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Submitted on
April 13, 2007


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Gilad's Journal

I think that the digital era of photography brought this question into a whole new level, but this question was always around. Manipulating photography was always around, and Andy Warhol did his Monroe colored portraits long before Adobe came up with Photoshop. Manipulation was done all the time in Fashion adds, where skin flaws were covered with colors and journalistic manipulation tried to illustrate images, when no documentation was available.

So why is the issue of manipulation becoming so controversial these days more than ever before?

Well, these are the problems in my opinion:
1. The fact that digital photography is much more common than what photography was and now days the "tools of the trade" are so easily spread and used, makes the border between to professionals and armatures practically invisible. Many professionals in an attempt to create that border are trying to get the editing tools out of the equation so real photography would be considered a profession, when editing makes it something else. And I agree.
2. It is so damn easier than it use to be. Practically every 12 years old kid can make a photo manipulation it use to take hours of dark room and a lot of knowledge just a few years ago. Photography is a skill that becomes irrelevant when all is needed is a few minutes with Photoshop, and so a set of rules of what is the line between photography and manipulation has to be drawn.
3. Photography is slowly loosing it's respected place as an authentic art form, and so in order to prevent that it is needed to state what is really a "photograph", and on the other hand, when it can't be considered a plain photo anymore.
4. Dishonesty. Photographers that are not satisfied with their technique, gear or the plain results add a lot of manipulation to try and make this look better, and end up with a while different result than the photograph. Even fabrication of the truth is an important moral question in that regard. When it is present it as photography, others feel cheated to. If the artist (and not photographer) would be honest and present it as digital art, or photo manipulation then probably all be clear but at the point people recognize the dishonesty that creates the controversy.

The answer:
1. Reuters (world leading news and media agency) has stated a set of rules of what is the limit of the use of photoshop … The say very clearly what is the ground rule for a photograph to still be a photograph, and I tend to agree. Read the article, but just to give you a preview –
ALLOWED: Cropping, Adjustment of Levels to histogram limits, Minor color correction, Sharpening, Careful use of lasso tool, Subtle use of burn tool, Adjustment of highlights and shadows, Eye dropper to check/set gray  
NOT ALLOWED: Additions or deletions to image, Cloning & Healing tool (except dust), Airbrush, brush, paint, Selective area sharpening, Excessive lightening/darkening, Excessive color tone change, Auto levels, Blurring, Eraser tool, Quick Mask, In-camera sharpening, In-camera saturation styles.
Now, you have to understand that the rules applied of photo journalism are not exactly the same as art photography. In photojournalism the rules are harsh case the artistic side of the photograph is not important and it's only the authentic photograph that is important. In art these rules can be bend a bit in my opinion (like I do use Auto levels on my photographs) but I think that as ground rules – these are right.
2. My philosophy is simple, the same "manipulation" that was once accepted as a part of photography, the one you did in the "Dark room" is still a part of photography. The second you start doing things that were once excessive, they still are. Play with levels, convert to B&W or sepia, sharpen it up, change contrast and tone, but that's it.
If you start mixing a few photos together, change selective parts in the picture, clone out people or change the "weather" you are turning the photograph into something that shouldn't be called a photograph.
3. Be honest. Don't say it's a photograph if you know you have changed it so much it looks nothing like the original. If the result is good people will still like it if you state it's manipulated. It's ok, just a different art form.

To conclude my thoughts on this matter, I think that in time it will be easier to see the border between photography and manipulation and we are going through a phase. Or at least I hope so. If we all give extra effort to preserving the ethics on this matter we will help preserve photography as art.

Now, I invite you to take a look with me, at 10 of my favorites Under my weekly spotlight

Gilad's Journal
Not looking eye to eye ... by jchanders

A Great scene.
I can imagine this scene in real life, and it actually crack me up :)

Total views up to now: 148
Total Favorites up to now: 17

Gilad's Journal

Very impressive B&W shot, fulled with details and drama.
It seems there is not very much in this subject, but it still works like a hammer on a nail. Brilliant.

Total views up to now: 343
Total Favorites up to now: 45

Gilad's Journal
Back Alone by ganooov

Strong expression.
A soldier is returning from a long day carrying the weight of his day in his hands. The perspective and depth, and the overall mood makes it work.

Total views up to now: 114
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Gilad's Journal

Beautiful abstract. Maybe it's not an original picture of a staircase, but very well done.

Total views up to now: 109
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Gilad's Journal
Bending Concrete nr.1 by nasht-01

Another great abstract. Great photograpic vision to see this frame and capture it.

Total views up to now: 297
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Gilad's Journal
Sunset Boulevard by incredi

And while the subject of abstacts, here is another beautiful and colorful one. Artistic street photography. My favourite.

Total views up to now: 439
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Gilad's Journal
where by Ivan-Suta

And another. Very simple and very creative.

Total views up to now: 436
Total Favorites up to now: 55

Gilad's Journal
Two Generations by lissvensson

There is not one sole that sees thins and doesn't understand the expression and symbol. It's simple and effective, and makes me want to hug my son (Oh wait, I am...)

Total views up to now: 115
Total Favorites up to now: 26

Gilad's Journal
Walk on Wind by mrgulabull

The footprints leading away into the horizon... It look so beautiful here. Great colors and composition.

