What's your opinion on editing photos?

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

  1. I long ago stopped thinking of digital post processing as something I resort to or something I use to rescue photos and think of it more constructively as part of the photographic process, something to embrace creatively like all other parts of the photographic process.
    Getting everything right can be a trap. Sometimes, when I look to see possibilities in what might seem wrong and figure out ways to make that something actually fit in or work, I come up with a better and more challenging photo than when I rest on everything seeming just right.
    michaellinder likes this.
  2. How many photographers manipulate in camera and then say the image has not been altered?
    How many photographers use lens filters when taking an image?
    Just saying that we've been manipulating our visual experience with photography gear since the
    Ansel knew that and we would definitely call him an Artist and a Genius.
    He knew how to emit the emotions he was feeling when he experienced taking those photographs.
    It was that genius and artistry that helped further create our national park system and protect it from
    the greedy buggers that would use it with complete disregard for public lands.

    Just sayin'
  3. Tony Parsons

    Tony Parsons Norfolk and Good

    AFAIK, all 'artists' of any nature improve and enhance their works. Poets and novelists edit; sculptors refine; painters add to and amend their original images; composers seek endlessly the combination of notes that best reflect their ideas - and there must be many others of whom I have not thought. They are not criticised for these changes, no one says that the painting (or whatever) does not reflect reality. Are photographers treated differently just because anyone can pick up a camera and record the scene before them, so that our own artistic vision, encapsulated within our own final images, becomes somehow denigrated and devalued ?

    'A photograph ? Anyone could have taken that !'

    Yes, indeed they could. The point is, I am the one who actually did.
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  4. I do plenty of post processing and don't ever criticize those who do, because I know the creative power it holds.

    Photographers may well be treated differently because anyone can pick up a camera. More pertinent may be one of the unique aspects of photography ... that I am pointing the camera at something in the world. Painters, on the other hand, don't strictly have the same relationship with their subjects, which are often simply in their heads. Because there can be a more forensic relationship between a photo and its subject, I do think realism comes into play in a different and sometimes more emphatic way than in other arts.

    That counterpoint between realism and creativity is one of the things I love about making photos. I let each photo determine the proportion of realism and enhancement, creativity, or fantasticality.

    Some artists, by the way, take a very light and sometimes very passive approach to "enhancements." The stream-of-consciousness writers and poets did not necessarily edit the way other writers do. Hitchcock made Rope intentionally to mimic a single take to adhere to an unedited sensibility. Journalism and documentary photographers may intervene as little as possible, not post processing beyond the basics necessary to realize and print a photo. John Cage composed 4'33" precisely to avoid doing the composing himself.

    There are artists of all stripes and they've pretty much covered a universe of methods throughout history. They will continue to do so, from the extremely unrestrained to the very tightly constrained.

    The critic's mistake is to view art through a generalized lens or adopt dogma. Each work is made rich by being viewed on its own terms, seeking an internal artistic coherence rather than some imposed external meeting of expectations or rules.
    Tony Parsons likes this.
  5. The answer is blow'n in the wind. . .
    Tony Parsons likes this.
  6. I think old-timers like me who didn't do any editing in the distant past complain the most about it, although I now do it also. In the past, I shot chromes that were processed in an outside lab and returned in a slide holder just as I photographed in the camera. Then I displayed it on a screen using a projector. Even negatives were returned with the small prints for a photo album as I shot them.. Any "editing" from the negatives was done by the lab to adjust colors. Also, old-timers tend to believe that photographers shoot and capture an instant in time as it happened by God and nature. Adaptations should be left to painters.

    Having said all that, my editing today adjusts exposure, saturation, and cropping. I also clone out dust when I shoot and scan film. I try not to clone in or replace things like skies. I believe that's going too far.
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  7. Why not just speak for yourself? There are plenty of old timers, even great now-dead photographers (Ansel Adams is just one example out of multitudes) who believed nothing of the kind. I suggest it has nothing to do with being an old timer and everything to do with personal approach.
    How and why do you go from your beliefs about photography to what should be happening.

    Nothing wrong with your own beliefs. Everything wrong with assuming them for others or imposing them on photography per se.
  8. Tony Parsons

    Tony Parsons Norfolk and Good

    What about Infra-red - false colour or electronically created ?

    K20D 07-111_1810 - TONY0019 - Panache 002.jpg


  9. I have no problem with infra red or electronically enhanced or produced color. As to this particular photo, not my cup of tea.
    Tony Parsons likes this.
  10. I am speaking for myself. I'm sorry you don't like my opinions. Why do you feel I'm not entitled to them?
    IPSfoto likes this.
  11. By the way, this thread in the Philosophy section is titled: What's Your Opinion About Editing Photos? :)
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  12. Photos are nothing but the result of an intricate manipulation of 'reality' (whatever that may be). Noone has ever 'discovered' a photo 'out in the wild', existing on its own account.
    What you are discussing is where to stop that manipulation, where to stop doing things that make, fabricate, a photo.

    And the way it is going sounds a lot like the Amish thingy, in which 'artificial ways of doing things, or make things easier' is seen as bad, as far as, that is, those ways did not yet exist at the time this ukase was issued.
    You are not against manipulation (else you would have to accept that photography would be forbiden in its entirety), but against more manipulation than you would accept. To which one can only say: "Duh!".
    And indeed, do not suggest that this is something shared by a generation of 'wise' people. It is only shared by those who believe the ukase is to be respected, or else. But there is nothing violated, nothing out of place, no boundaries transgressed. It, 'manipulation', is what photography is.
    Dieter Schaefer likes this.
  13. I said quite clearly you’re entitled to your opinions. But, no, you were not speaking for yourself, so why say you were?

