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’.
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.
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’.
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.