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April 23, 2007


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Nick Hill

If it's news your representing you can't change the content in anyway, tone changes are okay to get across the information in the image but colour changes etc isn't.

If it's editorial or advertising anything goes. i prefer to get it right first and not rely on Photoshop but sometimes it's not possible due to items outside your control.


I have no issue with photoshop manipulation whatsoever. What photographers are creating is a good picture. Are people concerned that the picture has been photoshopped or are they bothered that it's been manipulated so cleverly that they thought it was real? I think the latter.

As a poor excuse for a photographer, I'm thoroughly satsified with photoshop's ability to make me look a bit better, and I'm guessing, *all* photographers do a little bit of tweaking in photoshop of most of their pictures, even if it's just upping the saturation by a couple of points for example. Post-snap manipulation is surely no different from waiting for that annoying chap to move out of the way.


To me it all depends on whether the photo is an 'illustration' or supplementary to 'reporting'.

Google Adnan Hajj and Brian Walksi...

Chris Ratcliff

I believe there is a journalistic rule (may be a US thing) that you can reword a quote to aid readability. So for a sports column "Yeah, err, we had a good race. And the, err, team yeah? We are having a good first stint...." becomes "We had a good race. The team ran a good first stint..."

It's the same with photography, it's about context. If the MBUK cover a couple of months ago had the rider moved to appear even further off the ground, or more tweaked out, then it starts changing the context of the image. Obviously, that's a pretty elastic concept.

With colour, shadow detail and those 'technical' aspects, then it's of no consequence to the subjects in the image. Taking out background distractions is the same.

In the press, the editing of photos has always been rife. Like the Mirror about a year ago with the bystanders to a house fire (if I remember right). But does it really matter if sports shots are factually accurate? To clone out a distracting cheerleader - and they usually are - is of no consequence IMO. To move a player in play is quite another!

The only people who need factually accurate pictures are legal types, and Canon sell a kit just for that.

Seb Rogers

Nikon has an image verification system as well, iirc...

MBUK has never altered a rider's position in relation to the trail on a cover (or any other) picture, as far as I'm aware. The guys who put the mag together are too into the riding (and aware of the need for credibility) to even contemplate something like that; and in any case, much of the riding in the mag is eye-opening in its own right without needing any extra help.

Background changes? Only on the cover, and only to clean it up and make the image stand out. Even this is too much for some in the purist camp.

I think the principle of not altering the content of a news image is fine; the difficulty is likely to be in the grey areas between 'news' and 'editorial', for example. There are always grey areas - that's life.

So long as the clone tool exists (and we can't exactly uninvent it now), people will be removing legs (Detrich) and / or addding extra smoke (Haj) to their pictures. Most people would just prefer it if that wasn't happening to 'news' pictures; hence the fuss when (yet) another news snapper is 'outed' for over-reliance on Photoshop.

Personally, I'm inclined to believe Allan Detrich's comments about disliking cluttered backgrounds. All good photographers care about their work; Detrich just took that attention to detail across a line that most people would consider a step too far. He was probably just being a perfectionist.


I think no picture should be photoshopped for publication unless there is a very good reason i.e. dust on sensor. If it's for a ine art type print then I think it's ok.

I just sent 100 odd pics into a mag, I think 90% were off the camera jpegs, not even opened in an editing program, the other 10% were jpegs from RAW files but no cloning out of anything in any of them.

I'm not keen at all on the PS'ing of cover shots, I think that's wrong.

Nick Hill

I edit every single shot I do, i believe that unless it is for factual journalism then it is my job to make the world seem a better place for my clients, my clients demand that everything is represented in the best possible light and style so anything goes.

Some of the stuff I do in PS is only like old fashion retouching or pushing film etc but it is all about the end image. I shoot everything raw and never just press batch develop.

Long live Photoshop!


Interesting. When I used to shoot sport for the Sunday Times, I definitely recall seeing a ball 'cut out' (don't worry kids - it's an old school term for image manipulation) and ending up hexagonal rather than round. It all depended on how long the retoucher's pub lunch lasted!

