Monthly Archives: August 2016

The Importance of Ethics in Photography

I have been reading articles on this subject since stating part 4 and found a very interesting piece written by Nasim Mansurov. It covers all areas where editing and manipulation could be ethically questionable.

Here’s the article:

The section on portrait and fashion photography really demonstrates how much almost everything we see in magazines and media is edited.

It also raises the idea that although most photographers are adamant they do not edit their material, the fact of the matter is they do tweak it here and there – white balance, colour correction, contrast and brightness etc. The nature photography paragraph is a great example of this.

There’s an extremely fine line between editing to ‘correct’ and editing to ‘change’.


Exercise: Alteration (DPP)

For this exercise I am required to subtract a subject in its entirety from my image. The object needs to take up a good amount of the frame so it is not as simple as removing small dust spec or flares, as seen in previous exercises.

Surf girls

Edited version:

Surf girls no subject

It’s a fairly lengthy process to remove such a large object, but I zoomed in close and began to clone surrounding areas, healing where necessary. Zooming in significantly helps retain detail. With the above shot the background is water, which is very repetitive, making in much easier to repeat. With that in mind I wanted to experiment with an image that has a more detailed background, one that would have to be ‘created’ in order for the image to look ‘real’.

Second image:


Edited version:


Birdie no subject

I had to continue the main branch in focus (where the bird was perched) and pay attention to the shadow on the under side. I also had to continue the twigs in the background. It helps that there was a shallow depth of field as a blurry background is easier to manipulate. At first glance I think the bird has been removed well, and you’d not necessarily think that an object was present.

However, with all editing, the longer I look at it, the more faults I see!

I’m not sure I would ever submit an image so edited as the two above. There are numerous articles that debate the importance of ethics in photography – some go so far as to say cropping is wrong. In this day and age manipulation is everywhere, especially on magazine covers. Celebrities are heavily airbrushed and edited. In photojournalism editing is strongly prohibited, and the images retain their originality. The only time I would edit on a large scale would be to produce a piece of art rather than a documented photograph. Or, as seen earlier, to remove unwanted dust specs, scratches, or lens flare.

Exercise: Correction (DPP)

For this exercise we need to find 2 images that will be corrected. One with dust on it, the other with lens flare (polygon flare). Using the software available to us, we are to correct these.

Finally my work path and my academic path have crossed over! I work for a photography company that specialises in iconic photography. On a daily basis I edit images.

(It is worth mentioning at this point that I work only to correct images, rather than alter/manipulate them. This begs the question of what is ethically acceptable and what is not. I remove parts that have been damaged in some way since the original photo was taken, and work to restore it to it’s original condition.)

Some of the pictures we work with go as far back as the 1930s so you can image they can arrive with us in a bad state – dust, scratches, fingerprints, creases, you name it.

This type of correction is paramount to my workflow process. I often use software to remove unsightly objects (plane in the sky for example) or flare from my lenses in my personal work.

To emphasise this exercise brief i’ve screen grabbed a recent image of Frank Sinatra I cleaned.

Here’s the original:

Screen Shot 2016-08-10 at 15.44.05

When zoomed in you can see the damage and dust – there’s black specs, white specs, and scratches down his cheek.

Screen Shot 2016-08-10 at 15.44.44

For this kind of clean up I tend to rely heavily on the spot healing tool, and less on the clone tool.

Cleaned image:

Screen Shot 2016-08-10 at 15.45.11

Zoomed in:

Screen Shot 2016-08-10 at 15.45.32

Lens flare, as a general rule, is something I try to avoid for the majority of the time, unless I feel it’s going to add some form of aesthetic value to an image (a crisp ski slope for example, may look creative with lens flare)

Here’s an image I found containing a prominent flare:

Lens flare

As you can see there’s a definite red and green flare to the left of the image. By using the cloning tool and zooming in to 100% I am able to clone the surrounding areas over the flare. It helps that the area is dense woodland as this can hide any minor spots that may be inconsistent  – had the area been a lighter colour it may have been more of a challenge.

Here’s the edited version:

Lens flare corrected