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Photo ethics

 
 
YDOD
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      09-21-2009
I have recently gone back to photography after an absence of 15 years or so.
My previous hobby was usually pictures of flowers, leaves and insects
typically with Kodachrome 64. I find that digital photography is not as
challenging because it is so easy to change the exposure and the color
intensity after the photo has been taken. I realize though that Kodachrome
definitely did not display natural colors, but the exact same product was
available to everyone. I sometimes think that it would be an idea for all
viewing software to have an "undo" control which would show the original
version of any picture so that you could see how it had been manipulated. I
started off with the intention of not editing my photos at all but sometimes
the temptation to change the exposure a little is overwhelming. Does the end
always justify the means or should photography be more a matter of
imagination with a camera rather than talent with editing software?

 
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Charles
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      09-21-2009

"YDOD" <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote in message
news:VtOtm.64886$(E-Mail Removed)...

> Does the end always justify the means or should photography be more a
> matter of imagination with a camera rather than talent with editing
> software?


That's up to you. It would only be "unethical" if you used methods to
delude others.

I post-process very little but occasionally take out distractions (cars,
tourists, power lines, signs) and when I am done I have a representation
that is certainly not real. So what. If I did it to sell real estate by
creating an illusion or unrealistic expectations, that would be unethical.

Again, it is up to you. If you are having fun and expressing yourself, that
is all that really matters.

Welcome back to photography.


 
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Marty Freeman
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      09-21-2009
"YDOD" <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:

I find that digital photography is not as
> challenging because it is so easy to change the exposure and the color
> intensity after the photo has been taken.


People always did this with black and white, and only limitations with
colour processes restricted them in doing this with colour too. Right
back in the mid 20th century, famous colour photographers such as Eliot
Porter were taking full advantage of their mastery of colour processing
chemistry to accentuate colours.

> I sometimes think that it would be an idea for all
> viewing software to have an "undo" control which would show the
> original version of any picture so that you could see how it had been
> manipulated.


To some extent you can do this yourself. I have sometimes seen
eye-catching photographs online, but on saving them to disk and viewing
with Irfanview, I find that if I reduce the colour saturation those sexy
images suddenly take on natural hues and lose their magic. In such a way
it is possible to distinguish "genuine masterpieces" from ordinary
pictures with added monosodium glutamate.

> I started off with the intention of not editing my photos at all but
> sometimes the temptation to change the exposure a little is
> overwhelming. Does the end always justify the means or should
> photography be more a matter of imagination with a camera rather than
> talent with editing software?


Jazzing up images can add impact, but impact isn't everything. Just as
adding sugar or salt to food can increase its appeal, those with a
discerning palate (something which is acquired over your life) come to
appreciate the subtleties of taste over "wow" sensations. So it is with
photographs. The naive viewer may be "wowed" by increased saturation and
contrast, but the experienced viewer will appreciate subtle harmonies of
tone without requiring maximum white or black or saturated colours.
 
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ray
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      09-21-2009
On Mon, 21 Sep 2009 11:12:16 -0600, YDOD wrote:

> I have recently gone back to photography after an absence of 15 years or
> so. My previous hobby was usually pictures of flowers, leaves and
> insects typically with Kodachrome 64. I find that digital photography is
> not as challenging because it is so easy to change the exposure and the
> color intensity after the photo has been taken. I realize though that
> Kodachrome definitely did not display natural colors, but the exact same
> product was available to everyone. I sometimes think that it would be an
> idea for all viewing software to have an "undo" control which would show
> the original version of any picture so that you could see how it had
> been manipulated. I started off with the intention of not editing my
> photos at all but sometimes the temptation to change the exposure a
> little is overwhelming. Does the end always justify the means or should
> photography be more a matter of imagination with a camera rather than
> talent with editing software?


Why do you consider it 'unethical'? Even in the days of film the
processing could easily be 'tweaked' to correct for exposure, etc. - what
you got if you had your film commercialy developed was the operator's
best guess - or sometimes simply a machine's best guess as to how it
should be. It's just a lot easier with digital images.
 
