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FORUMS Photography Talk by Genre General Photography Talk
Thread started 10 Sep 2017 (Sunday) 19:13
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is processing cheating?

 
-Duck-
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Joined Apr 2016
Shelton, CT USA
Sep 13, 2017 12:57 |  #76

Phoenixkh wrote in post #18451288 (external link)
[...] But in the mean time.... he or she can learn some post processing skills as well.

Which brings us full circle to the original post. Is post processing cheating?

A purist would say that correcting that image after the fact is cheating and the photographer should continue to create failures until they get it right in the camera. Although one can argue that the results from improper use of the camera and the difficult lighting scenario results in a lie created by the camera.

The flip side to that is there is an understanding of the limitations (at time of exposure) of both the camera and the photographer BUT there are methods for correcting those limitations, therefore we can (and should) take advantage of such tools.

In the latter, the question then becomes a modification to the original question to ask, at what point of manipulation does it become too much, thereby rendering a lie?"

I feel that in order to properly answer this question there needs to be some common ground rules about what ultimately constitutes a lie by the photographer and a lie by the technology because, ultimately, the blame falls on one or the other. Until those rules are set, this argument will forever be subjective.


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welshwizard1971
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Sep 13, 2017 13:10 |  #77

Processing a Raw file is the digital equivalent of a the old darkroom, adjusting exposure, dodging burning etc. However, for me, adding elements that aren't there, sun flares, composites, more interesting skies, deleting things, is digital manipation, not processing, and isn't photography. That's not to take away from it, it's a real skill and I can't do it to any great level, it's just a different discipline. You can be an ace digital processor and never pick up a camera just retouching other peoples shots, you can't call yourself a photographer if you do that. If you do both, awesome, you're a skilled photographer, and, a skilled processor....


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airfrogusmc
I'm a chimper. There I said it...
Joined May 2007
Oak Park, Illinois
Sep 13, 2017 13:43 |  #78

-Duck- wrote in post #18451346 (external link)
Which brings us full circle to the original post. Is post processing cheating?

A purist would say that correcting that image after the fact is cheating and the photographer should continue to create failures until they get it right in the camera. Although one can argue that the results from improper use of the camera and the difficult lighting scenario results in a lie created by the camera.

The flip side to that is there is an understanding of the limitations (at time of exposure) of both the camera and the photographer BUT there are methods for correcting those limitations, therefore we can (and should) take advantage of such tools.

In the latter, the question then becomes a modification to the original question to ask, at what point of manipulation does it become too much, thereby rendering a lie?"

I feel that in order to properly answer this question there needs to be some common ground rules about what ultimately constitutes a lie by the photographer and a lie by the technology because, ultimately, the blame falls on one or the other. Until those rules are set, this argument will forever be subjective.


Ansel Adams was considered a purist and the zone system is an alteration of reality. It enables a photographer to capture the way a scene looks to him/her in their minds eye instead of the way it actually is. And the some system is a way to control that vision.
AA wrote a trilogy that all three part have equal importance.

The Camera
The Negative
The Print.

All photographs are lies.

An interesting thought by John Szarkowski.
"What the photographer taking the picture and the historian viewing it must understand is that while the camera deals with recording factual things and events that form the subject of the photograph, it only produces a perceived reality that is remembered after the thing or event has passed. While people believe that photographs do not lie, this is an illusion caused by the mistaken belief that the subject and the picture of the subject is the same thing."- John Szarkowski

"Because we see reality in different ways, we must understand that we are looking at different truths rather than the truth and that, therefore, all photographs lie in one way or another. Today's technological advances in digital manipulation of images that the public sees regularly in photographs and films now only makes it easier to understand what has always been true."- John Szarkowski

"All photographs are accurate. None of them is the truth." - Richard Avedon

Garry Winogrand 2min 24 sec is
https://www.youtube.co​m/watch?v=Tl4f-QFCUek (external link)




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mystik610
Cream of the Crop
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Joined Jan 2012
Houston, TX
Sep 13, 2017 14:35 |  #79

-Duck- wrote in post #18451346 (external link)
Which brings us full circle to the original post. Is post processing cheating?

A purist would say that correcting that image after the fact is cheating and the photographer should continue to create failures until they get it right in the camera. Although one can argue that the results from improper use of the camera and the difficult lighting scenario results in a lie created by the camera.

