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digital manipulation tag

National Geographic Interviews Jeff Hogan on the Ethics of Wildlife Photography

Sun January 19, 2014

Is feeding killer whales to lure them closer to your boat so you can film them ethical? A U.S. marine biologist did just that and was fined $12,500.

Is it OK to pass off a tame wolf as a wild one to win a Natural History Museum Photographer of the Year award? How about staging a photo about ivory poaching using tusks borrowed from wildlife authorities? Or, suggesting that a polar bear den in a zoo was actually in the wild?

Is it always wrong to feed or handle an animal to benefit a film or photo? Is moving an animal over a foot or two, for a prettier backdrop, a big deal?

Some of the most famous wildlife moments caught on film are probably baited or staged. Throw in digital manipulation and you wonder whether the masterpiece you are watching is in fact real.

National Geographic has an interesting interview with professional photographer Jeff Hogan on the ethics of wildlife photography and film-making. Jeff has been shooting wildlife for over 30 years.

Read the interview at: National Geographic.


World Press Photo Controversy Shines Light On How Much Digital Editing Is Acceptable

Sat May 18, 2013

Digital editing is performed by all photographers. In fact, the more WOW! Factor a photo has, the greater the likelihood the photo has been digitally edited, perhaps even to the point of “manipulation.” This is the dirty secret that most point-and-shoot photographers never learn: your camera, however sophisticated and expensive, will never take these pictures out of the box; you have to post-process the pictures.

So, when readers pointed out that the winning entry in the recent Word Press Photo contest looks obviously digitally manipulated (with a very pronounced tone enhancement), World Press Photo got defensive and, after submitting the photo to Fourandsix Technologies for “forensic analysis,” declared the winning entry’s digital editing totally acceptable.

Just what did photographer Paul Hansen do to his winning photo to stir such controversy?

The experts at Fourandsix Technologies found that though Hansen’s winning photo was “retouched with respect to both global and local color and tone,” they “find no evidence of significant photo manipulation or compositing.” So, what is the problem? Why is there even a controversy?

It is because the tonal enhancements applied to the photo is so very obvious to the naked eyes. Many photographers who have played with so-called HDR photography can spot the over-the-top digital enhancements right away. However, World Press Photo has officially given its blessing that such heavily enhanced photos are acceptable as journalistic photos and so falls within their rule that “retouching which conforms to currently accepted standards in the industry is allowed.”

Even without any digital editing, the content of Hansen’s winning photo packs such a punch as to stop you in your track and elicits a reaction. In our view, that photo deserves to win but requires zero to minimal digital editing. It is sad that the controversy about how much digital editing is acceptable has relegated the content of the photo into the background.

View the before and after pictures.

via Imaging Resource


Nothing wrong with your camera, folks, it’s all done in Photoshop

Fri June 8, 2012

When photography was done with film cameras, there was no way to see the final result until the image was developed and printed. During the printing/enlargement process, the photographer would employ certain techniques in the darkroom to lighten (“dodge”) and/or darken (“burn”) certain parts of the image to bring out the details and colors. Nobody thought there was anything wrong with these darkroom techniques. More radical image processing techniques, such as solarization, were obviously in the realm of image manipulation, though perfectly acceptable as an art form.

With digital photography, the darkroom is replaced by an image editing software, such as Photoshop. Without getting your hands dirty or spilling foul chemicals all over your darkroom (bathroom for many of us), we are able to try various image editing techniques to obtain the results we’re after. For years, professional photographers have kept more or less mum about just how much post processing they do to their images. As is now more and more apparent, image post processing goes much further than mere lightening and darkening. It often even strays into what would be considered as digital image manipulation territory, with techniques such as removing unwanted elements, cloning areas, adding colors, adding sunlight, etc.

Take, for example, the beautiful “Stirling Ranges” picture by Peter Eastway. In this article at Luminous Landscape, he shows you how he took a beautifully composed photograph (though not quite with the Wow! factor — the kind that you take all the time, right?) and convert it into a masterpiece in Photoshop. By the way, that photograph was taken with a nearly US $44,000 medium-format Phase One IQ180 on a 645DF body that captures 80-megapixel photos measuring 10,328 by 7,760 pixels. So bigger and costlier and more megapixels do not necessarily guarantee better pictures.

