I'm sure there are Photoshop hackers that could outwit Eric and submit a Photoshopped image in the 'traditional' category.

We audit RAW files and reserve the right to disquality images for which there is no "original" file from the camera. So... go for it! You can think of your entry as a donation to the competition and to the non-profits that we donate to. :P

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

But it's not out of the question that someone could do a high quality photograph or something of a Photoshopped image; no worries, I don't have time for such shenanigans....but it would be a challenge to see if I could outwit you! :P

Hmmm...let me think. Photoshop an image, output to a transparency, photograph the transparency in RAW using a slide copier... I still have one. Now where can I find one of those thingamajiggies that I used to make Powerpoint transparencies with.

Edited by loftus

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
We audit RAW files and reserve the right to disquality images for which there is no "original" file from the camera. So... go for it! You can think of your entry as a donation to the competition and to the non-profits that we donate to. :D

Eric,

Pertinent to what I said about this earlier here is a little blurb from Luminous Landscape pertaining to new in camera capabilities of the Nikon, I think it's just a matter of time before a lot of adjustments presently not allowed for 'traditional' categories will be able to be done in camera - of note is that cropping is now possible

'In-Camera Post-Exposure Raw to JPG Conversions and File Blending

Also completely unexpected on the Nikons is the ability to process images already on a card in the camera to produce new files. In addition raw files can be processed to JPGs in-camera after they have been shot. This conversion includes the ability to alter white balance, do monochrome conversions, tinting and cropping, as well as red-eye reduction. Quite a capability, and one which could well appeal to a number of different photographer's needs.'

Edited by loftus

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree loftus that this may happen in the longer term, but to my knowledge none of the current crop of cameras actually alter the original RAW - they only produce a JPG with changed processing parameters. So Eric's audit will still presumably detect photoshop or in camera mods.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
they only produce a JPG with changed processing parameters. So Eric's audit will still presumably detect photoshop or in camera mods.

 

I can see the conversation now when Eric comes knocking:

 

"Eric, whaddya mean you want my original RAW file? I always shoot JPEG, high quality settings. Really, my Canon xTI shoots RAW files? Well knock me over with a feather, and besides some people still mention you do not need to shoot RAW anyway. Whaddya mean I am disqualified? Ah f^&k the fish and marine life donation and return my entry fee." :D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Heh... an audit is only necessary if there are serious concerns about the authenticity of an image. All contest judging is subjective, anyway. Craig wrote something about judges disqualifying photos that are presumed to be manipulated because they (we) might be "jealous." I assure you that this is not the case. Every judge has his or her own reasons for not liking a photo.

 

I am not a saint in the water; I *like* to interact with marine life the same way I might interact with a squirrel or chipmunk in the wild. But each time, I have to make a judgment call (e.g. am I in a national park? is it going to harm the animal? etc. etc.)

 

I wandered off topic there a bit. But basically, if you try to cheat, we'll do our best to catch you. :D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I believe a photographer has the right to develop an image in any way, shape, or form that truly expresses the sentiments of the photographer at moment the shutter button was pressed.

 

And, that my friend is all that matters!

 

Perhaps this might include an image (or even part of an image) which was conceived but which bears little relationship to the in-camea image!

 

Post adjustment of an image is neither acceptable nor unacceptable - except when we 'tag' on a set of moral/ethical/specific requirements. Producing an 'in-camera' image as a goal in itself is fine - if that's what you are trying to do, but it is fundamentally limiting and in many fields of photography is also irrelevant.

 

I think that the problem we have is one of understanding why we take photos and what level of truth/accuracy is desirable for the requirements we have.

 

I shoot commercially as well as underwater and believe me, I'd be out of business if I didn't try to portray subject matter in specific ways. Sometimes this involves subject manipulation (tidying up a room interior) and sometimes I shoot to enable straightening and cropping (square format images are still associated with 'quality' (a throwback to 6x6cm film days) even on web.