The flip side to that is there is an understanding of the limitations (at time of exposure) of both the camera and the photographer BUT there are methods for correcting those limitations, therefore we can (and should) take advantage of such tools.

The thing is that raw files are purposely flattened files and do not represent what was seen even with the naked eye. They are, however, embedded with deep layers of imaging data that are meant to be extracted in post to recreate the scene as intended. Raw files are akin to negatives back in the film days. Post processing work is not merely a means of correcting limitations nor is it manipulation per se....its part of the compositional process.

Of course if you shoot JPEG then you could get by with doing no work in post, but all shooting JPEG is doing is allowing the camera to automate the post processing on the fly.

-Duck- wrote in post #18451346 (external link)
In the latter, the question then becomes a modification to the original question to ask, at what point of manipulation does it become too much, thereby rendering a lie?"

I feel that in order to properly answer this question there needs to be some common ground rules about what ultimately constitutes a lie by the photographer and a lie by the technology because, ultimately, the blame falls on one or the other. Until those rules are set, this argument will forever be subjective.

Photography is interpretive in nature, and what's conveyed in the final photo is always the photographers interpretation of a scene. Even if you do zero work to an image in post, simple things like choosing to exclude things from the photo when you frame the shot can drastically change the story that is conveyed. i.e if I frame a shot tightly to keep crowds out of the frame to create the impression of an empty street, is that cheating?


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Bassat
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Bourbon, Indiana - USA
Sep 13, 2017 14:50 |  #80

kjonnnn wrote in post #18451254 (external link)
Adjusting the scene means changing the scene from the original capture in any words. My words weren't that difficult.

What about adjusting the scene BEFORE a capture. If I move a branch/trash can/dead 'possum to improve my results, did I cheat? If I didn't, how about Mathew Brady manipulating arms, ammunition, and even bodies in his photos. Cheating? Same thing?

I think the best idea so far in this thread is that cheating is NOT an action, it is an INTENT. If you mean to deceive the viewer, perhaps you should at least consider the morality of what you are doing.


Tom

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airfrogusmc
I'm a chimper. There I said it...
Joined May 2007
Oak Park, Illinois
Sep 13, 2017 15:06 |  #81

Bassat wrote in post #18451416 (external link)
What about adjusting the scene BEFORE a capture. If I move a branch/trash can/dead 'possum to improve my results, did I cheat? If I didn't, how about Mathew Brady manipulating arms, ammunition, and even bodies in his photos. Cheating? Same thing?

I think the best idea so far in this thread is that cheating is NOT an action, it is an INTENT. If you mean to deceive the viewer, perhaps you should at least consider the morality of what you are doing.


All photographs deceive the viewer. Many portrait photographers intentionally try to make people look better. Nature photographers try to make nature appear more grand. Photographs are all manipulations. It starts with a photograph being 2 dimensional. We experience the world in 3 dimensions. Photographs freeze a moment in time. We experience life in motion. Photographers consciously decide what to point the camera at thus making decisions on what to include and what to leave out. And then there is photographers that are true artists that show us all how the world looks to them and when we are real lucky we get to se a piece of them in their work also.




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RDKirk
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USA
Sep 13, 2017 15:13 |  #82

I'm going to harken back to what I think is the OP's real gripe.

If a person simply doesn't have to technical competence to "get it right in the camera" as far as basic settings for exposure and color balance, is it "cheating" to make corrections in post-processing for basic errors?

...I guess instead of merely presenting bad pictures with a sheepish grin.

Well, in reality, post processing never really corrects such faults--didn't with film, doesn't with digital. When a photographer moves the basic capture in post processing away from what was basically captured, there is always a loss, a consequence of some sort.

If the photographer's craft-fu was strong enough in the beginning, the move will be slight and the consequences will be slight, perhaps unnoticeable even to a discerning eye. And in fact, when the correction is slight it might even be arguable what the real value should be. I suspect that if you showed images of a natural scene varying by 1/10 stop or even 1/3 stop to a group of photographers, you'd get a lot of disagreement about which was the perfect example.




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MalVeauX
"Looks rough and well used"
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Joined Feb 2013
Florida
Sep 13, 2017 15:21 |  #83

inspectoring wrote in post #18448913 (external link)
I am sorry but this has been bugging me for the past couple of years.

