Photography and manipulation

18 Apr

Now the fourth part of the DPP 1 course.

Photography and manipulation, what is o.k. and what is too much?

When looking at  fashion or make-up photography you of course begin to ask yourself…”does she really look that good?” How much Photoshop was used? and when after that looking at videos on youtube about extreme-make-over of a model you really begin to doubt that photography and reality has something to do with each other, especially when thinking about what people thought about photography earlier: “There is a photography, it must be real!”

In my opinion you have to differentiate about what kind of photography you are dealing with and what you are told about the situation.

Changes of the picture like taking away dust or lensflare is ok as long as you don’t change the picture.

HDR is ok because the cameras do not have the dynamic range of the eye and not the capability to change the exposure as we do when scanning a scenery of strong contrasts. When taking HDR so far that you get a psychedelic feeling about the picture it is of course not o.k., unless you want to convey that feeling and tell it for the visitor or have it in a series of “psychedelic” photos that the beholder knows that.

In the course material we even got was a median-filter mentioned and even that is ok under the right circumstances. For example a picture in a book about architecture i think it would be absolutely ok to use that filter because the building is the interesting thing and not the context as a tourist attraction for instance.

I mean when looking at photography you even have to look at computer aided design and when looking at an IKEA catalogue you must remember that almost all pictures in it are done in the computer but look like a photography.

What about the other way round? David LaChapelle´s pictures look photoshopped to the maximum…men all the pictures are “real”.

The last few months and years the discussion about altering faces and bodies in advertisements and with that giving a wrong picture of the female body, setting extreme stress on girls that want to look exactly like the ones in the ads but cannot…simply because of Photoshop. as far as I remember has France begun with some kind of control of the pictures before they get published, just to avoid those “über-females” that cannot be reached and are not real.

Documentary photography like war photography e.g. are forbidden to alter. Dust, maybe lensflare and the “normal” changes in contrast and exposure, … are o.k as long as they do not change the content of the picture. There is of course a fine line between what is realistic and what is an interpretation of the photographer. White balance e.g. making the whole picture colder or warmer, conveying a feeling to the beholder.
When looking at the case of the photographer that added some smoke-clouds over Tripolis a few years ago…that is absolutely unacceptable. If he had done that and said: “This is how i saw it, I edited it in order to get feeling better across” that would have been ok, but not to sell it in as the truth.

Looking at another case you should look at Terje Hellsoe that lost a lot of his reputation of one of the best nature photographers of scandinavia when he got caught with an edited picture. He had added a lynx to a picture and said that he had taken the picture out in the wild. Worse it was not even in a cage or a photo that he had taken but he took the lynx from another picture and photoshopped it in. One of his explanations was that the pressure of delivering better and better pictures all the time just got too strong and he went that “shortcut”. Understandable but not really acceptable.

Looking at his work you can see that it was a big mistake and that he is just one of the best that happened to make a wrong decision.



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