Total views up to now: 384
Total Favorites up to now: 60

Gilad's Journal
Fields of Gold by NadavDov

Well, the lonely tree is nothing new, but every now and again you see a picture of one makes you want to go out and be a photographer. The clarity and the the way the clouds fit in the composition. Amazing piece. Bravo!

Total views up to now: 378
Total Favorites up to now: 61

Gilad's Journal
:thumb52706760:   picture on the picture by stupid-princess   Puddles 2 by MatthiasHaltenhof    :thumb52398044:    :thumb45227498:   An unexpected lightning... by Michel-Lag-Chavarria   Oceania by 0slaven0   

It's amazing to see how much beauty and quality is passed un-noticed here in all one week. I hope that more great work will get noticed here. It's up to us. Use the comments favorites power to support the un-noticed.

Keep supporting!


Gilad's Journal

1. Art is all about expression

2. About Photography, and Israel too

3. DA Thoughts

4. Infra Red

5. Let me shed some Light

6. All the Info you can probably get on me – The BTL with G

7. Listen to "One Day"

8. About freedom of speech and ethics

9. A Different Look At Israel / Part 3, and part 4

10. Where you can download the "A Different Look At Israel" presentations.

11. Summing up 3 years of being a DeviantArt member

12. Summing up what I had to say in 2006

13. Special Interview - An Eye On The World

14. Tips on Shooting indoors

15. Tips on recommended filters

16. Using build in flash

17. Keep your pixels yours

18. About making money in photography

19. Do you know how to get exposure?

If you didn't hear about the wonderful project of ArtistsForCharity now its the time! go, share, and help.

These are five prints of my work, I gave to the project so far:
:thumb32432455: and :thumb30663927: and :thumb25868807: and :thumb25653391: and :thumb26333866:

Yours, G

If you don't want to read all this Bla Bla Bla, you can simply download the "A Different Look At Israel" presentations here.

  • Mood: Adoration
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josespul Featured By Owner Nov 12, 2008   Photographer
I now gradually starting to open my eyes...
Kajuah Featured By Owner Feb 23, 2008   Interface Designer
I used to agree with your points, but now I think the idea of honor-bound photography is lame, ignorant and dated. Who are we to define art? Let alone photography, which is an ever changing art. Every art changes.

Either get on board with the new ferry or be left in the dark ages.

One can argue that film photography is the one true type of photography and that digital makes things far too easy and able for anyone to do. The art of the photographer starts ith the image the photographer wants to see, however, not the product of what he captures.

If it were a contest of best quality photos with a certain type of camera then one might as well have a robot or a computer take the shot, and skip the humanity (and art) of photography all together.

While i'm not a big manipulator myself, I don't think we or anyone should restrict, create rules for, or define the standards of what photography should be in order to be considered "genuine."

Davinchi and picasso didn't define the entire genre of painting with their techniques and style, why should you? Let alone i, or ayone else?

Photomanipulation isn't as easy as you write it to be, anyway, I've tried my hand at it it takes a long time to learn the techniques, probably not as much moving around as film might allow but it's essneetially the same practise just different methodology.
SawnOffShogun Featured By Owner Dec 9, 2007
I know this response is a bit dated but you may still find this interesting? [link]
Dimentichisi Featured By Owner Aug 22, 2007
Interesting, you may have gotten this comment before.. but,

What about portrait photographers? When they have to remove blemishes from the faces of people, do you consider that a conversion from photography to manipulation?
pro-violence Featured By Owner Aug 2, 2007
I know this is a very dated journal and sorry for the late comment but I just had a chance to read over it. I completely agree but to this I must consider myself a liar because I in fact manipulate photos in the darkroom. It took me over 4 years of study to develop my technique and I still consider them photographs if not photographs then silver geletin prints. Could you please tell me your insight on my images? *pro-violence

Thank you.
lowerdezk Featured By Owner Jun 10, 2007  Student Photographer
i do think your opinions are right. thanks for sharing it.
cherrymegumi Featured By Owner May 26, 2007
Wow. This is a helpful entry. I'm only starting out in photography, so the information you gave is very educational.

I have a question. I've always known about those different things you can do in Photoshop, but it's only recently that I really used them on my photographs. Is adjustment of contrast considered manipulation? My photo looked fine as I shot it, but when it was developed, it was different. You can see it here: [link]

Also, desaturation. How do I know if it's one of the "in-camera saturation styles" that are not allowed? I slightly desaturated one of my photos. It's here: [link]

I feel so confused. I'm sorry to ask you so many questions. You don't really have to answer them, but I would really appreciate it. :D I could send you the original shots of the two deviations I mentioned.

Thank you, thank you.
gilad Featured By Owner May 26, 2007  Professional Photographer
this whole journal is about the fact that there is no "ground rule" for that. I believe that doing contrast in a reasonble amount is not. Otheres will say it is. I see no reason considering the work in the links as photomanipulations.. clearly photographs
cherrymegumi Featured By Owner May 26, 2007
Ah, I understand. No ground rule. Okay. Haha, sorry, I am really just young and ignorant.

Thank you for saying that they still look like photographs. You made my day.

Thanks for everything again! You're really brilliant. I shall add you.
gilad Featured By Owner May 26, 2007  Professional Photographer
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