 

Face it, ALL images are a representation of a scene in front of the camera and are, as such, contain inaccuracies (eg. dynamic range?).

 

There have been several recent discussions on the subject of image 'integrity' on wetpixel and it is something dear to most natural history photographer's hearts, but even in this photographic genre there has to be some greyness and IMHO suggesting that only 'in-camera' formed images are the only acceptable form of nature photographs is really not realistic in the digital age.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I once made a photograph to advertise Haig whisky. It had a roaring fire in it. I photographed the fire, had a giant transparency made and inset it in the fireplace. In this way the actors did not have to worry about the heat/getting burnt.

The art director worried it was not a 'real' fire. I pointed out that at the finish he would only have a photograph with a fire in it but represented by lots of tiny coloured dots on paper. He fretted, so we had to light the fire!

 

Photographs are images. They are never real!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I see that this thread has been quiet for two months, but I have to risk stirring it up again.

 

I'm inspired by Alex's images, but (here we go again) have always thought that when reproduced in print they show signs of digital colour and contrast processing. Having got that wrong, should I blame my inexperience, or, and more interestingly, conclude that it's very difficult to tell? Hence the request for RAW files to adjudicate in competition.

 

I have accepted the belief of several authors that the best digital images are created from "digital negatives" which maximise the information in a RAW file at the expense of unsharpened, low contrast images with muted colours when viewed without further transformation. In common with monochromatic negatives, that transformation may be different in different areas of the image, and can't be done with a RAW converter. In other words, post-processing is as fundamental to digital photography as it is in photography with negative film. This is rather different to reversal film, which was the mainstay of pre-digital underwater photography. Perhaps this is why I thought Alex's images were processed, and why stunning, contrasty, colourful, and sharp images are suspect when they look real.

 

British photographers will know Trevor Rees' "Best of British" portfolio that won the SOUP competition last year. I was disappointed to hear Trevor describe making a composite image of a diver photographing a carp a couple of months ago, and then to see that one of his portfolio shots is admittedly another composite. Both images are artistically stunning. What disappointed is that I couldn't tell!

 

I have since thought about this, and decided that if an image reflects its author's passion, and makes an honest statement about the underwater world, then the way it was created is less important. I have reached the point in my own development that if I see something on a dive, and have the right lens, then it is easier to shoot a good image than to create one in Photoshop. For me, diving with a GOFER and several cameras is, therefore, no more or less fraudulent than Photoshopping in that it substitutes (money and power in one case, technology in the other) for diving and photographic skill. I would rather applaud technical skill in post-processing than wealth, anyway. I would also applaud Trevor's use of images created on a cold northern beach over the fantastic grotesquerie of Lembeh (though I still want to go there, of course).

 

In the end I value the image above the skill with which it was created, not the skill above the image. I think that an audience of one's peers often votes that way in public competition, but that professional judges can sometimes value the skill above the image created. That is not surprising, as such skill is the professional's bread and butter.

 

It leaves me with a question: should the way in which we look at images be defined by professional standards, or by artistic ones?

 

 

jpeg from RAW:

 

post-4522-1204987897_thumb.jpg

 

composite:

 

post-4522-1204987873_thumb.jpg

 

radical colour/contrast adjustment:

 

post-4522-1204987915_thumb.jpg

 

Tim

 

B)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
It leaves me with a question: should the way in which we look at images be defined by professional standards, or by artistic ones?

jpeg from RAW:

 

4]

 

Tim

 

B)

 

I think it really comes down to what the image was taken for and where and how it is presented. Take for example the present images on Wetpixel of a newborn manatee taken by Carol Grant. Carol has yet to show us all her images, but it is quite likely that one or more of these images will win a competition somewhere irrespective of any post processing or true artistic sense and ability of the photographer. I am sure Carol will take some awesome quality photographs, but no one can deny the 'uniqueness' component of the photograph when judging such a photograph, as it contributes to the final judgement of the photograph. For this type of photograph it would probably be inappropriate to do any type of significant post-processing.

