how much photoshopping is cheating the image?

Discussion in 'General Talk' started by Caladina, Apr 30, 2020.

  1. Caladina

    Caladina Active Member

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    Watching youtube vids seeing 'how i shot this' by professional photographers and seeing how much altering they do to ''get the shot' makes me think, well its just cheating.

    I understand that in most cases when they are doing work for a client and they do need to get the images in a certain time frame they need to speed stuff up with Photoshop/light room work rather than time spent on shots,
    But when it comes to showing people how they shot a photograph when it was just for that purpose free of any obvious time constraints etc then they take the image and alter the lighting on the subjects dress then change her skin tones and add light / color to the foreground and background.

    I get these are going to be raw files that need some work to bring them up but am i just not getting it?

    i see taking a photo with a specific idea/image in mind when you can set it up as a skill to capture that image as close as possible through the camera

    i have nothing against using Photoshop to create something as an artistic or creative work involving it as a part of the creation

    maybe another way of looking a it is someone saying 'look how well i repaired that panel, when in reality they didn't beat out the metal as close or as perfect they could and loaded it up with filler.

    so what are your views on photography as a skill, do you see it as a challenge to get an out of camera image that needs very little or no adjustments or, hey its all good tech chuck it in lightroom.?
     

  2. Craig Sherriff

    Craig Sherriff Active Member Site Supporter

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    Caladina, what you say is correct, basically they need to get it right in the camera first.
    On the other hand, I don't.
    Thank God for photoshop.
     
  3. GDN

    GDN Well-Known Member

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    I think that it is each to their own. There are styles of images that I really don't like, so I don't go out of my way to create them. I am going to show my age now, but back in the day when all you had was film you kind of had to get it right in camera. Once you pressed the shutter button, that was it. It was down to you to get the exposure, focus, and what you wanted in the shot. What I have taken away from that process is that it maybe slower but you get the shot you want. I would personally spend a little more time getting the shot I want than spending time in another software package fixing what I could have got correct in the beginning.

    I like to be outside doing landscape images, and low light images. I would rather wonder around and find what I think is the better view point rather than I can crop that out latter. I would rather wait until the lighting is how I would like to image it. I done a road trip around part of Australia, and one thing that I noticed is the amount of people that pull up to a photogenic spot, take a shot or two, hang around for five minutes and bugger off. If they had waited twenty minutes, the lighting and conditions could change and you get a better image, but there is no guarantee with that.

    So for me, I try and get the image I want in camera. I am happy to use a tripod and filters and swap lenses. Generally speaking, the images I post will only have the contrast bumped up a little, a little sharpening done, and a little crop if required. I would rather learn a technique on how to get an image in the field, than learn how to create the same effect in photoshop, etc.

    Gary
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2020
  4. GDN

    GDN Well-Known Member

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    Just as an after thought. I still carry and use a film camera for this very reason. I am not saying it is better, but it slows me down, it makes me look at the exposure settings, it makes me look around the viewfinder before I press the shutter button.

    Sorry, I'll be quite now.

    Gary
     
  5. Craig Sherriff

    Craig Sherriff Active Member Site Supporter

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    Gary, I would not say you are showing your age but demonstrating experience, that can only be gained by practice and a willingness to learn.
    What you are saying on your post is something I have only been doing in the last 15 years.
    When I started putting into practice what you have said and saw improvement in my photos and developed a willingness to learn more, I purchased more gear for a pacific shoot or style.
    I then discovered You-Tube and I now I teach a photography class.
    I have also stepped backwards in technology and use a lot of film, 35mm, 120mm and 4 *5 large format.
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2020
  6. johnsey

    johnsey Site Moderator Staff Member Site Supporter

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    I agree with Gary on the point of to each their own.

    I also share a similar view as far as getting it right in the first place, I started on film and still shoot occasionally. So I fully endorse slowing down and getting it right in the first place. LR and PS have their place, but you generally should be fine tuning not fixing in my honest opinion.
    That's not to say some photographers create some great works of art that really do need to be produced in software. I'm not taking away from their creative process at all. :)
     
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  7. turtlefoot

    turtlefoot New Member

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    Can I play the Devil's Advocate a little, on this one being the new guy here? I sure hope it is okay.

    I have run into this question I don't know how many times over the last few years, concerning digital photography...AND over the last 30+ years concerning film photography. My answer is not 100% on track as it doesn't directly, specifically address digital manipulation as photographic cheating.

    I have a single observation to address before I actually give my opinion.

