What's your opinion on editing photos?

Discussion in 'Philosophy' started by bretaincrab, Apr 21, 2020.

  1. If a photo only looks good after being heavily edited, is it really a good photo?

    At what point does editing a photo go too far, editing in stars? Changing the colour of the sky?

    Should a good photographer not have to edit their photos?

    Just a few prompts - opinions not relevant to the above questions are fine :)
    mikemorrell likes this.
  2. Yes.
    When the photographer doing the editing decides it does and walks it back a little.
    A good photographer usually does not go by a lot of "shoulds" and if he does, he chooses the "shoulds" he wants to follow.


    Must the brilliance of a writer come right off the pen or keyboard or may they edit their work? I think of editing as refinement, somewhat like a painter building up textures and depth of color by going over the same areas of the canvas with a brush.


    Some photographers get great joy at leaving the shot as is straight out of the camera. More power to them and more power to those who get great joy in refining and expressing via some post processing work.


    What do you like to do?
  3. I went to a lecture by an Ansel Adams printer and AA workshop leader. He showed us an un-manipulated print of "Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico". Truly ugly, most of up would have deleted it on the spot. It took a list of instructions (burning, dodging, times, etc) to get to the famous print we all know.
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  4. There has been at least one previous thread dealing with the same, or similar, questions. Before the digital age, along Sanford's lines, if a photographer didn't get the camera settings right when the shutter was clicked, corrections would be made in the darkroom.

    Aside from the abstract images I produce, which often trade heavily on postprocessing, I occasionally may add some additional sharpening, modify colors if I feel the overall scene will benefit, selectively lighten (dodge) or darken (burn) for the same reason. I use the tools that are available, not just my camera. If another photographer looks down on my work for that reason, I really have no response except possibly to say that I don't apologize for my methodology.
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  5. Tony Parsons

    Tony Parsons Norfolk and Good

    I take photos for my own pleasure and interest. I adjust, edit and transform them according to my own whims, and to produce the result I feel best represents the image I want.

    That said, I am not in favour of images that purport to be a true faithful record of a newsworthy event (define this how you will !) being manipulated to produce a false statement for political or propaganda (or advertising !) purposes - if this has been done, it should be stated clearly on the actual newspaper or magazine page, not hidden away at the bottom of page 27 under the Tiddlywinks results for Shrewsbury.
  6. Yes, scientific and forensic photography require very strict standards and integrity.

    Scenic and artistic shots, the issue is not often truth, per se. Painters always edited their views and moved or eliminated things with free abandon.
  7. Didn't I read about a famous painter caught retouching one of his own paintings while it was hanging in a museum.
  8. Editing of photos has probably been happening almost as long as photography has existed.

    I don’t mind, in fact I often like what people do with their edits. Then again, some forms of editing, I’m not so fond of. At the end of it all tho, each to their own. We all seek our own levels. Besides- is there really any right or wrong in the realm of artistic expression?
    mikemorrell and movingfinger like this.
  9. SCL


    A certain amount of editing has always been present due to the nature of the medium. The very fact of adjusting the developer concentration, the agitation or time of development, and same for prints constitutes "editing" in the sense that it introduced variables in the outcome from the captured image. In the case of digital, most manufacturers assume in designing their software that, outside of raw images, there will be "editing" adjustments in jpegs and in post processing. I've always found this to be necessary. Having said all this, creating unrealistic final product through over-editing generally doesn't appeal to me, but may represent artistic expression desired by the editor. So, IMHO, over-editing is OK, but not necessarily appealing to everybody.
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  10. There is, or was, a trend of printing a photo with the film sprocket holes visible on the top and bottom. Impressive when using an imprecise rangefinder camera.
  11. Good point, though I’d like to add a caveat.

    Re: Adams. Most photographers at his level got the exposure they wanted and knew that exposure would give them a good result from which to do the post processing they often already could foresee when they were taking the picture and determining that very exposure.

    While lots of people use post processing to “correct” mistakes—and, again, more power to them—for many, post processing is not a corrective or even an afterthought but an organic part of the process. Often, being able to post process to such and such a result depends on getting the exposure one desires.

