when is it cheating?

Discussion in 'Casual Photo Conversations' started by asker|1, Jan 12, 2010.

  1. hi all, several photographer friends won't share photos til they're edited...if i HAVE to edit to make
    a photo viewable, maybe the photo wasn't that good to begin with...to me, editing was always to
    make a shot different, no viewable...am i being too hard on myself? annie
  2. You're jumping through self-made hoops. If you shoot negative film, you have to make a print in order for the image to be seen. If you're taking the time to make a print, that means you've made the decision that it is worth looking at - if you're going to spend the time to make a print, it behooves you to make the best print possible. The same with a digitally created image. If you have made the decision to edit an image, then you've made the decision that it is worth looking at - and you work on it until you have the image you want. Your problem with this is...?
  3. I guess you meant PS editing......in most cases a good photo is already good before PS editing...editing make it even better...more and more, serious photojournalism contests require photographer to show their raw file...if it's cheating or not depends who judges...
    When it's not about documentary or journalism people do what they want...and often it can be superb...
    Now if people heavily modify images they present as "documentary or photojournalism type" to impress their friends, family and/or a bunch of PN'ers, then who really cares ?...
  4. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    It's cheating when you present someone else's photo as yours. That's about the beginning and end of it.
  5. Similar to Jeff, I would say, if you deliberately lied about editing, that would be cheating. I think that every decision we make to record the image in the first place also counts as editing. With simple exposure adjustments, we can make an object appear in the image (record as mid tones) or we can make it disappear into the highlights or shadows. If you take a strict view of it, editing is inescapable. It's your photo; build it the way you want. Proceed with confidence.
  6. Back when I was shooting film and making my own prints in a darkroom, I would pretty much never show anyone an image until I was done processing the film and making the print. Because otherwise there was nothing to show. And in making the print, I'd make qualitative decisions about how I wanted that print to be seen. Nothing, at all, has changed.
  7. It's also cheating if you're a photojournalist and you deliberately alter a photo to mislead the viewer; i.e., remove something that was in the original shot or add something that wasn't. If we're talking about art for its own sake, then it's just editing. Ansel Adams probably spent as much time editing photos in the darkroom as he did behind a camera. The only difference now is that Photoshop and other software make the editing process easier, faster, and a lot less stinky...
  8. All my raw files get some kind of editing. I don't see that as cheating.
    +1 with Jeff.
    It is persons vision of the scene and/or subject.
  9. I always had a heck of a time getting people to gather around the light table and look at my negatives so I decided to cheat, I went out and purchased an enlarger , some chemistry and a box of paper.
    When I purchased a DSLR nobody wanted to read the raw code from the files so I had to cheat again and ended up having to go out and buy Lightroom, Photoshop and a printer.
  10. I see nothing wrong with tweaking the colors so the look the same as in real life, to my eye. This is particularly true for red roses, which are notoriously difficult for camera systems to represent accurately.
  11. Is Velvia cheating?
  12. When you choose to make a photo you are already editing it by choosing your composition, and choosing exposure, white balance, and all the settings you have available, including film type as Daniel pointed out. Once you have made your shot minor editing is part of the process. If you are taking photos as an artistic outlet for yourself then you are not trying to reproduce what you saw. You are trying to create a compelling interesting image. And at this point what you do to get the desired effect is up to you. You can do as much or as little as you want and it is all part of the same artistic process of creating an image with impact.
    Now you can go to extremes with this and each person has their own tastes about this. If you modify heavily in photoshop and push the photo too far some people might not like it but that might be your own personal style. If you enjoy spending more time on the computer and less in the field then this might be what you want to do. (Or in the darkroom.)
    My personal taste is that I would rather take photos than edit them so I usually at most do a little bit of cropping to strengthen composition and then maybe some adjusting of wb or curves to get the lighting/color to look the way I want it. I have done much more than that in certain situations and I don't feel like the heavily manipulated photos are any less artistic or "cheating" over my less manipulated photos.
    Everything is just another tool to use to get to the end result.
    Jeff said it in the most concise way.
  13. Maybe your friends don't mean "editing" in the way you're thinking. Editing can mean selecting the good ones and throwing away the bad ones. That is the traditional meaning. If a photographer said "I don't show my pictures until they are edited," that is what I would assume it to mean.
