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Thread: Canyonlands Arch

  1. #1
    FrankMi's Avatar
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    Canyonlands Arch

    I have a post processing question about ethics. I have seen images of things like jockeys riding hummingbirds. Obviously a composite photo created in Photoshop. I have pictures of Mesa Arch at Canyonlands National Park. The arch spans over a 2,000 foot drop at the edge of a sheer cliff. If you look through the arch you can see the canyonlands mesa that stretches for miles and is a breathtaking view. The problem is that you can't take it all in form a single vantage point because the edge of the cliff blocks part of the view.

    I took several pictures that encompass the entire spectacle. I wanted to see what it would look like if the edge of the cliff was a bit lower so that in one image, you could see both the arch and the mesa so I moved the edge of the cliff in Photoshop. As this is an impossible view, would it be considered artistic license or a breach of ethics? Unlike the jockey on the hummingbird, it may not be obvious that something has been moved. Your thoughts?

    Canyonlands Arch

    If you would like, I can post the original images.

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    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Canyonlands Arch

    One thing is for certain. You'd have an awful lot of people around the world asking, 'Just how did he get that shot?'

    Fascinating question, Frank. And I think the answer lies in asking - 'What is the purpose of the image?'

    Is it a documentary record that claims to show the scene as it is, or is it intended as an artistic interpretation that is only seeks to be a piece of art?

    So, that a starter thought. Now let's see what the rest of the world thinks.

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    Sam Smith's Avatar
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    Re: Canyonlands Arch

    Frank,

    Are you selling the picture? If you are I would tell them it is a composite but if you are not it doesn't matter really. Whats the difference between that one and one where someone has completely changed the background. It is you picture. I don't think that anyone would really mind. It is a great picture.

    Sam

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    Shadowman's Avatar
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    Re: Canyonlands Arch

    It would really depend on the viewing environment. If it was for a contest or exhibit that forbade photoshop manipulation then no it wouldn't be acceptable.

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    FrankMi's Avatar
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    Re: Canyonlands Arch

    Quote Originally Posted by Shadowman View Post
    It would really depend on the viewing environment. If it was for a contest or exhibit that forbade photoshop manipulation then no it wouldn't be acceptable.
    That brings up an interesting question. What about the Mini Competitions here at CiC?

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    Re: Canyonlands Arch

    If you are referring to sharpening and other image enhancing things with PhotoShop, then as this is considered industry standard, I would see no problem... if you are talking rearranging the natural elements of a photo as you have produced, then it should be noted at the forefront of any sidenote produced for that image. I think there is artistic license, and there is artistic manipulation and both should be appreciated for the work and talent it takes to get to the final image.

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    Re: Canyonlands Arch

    I think you should think less about the shot and just enjoy. It is a keeper!

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    FrankMi's Avatar
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    Re: Canyonlands Arch

    Quote Originally Posted by Sam Smith View Post
    Frank,

    Are you selling the picture? If you are I would tell them it is a composite but if you are not it doesn't matter really. Whats the difference between that one and one where someone has completely changed the background. It is you picture. I don't think that anyone would really mind. It is a great picture.

    Sam
    Thanks Sam, I shoot purely for my own enjoyment. If other's wanted one of my pictures, I would most likely just give them a digital copy and expect that if they made it public thet they would give me credit as the photographer.

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    dje's Avatar
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    Re: Canyonlands Arch

    Hi Frank

    Would it be possible to see the original images please. I can't quite understand exactly what you've done. Some may say that doesn't matter. It's just that, even though this image is visually striking, I am a little uncomfortable with it for some reason. I'm not sure what I would have thought without your explanation of course.

    Cheers Dave

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    Shadowman's Avatar
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    Re: Canyonlands Arch

    Quote Originally Posted by FrankMi View Post
    That brings up an interesting question. What about the Mini Competitions here at CiC?
    If it abides by the time of shoot requirement I don't see why not. If one portion of the image was taken at an earlier date, say two to three years ago then that would have to be decided by the moderators.

  11. #11
    FrankMi's Avatar
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    Re: Canyonlands Arch

    Quote Originally Posted by dje View Post
    Hi Frank

    Would it be possible to see the original images please. I can't quite understand exactly what you've done. Some may say that doesn't matter. It's just that, even though this image is visually striking, I am a little uncomfortable with it for some reason. I'm not sure what I would have thought without your explanation of course.

    Cheers Dave
    Of course. Yes, all of the images were taken at the same time.

    Canyonlands Arch

    As you can see, to get this shot you have to be at the edge of the cliff which means you can't get the top of the arch or the edge of the cliff in the image.

