"Did you photoshop that?"

Started 2 months ago | Discussions thread
Truman Prevatt
Truman Prevatt Veteran Member • Posts: 8,401
Re: "Did you photoshop that?"

R C wrote:

I think I more or less agree with what you are saying. Having said that, I found this video about "photoshopping" relevant, interesting and somewhat thought provoking. (I posted this elsewhere in this thread a while back.) It all has to do with what is Art -- something we'll not settle here.


Yes that is all very true. And there is reasonable debate when the photographer starts to make fake an image rather than recording the scene. Sure how one composes a shot and frames a shot and crops a shot and dodges and burns a shot are important. But I personally do not feel that they rise to the level of adding or deleting subjects.  However, "Photoshopping" has have existed for a long time and predates Photoshop.  The reason is to promote political agendas.


I have a copy of Adam's "Moonrise" hanging on my wall and Adams talks about the taking and printing of this image. Adams often referred to photography in musical terms and called the negative (or digital capture today) as the score and the print the performance. Just as Jazz fans will tell you that Miles Davis or Charlie "Bird" Parker never really played the same piece the same exact way every time - Adams would also change how he printed an image over time. He printed Moonrise four or five different ways over time. However, he did not insert or remove objects - he simply manipulated the contrast and tonal areas. The image in your original post is no different from what Adams did.  Adams did the best he could on the capture because of the fading light he had little time and made the best guess at the exposure.  The rest was resulted by selecting the contrast grade of the paper and selective dodging and burning of the print.  That's basically what you did - except you used a program to do it.  But your image is not a lie - it is an abstract performance of the score.

Of course an image in a newspaper that was faked showing someone where they weren't would be "fake news" and not meet photojournalist ethics. An image that a forensic expert detected as faked would be thrown out to court.

However, my question is when does manipulation cross the line of photography to graphics arts. Of course there are all sorts of arguments that can be raised as the video does. But much of composition, cropping, lens used, etc. are more about people that are sitting around with too much time on their hands maybe with a few too many beers or smoking something funny passing time in discussion things that are about as useful as a self eating watermelon. Photography is about the reality that is in the frame of the photograph at the time taken. HCB though cropping the negative in the print was cheating. W. Eugene Smith though he was crazy on that point ("the world doesn't always fit in a 2x3 frame") but Smith sure did not insert the dead baby in the hands of the Marine. They found him after a bomb blast. However, HCB had no issue with posing some of his shots where as Smith would not out of respect to his subjects wanting them to "go on and ignore him."

The reason adding subjects or subtracting subjects to a photograph is important since some photographs have changed the course of history. "The Saigon Execution" by Eddie Adams had a seminal impact on changing the course of the US War in the Vietnam War.


Of the classic shot of the horror at Kent State of a young National Guard member shooting and killing and equally young student on his way to class in 1970 by Paul Filo.


Or the classic image by Carlie Moore in 1963 during the Civil Rights Movement that showed the roughness of Sheriff "Bull" Connor in Alabama who turned the dogs onto peaceful protestors.


What if they were photoshopped?

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