    Correct me if I am wrong, but generally speaking, photography is the only art form that is expected to be (or assumed to be) a faithful and accurate portrayal of the subject matter in the photograph. There are obviously exceptions to this going back to the 1850's with special effects and "trick" photography. Someone who draws, paints, carves, etc.; their work is rarely looked at, and judged in a negative light if things are not 100% accurate. How many times have we heard the phrase "artistic freedom" when it comes to the portrayal of something in a painting or drawing? How many times are the artists praised for their artistic or creative portrayal of something?

    Now that I have said that, are photographers who produce heavily edited images cheating? I personally don't think so. It is another tool to use, and another skill that many have mastered. Was the extensive darkroom manipulation that Ansel Adams did consider cheating or was it using his ability to control light to achieve the end result he wanted? Was it cheating when the stock photographer from the 1980's would sandwich two slides and create an image of a scene that never happened? I think if some of the great photographers from the 1920's-1950's were in their prime right now, they would be absolute masters in the digital darkroom.

    Is there really much difference between adding light or changing colors digitally vs using dodging/burning tools and manipulating light colors in the chemical darkroom? What about removing pesky cars or power lines in post vs. doing something similar in the traditional darkroom. Some of the best birds in flight images that I have ever seen turned out to be sandwiched slides to produce something that wasn't even there.

    With journalistic and documentary exceptions, I look at the final image as the goal to achieve. I use any tool or technique that I can, to achieve that goal. It takes great skill to be able to envision the final photograph and then produce it in camera. On the flip side, it too takes great skill to envision the final photograph and then be able to make that photograph with the use of a digital darkroom and camera. It's two paths to the same end goal.
     
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  8. GDN

    GDN Well-Known Member

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    I think that back in the day, most people would take a roll of film, and drop it off to be developed. You got back what you saw when you took the image. A smaller percentage of people would have had access to a dark room to do a little dodging and burning, plus a little cropping.

    Nowadays, we all have access to software that can manipulate images. So you name, you can do it. Of course how one person edits an image may not be to everyone's taste, but that is just each persons own take on it. There are some editing styles that I really am not a fan of, but that is my personal opinion, it is not to say it is wrong.

    Plus in the worse case, if you edit a image and you make a real hash of it, you can undo or not save the image and it doesn't matter. I do have a play around with some images to see what a different effect would look like from time to time, but I do tend to stick to the same old styles I use. Maybe that it is a weakness on my behalf that I always stick to the same old same old, and not try to be a little different and out of my normal comfort zone.

    Gary
     
  9. Craig Sherriff

    Craig Sherriff Active Member Site Supporter

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    Going a bit off track, I miss that moment of anticipation as you open and look for the first time, at a pack of newly developed photos.
    You do not have that emotional reaction on digital photos.
     
  10. Sapper

    Sapper New Member

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    I prefer getting most of the image as close to what I have envisioned in camera and then pushing it to my personal taste in post editing, so for me I enjoy post work nearly as much as I like taking the photo.
     
  11. Grumpy John

    Grumpy John Member

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    It all depends on what you mean by cheating. If you're manipulating an image to misrepresent and fool people then that is cheating.
    If, on the other hand, you are just doing a bit of cleanup then, IMHO, there is nothing wrong with that.

    Consider this image, it looks a bit messy with the foliage obscuring part of the bird.
    Original.jpg
    But a simple edit removing some of the foliage greatly improves the image without changing the original intent. If it were possible to take the image from a vantage point where I didn't have to edit later on I would have, but that is not always possible in nature photography.
    Edit.jpg
     
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2020
  12. Grumpy John

    Grumpy John Member

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    Then there is the "artistic" element to post processing.

    From this.
    Hastings.jpg

    To this.
    Hastings Marina.jpg
     
  13. turtlefoot

    turtlefoot New Member

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    I have a rather unpopular opinion in many ways. Unless it is journalistic or documentary type photography, I don't see digital manipulation as cheating. It is just another tool in the camera bag so to say. Say a person makes a stunning panorama of a distant landscape scene. The image is perfect EXCEPT for one thing. The sky is totally blown out or a dull gray. If you replace the sky with a vivid blue sky with thunderheads in the background, is that cheating or is that improving your image? I consider it an improvement. The same with sandwiching some flying geese in a sunset image to help balance it out, or something similar. I have an image I will dig out and PLEASE give me your honest opinion if it is cheating or improvement.
     