    Canyonlands Arch

    Canyonlands Arch

    If you back up enough to get the entire arch, the edge of the cliff blocks the view of the mesa. If I had a really tall ladder I likely could have gotten it all in a single shot!

    Canyonlands Arch

    Canyonlands Arch

    Canyonlands Arch

    I have a number of other shots but this should be sufficient to get a feel for what can be seen.

    Perhaps the discomfort comes from the fact that in order to get all the elements of the image in the frame, I had to stretch the image so the arch looks more fragile than it actually is?
    Last edited by FrankMi; 28th July 2011 at 12:50 PM.

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    dje's Avatar
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    Re: Canyonlands Arch

    Hi Frank

    Thanks for the extra images. Things are much clearer now about your photographic situation.

    I don't think there's too much of an ethics issue here. I think it's more a case of whether or not you as the creator of the image are comfortable with the degree of manipulation done and how natural looking the image is.

    In this particular case, I think I would have stuck with something along the lines of image 2 in your latest post with a separate shot of the arch. When I look at the last couple of shots in this post, I can see that it is an impressive arch but I dont think you see that in your manipulated image. I rather like that second last image with the person standing on top (brave or foolhardy )

    But this is just my opinion. Whatever you are happy with.

    Cheers Dave

    PS It looks like a fantastic place to visit. I can just see Wyatt Earp riding off into the sunset !!

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    FrankMi's Avatar
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    Re: Canyonlands Arch

    Hi Dave, I've run into several situations where it takes multiple images to convey what is really happening, but I don't think that multiple images work in several situations, such as a Mini Competition. You lose so much of the impact when you can only use one image and can't position the camera in a location where it is practical to get the complete shot.

    I'm thinking that if no one objects, I'll post the image in an upcoming Mini, but to be on the safe side, I'll include an explanation of how the image was taken. That will likely be a detractor, particularly for the purists, but what the heck, it's all for fun and not for any financial loss or gain. I just hope the folks enjoy the image as much as I enjoyed seeing the real thing.

  14. #14
    dje's Avatar
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    Re: Canyonlands Arch

    Yes go for it Frank. I think you'll do well with it.

    Dave

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    Re: Canyonlands Arch

    Quote Originally Posted by FrankMi View Post
    I've run into several situations where it takes multiple images to convey what is really happening,...
    That seems to me to be the heart of the matter, Frank. Your composite image is intended to "convey what is really happening".
    It conveys your view from different vantage points. I doubt that standing on a really high ladder would have done the job because then I suspect the arch may have cut off the good position of the mesas in the distance.
    I don't see why your composition should be considered any differently to the multi photos taken in a city to enable the people to be cut out by layering of one upon the other, or even the alteration of white balance to give you what your mind perceived on the site rather than what your camera actually recorded.

    You've simply recorded your perception of the scene. (AND done a great job of it too BTW).

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    Re: Canyonlands Arch

    Lovely image Frank.
    I think we tend to use the term 'image' now rather than 'photograph' because photograph tends to convey the idea that we have captured a scene in a single exposure, whereas the term image tends to blur that concept and suggests that some form of manipulation has been carried out.
    I accept that so called traditional photographs could be manipulated in the darkroom but not to the same extent that Photoshop allows us to do with digital images.

    As your image - I don't think it matters at all how you arrived at the final finished state, if you are happy with it then enjoy it.

    If you wanted to enter it into a competition or salon then it would be best to enter it into an 'Open' section rather than a 'Landscape' section - most rules for Landscape competitions state that a person has to be able to visit the location and see the same view as you did when taking the image. You are allowed to remove 'transitory' items i.e. litter, people, vehicles but not remove or alter fixed items such as fence posts, ariels etc.

    Once again great image, enjoy it as we are doing.

    Chris

    p.s. A friend of mine visited the very same place 2 years ago and got up at 04:00 to get in to position before the sun rose, when the sun came up it illuminated the underside of the arch making it glow. http://www.robert-harvey.co.uk/photo_7602075.html

    Chris

  17. #17
    FrankMi's Avatar
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    Re: Canyonlands Arch

    Wow Chris! That is a fantastic capture of the morning sun. When I was there the gates would be locked after hours and it is many miles from the entrance to the Mesa Arch, not mentioning the fact that it would be a long dangerous walk in the dark from the road to the arch. Perhaps he obtained special permission to access the site before the park officially opened for the day?

    I think in the future I will not post an image in the Minis that requires a disclaimer. I just don't feel right about having an entry that is different in that way (more information than a simple title). <sigh>

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