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Tutorial: Photoshop Content-Aware Fill

Wed February 22, 2012

Photoshop has made digital manipulation as easy as selecting and deleting. This video shows how to edit photos, remove flares and even fill up panoramas. Remember that photos edited in this way qualify as digital manipulation and should never be represented as your “photographs.” Most photo contests will not accept photos digitally manipulated the way the video shows.

via jest


When Is Image Postprocessing Cheating?

Thu February 2, 2012

Harold Merklinger over at Luminous Landscape has an interesting article titled “The Game of Photography — What Are the Rules?”

It’s about whether digital manipulation is cheating or acceptable photography. He makes an excellent point about the difference between amateur and professional photographers. As an amateur photographer, you follow no rules except your own. So, if you digitally manipulate a picture and the end result gives you great pleasure, then why not? [No rules to break = no cheating.] On the other hand, a professional photographer (as in one who does it for a living) must follow the client’s rules. [Photojournalism, for example, accepts absolutely no digital manipulation of a news photo; they break the rules, they cheat.]

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Taylor Swift Cover Girl Ad Pulled for… Excessive Photoshopping

Wed December 21, 2011

Procter & Gamble, manufacturer of CoverGirl, “voluntarily” pulled a print spot featuring Taylor Swift for “excessive Photoshopping.” The ad made claims about the NatureLuxe Mousse Mascara that the National Advertising Division (NAD) — the ad industry’s self-regulatory body created to review factual claims in national advertisements — found could not be substantiated except by “post-production enhancement.”

Looks to me like either the NAD missed about a gizzilion other ads — or the players involved chose not to “voluntarily” comply.

Read the article at: E! online.


The Making of The Belmonte Castle

Tue November 22, 2011

The secret of many beautiful pictures from pros is that they are heavily photoshopped. The skills lie in the post processing ability to take a mundane photograph and add pizazz to it. We look, wonder at the beautiful light, about the exposure settings, equipment used, etc. when more often than not, the magic happened in Photoshop.

Case in point is The Belmonte Castle picture which won a Gold Award at the 2008 Canon AIPP Australian Professional Photography Awards. In this article over at Luminous Landscape, Peter Eastway explains how he took a rather ordinary looking photo of the castle (6 photos in fact, stitched together) and, in post processing, cloned a tree, squeezed the picture to make everything look taller, added a color that was not there in the original scene and added direction to the light to add drama — and to create a beautiful print and win the prize.

Note that in contrast to many professional photography contests where digital manipulation is strictly prohibited, Canon’s photo contests tend to allow extensive digital manipulation of images.

Read the article and view the images at: Luminous Landscape.


Inserting Synthetic Objects Into A Photo

Mon October 24, 2011

Rendering Synthetic Objects into Legacy Photographs from Kevin Karsch on Vimeo.

We will soon need stronger mechanisms to guarantee that a photo has not been altered. Not only is it relatively simple to digitally manipulate a photo today in Photoshop, but even more powerful algorithms are coming out to digitally manipulate a photo: e.g. the capability to insert an object into an existing photo so that one cannot tell that it was added.

Supplementary material video for our 2011 SIGGRAPH Asia paper (see the project page here: 3D objects are rendered using LuxRender (

Authors: Kevin Karsch, Varsha Hedau, David Forsyth, Derek Hoiem

Abstract: We propose a method to realistically insert synthetic objects into existing photographs without requiring access to the scene or any additional scene measurements. With a single image and a small amount of annotation, our method creates a physical model of the scene that is suitable for realistically rendering synthetic objects with diffuse, specular, and even glowing materials while accounting for lighting interactions between the objects and the scene. We demonstrate in a user study that synthetic images produced by our method are confusable with real scenes, even for people who believe they are good at telling the difference. Further, our study shows that our method is competitive with other insertion methods while requiring less scene information. We also collected new illumination and reflectance datasets; renderings produced by our system compare well to ground truth. Our system has applications in the movie and gaming industry, as well as home decorating and user content creation, among others.

via laughingsquid


Is Photo Editing Cheating?

