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Thread: What do you think is legitimate? How far can we go in manipulating photos?

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    Ausphotography Veteran bobt's Avatar
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    What do you think is legitimate? How far can we go in manipulating photos?

    I've been pondering where we should draw the line when manipulating images. Everyone manipulates in some way, but when entering competitions, how much is too much?

    A couple of examples here. This location has a car park in the foreground - totally unattractive. I have produced two images which artificially replace that car park with sea. One of them uses entirely my one images, mirroring the castle, using my own sea etc etc. However, 50% of the image is not original although it's all my own work. It's also not all that good when compared to the second image.

    The second image uses a "Flaming Pear" plug in, which does a far superior job, but 50% of the image isn't even photographic, and certainly not mine! It's software generated. The question is .... how far can we legitimately go in competitions with images which rely so much on plug-ins and artificially generated imagery. Thoughts anyone?



    example1.jpgexample2.jpg


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    a very interesting question I guess it would depend on the rules of the particular competition you entered. I know in any 'nature' categories, manipulation is not allowed.

    I quote from the SAPF (South Australian Photographic Federation) Annual Exhibition entry form:

    "Op
    en Pictorial are images of any subject matter and are judged on artistic rendition and technical quality. Digital manipulation is allowed in these sections.

    Landscape/Seascape Images feature the natural scenery of the terrain and may include any or all of the elements, land, sky and water. Coastal features or the shoreline may be included. Buildings, people or animals may be included but must be incidental to (and not dominate) the image. Minor manipulation is acceptable."

    Then we have the 'Creative' category, where ANYTHING is allowed and encouraged!

    I guess there is 'digital manipulation' and then there is 'DIGITAL MANIPULATION' LOL

    PS - both of your images look great, but I think the 2nd one with the 'waves' seems a little more 'real', but I just love the reflections of the 1st image
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    Quote Originally Posted by CathyC View Post
    a very interesting question I guess it would depend on the rules of the particular competition you entered.
    I guess there is 'digital manipulation' and then there is 'DIGITAL MANIPULATION' LOL
    PS - both of your images look great, but I think the 2nd one with the 'waves' seems a little more 'real', but I just love the reflections of the 1st image
    Thanks ... I agree that the most realistic is the one with the most manipulation, which is my problem. I enter local club comps, and they are often just "Open" comps. Our club doesn't seem to care about the extent of manipulation, but I have seen "photographs" on the 'net which are 100% photoshop and NO photographic content. Obviously that's getting ridiculous, but I'm just not sure where one should draw the line. That second one of mine concerns me due to it being a third "plug in". I wonder if it would be a legitimate entry in competitions here for example ??

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    Ausphotography irregular Mark L's Avatar
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    Understand where you're coming from Bob, but these days does it matter, as long as you're not impinging someone’s copyright?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark L View Post
    Understand where you're coming from Bob, but these days does it matter, as long as you're not impinging someone’s copyright?
    Well, it would seem it's not a concern so far .... 65 views and only 2 comments!

    I just reckon that somewhere there has to be a border that we cross when it comes to entering our photographic work. I'm right into creative modifications, but to me that last image of mine is a bit of a cheat. Apparently the line has moved further than I thought!

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    I think the restrictions, outside of competition rules and whatnot, comes down to personal perspective as to what 'photographic' means.

    To me, even though using a digital camera to do it, I try to do it all in camera. That's the photo, that's the memory, the art. Minor touch ups, I get it - exposed a bit too dark to I fix that, or colour a little dull, so I add a bit more, etc.

    I personally try to avoid manipulation in my photos because then that's not what I shot, not what I remember, not what I experienced.

    So the limit is set based on my perspective, and the advantages of digital editing doesn't change the definition of photography to me, just depending on the work I'm doing.
    David Tran

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    Does it come down to... Are you a good photographer, or a good graphic designer
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    Arch-Σigmoid Ausphotography Regular ameerat42's Avatar
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    If a stockman should stray onto the street with his mob and you took a pic of it,
    I'd say it would be a fair-crack-of-the-whip. -- Good chance, anyway
    CC, Image editing OK.

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    Administrator ricktas's Avatar
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    It is an interesting discussion and I also think we have to consider the other side of the coin. There are some stunning photos out there that show the elements of the image as they were at the time of being taken. However because they are so stunning, they often suffer the same call of 'fake' when some people view them.

    I think until some sort of defined standard is created that is recognised by photography bodies all around the world, we will will continue to see this 'trickery' used, and sadly in some cases, photographers who happily lie and say that it 'looked like that'. Even if a standard was created, there will always be those that flaunt the rules.