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Don Stauffer
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      09-22-2009
YDOD wrote:
> I have recently gone back to photography after an absence of 15 years or
> so. My previous hobby was usually pictures of flowers, leaves and
> insects typically with Kodachrome 64. I find that digital photography is
> not as challenging because it is so easy to change the exposure and the
> color intensity after the photo has been taken. I realize though that
> Kodachrome definitely did not display natural colors, but the exact same
> product was available to everyone. I sometimes think that it would be an
> idea for all viewing software to have an "undo" control which would show
> the original version of any picture so that you could see how it had
> been manipulated. I started off with the intention of not editing my
> photos at all but sometimes the temptation to change the exposure a
> little is overwhelming. Does the end always justify the means or should
> photography be more a matter of imagination with a camera rather than
> talent with editing software?



Personally, I did a lot of darkroom editing. I was not shooting
photo-journalism, but art photography. I did things like Kodalith
derivatives that certainly destroyed any "realism" in the image.

I viewed what I was doing as no different than painting with a brush.
Few artists painted a scene precisely as they saw it (why include those
power lines overhead). They paint an idylic interpretation of the scene.

Sure, if you are shooting documentary stuff, don't edit much. But for
shooting artistic stuff, digital is really no different than film. Many
of us edit(ed) both.
 
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mianileng
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      09-22-2009
YDOD wrote:
> I have recently gone back to photography after an absence of 15
> years
> or so. My previous hobby was usually pictures of flowers,
> leaves and
> insects typically with Kodachrome 64. I find that digital
> photography
> is not as challenging because it is so easy to change the
> exposure
> and the color intensity after the photo has been taken. I
> realize
> though that Kodachrome definitely did not display natural
> colors, but
> the exact same product was available to everyone. I sometimes
> think
> that it would be an idea for all viewing software to have an
> "undo"
> control which would show the original version of any picture so
> that
> you could see how it had been manipulated. I started off with
> the
> intention of not editing my photos at all but sometimes the
> temptation to change the exposure a little is overwhelming.
> Does the
> end always justify the means or should photography be more a
> matter
> of imagination with a camera rather than talent with editing
> software?


I believe most people accept *some* amount of manipulation to
produce a pleasing picture and to compensate for technical
limitations or human error. Where opinions differ is in making
major changes to content.


 
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Marvin
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      09-22-2009
YDOD wrote:
> I have recently gone back to photography after an absence of 15 years or
> so. My previous hobby was usually pictures of flowers, leaves and
> insects typically with Kodachrome 64. I find that digital photography is
> not as challenging because it is so easy to change the exposure and the
> color intensity after the photo has been taken. I realize though that
> Kodachrome definitely did not display natural colors, but the exact same
> product was available to everyone. I sometimes think that it would be an
> idea for all viewing software to have an "undo" control which would show
> the original version of any picture so that you could see how it had
> been manipulated. I started off with the intention of not editing my
> photos at all but sometimes the temptation to change the exposure a
> little is overwhelming. Does the end always justify the means or should
> photography be more a matter of imagination with a camera rather than
> talent with editing software?


Darkroom work was always a part of photography for those who
had a darkroom. Now it is open to more of us. It is not an
ethical issue, per se.
 
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Bob Williams
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      09-22-2009
YDOD wrote:
I started off with the intention of not editing my
> photos at all but sometimes the temptation to change the exposure a
> little is overwhelming. Does the end always justify the means or should
> photography be more a matter of imagination with a camera rather than
> talent with editing software?



