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The ethics of post processing of digital photo's

Discussion in 'Talking Pictures' started by cropete, Jul 25, 2011.

  1. cropete

    cropete Well-Known Member

    As the digital technically of manipulating photo's has become so readily available now and so easy to perform. Is now the time for introducing some form of 'authenticity' classification of photo's, when they are published or entered into competitions?

    I ask this question because, as an amateur photographer that has been taking digital photo's for about 6 years now, but has only recently began to enter photo's into compositions, I've become increasingly unsure of just how much post processing I can ethically do to my competition photo's before the photo becomes misleading or indeed fraudulent.

    The class of photo entered into a competition or published in the media obviously affects the response to this question. e.g. sports, natural history, wild life, journalistic, creative or art etc. (as each subject group of photos may demand a different editorial and ethical criteria to be applied when processing I suspect)

    Now leaving aside the wider philosophical argument, that the act taking the photo itself can be an edited subjective and biased depiction the reality of the scene that is in front of the camera lens when shutter was released. Plus ignoring the fact for the moment, that the digital camera itself produces a large amount of modification to the image in it's 'in camera processing, e.g. lens correction, shadow boosting, exposure changes and noise reduction etc

    I think it would be useful to everyone, if when looking at a photograph if we could know just how much and what kind of post manipulation has been applied to the photo in question. This could be achieved by the addition a simple code in the title of the photo. or in small letters below the photo.
    some suggested sample codes:- e.g.
    - code F. (this means; no added or merged imagery added)
    - code C (this means; images,affects and merged features added)
    - code MS (only minor exposure, cleanup and colour adjustments applied)
    - code A ( no post processing applied)
    etc

    As to what authority could be called upon to formulate such a code or how any adherence to such a code could or should be applied, of cause is yet another matter for debate.

    It would be interesting to hear what other people's comments and feelings are, on this subject.

    cropete
     
  2. Brian

    Brian Venerable Elder

    This could be seen as an invitation to post the biggest load of pompous twaddle that we have seen for a long time.
     
  3. Roger_Provins

    Roger_Provins Well-Known Member

    I try to make nice pictures from my photos, how is immaterial, the original photo is just a start. :)

    (Not too pompous I hope Brian ;) )
     
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2011
  4. LargeFormat

    LargeFormat Well-Known Member

    I agree with Roger. The only circumstances under which this matters is for forensic purposes. The photographer is under oath and there are programs to test for changes so the photograph is much the same as any other evidence.
     
  5. beejaybee

    beejaybee Marvin

    Maybe not a big load, but your reply seems to be "pompous twaddle" in its own right.

    There's nothing wrong with post processing, it's always been done, and modern cameras do quite a lot without even telling the user. So the classification proposed does not quite work. In any case, it's dependent on the honesty of the photographer ... the so-called "verification" built in to some cameras is rather easy to forge if you can be bothered to do so.

    For "record" purposes, you want to leave in all the items that are in the frame. For the purposes of artistic effect, I don't see any difficulty in removing litter, power lines & other unsightly distractions, substituting a more interesting sky, etc etc etc ... providing it's done in a way that looks believable.

    Sorry if that's "pompous twaddle".
     
  6. daft_biker

    daft_biker Action Man!

    I gather, from a documentary on the Discovery Science channel IIRC, that Adobe are buying into the software that detects manipulated photographs.....

    .....so the software that lets you heavily manipulate images may also let you check to see if you'll get away with it!

    (the documentary was on the guy that developed software that has been used to "prove" some famous images had been manipulated - not only could they do the pattern matching thing for cloned areas they were working on software that did a sort of reverse ray-trace to work out the light sources and detect if an image was a composite of multiple images, which is I think where Adobe got interested)
     
  7. beejaybee

    beejaybee Marvin

    Some people (and corporations) have more money than sense ....

    .... free licence, open source software tools like deconvolution which the real imaging specialists (astronomers) have been using for decades are excellent at picking up mismatches, however carefully they're disguised. True, iterative techniques can be used to hide the joins to any desired degree of perfection, but the process is so expensive computationally that there is little point in attampting such a trick unless the monetary or legal stakes are very high indeed.
     