    For now, it is something we have to just deal with, individually and make our own judgements on where the line should be drawn as to what should be classed as photographic art and what should be called photographic digital science. Even the AIPP and Ken Duncan get caught up in this discussion.

    I think the second photo looks the more natural of the two, and I have not seen the flaming pear 'flood' filter used for quite some time and Bob has used it very well in this example.

    Until photography is removed as an Art and defined as a science, we will likely continue to see these creative adjustments to photographs, and for now, we each have to decide for ourselves what is photography and what is photographic digital science.

    Saldy, the uninformed are often the most vocal at yelling 'fake fake fake', to good photos, and even sadder is those that listen to them, undermining the talent of great photographers.

    I wonder if the film industry has not got it right, and simply calls the artists who do this work, compositors! I think the term Photographic Compositor should be more willingly used at times.
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    Ausphotography irregular Mark L's Avatar
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    Some years ago here a photo of a silhouetted frog on a wonderfully big backlit green leave did well in POTY.
    It looked so good. The member was known to not be a fan of pushing the manipulating.
    Fun discussion followed when he fessed up the frog was a rubber frog. Not quite as natural as we all thought and was implied.

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    Quote Originally Posted by geoffsta View Post
    Does it come down to... Are you a good photographer, or a good graphic designer
    That's the key question really. However, for me it's a question of "How much is too much?". As David says, when it's not a competition then it's an individual decision - but not so much when you're entering competitions.

    When digital first took over from film, we had the debate which the traditionalists lost, and digital manipulation referred to a more fundamental range of tweaking. Since then, software and plug-ins have developed exponentially, to the point where I'm not sure whether there is a line any more. Photographers are always banging on about the plug-ins and effects for Photoshop, but surely there must be some sort of general limit to how much manipulation is acceptable in competitions? My example above is representative of the start of that grey area, I think, because of the fact that so much simply hasn't ever seen the inside of a camera.

    Otherwise ..... are we in danger of becoming graphic designers?

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark L View Post
    Some years ago here a photo of a silhouetted frog on a wonderfully big backlit green leave did well in POTY.
    It looked so good. The member was known to not be a fan of pushing the manipulating.
    Fun discussion followed when he fessed up the frog was a rubber frog. Not quite as natural as we all thought and was implied.
    That's not a problem to me - it's still a photographic image, and whether the frog was real or not doesn't matter. It's still 100% photographic. However, lets say you had a boring landscape and you decided to use one of those plug-ins that grow grass all over the place ...... that starts being distinctly non photographic.

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    Administrator ricktas's Avatar
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    reminded me of this: http://area.autodesk.com/fakeorfoto

    click on each 'image' and then decide if it is CG (computer generated) or Foto (Photo) and click the icons at the bottom of the image, then click X and move onto the next image. when you have chosen for all click on the 'How Did I Do?" icon.

    I got 34% correct.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ricktas View Post
    It is an interesting discussion and I also think we have to consider the other side of the coin. There are some stunning photos out there that show the elements of the image as they were at the time of being taken. However because they are so stunning, they often suffer the same call of 'fake' when some people view them.
    For now, it is something we have to just deal with, individually and make our own judgements on where the line should be drawn as to what should be classed as photographic art and what should be called photographic digital science. Even the AIPP and Ken Duncan get caught up in this discussion.

    Until photography is removed as an Art and defined as a science, we will likely continue to see these creative adjustments to photographs, and for now, we each have to decide for ourselves what is photography and what is photographic digital science.
    I wonder if the film industry has not got it right, and simply calls the artists who do this work, compositors! I think the term Photographic Compositor should be more willingly used at times.
    Excellent point about "real" images being wrongly viewed as fakes - I've seen that happen a bit.

    In the example I posted, what was once an iconic scene has changed due to a road being built across what was once sea. Here is what it looked like when i saw it - but due to that causeway and the tourist buses etc, the history and mystery has been destroyed a bit. That's one reason I modified it ... to restore it to its former glory!

    I do find that photo compositing is becoming just as interesting in many ways, and i have always admired filmmakers for their creativity in changing reality and giving life to our imaginations. Maybe that's what some of us are becoming.


    small-IMG_8471.jpg

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    I got 59% ! Thanks for that ... I've been looking for a site like this to show someone.

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    http://steveaxford.smugmug.com/
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    It is quite clear that most competitions have decided that since they can't tell, then they will accept anything. Only nature or doco photography tries to make a no alteration rule. I suspect that some people ignore the rules as it is so hard to tell the difference. But, people have memories and once you are caught for cheating you will probably be remembered for exactly that and no photo you do will be trusted again. I know people who support the anything goes rule, but I can never look at their photos without wondering how real they are. Certainly, people who buy my photos would not buy them if they thought they were faked. So yes, you can win comps with digital images, but it may be harder to go beyond that. People don't like being lied to, and can take offence when they find out.