Fri September 2, 2011

There have been a number of high profile cases recently about digital manipulation [just search for digital manipulation in our search bar at top right] and how they were considered to be “cheating.”

But, come to think of it, every digital picture is manipulated to some extent — whether in camera by the camera’s own firmware or by the photographer in post-editing in an image editing software.

For example, when you use the HDR function in your digital camera, it takes two or three pictures at different exposures, combine them in-camera and output one picture. This is digital manipulation, but it is not cheating. Your camera has simply used a technique manually applied by photographers throughout time immemorial, whether using digital or film. Film photographers would “dodge” and “burn” to apply less and more exposure to certain areas of a print to coax out the hidden details already captured on film. Likewise, digital editing to bring out what the camera has captured is I believe appropriate and even necessary.

In fact, that is often what sets the professional and the amateur apart. Beginner photographers who wonder why their expensive DSLRs do not take as good pictures as the same camera in the hands of a pro are missing the fact that digital editing is part and parcel of the digital image creation.

This is what Mark Schacter over at Luminous Landscape explains so clearly in his article “Am I a Photographic Cheat?”

Read Am I a Photographic Cheat? @ Luminous Landscape.


The Digital Doctor Is In: Italian Magazine Admits doctoring Kate Middleton’s Waist In Search of the Perfect Photo

Sat August 13, 2011

Another magazine is taken in by the continuing saga of digital manipulation, this time of Kate Middleton in her wedding dress. When Grazia magazine put Kate on the cover of their special edition, she was pictured with a tiny waist that drew public outrage. Well, after Britain’s Press Complaints Commission investigated and ruled that the magazine had doctored the image, Grazia has decided to come clean and is now admitting to the digital manipulation. Apparently, the editors of Grazia magazine wanted a picture of Kate standing all by herself and made the fateful decision to clone her left arm and part of her left waist onto the right side. Perhaps every copy of Photoshop should from now on include a warning about when not to digitally manipulate images?

Read the story and view the images at: Yahoo!


Freelance Photog Clones Own Shadow Out Of Picture, Gets Dropped By AP

Tue July 12, 2011

Miguel Tovar, an Associated Press freelancer working in Argentina, took pictures of a group of children playing soccer in El Algarrobal and, in one of the pictures, he decided to clone dust from one part of the picture to another so as to hide his own shadow in the picture. When AP found out, it immediately dropped him and removed the pictures from all AP photo archives.

In a memo, Santiago Lyon, AP Director of Photography, called it “a case of deliberate and misleading photo manipulation by a freelancer on assignment for the AP. […] we have severed all relations with Tovar and removed him from the assignment. […] He will not work for the AP again in any capacity. In addition, we have removed all of his images from AP Images, our commercial photo licensing division, and its website.”

Read the article and view the picture at: poynter.


Does Nature Need Our [Photoshop] Help?

Tue June 7, 2011

In his article “Nature Gets in the Way,” Thom Hogan asks the question that may or may not bother us: should we retouch a picture of an animal taken “in the wild?” His beautiful picture of the owl eagle has a lint in its eye and is therefore not “perfect.” While many of us won’t even think twice about cloning it out, he is of the opinion that doing so amounts to tampering with the “wildness” of the image.

Update June 10, 2011: Thom fooled everyone by refering to his picture as a “wild owl.” Turns out it was neither wild nor an owl. It is a captive eagle. The cheekiness! Oh, you clever Thom.

If you remember, we’ve had a couple of high profile contest winners demoted for this very reason: either setting up a photo scene and calling it wild or a slight retouching in photoshop was enough to invalidate the authenticity of the scene.

Read the article and view the image at: byThom. [You may have to search for the article “Nature Gets in the Way” if it has moved off the front page.]

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