  8. Brian

    Brian Venerable Elder

    No Roger, you have given a complete answer in 17 short simple words, well done. And LF has clearly indicated just where any such control might be needed, well done both, have a Gold Star.
     
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2011
  9. Brian

    Brian Venerable Elder

    I leave other readers to decide, but I would point out that the OP asked a question which your post totally fails to address.

    So twaddle or not, up to the individual reader to decide , but totally irrelevant? Yes, so in my book certainly twaddle.
     
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2011
  10. Footloose

    Footloose Well-Known Member

    In theory, some form of 'tagging' could be a used, and indeed when editing complex images, I use such as system, to keep track of what I have done eg:
    Xzty.raw ... Xzty-a.tif ... Xzty-h.tif ... then after editing, Xzty01.tif & .Xzty.jpg.

    However, such a system still relies on the honesty of the owner/editor, so it's far from foolproof! The only (partial) solution would be if the user was then obliged to also post the original, but as most people here know, original files can be duplicated!
     
  11. MickLL

    MickLL Well-Known Member

    Unless the use that you have chosen for your photo specifically forbids it or the manipulation is intended to inappropriately deceive for gain then anything goes and therefore, IMHO, tagging serves no purpose.

    MickLL
     
  12. cropete

    cropete Well-Known Member

    My apologizes to everyone and mods. I have appear to have put my thread in the wrong section. I'll re-post it
    in the talking pictures section. Thanks to those who replied
    cropete
     
  13. cropete

    cropete Well-Known Member

    I'm not suggesting any form of policing or control over post processing but just the addition of some extra info (similar to the addition of a title to a photo).
    for example:-
    let's say I put online a photo showing some fairies at the bottom of a garden titled 'Fairies found in a village garden!'
    am I posting this pic as a news pic, a joke or a creative art pic?

    (just for the sake of this example, lets assume that the code in my original post was adopted)
    and I put online a photo titled 'Fairies found in a village garden!- c' (images & effects added). Then the viewer could assume it's just another rather tired old cropete's creative art pic

    However if I put on line a photo titled 'Fairies found in a village garden!- MA' (only minor adjustments etc)
    The viewer could look at the pic in different light e.g. (what's he been taking!)

    Just for the record, I don't have any fairies at the bottom of my garden. (O wait a minute!)
    It's a rather silly example but ---
    cropete
     
  14. Brian

    Brian Venerable Elder

    Apart from Nick's ( LF) what on earth does it matter?

    Surely with digital photography most of us are suffering from a surfeit of information, why add to the clutter. If somebody wants to see Fairies at the bottom of your garden, for God's sake let em.
     
  15. AlexMonro

    AlexMonro Old Grand Part Deux

    I wonder if the late, great, Geoffrey Crawley would've appreciated that! :) [1]

    Seriously, it's not a bad idea as far as it goes. However, I'm not sure how you'd go about getting the code letter standardised and adopted. Many people include a brief description of processing done when posting pictures in places like AP's Appraisal Gallery.

    [1] For those who don't know, the late Geoffrey Crawley, former AP Photo Science Consultant, who sadly passed away last year, was instrumental in exposing the Cottingley Fairies hoax (Wikipedia link).
     
  16. lfc1892

    lfc1892 Well-Known Member

    I was thinking about the very same topic this afternoon after having spent some time perusing the content on 500px and photo.net. Many would argue that there is little difference between touching up digital photos with PS etc and more traditional film based techniques such as dodging, burning and sponging etc that have been with us for years. To a point, I would agree, but there are many occasions where digital manipulation is taken to en extreme. Some images are barely recognisable as photographs as opposed to purely computer generated images. Such images seem to have plenty of visual impact and certainly seem to be very popular and maybe even gaining in popularity. Possibly eventually to the point that digital manipulation becomes as important as and maybe more important than some of the more traditional skills such as composition. I know you can't make a silk purse from a sow's ear, but you can get pretty close if you have an online diploma in photoshoppery.

    Should we force togs to declare how much editing has taken place? I'm undecided on that one.
     
  17. Gezza

    Gezza Well-Known Member

    A lot of competitions have a list of digital manipulations that are accepted in the rules and state the original file must be made available on request.
     

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