    - - - Updated - - -

    It is quite clear that most competitions have decided that since they can't tell, then they will accept anything. Only nature or doco photography tries to make a no alteration rule. I suspect that some people ignore the rules as it is so hard to tell the difference. But, people have memories and once you are caught for cheating you will probably be remembered for exactly that and no photo you do will be trusted again. I know people who support the anything goes rule, but I can never look at their photos without wondering how real they are. Certainly, people who buy my photos would not buy them if they thought they were faked. So yes, you can win comps with digital images, but it may be harder to go beyond that. People don't like being lied to, and can take offence when they find out.

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    Still in the Circle of Confusion Cage's Avatar
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    So where do you personally draw the line?

    Is cloning a tiny bit of litter out of a landscape any more acceptable than changing a sky, a background, or in Bob's example above, a foreground?

    Should we go back to using film, with no in-built camera tweaks? Oh, hang on. Wasn't Ansel Adams the master of dark room 'enhancement'?

    "There are no rules for good photographs, there are only good photographs". Ansel Adams

    I suspect that 99.999% of published photos have been enhanced.

    Like most of the members here I like to try to get it right in-camera, and I do, once in about a thousand shots.

    I guess where the line is drawn is an individual decision, except of course in a comp where there are set rules re PP.
    Last edited by Cage; 12-03-2017 at 11:38pm.
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    Always learning Ionica's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cage View Post
    So where do you personally draw the line?

    Is cloning a tiny bit of litter out of a landscape any more acceptable than changing a sky, a background, or in Bob's example above, a foreground?

    Should we go back to using film, with no in-built camera tweaks? Oh, hang on. Wasn't Ansel Adams the master of dark room 'enhancement'?

    "There are no rules for good photographs, there are only good photographs". Ansel Adams

    I suspect that 99.999% of published photos have been enhanced.

    Like most of the members here I like to try to get it right in-camera, and I do, once in about a thousand shots.

    I guess where the line is drawn is an individual decision, except of course in a comp where there are set rules re PP.
    But what Ansel Adams did in the darkroom was his own work. When one ( or more ) of the many plug-ins available is used, is it your own work/photo ?
    Constructive critique of my photos is welcome and appreciated.


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    Member DacrimL's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ricktas View Post
    reminded me of this: http://area.autodesk.com/fakeorfoto

    click on each 'image' and then decide if it is CG (computer generated) or Foto (Photo) and click the icons at the bottom of the image, then click X and move onto the next image. when you have chosen for all click on the 'How Did I Do?" icon.

    I got 34% correct.
    67%

    The definition by the oxford dictionary is - the process or art of producing images of objects on sensitized surfaces by the chemical action of light or of other forms of radiant energy, as x-rays, gamma rays, or cosmic rays.

    Now bearing that in mind, any type of adjustments could be construed as manipulation. In my honest opinion minor adjustments such as exposure, contrast, sharpness etc... are acceptable as i guess is the removal of small unwanted elements. However once the alterations exceed 25% of the original composition it becomes more of a graphic art image. This is why I guess I am so critical of my own images and try to perfect them before showing, however sometimes one needs to show imperfect images to get advice on where and how to correct any faults.

    Just my opinion.

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    Still in the Circle of Confusion Cage's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ionica View Post
    But what Ansel Adams did in the darkroom was his own work. When one ( or more ) of the many plug-ins available is used, is it your own work/photo ?
    Definitely not. That takes it from a photograph to a graphic representation of a photograph. In a comp I'd consider that as cheating.

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    http://steveaxford.smugmug.com/
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    I think we should all keep in mind the current fuss about fake news. Well, fake photos are part of that. Maybe we will learn to accept them, but maybe they will be more hated than at present. I doubt that anyone who pretends to make photos that a demonstrably fakes will gain a lot of respect. Like the example in this thread, it isn't hard to show that the photo is fake.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DacrimL View Post
    67%
    Me too

    I regularly see CC on this site about cropping, changing perspectives, adjusting tones, cloning out distracting elements etc and it would seem a degree of PP is expected. A recent weekly photo win was obviously photoshopped - no way in the context of the photo could it have not been - but it still won.
    Personally I am leaning now to combining my photography with art such as introducing backgrounds, frames, masking out distractions and combining images. I don't pretend otherwise and for me my photo compositions are about what I want to portray. They are about my memories of the time / event and I find myself caring less and less about the so called rules that surround photography. As I learn more about PP I am enjoying recovering photos that otherwise would have met the recycle bin.

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    PS I love #2

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