And there's nothing wrong with batch processing at all provided you know what you are doing. If you shot 1000 raw images in one session and sat and worked each one the client would probably flip at the post production bill.

And Seb, it is possible to get away with shooting jpeg for that Chamonix pic and then use a grad filter in PS. Or even use an ND filter over the lens and expose like we did in Ye Olde Worlde. Hush my mouth!!

Seb Rogers

I like the idea of the quality of retouching depending on the length of the retoucher's lunch (surely that still applies...?)

On the batch processing side, I think clients get what they pay for (which increasingly these days means lower than ideal quality). If you know what you're doing and you choose your software carefully there's no reason why you can't individually adjust each one of 1000 raw files... but you're right, it'd be both time-consuming and expensive.

I think we'll have to agree to disagree about that jpeg. I've tried using PS on the straight-from-raw jpeg to get the same end result, and whilst it's possible to pull up the shadows, PS just can't recover the highlights in the same way as Bibble. Plus it's all in 8 bit with jpeg, and when you're pulling up the mid- and quarter-tones that much you can begin to see posterisation and compression artefacts in the shadow areas.

OK, they're subtle differences. But I'm fussy about those things ;-)

Nick Hill

Not a big fan of PS RAW conversion, Capture 1 is far superior and the difference is massive compared to JPEG in camera, V4 is out soon, supposedly (already late) and it is going to be 4x faster than V3 so should speed things up.

I'll still look at every file though and tweak or even push out 3 exposures and blend in PS for the best result.

I prefer not to restrict to much on costs and do the best job I can everytime, not always easy though some people just don't see the difference. If the budget won't let me do the job right I'd prefer not to do it.


I don't use ACR either. I use RAW Developer by Iridient Digital. Pretty good value and fast. My post about batching 1000 images was aimed at Roo's comment. Clearly if you are shooting to edit to ,say, 20 final images that's fine, but once the frame count racks up then it's got to be either shooting all jpeg or a Raw and jpeg combined. It depends on the job and the timescale. Press guys rarely shoot raw for this simple reason. If I shoot raw+jpeg I compress the jpeg for ease of transmission. If you don't ever tranmsit from the field this isn't an issue either!


Every photo ever taken has been 'photoshopped' before you see it.

When people say 'photoshopped' they don't mean that a photo has been altered using that specific piece of Adobe software. What they really mean is just that a picture has been altered on the computer somehow.

It's the alteration of the supposed original that is controversial.

They might not even realise it but they really don't care what the program used is, it could be Paintshop Pro, GIMP or any other computer program. In fact straight RAW converters all 'photoshop' every picture as they do the conversion, because they have to make some decision on how to display certain colors or what the tone curve should be like or how to deal with noise in some way (compare the default output of Adobe Camera Raw with your camera manufacturer's software to see what I mean).

That even goes for in-camera JPEGs - they ARE raw conversions, albeit done by the firmware in the camera rather than software on a PC. Yes, even in camera JPEGs have been 'photoshopped' in the sense that they're not an accurate representation of the original scene, they've been tweaked to look good. The difference here is you're relying on the people who wrote the firmware to make a good conversion rather than using on your own skill and knowledge of what the scene actually looked like.

This all goes back long before digital. Film stock is usually designed to give a pleasing rather than accurate picture of the scene, so all analogue photos have been tweaked to look good, though using chemical processes rather than the computer. Black and white film is particularly bad in this respect - the photos come out black and white! Have you ever seen a black and white scene? You photoshop every single thing in a scene when you shoot black and white film.

There is no perfectly accurate representation of the original scene, because there is no unique original scene.


A further point. Often a manipulated photos looks _more_ like the original scene, because of differences in the way eyes and sensors (whether film or digital) work.

The main photo in this article and the default RAW conversion are a very good example. If you were there I bet you would have seen something much more like the tweaked version, i.e. much more detail in the shadow.

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