I understand taking pictures is an art and I respect the effort one has to put into getting the shutter speed f stop etc right.
BUT I feel that by using adobe photoshop/or any other photoshop processing, I am essentially cheating.

Is it reasonable to have an area/dedicated subform where only unprocessed pictures are posted ?

I know most of the people here are professionals and I mean no disrespect to them. I take 30 pictures one day and then don't touch the camera for the next couple of weeks. I don't mean to minimize the amount of effort that goes into processing.

Film was processed heavily to get the results you've grown up knowing.

Processing is part of the process.

You can't make an image without some form of processing.

Very best,


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Phoenixkh
a mere speck
Joined May 2011
Gainesville, Florida
Sep 13, 2017 15:54 |  #84

-Duck- wrote in post #18451346 (external link)
Which brings us full circle to the original post. Is post processing cheating?

A purist would say that correcting that image after the fact is cheating and the photographer should continue to create failures until they get it right in the camera. Although one can argue that the results from improper use of the camera and the difficult lighting scenario results in a lie created by the camera.

The flip side to that is there is an understanding of the limitations (at time of exposure) of both the camera and the photographer BUT there are methods for correcting those limitations, therefore we can (and should) take advantage of such tools.

In the latter, the question then becomes a modification to the original question to ask, at what point of manipulation does it become too much, thereby rendering a lie?"

I feel that in order to properly answer this question there needs to be some common ground rules about what ultimately constitutes a lie by the photographer and a lie by the technology because, ultimately, the blame falls on one or the other. Until those rules are set, this argument will forever be subjective.

My question: wouldn't the ground rules themselves be subjective? For me, it's easy.... I try to recreate what my eyes see as I'm taking the photograph. Easy in the sense that I'm not trying to take a bird and make is something it isn't. I don't take a grey looking Great Blue Heron and enhance his/her colors to look different than I saw him/her. To me, that is "cheating"... though some wouldn't see it that way. I'm color blind... that might be why I do it that way. I will adjust the contrast, etc. to make the image "pop"... is that cheating? I don't consider it such.... but again, that is subjective.


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Phoenixkh
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Joined May 2011
Gainesville, Florida
Sep 13, 2017 15:56 |  #85

RDKirk wrote in post #18451432 (external link)
I'm going to harken back to what I think is the OP's real gripe.

If a person simply doesn't have to technical competence to "get it right in the camera" as far as basic settings for exposure and color balance, is it "cheating" to make corrections in post-processing for basic errors?

...I guess instead of merely presenting bad pictures with a sheepish grin.

Well, in reality, post processing never really corrects such faults--didn't with film, doesn't with digital. When a photographer moves the basic capture in post processing away from what was basically captured, there is always a loss, a consequence of some sort.

If the photographer's craft-fu was strong enough in the beginning, the move will be slight and the consequences will be slight, perhaps unnoticeable even to a discerning eye. And in fact, when the correction is slight it might even be arguable what the real value should be. I suspect that if you showed images of a natural scene varying by 1/10 stop or even 1/3 stop to a group of photographers, you'd get a lot of disagreement about which was the perfect example.

To a large degree, it's garbage in... garbage out. It is difficult to make a truly poor image shine, as least for me. I can tell almost immediately when one of mine should hit the dustbin. So I agree with you.


Kim (the male variety) Canon 1D IV | 6Dc | 16-35 f/4 IS | 24-105 f/4 IS |100L IS macro | 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II | 100-400Lii | 50 f/1.8 STM | Canon 1.4X III
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Phoenixkh
a mere speck
Joined May 2011
Gainesville, Florida
Post has been edited 1 month ago by Phoenixkh.
Sep 13, 2017 15:57 |  #86

Bassat wrote in post #18451416 (external link)
What about adjusting the scene BEFORE a capture. If I move a branch/trash can/dead 'possum to improve my results, did I cheat? If I didn't, how about Mathew Brady manipulating arms, ammunition, and even bodies in his photos. Cheating? Same thing?

I think the best idea so far in this thread is that cheating is NOT an action, it is an INTENT. If you mean to deceive the viewer, perhaps you should at least consider the morality of what you are doing.

Hear, Hear!!!

When I'm shooting macro, I will move a blade of grass out of the way of a mushroom or flower, for instance. I don't think that's cheating. I have one of those arm thingies with the clamp at the end. I've used that to stop the movement of a flower on a windy day... cheating? Maybe, but I get the shot. I don't feel like I violated some moral code but some people might see it as that.