On the other hand, I have a photo of a manatee that I have cropped, dodged and burned, done some curve and sharpening adjustments, spotted etc, and I present this as what I consider an unusual portrait of a not unusual subject. I could take this further and create a collage of multiple images of a manatee and probably create a very appealing image. In the digital age, nothing is necessarily as it appears, all that counts in my opinion is honesty as to what you have done to an image when you present it.

post-5478-1204990133_thumb.jpg

Edited by loftus

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I think it really comes down to what the image was taken for and where and how it is presented....

 

On the other hand, I have a photo of a manatee that I have cropped, dodged and burned, done some curve and sharpening adjustments, spotted etc,

 

In the digital age, nothing is necessarily as it appears, all that counts in my opinion is honesty as to what you have done to an image when you present it.

 

Agreed. (To the extent this relates back to contests, as mentioned I think the contests are fairly clear in what is or is not allowed in a particular catagory.)

 

Like the Manatee shot you did. It is funny, but to me dodging, burning, cropping and other techniques that were familiar in a darkroom setting are things I never really think of as being "improper" or being dishonest if not mentioned (as long as not being submitted to a contest catagory that says no cropping :rolleyes: ). To me that is photography. This also follows to the newer technology as long as it is honest in not trying to convey a message that is not there - meaning some of the things that has happened in the newspapers where reporters changed images in stories

 

Take a look here Digital Doctoring

 

Interesting and my response to the doctoring in each of the instances differs depending on which one is presented.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Take a look here Digital Doctoring

Interesting and my response to the doctoring in each of the instances differs depending on which one is presented.

Interesting link. A couple of months ago I had a discussion about this with Lee Varis, a Hollywood photographer and Photoshop guru. One of the things he pointed out was that in the majority of movie marketing materials like posters etc, the heads of the stars are pasted into the photograph on other models' bodies. This is a much cheaper way for the studios to have marketing materials made. In fact much of his work was creating photographs of models in various environments and then adding the stars' heads later, this way the stars did not need to be present. Hence much cheaper.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Interesting link. A couple of months ago I had a discussion about this with Lee Varis, a Hollywood photographer and Photoshop guru. One of the things he pointed out was that in the majority of movie marketing materials like posters etc, the heads of the stars are pasted into the photograph on other models' bodies. This is a much cheaper way for the studios to have marketing materials made. In fact much of his work was creating photographs of models in various environments and then adding the stars' heads later, this way the stars did not need to be present. Hence much cheaper.

 

 

Good information and it does make sense. Those are one of the things where it does not seem unreasonable, movies are all an illusion (in a good way) and marketing materials for a movie seems to me an okay use of those type of techniques. Perhaps it is just because I do not expect it to be real to begin with.

 

Sort of the along the same lines, sometimes on DVDs there is bonus material of deleted scenes or other similar material that has not gone through real post production (such as color correction). I love looking at those things to get a sense of what was "real" and how some post production is used.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's all about context, right?

 

Photography has always had a foot in two camps, art and documentation. They are two different genres, both equally valid and important in an historical context.

 

You just have to make a decision where you and your pictures fit. And yes, it's OK to be a fence sitter, having one foot in each.

 

I love to see great images that express/interpret (in the darkroom or in post) what was captured in ONE MOMENT - they make me go all goose-bumpy. To me they represent the true pinnacle of an authentic documentary photograph.

 

Some of the composite work (whether done darkroom or digital) is very interesting, and often beautiful. And it's art, which is OK.

 

The real challenge is to help the viewer understand what it is they are looking at, so they can make their own judgment about an image.

 

If you're proud of a composite digital image, assert it. Credit it as such so viewers can be in awe of your artist talents and photoshop skills.

 

If you're proud of your authentic single moment photograph, assert it. Credit it as such, it might even start to catch on.

 

While-ever digital artists hide their composition talents, and try to pass them off as camera skills, in the eye of the broader community, photography will continue on the slippery slope toward mediocrity.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sponsors

Advertisements



×
×
  • Create New...