It's your photo. You can do whatever you want with it.
If editing Photos "per se" was unethical, every user of Photoshop or
other Photo Editing software would be unethical.
Ethics only enters the picture when you decide what to DO WITH the
picture. If you misrepresent it to someone for personal gain, (e.g.,sell
it as an unretouched image), then yes. That is unethical.
If you just display it as an example of your skill at creating images
that evoke some emotion in the viewer,(ART), then I see no ethical issue
in that.
IMHO, there must be an unwilling VICTIM as a result of your action, for
the action to be unethical.
Editing a Photo, in and of itself, does not create a victim.
Bob Williams
 
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John McWilliams
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      09-22-2009
Savageduck wrote:
> On 2009-09-22 08:42:57 -0700, Marvin <(E-Mail Removed)> said:
>
>> YDOD wrote:
>>> I have recently gone back to photography after an absence of 15 years
>>> or so. My previous hobby was usually pictures of flowers, leaves and
>>> insects typically with Kodachrome 64. I find that digital photography
>>> is not as challenging because it is so easy to change the exposure
>>> and the color intensity after the photo has been taken. I realize
>>> though that Kodachrome definitely did not display natural colors, but
>>> the exact same product was available to everyone. I sometimes think
>>> that it would be an idea for all viewing software to have an "undo"
>>> control which would show the original version of any picture so that
>>> you could see how it had been manipulated. I started off with the
>>> intention of not editing my photos at all but sometimes the
>>> temptation to change the exposure a little is overwhelming. Does the
>>> end always justify the means or should photography be more a matter
>>> of imagination with a camera rather than talent with editing software?

>>
>> Darkroom work was always a part of photography for those who had a
>> darkroom. Now it is open to more of us. It is not an ethical issue,
>> per se.

>
>
> Agreed the digital darkroom ethically is no different to the chemical
> darkroom.
>
> There is a huge difference between photo manipulation (darkroom or
> computer) with malicious intent, and adjustment for effect, be it
> artistic effect or clean up of the image for a sharp presentation.


And the intent doesn't have to be malicious; just dishonest, such as a
PJ adding in extra smoke elements to show bombings, or removing anything
significant from the frame (other than cropping, but arguably cropping
can make a PJ dishonest. --

--
John McWilliams
 
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John McWilliams
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      09-23-2009
Savageduck wrote:
> On 2009-09-22 14:30:29 -0700, John McWilliams <(E-Mail Removed)> said:
>
>> Savageduck wrote:
>>> On 2009-09-22 08:42:57 -0700, Marvin <(E-Mail Removed)> said:
>>>
>>>> YDOD wrote:
>>>>> I have recently gone back to photography after an absence of 15
>>>>> years or so. My previous hobby was usually pictures of flowers,
>>>>> leaves and insects typically with Kodachrome 64. I find that
>>>>> digital photography is not as challenging because it is so easy to
>>>>> change the exposure and the color intensity after the photo has
>>>>> been taken. I realize though that Kodachrome definitely did not
>>>>> display natural colors, but the exact same product was available to
>>>>> everyone. I sometimes think that it would be an idea for all
>>>>> viewing software to have an "undo" control which would show the
>>>>> original version of any picture so that you could see how it had
>>>>> been manipulated. I started off with the intention of not editing
>>>>> my photos at all but sometimes the temptation to change the
>>>>> exposure a little is overwhelming. Does the end always justify the
>>>>> means or should photography be more a matter of imagination with a
>>>>> camera rather than talent with editing software?
>>>>
>>>> Darkroom work was always a part of photography for those who had a
>>>> darkroom. Now it is open to more of us. It is not an ethical
>>>> issue, per se.
>>>
>>>
>>> Agreed the digital darkroom ethically is no different to the chemical
>>> darkroom.
>>>
>>> There is a huge difference between photo manipulation (darkroom or
>>> computer) with malicious intent, and adjustment for effect, be it
>>> artistic effect or clean up of the image for a sharp presentation.

>>
>> And the intent doesn't have to be malicious; just dishonest, such as a
>> PJ adding in extra smoke elements to show bombings, or removing
>> anything significant from the frame (other than cropping, but arguably
>> cropping can make a PJ dishonest. --

>
> ...and dishonesty, with the intent of skewing interpretation of any PJ's
> work isn't malicious?
> In most cases it is not the PJ who is responsible.


Regardless of who is ultimately responsible, it'd seem we have different
interpretations of what constitutes malicious behavior. To me, the
latter is with intent to harm another. Dishonesty can be "merely" for
one's own benefit.

--
john mcwilliams
 
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