    “I think old-timers like me who didn't do any editing in the distant past complain the most about it” —Alan Klein

    Do you understand that statement is NOT speaking for yourself but is, instead, speaking for “old-timers” who didn’t edit in the past?

    One way to have spoken for yourself would have been to say … “Since I didn’t do editing when I first began photography, I complain about it to this day.”

    The following is also not speaking for yourself …

    “Adaptations should be left to painters.” —Alan Klein

    It speaks to what photographers and painters should do, not to what you do.

    A way to have spoken for yourself would have been to say … “I don’t edit. I leave adaptations to painters.”

    Alan, that we are all entitled to our opinions doesn’t mean various opinions can’t be disagreed with or questioned. You’ve mistaken my disagreeing with your opinion for my not thinking you’re entitled to one.
  14. I don't know, "old timer's tend to believe" is a conditional statement (due to the word "tend") which makes it a rebuttable presumption, perhaps a belief, but is an opinion. Maybe a survey of old timer's should be conducted to settle this once and for all.
    IPSfoto likes this.
  15. There is, however, Sam, something that is not just an opinion. And that is that a photo is a construct. Right from the beginning. It is the reality of a photograph: to be a construct. Photography is a constructive process. There is no fundamental difference between what Alan's fictitious old timers would do and what he suggests they would not do. The difference is merely one of how much to utilise the process. Which is a choice. A decision based on considerations regarding why we do or would not do what we do or don't do. Not something involving how we do things. Not even how far we take things: a construct is a construct. Any reference to an external referee, such as the overly popular but fictitious 'objective' is a huge misunderstanding of (in this case) photography.
    Old timers, Alan, know that, and consequently do not fret over questions about manipulation re something that is nothing but a manipulation. That is, some old timers do know that.
    IPSfoto likes this.
  16. I agree. That is the case. It is not an opinion.
    Sure. Perhaps not a fundamental difference.

    What I'd say is that there is a significant enough difference between the fact that photography is a construct and the fact that there are some photos that are relatively unmanipulated and untouched and other photos that are highly manipulated. The significant differences between a heavily photoshopped or a heavily darkroom-worked photo and one that isn't are not obviated by the fact that all photos are constructs.

    I think you're pointing out an important aspect of photography (its being a construct) that people forget when they assume it's a direct engagement with what God or nature created or intended, and I agree.

    I think there are still a variety of approaches to that construct and the difference between a forensic or even a relatively accurate representative photo and a photo of, say, La Chappelle, is significant (if not "fundamental") enough to warrant attention and discussion. The problem comes in when it's expected that La Chappelle should adhere to a more representative or forensic approach because that's something photography can be used for and has done pretty well when that's needed.

    (A problem also comes in when people don't realize that journalistic photos are not necessarily as objective and factual as they might assume because they think "unmanipulated" photos necessarily present truth or are accurate. There are lots of ways to manipulate, and post processing is just one of them and often the most obvious. But perspective manipulation, framing manipulation, what's left out of the frame, what expression is caught, what gesture, and many other things can all be manipulations employed by photographers who wouldn't dare think of enhancing color beyond a certain point or dodging more than minimally.)

    I think there are important differences between what photography can do, what it should do, and what it does do. In certain circumstances, should might come into play, for instance journalism. Rarely does should come into play regarding my own photographic endeavors and I don't find myself demanding shoulds of most other photographers. I'm glad photography can do so much and that it does use such an incredible variety of voices, expressions, representations. And I'm glad this results in such a wide variety of types of photos.
  17. I understand your points. But you seem to have been able to understand my points well enough to rewrite them "correctly". So you understood my points even though I wouldn't have gotten a passing grade if this was an English class. I'm happy though that you understood what I was trying to say. Hopefully, others got it too.
    IPSfoto likes this.
  18. Well, I did a survey for you. I live in a 55+ community and belong to its photo club made up of other old guys. Most of them, maybe all who at least know how to use Photoshop, edit, change and rework photos to their heart's content. When I tell them they went too far, they look at me like I'm crazy. Of course, they also look at me like I'm crazy when I told them I still shoot film. They've moved on. I'm still caught in the past. I seem to be the only oldtimer there. No, I'm not drooling yet. :)
  19. I did not understand that my rewritings were actually what you were trying to say. Not at all. I offered them as a way that you could have written them so as to speak for yourself, which you subsequently said you thought you were doing but originally were not. From what you originally said, I actually thought you meant that OTHER PHOTOGRAPHERS, not just you, SHOULD not manipulate their photos.I still get the sense you think there's something wrong with post-processed photos. Do you think there's something wrong with post processing per se or do you simply prefer not to post process? That's the question at hand. This goes way beyond English class, Alan. And I'm not sure why you're trying to minimize how differently we think. If you think this is just about semantics, it's not.
  20. Well, I do believe there's a limit on editing as I said in my last post regarding the photo club I belong to with other old guys. I am stuck in the past because that's the way I shot as I described elsewhere, mainly slides processed by labs without any manipulation at all.

    I do believe that photos should have some semblance of what was actually there when you shot it. In that sense, it differs from paintings.

    I also think there's an ego component as well. Using Photoshop really well is often an artistic enterprise, like painting in oils. It moves photography back into the "hand of the artist" realm, giving less opportunity for non-artists like me to get a better photo. We were more or less equal "in the old days" when photos were more "out-of-the-camera" crafts.
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