  14. turtlefoot

    turtlefoot New Member

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    Here is an example.

    house original.jpg

    The above image is the original image that I took. This is not what I saw in my mind though.

    Old House Finished Image Resized.jpg

    This is what I envisioned when taking the original image. There was a long workflow to make the final image. It went from tweaking the original image, converting it to black and white and printing it out on regular printer paper. I then contact printed it on cyanotype paper to make a paper negative in the blue tones, which was then re-scanned and inverted and flipped to get the sepia tone above.

    This is obviously more than adjusting the sharpness, brightness and contrast, but is it cheating?
     
  15. Grumpy John

    Grumpy John Member

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    @turtlefoot, you have hit the nail on the head mate. More often than not I do PP on an image to portray what I was seeing/feeling at the time I was taking the photo, not what the camera was seeing.

    “You don’t take a photograph, you make it.”
    Ansel Adams
     
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  16. GDN

    GDN Well-Known Member

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    My thoughts.

    Is the image improved, no.
    Is the image worse, no.
    Have you cheated, no.

    What I like about your final image is that your image is unique. That's what I really like about your image. You haven't just clicked the convert to sepia button with your mouse, and then be finished with your image. I find the images where people have done this process, the image does not look right as the image looks new old and not that realistic. I like that you have put in more effort than just the usual post processing effort.

    I will put my hand up and say I am the worlds worse for a quick image capture when I am out and about, a quick and dirty post processing, and ta dah. There you go. But there are times when I actually make an effort to make an image that is different to every other that you will see of that subject on google images. So over the weekend just gone, I took some time off work, and I went out and tried to do just that. The effort was put in and I have managed to get some images that are different from everyone else's images that you will see on the net, so I am happy with that. I now have some unique RAW files. How am I going to process it? I am going to spend some time on these images instead of doing my normal post processing.

    If there was one thing I would change, is that my eye is always drawn to the little white square on the front of the tree in your final image. If that is because I have seen it as a yellow sign, and now I can't un-see it in your original image, I don't know.

    Other than that, I like your unique image.

    Gary
     
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2020
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  17. turtlefoot

    turtlefoot New Member

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    Yashica 28mm f/2.8
    Schneider-Kreuznach Xenar 45mm f/2.8
    Olympus Zuiko 50mm f/1.5
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    Thank you Gary for taking the time to not only look at my image, but to process, internalize and to give an honest opinion on it. That means more than many will understand. I agree with you that the "No Trespassing" sign is a detraction. This is my laziness of not wanting to remove it in post. It is almost all I see though, which means that it now has to go. You said something in the very beginning of your post that I think is possibly the most important part concerning my images. You stated that the image is not improved or made worse, which is amazing to me. I am actually glad that your feelings are that way. My post processing was really NOT to improve or degrade the image. My post processing was to produce an image of what I saw in my mind. If you share the images that you took over the weekend, I would love to see them. Thank you once again for your post. I really do appreciate it.
     
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  18. Caladina

    Caladina Active Member

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    I think i know why i not keen on photo shopped images made to look like a real scene, i think its because the picture for me looses meaning or connectivity maybe soul when the image i'm looking at never actually took place, never happened.

    thats not to say i don't appreciate or in fact make photo shopped images, its just that i like to feel the image or what the people/subjects were feeling/thinking at the time.
    alot of that is to do with me as the observer and what i'm wanting to extract from the image.
     
  19. Craig Sherriff

    Craig Sherriff Active Member Site Supporter

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    I agree with John. the effort was worth it, as the saying goes "nothing ventured nothing gained".
     
  20. Isac

    Isac Active Member

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    This is NOT CHEATING!! It's creative digital art. I want to see more of it. I agree with what John says about commercial advertising that photoshops photos that misrepresent what you will actually see when you visit a holiday resort or go to a house you saw in a real estate advertisment. That's 100% deceptive and should be 100% illegal. I have been working with Photoshop since 1992 and I love it!
    Once you change an original "Photo" it then becomes an "Image". You should NEVER say "This is a photo of ...." if you've edited it in any way. That said, I think the tools we have available nowadays like Photoshop, Luminar, Affinity, Gimp etc, give us all a licence to get creative with our artistry and present fabulous works of art. The more the merrier!
    Turtlefoot, I like what you did and it shows your creative side well. Keep it up and give us more my friend!
    I hope you don't mind, but I borrowed your vision for how you wanted to see your image and I put a slightly different slant on it with an action I wrote to create that sort of image. If it's not OK, I can remove it.
    VINTAGE-PHOTO.jpg
     
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