  14. hi all, several photographer friends won't share photos til they're edited...if i HAVE to edit to make
    a photo viewable, maybe the photo wasn't that good to begin with...to me, editing was always to
    make a shot different, no viewable...am i being too hard on myself? annie​
    People can take pictuers in any way they want to. You can photoshop or not photoshop. Makes no difference to anyone but yourself. The purist form of photography that I can think of would be to shoot Elitechrome 100 and then project it. Do not use filters with capture. I do love Elitechrome but I prefer to run it down the photoshop path for a little tweak. However generally speaking modern photography is with the use of digital camera's that are designed to work in cooperation with an editing program in the computer. That is just the way it is now. Like I said just do what you want. Professionals may have strict rules such as in news reporting. They must follow those rules. I guess with some exceptions I would say that cheating occurs when you purposefully do not tell the truth about it when required to.
  15. In film the only "pure" way to do it is probably slides, which once developed are looked at with a projector or loupe. Any print is "edited" by means of the process required to print it (or scan it and/or print it these days). Digital cameras taking RAW are giving you raw sensor scans of the pictures you took. In order to look at it you need a program that reads the raw file and converts it to a picture. There is no white balance or sharpening level or a hundred other settings inherent in the RAW -- it needs "development" to turn it into a finished picture. There is no "pure" form. it is intended to be processed. You can produce jpegs by setting your camera with the settings you favor but that's just as edited as the ones you shoot raw and edit in the computer. But if it pleases your sensibility then ok, because you are the person you have to please.
  16. Think of editing as grooming and getting dressed.
  17. We need a set of links to all of the archived discussion on this subject. No joke.

    Andrea: You seem to have joined PN to ask this question. No problem, but we don't know you or your work at all. As others have said, unless we are talking about journalism, the specific requirements of a contest or client, or something similar, there is no such thing as 'cheating'. In your own work, are you shooting film? If so, is it 'cheating' to use a pro lab to print your images, rather than a Kodak kiosk that applies the same algorithms to everything? Are you shooting digital? If so, what do you consider an 'unedited' image? A JPEG straight out of the camera with default settings? That is merely giving the editing over to a processor chip in the camera. A RAW file put through the camera maker's software with default settings? Do you think the software magically 'knows' how to render each image as you saw it? Of course not.
  18. The abandoned photographic philosophy of "The Foundiview" (look it up) said your work should be what is/was "Seen at the scene". No "grooming" the scene, nothing added or taken away, no fakes.
    Such a philosophy today, under which many photographers, to include Photojounalists and forensic photographers still work today, is mostly unheard of by digital only photographers. Though many news organizations still maintain a working "Journalists" ethic, others, many of whom are self-designated photographers, pay no attention to ethics or morals when shooting.
    So "Cheating" is when you know you've done something out of the pale but do it anyway.
  19. It's cheating when:
    1. You take someone else's image and claim it as yours
    2. The expectation of un-manipulated photos / captures is present - say in a news or PJ setting.
    3. You violate the rules of entry of a contest and change the exlif data to cover up for yourself.
  20. Even if you shoot slide film, you can still do lots of editing. You can shoot C-41 and dev it in E-6. You can underexpose or overexpose. You can use fun things like split ND filters to get a useable image where otherwise a large part of the image would be blow out. You can take an image, modify it, and then print it with a film recorder on slide film. Ultimately, photography is subjective, not objective, and viewing it any other way is deny what can be done to an image.
  21. I don't like to show images off my lcd until they are processed in Bibble... 'cause that's my vision I want to show, not nikon's....
    Editing is such a broad term. When I edit my pictures in Bibble, it's basically selecting keepers. I'd love to photoshop my images, but photoshop's not really on linux.....
    And besides, does it matter so long as the photographer's vision is presented? Photography itself is NOT an accurate depiction of what is shot.... any photog can make a small room look big, and vice versa.
  22. "It's cheating when you present someone else's photo as yours. That's about the beginning and end of it."
    well said Jeff-I couldn't agree more. cb
  23. There's editing and then there's editing. I've just checked, and on PN there is still a box to tick when uploading to confirm if an image is unmanipulated or not. Basic editing allows the image to be correctly viewable (on a monitor or in a print) and typically covers [I quote]
    a single uninterrupted exposure, cropping to taste, common adjustments to the entire image, e.g., color temperature, curves, sharpening, desaturation to black and white and dust spots on sensor cloned out​
    The Gnomes point out that anything beyond this is more PhotoShop than Camera, and should be labelled as such, to avoid confusion. This will, as the OP might have put it, make the shot different.
  24. The Gnomes point out that anything beyond this is more PhotoShop than Camera, and should be labelled as such, to avoid confusion.
