This topic has probably been discussed in detail in many photographic forums. A rather controversial topic I would think. It is something that has been bothering me for some years now.
Post processing in photography. Is it still Photography or has it become Photoshop art? How much Post Processing is too much? Should post produced photographs still be considered the work of a Photographer or does it become the work of a Computer (software) Artist?
Camera manufacturers spend millions on research and development of equipment to make it possible to capture images as closely as possible to what the eye sees. In many reviews on cameras the reviewer would criticize Nikon for not supplying a full version software program for manipulating images, free of charge with the camera. Why does Nikon not offer such software with their cameras? Perhaps Nikon wants the photographer to master the art of photography in mastering the tool in his or her hands – THE CAMERA.
The camera in the hand of the Photographer is in fact a very sophisticated small computer. This tool is offered with so many features to be tweaked to get the shot looking as good as you can get. By mastering the art of knowing your tools a good photographer should not need to Photoshop his/her work to get the desired effect. If the Photographer has to go back to another computer and use another software program to completely change the image into surreal shades of colour, why then use such costly cameras to capture images. Maybe camera manufacturers should develop a fully automatic camera that only shoots in RAW, at a very low price. Images captured with such a device can then be manipulated, on computer, into whatever impression the artist wants.
I think it is very clear to all of you that I am an activist against manipulating photographs into images that reflect a world of colour that does not exist. Perhaps too many have become so dismayed with the world we live in that they want to change it into something it is not. Capturing an image of a bird, a tiger, flower, tree or any other natural object without rendering the colour correctly is a false image. Removing the speckles from a girls face would turn her into someone she is not.
I still want Photography to be the art of capturing reality in reflections of light. Light changes constantly and colour changes as light changes. A good Photographer should be able to capture images at the moment the light reflects the colour and mood he or she wants to depict. Our passion becomes hard work when we really want the WOW images.
Should we not measure our ability in Photography by the amount of post production needed to make our images portray what we want others to see in it?
I know there are many of you who are going to disagree with me. Would there be anyone who will agree with me? The challenge is for those doing lots of PP is to convince me to upload Lightroom or Photoshop and start using it.
EDIT: Added 14 July
Extract from WIRED –Print And Digital Access.
There is no such thing as true objectivity, of course, in photography or any other medium. By its nature, a photograph is an incomplete and therefore slanted picture of reality - a stylized depiction that represents exactly what the photographer wants you to see, and no more. Each photograph is like a story, and we have to remember that behind every story is a storyteller.
It's also worth recalling that conventional photo-manipulation has been around as long as the camera. Cropping alone is a powerful tool, and there are plenty of basic darkroom techniques for removing or altering aspects of any photograph. Surrealist art photographers like Jerry Uelsmann have captivated colleagues and collectors for decades by creatively embedding exotic foreign images into natural landscapes.
Thankfully, though, Uelsmann doesn't try to pass his work off as reality. Nor is he under pressure to spike up sales on the newsstands. But in photo editors' hands, this new digital sandbox threatens to cheapen journalism and even further undermine news consumers' confidence in the media. By making dramatic manipulations simple to effect and difficult to detect, photofiction threatens to exacerbate the climate of distrust.
Fortunately, there's an easy antidote, in the form of a full-disclosure proposal by former New York Times Magazine photo editor Fred Ritchin. Ritchin has developed a new icon, a tiny crossed-out camera lens, which he would like to see affixed to any published photograph with digital alterations.
Whether or not Ritchin's proposal catches on, there is likely to be one beneficial byproduct of the digital poisoning of photojournalism. Sooner or later, the mass consumer audience will catch on to the manipulation, probably through a major celebrity scandal. When they do, consumers will permanently say goodbye to their image-naiveté. A new variety of skepticism will flourish. Critical awareness of photojournalism's subjectivity will spread far and wide.
But let's not allow that to justify the stupidity. If we let the system break down completely, skepticism will yield to destructive cynicism. And if that happens, we will all be sorry. Today, a good picture is worth a thousand words. For the life of me, I can't figure out why we would want to devalue that, and make a picture worth nothing more than a lie.
Is this applicable to us, the members of CiC? Think. Are you contributing to diminishing our passion to be worth nothing more than a lie?
Please protect our passion by simply being honest? If you had to “Photoshop” an image label it as a “Photo Illustration.”