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.
1. Reuters (world leading news and media agency) has stated a set of rules of what is the limit of the use of photoshop blogs.reuters.com/2007/01/18/t… 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
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
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
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
Total Favorites up to now: 18
Beautiful abstract. Maybe it's not an original picture of a staircase, but very well done.
Total views up to now: 109
Total Favorites up to now: 16
Another great abstract. Great photograpic vision to see this frame and capture it.
Total views up to now: 297
Total Favorites up to now: 46
And while the subject of abstacts, here is another beautiful and colorful one. Artistic street photography. My favourite.
Total views up to now: 439
Total Favorites up to now: 51
And another. Very simple and very creative.
Total views up to now: 436
Total Favorites up to now: 55
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
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
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
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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.
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:
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If you don't want to read all this Bla Bla Bla, you can simply download the "A Different Look At Israel" presentations here.