    Actually, "the Gnomes" do not say that anything beyond this is more Photoshop than camera, nor do they indicate that you "should" label your photos as such. The unmanipulated checkbox and definition were created to satisfy people who complained it was unfair to have "pure" photos going up against manipulated photos in the ratings. The implementation of the "unmanipulated" marker didn't change the way people rated photos (they didn't start giving "real" photos higher marks or manipulated photos lower marks), but at least it quieted one group of complainers.
  25. Peter: 'Correctly' viewable? That means the way the photographer means you to see it. Nothing to do with editing or not editing.
    Is, for example, this image 'correctly viewable'?
  26. Mike, thanks for clarifying the context and history of the checkbox, of which I was not aware. Also, apologies since I meant "Elves" (senior moment!) Further, I probably made my final paragraph rather too brief for clarity.
    One of the things said (for the benefit of other readers) is that viewers wishing to emulate the "look" of posted photos where the manipulated box has been checked might find it useful to work more on their PS skills rather than on their camera skills to achieve the desired result (again, I'm not quoting verbatim). This is what I was originally trying to communicate, alas rather clumsily.
  27. Peter: 'Correctly' viewable? That means the way the photographer means you to see it.​
    Exactly - most photographers would probably wish to sharpen a digital image, for example, or maybe adjust the levels. When it's up on their monitor, it's their call: edit or not. All I meant is that the unprocessed image might not represent what they were expecting or desiring and so to post this unchanged (just for the sake of "not editing") would not correctly represent what they wanted to visually convey.
    "This image" is an old Velvia scan. When I did some PN housekeeping recently, I used this image to have a play with an editing package I'd recently acquired, just to try it out. I rather liked this result and so reposted it in the obviously "manipulated" form to which you've linked. So, from my point of view, this is "correct". YMMV, as may mine in the future, once I'm over my new toys.
  28. stp


    By definition, it's cheating when you break the rules. What are the rules?
  29. James G. Dainis

    James G. Dainis Moderator

    My method of editing was to throw out the bad photos and only show people the keepers.
  30. I may say that in the good old film days, the only non-edited images ever were slides when viewed in a projector. All others were edited in the process of printing, by choosing gradation (for BW), color correction (for color) etc.. The only difference was that then the photographer had much less control over it. If you are that strict, even a polarizing filter is in some sense "editing", isn't it?
  31. As many have pointed out...it is not a matter of makeing the photo "viewable", but rather making it what I feel is its very best. I don't normally set white balance, color, saturation, or anything else on the camera. It is what ever was default at the factory. That is why I shoot RAW as no one set of setting will fit every need, and there is no way to use the LCD to set that stuff. I like to think of it as "finishing" as rather than "editing" them. However to be honest I do need to edit every so often.
    I don't like to show my images until they are finished either. I think it goes back to only showing your best work. In my work flow, the image is not complete until I process it. And to be clear, I also shoot, develop, and print film in my own home.
  32. Here's a (rather long) thread on this very subject:
    http://www.photo.net/casual-conversations-forum/00Sw80 with some additional insights...
    The thread was eventually closed without any tangible resolution.
  33. Is it cheating not serving you a cake until it's been baked?
    where the eggs not quite "good enough"?
    Is it cheating not showing you the secret recipe for Coke?
    was Coca-Cola's wish to make a profit not to your liking?
    Is it cheating not showing you the rough draft of "1984"?
    Was the idea not good enough?
    Is it cheating to use filters?
    Was your camera not good enough?
    Is it cheating not having pictures uploaded on photo.net when you post a question?
    Are your photos not "that good to begin with"?
  34. You mean "when is it misinterpreting the rules". That is the american way of saying it.
  35. Its cheating when you photo your girlfriend and you wife finds it.
  36. When it is cheating depends a lot on what the photograph is going to be used for. For example if I am sending a photograph to the local news paper for a sport shot I greatly limit my edits, adjusting color saturation, contrast and in some cases balancing brightness across the photo. If the photo is just going to be looked at and enjoyed I will sometime clone out distracting elements. For example I have shot a number of group photos on the beach, it is hard to get just the group in the photo without also catching some other people, I have no problem at all cloning out the other people and I don’t thing the people getting their group photo would have any problem knowing that I do this.
    I draw that line at things like adding elements from different photos, such as adding in a nice looking sky on a day when the sky did not look so good, or making the moon look just a bit bigger then it really was, or making someone look a bit thinner then they really are.
  37. No, it's not cheating Andrea and yes, you're being too hard on yourself :). I never give anyone photos without going through them, throwing away the crap and doing my adjustments. I think it's called being professional (even if you aren't' a pro) to deliver your best work that's print ready.
