Photography Podcast

Listener Poll: What level of Editing and Processing is acceptable in photography?

Posted in Polls on 27-06-2008 | 7 Comments

This is another of those gray areas in photography.

With the proliferation of digital cameras and better and more powerful processing software, the definition of photography is changing. Everyone has it’s own view of what is acceptable or not in digital photography processing.

Should photos be processed at all, or is it ok to process them in any way possible to better represent the view of the photographer? Can it still be called photography?

Since we are going to address this issue on the next episode of PhotoNetCast, we’d like to have your input. Please vote in the poll bellow or in our sidebar.


Do you license your images with Creative Commons?

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If you’d like to further expand your thoughts on the subject, or none of the options really represents your opinion, please feel free to use the comments section. Your views are appreciated.

We are going to record in about one week’s time, so if you want your comment discussed in the show, you’ll have to participate as soon as possible.

And if you like the show, don’t forget to help us spread the word. Thanks.

Comments (7)

That’s a great question. I think it depends on what the photographer is trying to do. Personally, I want the end result to still look like a photograph rather than a digital fantasy rendering.
I think most people will end up developing (no pun intended) their own personal technique and style, and that goes a long way towards making their digital photographs stand out from others.

A week ago I would have voted none at all, preferring to keep all my edits in camera so to speak (including multiple exposures).

However, I posted a photo on my flickr stream that I’d cropped to square from 6×7 and converted to black and white from colour quite recently. I wasn’t sure how I felt about it at first, but a few commenters made the point that it’s really about the end result and not the equipment, though I’d still prefer if it resembled a photo.

John Ingledew makes the assertion in “Photography” that there is no film or digital photography, it’s all just photography at heart. After all, the core of photography is all about ways of capturing light.

Personally I can’t bring myself to call something photography if elements have been added in, but at the risk of being flamed, I’d still have to call HDR photography as it is still about capturing light.

I voted for some, but no more than could be achieved in the darkroom. I don’t actually know much about darkroom technique beyond film development and the theory that I’ve read, but it’s rare that I even remove the dust spots from my negative scans; that doesn’t mean I begrudge those who edit, it’s just not my style.

Well, let┬┤s try this commenting thing ­čśë
I think the question is not relevant at all. It simply doesn┬┤t matter how the final result is made. Editing an image in photoshop is not so much different to all the things you can do in the darkroom. Many great photographers used all sorts of methods to enhance their images after they┬┤ve been taken. Ansel Adams for example was not just a good and patient photographer, he was a genius in the darkroom too. He used whatever tools where suitable to realize his idea of a perfect image, and people like them. The only thing that counts in photography is the result, not the way it was created. So: Creative freedom for me please!

I think it depends on what area of photography you are shooting in, what you’re trying to achieve, and how your audience will receive it.

For instance, if you’re a photojournalist, you’re trying to portray as much realism of the scene as possible. Your audience (and your supervisors) will shun any manipulation because the end result is reporting the facts as you perceived them in that small frame. It would be unethical to do go beyond the respected limits of the profession.

However, I think that in fine art, the gates are open. If you are starting with a photograph, whatever you end up with is great, with one caveat: if your audience accepts it, it will work. If you don’t care about your audience, you probably won’t sell much (if that is your goal).

For me – the level of acceptable editing is determined by how the photo will be used.

For journalistic purposes – I think minimal editing should be done.

For art purposes – whatever an artist needs to do to create their art is fine.

I don’t think making a comparison to what can be done in a darkroom makes much sense. Someone who is an expert in the darkroom can change the final image as much as someone who is an expert in photoshop can on the computer.

I voted that anything goes, but only as long as you are honest about it. I do believe there is an exception when it comes to journalism. Journalists should do nothing to change the content of a photograph. Color correction, white balance, black and white conversion, and even cropping are fine, but the pixels shouldn’t be tampered with in any other way.


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