    Usually, the ‘right’ exposure is the one that helps best fulfill your vision. It’s often not an objective call or the end of the game.
  12. Sam, throughout my history of shooting photos, especially since learning while on PN, I've been much more attentive to my camera settings. The process is far from perfect, and - in some cases - far from acceptable. But I'm still trying. Thanks for your response.
  13. My wife does water color painting, I do photography. I often teased her when we'd fine some otherwise lovely pastoral scene but there were power lines and now more recently cell towers or wind generators somewhere in the view. I say how a painter had it easy (teasing), they could simply leave that nonsense out of their work. We photographers had to move on and find another scene and pass that one by. Today, in the digital age and with PS and LR, I can - and do - clone out such stuff (unless I expressly want it there to depict something specific, e.g. how modernity is encroaching on the landscape).
  14. A news reporter would be criticized for writing something that’s made up; a novelist is supposed to write things that are made up. Photography is no different. A photojournalist or somebody else under circumstances where they are supposed to present only truthful images should use minimal editing. An art photographer should edit as much as he thinks helps him get the image he wants.
  15. Good point.

    I’d add, though, that a wise viewer of photojournalism will keep in mind that lack of or minimal editing doesn’t ensure a truthful image. For example, what’s left out of the frame or a particular perspective can sometimes present a spin or downright false impression. A photographer can do plenty of tampering with or falsifying of reality with a camera and no post processing, photojournalist or art photographer.

    [A photojournalist can photograph a protest neutrally. Or she can favor the protestors by catching only what may be or appear to be aggressive police moves without capturing protestor provocations. Or she can favor the police by making it appear protestors are engaging in random violence when they may be, at least in part, reacting to police over-aggression.]

    The “truth” in journalism sometimes has to be an amalgamation of several photos from a variety of sources.
  16. Amen! When viewing photojournalism one must keep in mind that while the photograph can be 'true' and photographically unedited it is only true in the sense that it depicts exactly what was visible the millisecond slice of time when the shutter was depressed and the maybe 10 degrees arc out of 360 degrees from the point where the photographer was standing. The relation of such a photograph to the greater situation in which it took place is no longer necessarily 'unedited'. It can be 'edited' by the photographer and his/her bias in the situation influencing the pointing and timing of the shutter click (as samstevens observes) and of course if its part of a written news story or online e-article it is edited further up the line, again by any of the biases of the various human filters through which it must pass before being published.
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  17. I think there's also a somewhat arbitrary distinction about when "editing" occurs. In the continuity of the process, there are a lot of edits, or choices, I make about a photograph long before it hits my harddrive, or the sensor captures the exposure. Up +1EV or down -1.5EV to achieve a certain exposure, a shallow DOF to isolate a subject (an edit that doesn't resemble how we see things naturally), moving two feet to the side to crop out something I deem a distraction, coming back to a scene when the light is right, because that's what makes the photo look good, etc. My most important edit has been to just not take the picture, or prodigious use of the delete button.
  18. Sorry, the question doesn't occur to me as a spectator, wondering "am I looking at a nice texture?" <- My consumer POV.
    You mean we all deserve co-travellers or such competitively volunteering to work on our RAW files and presenting impressive results? - A wonderful world!

    Tongue out of cheek; might the "good photographer" you are talking about be real?
    While some photographers surely are better than others, I'd still define them as "illusions of good photographers" their published output is most likely decent +x but hey, what about all that trash? If a mediocre photographer trashed enough of their work to keep just the stunners, they'd look "good" too.
    If you bin framed slides, you got back from the lab, you re already editing(!) your vacation pictures. (Sorry if I side tracked too far.)
    There is also the "f8 & be there" issue in photography: You have to be there; something camera too. With enough time + zoom range we could frame precisely. But do we want to bring that much gear everywhere? Why not shoot a too short lens we brought and crop later? - Better than no image at all.

    If we don't edit others might do a even worse job to our images.
  19. Sure, if they can afford to hire somebody else to do editing for them. But it's backfiring sometimes, ask Steve McCurry.
  20. OP, does not matter.

    No photo police.

    There are legit problems when photogs lie about their photo and misrepresent things. But if that is not a concern, do as you like...no rules.
    terrykelly and michaellinder like this.

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