  38. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    Its cheating when you photo your girlfriend and you wife finds it.​
    That hits the nail on the head.
  39. Years ago, when I shot only black & white film, I thought that having someone else make the prints was cheating. If I didn't do the final cropping, dodging and burning the image was not truly mine.
    I still feel the need to "finish" a picture, even if the raw image is very good. I think that putting an image out into the world without first loading it into an editing program and trying to present it at its very best is to abdicate an important responsibility. It's as far as one can get from "cheating."
  40. Richard Avedon apparently "cheated" then
    i also have books with printer instructions from Robert Frank, Louis Faurer, and Ansel Adams in them. Louis Faurer use to drive his printer insane with the detailed printing instructions....much like the Avedon one shown in the Washington Post article linked above.
    I have a DVD on Avedon where he gave explicit printing instructions, and when it didn't come back to his expectation, he had it redone. And this was like a 6x10 FOOT print.
    As many have said above, it is part of the photographic process, always has been, and always will be. Those of you who insist on "in camera or nothing" have a LOT to learn.
  41. << several photographer friends won't share photos til they're edited...if i HAVE to edit to make a photo viewable, maybe the photo wasn't that good to begin with...>>
    In these digital days, I think that's a smart thing to do.
    I have yet to recover from the embarrassment of showing all the shots of the day (RAW+JPG) to two photo buddies when I was at the Canadian Rockies in October. First of all, there were so many shots (especially the wildlife), that I am sure I bored them to death; and then there were some that I would never have shown if I saw them first. LOL!
  42. OP! Andrea! Are you still here?

    Are you the Andrea Kerbusch who posts to Gardenfork? If so, and by your permission, I would like to show edited and unedited versions of one or two of your images? If you would like to see this, but would not like it public, email me.
  43. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    by your permission, I would like to show edited and unedited versions of one or two of your images?​
    You can't do that on photo.net, even with permission. The Terms of Use are very clear on this.
  44. I can if she posts them, no?
  45. In the context of a critique request, it's okay to post an edited version of another user's photo (for which they've requested a critique) as a follow-up to illustrate your critique.
  46. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    I can if she posts them, no?​
    No. Only in the situation that Mike says. If the point is to have the picture here, have her post here. You can't post it unless, as Mike says, it's in the context of a critique request.
  47. hi, i posted 2 photos but am new to this site and am not sure where they are...
    the first photo i took when i first got the camera and hadn't taken interior action yet ... i was having trouble (this is my first digital) and the dancer actually came out and told me to mess around with a high iso so this was my result. the second photo is unretouched with an iso of 400...i was so much more comfortable with my analog nikon...any help will be appreciated.
    les, feel free to give me examples from garden fork...
    thank you alll
  48. It's cheating if you decide that for your needs, it is. All other opinions will vary...widely.
  49. To me, and probably a few more people, an image is viewable only when it achieves the vision the photographer had set out to achieve in the first place. If this requires editing to get the final work, such as W. Eugene Smith's absolutely masterful darkroom printing did, then so be it and there's nothing wrong with that.
  50. Well I guess Ansel Adams, Avedon, et al were cheaters.... cause I am sure they did alot more editing of images in the darkroom than I do in PS...
  51. Mr. Roberts,
    I feel as though i started a firestorm with what was really an innocent question....i have a system that i use...i upload the photo and if it's out of focus or my composition is way off, i immediatley delete it...then, i enlarge the photo twice the size and if it is not clear, i delete it...then, i may alter the color out of either necessity, fun or for artistic reasons...i've been taking photos since i'm a kid - my godfather worked for willoughby's so instead of a crucifix for confirmation, i got a camera...i wasn't until PS that i edited - i never developed my own photos and perhaps that is why i am not as savvy as the photographers in photo.net...i will post some more photos today, and maybe you all can tell me if i should continue shooting as art, or should just go back to doing family gatherings...peace, a
  52. OH I didnt mean anything by my post.... if I could get the photo I want directly from my camera, I would love it, but would probably still tinker with it in photoshop. I agree with most of the posters here, if you use someone else's photo as your own, then you are cheating. And I guess I would add, if you are doing photojournalism, and you change a photo to represent something else that didnt happen, then that is cheating too.
    I would say, that unless you are totally without morals, follow your own heart and mind, if it doesnt feel right, then maybe it isnt right. I would also add, most people know that editing happens, or they dont care, so unless you have clients that complain I wouldnt worry about it at all.