Kim (the male variety) Canon 1D IV | 6Dc | 16-35 f/4 IS | 24-105 f/4 IS |100L IS macro | 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II | 100-400Lii | 50 f/1.8 STM | Canon 1.4X III
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-Duck-
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Joined Apr 2016
Shelton, CT USA
Sep 13, 2017 16:57 |  #87

Bassat wrote in post #18451416 (external link)
I think the best idea so far in this thread is that cheating is NOT an action, it is an INTENT. If you mean to deceive the viewer, perhaps you should at least consider the morality of what you are doing.

Here's another scenario... A composite of, for example, three people taken at three different times and combined into a single image and passed off as a single shot on purpose is, without a doubt, a purposeful lie with actual intent to deceive. The action was done to achieves a specific goal due to scheduling issues. The intent was definitely to lie to the viewer, is this wrong?


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-Duck-
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Shelton, CT USA
Sep 13, 2017 17:09 |  #88

Phoenixkh wrote in post #18451462 (external link)
My question: wouldn't the ground rules themselves be subjective? [...]

That's the biggest issue with this argument, there are too many subjective elements to photography as it crosses multiple disciplines; art, science, journalism, etc. In order to have be able to answer a broadly stated question such as presented here one needs to qualify the properties that enter into creating an answer. For that to happen a series of criteria would need to be identified that similarly cross all the disciplines. At that point, I am thinking, the disciplines would need to be separated and judged individually, negating a blanket question and requiring further identification; i.e. "Is post-processing a documentary image intended for photojournalism cheating?" or, "is altering colors on a landscape art print considered cheating?"

At this point, because a specific set of rules have been identified for each of the disciplines, the answer would be readily ascertainable.

Without any prerequisites it is all subjective and can not be properly answered as all answers would be correct.


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Levina ­ de ­ Ruijter
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Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Sep 13, 2017 18:03 |  #89

-Duck- wrote in post #18451505 (external link)
Here's another scenario... A composite of, for example, three people taken at three different times and combined into a single image and passed off as a single shot on purpose is, without a doubt, a purposeful lie with actual intent to deceive. The action was done to achieves a specific goal due to scheduling issues. The intent was definitely to lie to the viewer, is this wrong?

I was just thinking about a blend like that. I once did something crazy for POTN's WWPW thread. I had a camera (with a rather crappy old vintage MF lens) on a tripod in my living room, directed at the street below. I took photos every day, in all kinds of weather and at the end of the week I blended photographs together, ending up with a huge image, filled with people.

The thing is the people were all there, exactly where they were in the final image. But they were never all there at the same moment in time. And I also made people interact with one another who in reality weren't, had them get into the wrong cars etc. My intention however was not to lie to the viewer, but to have fun making a crazy image and then tell the story of how I made it. But that image itself, is it a lie or not? I mean, sure there is, let's call it temporal, cheating going on but there's also truth in the image because the people were actually there at some point in time.

Here's a link to the image: https://www.flickr.com .../album-72157655227647083/ (external link)
If you go to "view all sizes" there is a big version of it (warning: very bad image quality!).


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-Duck-
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Sep 13, 2017 19:10 |  #90

First, I have to say that composite is ridiculously impressive. Before I saw it I was thinking the camera set up with stationary framing. It wasn't until a closer inspection that I realized these were individual frames complied to make a larger frame. Kudos on undertaking that challenge. It does give me ideas though.

Levina de Ruijter wrote in post #18451567 (external link)
[...] My intention however was not to lie to the viewer, but to have fun making a crazy image and then tell the story of how I made it. But that image itself, is it a lie or not? I mean, sure there is, let's call it temporal, cheating going on but there's also truth in the image because the people were actually there at some point in time. [...]

Intent... that is just one part of the qualification one has to make in order to judge whether a certain type of processing is to be considered a lie. As I stated above, an open question, without qualification, is subject to too much interpretation and therefore can not really be considered a valid question. Too many variables.

Put up against the fundamentals of a 'purist', this kind of imagery would likely be frowned upon as it can not have been created in camera in a single frame.

Interestingly enough, there are a lot of double standards with just about everyone here, if you really think about it. And that is because there is no unified "rule of measure" to judge by. Frankly, I don't think a singular guide can be created.


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