Photoshop – good, bad or ugly?
The amount of photoshopping happening to some photos is incredible, with the right skills it’s possible to make the taken pictures (the camera never lies of course) in to something that never happened in front of the lens.
Over the years there have been many cases of images questioned and photographers found to have manipulated the truth. Photo journalists are the usual ones under the spotlight and for good reason, if they move the position of things in the frame the story changes and the truth is bent, even cropping the frame is taboo since removing other elements of the picture from the frame may change the context of what is left. For such photographers the simplest adjustments only are allowed, such as a global change to levels or contrast and global sharpening of the image to allow it to print or display correctly. For many the lack of photoshop allowed actually is no bad thing since the success of a picture might be related to the speed with which the picture hits the news desk.
Other branches of professional photography have a very different approach and for commercial, beauty, product, automotive and many other types of photography it is part of the reality of every shot that gets to the client. A bit of cleanup, the subtle removal of things from the background, the enhancement of eyes, straightening teeth it’s all fair. Even the swapping of bits from one picture to another is often the case. Personally I’ve moved the head of one little girl in a group shot of her and her two brothers in to another shot which had better expressions on the boys faces, and that was at the parents request.
There was a recent news story about a wildlife photographer who manipulated an image and got fired for it. He was using the image in a journalistic, rather than artistic context and so the photo journalist ethics apply. Take a look at the article online and see for yourself how the changes made the image stronger, but not actually what was taken. Many natural history & wildlife photographers have an approach similar to the photo journalists but there are others that take manipulation far beyond a bit of localised sharpening of the eyes of the subject.
For virtually all camera club competitions there’s no restrictions placed on us as photographers, but the issue of manipulation is one that does cause debate and some divided opinions. For most photographers the old days of film made us accept exactly what we shot, since messing about with chemistry and film was left to someone else. However if you ever tried to get a specialist darkroom worker to print your images then the difference was amazing. Of course it’s totally and regularly possible to over photoshop an image or make a mockery of what was actually in front of the camera, but what are your thoughts on photoshop, good, bad or just an unfair advantage for those that use it?
One thing is sure, as a result of some amounts of photoshop on the images we have put out to represent the club in projected digital competitions the images do have more impact than the un worked “straight” images.
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