    Keep shooting and have fun, follow your muse and do what you feel is right.
    I am sure your work is great!
  53. I just use a photojournalistic ethic in everything I do, commerical, fine art, etc.
    There is so much tinkering and so little in the way of great photography in the world that I figure why by like everyone else, just get great photographs that jump out of the camera as such.
  54. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    Right, Richard Avedon was such a loser, he couldn't get great photographs that jumped out of the camera. He had to tinker with everything just to make it like everyone else.
  55. I find it fascinating that no one has ever said anything about the master painters who interpreted what they saw being cheaters (of course I hope there arent people that look like Picasso's people) . Yet, photographers who are considered artists, if they interpret what they see by editing, some people call them cheaters? Kind of funny to me, I think if you take the photograph and want to change it to your own vision then fine. As far as I know, everyone sees things differently, no matter what our eyes see, the image is still enhanced or edited by our mind, whether through our preconceived ideas, or our past experiences. I can imagine if you went out on the street right now and selected a view of something and asked 50 random people what they see, you would get 50 different answers. So who is to say what is cheating, is fixing the exposure? Lightening the highlights? Removing some stray hairs?
    I think life is complicated enough, go out and shoot and have some fun!
  56. Without my cheaters, I would not be able to read this. Interesting to compare the outrage currently in sports over steroid use, and man's penchant for cheaters in all his forms of entertainment in general.
  57. "...am i being too hard on myself?"
    No. You just don't understand what photography is. Study up, and you will find that many famous photographers would be "cheaters" by your definition. :)
  58. First of all I had to conceive, and therefore if possible express properly (even if it is a simple thing) how photography’s referent is not the same as the referent of other systems of representation. I call “photographic referent” not the optionally real thing to which an image or a sign refers but the necessarily real thing which has been placed before the lens, without which there would be no photograph. Painting can feign reality without having seen it. Discourse combines signs which have referents, of course, but these referents can be and are most often “chimeras” Contrary to these imitations, in Photography I can never deny that thing has been there. There is a superimposition here: of reality and of the past. And since this constraint exists only for photography, we must consider it, reduction, as the very essence, the noeme of photography. What I intentionalise in a photograph ( we are not yet speaking of fill) is neither art nor communication, it is reference, which is the founding order of photography. -
    -Roland Barthes, Camera Lucida-
    The objective nature of photography confers on it a credibility absent from all other picture making. In spite of any objections our critical spirit may offer, we are forced to accept as real the existence of the object reproduced actually re-presented set before us, that is to say, in time and space, - Andre Bazin -
    Getting the facts right is at the heart of good journalism; the more accurate the reporting, the closer to the truth. So, too with photojournalism, even though digital technology has now created the potential for greater ambiguity when it comes to photographic fact versus fiction. For the truth-seeking, socially motivated “concerned photographer,” fact finding has always driven the pursuit of “the decisive moment” - what Cartier Bresson long ago described as happenstance turning into visual logic before the lens. - Philip Gefter -
    Photographs really are experience captured, and the camera is the ideal arm of consciousness in its acquisitive mood. -Susan Sontag-
    These are views from some respected voices in the theory of photography that prioritise photography's main goal as that of trying to capture a fleeting moment of reality that passes before a lens. Many of you digital artists may do well to read up more instead of reeling off names like Avedon and Ansel Adams to justify your departures from classic photographic practice.
  59. feargal m,
    I don't need to reel off names like Avedon or Adams to justify the editing I do on my photographs, I just need to go back to the training I got close to 40 years ago leaning to work in a darkroom. We spent a lot of time dodging, burning and adjusting the contrast of our prints, this was part of learning photography.
  60. ...am i being too hard on myself? annie​
    I know you suspect the answer, annie my photofriend. This genie left the bottle some time back,no?. Once we learned digital,or sca to digital, I saw the handwriting on the wall. T'is writ large,and in 1's and 0's.KnowhatImean?. If I perceive your sentiment correctly. Sure..there will be counter movements and re evalauation of these counter reformations. As in how does one hold back a 'spill' when the dam has been breached. You want to set up a line in the sand, go ahead and use whatever boundary you like, costs nothing...
    Finesse it all you will, that is where we are at, and no going back to restraint in the wider consumer culture that supports all we do.
    Here in the 'green zone' of Photo Net, big as we are. we can adopt a more refined,well temporized aesthetic about such matters.
    In the real world, it's all about display and graphic imaginatio..or maybe it was always, so as Jeff and others remind . Aloha, peace. gs

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