Alteration of photos - is it cheating?

Discussion in 'Field Herping and Reptile Studies' started by jedi_339, Apr 30, 2014.

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  1. jedi_339

    jedi_339 Well-Known Member

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    Hey All,

    After submitting a few photos for a reptile and amphibian photography competition with rules that allow some minor manipulation, it got me thinking, I (Prior to this competition) have never altered any of my photos and would rather take a great photo on the camera and if it doesn't work out, there's more to practice on next time. What are your thoughts on the alteration of photos? Is it cheating as a photograper? I'm interested in your thoughts.

    These were the rules regarding alteration.
    "Digital adjustments are only acceptable if limited to cleaning work, levels, curves, colour, saturation and contrast work, applied to the image as a whole. The faithful representation of a natural form, behaviour or phenomenon must be maintained"

    And here is a sample of a photo that has been altered, dunno if I've even done it right, but it definitely feels wrong to change it.

    First photo is the altered version.
     

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  2. eipper

    eipper Very Well-Known Member APS Veteran

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    It's certainly a grey area.... By what you have quoted I am guess you entered the Nactus comp. At what point does the post processing begin.... If your contrast and saturation are adjusted in camera on the manufacture of the file is that modification? Is dust removal from the shot editing? What about shooting in a dx mode on a full frame? The list goes on. Hence the somewhat arbitrary nature of the rules. The selection judges on the exoterra comp are both herpo's and photographers themselves and hopefully will weed out the bulldust before it gets to the judging stage.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Btw good luck
     
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  3. jedi_339

    jedi_339 Well-Known Member

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    Cheers Scott, and yep, Nactus comp it is, though I've left it till the last minute to enter :facepalm:

    I haven't actually submitted any of the altered versions as yet as I am still not sure whether I am fully comfortable with doing it. Would you as a long time herp photographer think that saturation adjustment shown is too much?

    I think I'm fighting with myself more than anything on this.
     
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  4. giggles

    giggles Not so new Member

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    I totally agree with this, i don't like the idea of altering pictures in general, to me photography is about what is actually captured not what you can make of it with photoshop. (natural beauty :D) lol but for a competition? :S Honestly the 2nd picture you've added looks better/natural than the altered one anyway! :D
     
  5. saximus

    saximus Almost Legendary

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    What if some slight “tuning” makes the photo look closer to how the subject looks in real life though? Wouldn’t that still be considered bringing out the natural beauty, possibly even more so than the original?
     
  6. moosenoose

    moosenoose Legendary

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    I never alter animal colour. the most I ever play with is a burn tool on some of the shadows or highlights in the background to emphasize the subject....and brightness & contrast. Anything else to me feels like cheating :lol: One of my favorites is dropping out the background to black & white...then the subject seems like it has been enhanced. the natural colours do all the talking ;)
     
  7. jedi_339

    jedi_339 Well-Known Member

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    I can see how that sort of tuning would pertain to the competition, to maintain the faithful representation of the original subject.

    From a photographers standpoint, I would hope that one day I might be able to recreate how it looks in real life without any tuning.

    Cheers for your opinions guys, feel free to continue giving them. it's an interesting topic.
     
  8. Red-Ink

    Red-Ink Very Well-Known Member

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    I really don't see a problem with it if it's within these parameters:

    These were the rules regarding alteration.
    "Digital adjustments are only acceptable if limited to cleaning work, levels, curves, colour, saturation and contrast work, applied to the image as a whole. The faithful representation of a natural form, behaviour or phenomenon must be maintained"

    The highlighted statement would be the key here... turning green tree frog into a "blue" tree frog would not be a representation of a natural form...
    [MENTION=29069]jedi_339[/MENTION] you're manipulation still displays a representation of a natural form.

    If the pics are going to print publication... the printers will tweak them anyway to make them print better (within the parameters already stated in the rules)
     
  9. jedi_339

    jedi_339 Well-Known Member

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    I think in this case moose the rules state the manipulation must be done to the image as a whole, otherwise there'd be some cool effects like that I could try. From memory I only altered the saturation of that image, but I still can't work out if I'm comfortable with it haha.
     
  10. moosenoose

    moosenoose Legendary

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    I mean its not for everyone...but I kind of like the result ;)

    I love your pic btw...good luck with it ;)
     

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  11. Red-Ink

    Red-Ink Very Well-Known Member

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    Here's two images one straight out of the camera Nikon D7k lit with the pop up flash..

    Straight out of camera.

    [​IMG]

    Same images done with the same editing parameters as stated: All done to the image as a whole
    Saturation
    White balance
    Curves
    Sharpening

    [​IMG]

    Is the editing a misrepresentation, I'll let you guys discuss and decide
     
  12. critterguy

    critterguy Active Member

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    Yeah I agree, often have to adjust the brightness, contrast, do some cropping and some sharpening to bring the colours and edges in the pic out better, but I don't have any equipment to get the flash output right etc, usually just use a point and shoot digital cam on manual with certain settings that I rarely change.

    I used to adjust the aperture etc when I was learning on a Canon Eos 3000, but you couldn't have many wasted shots back then when using film, so learnt how to try and get the shots right the 1st time, I've since forgotten alot of what I learnt on that cam.

    Will be getting back into taking better macro's again soon and relearning how to, got a Pentax Kx and a ok cheap beginner lens for it that I couldn't use, only just got a adapter for the lens recently, months after getting the camera and lens.
    The lens is a old Tamron SP 35-80mm CF macro with adaptall 2 type connection, it's manual aperture and zoom adjustment, it came with a Hoyo UV filter on it.

    I still need to get a ring flash and some extension rings to improve the macro on the lens and to lengthen it's range, current is 1:2.5 at full extension, will down to 1:1.25 with a entension ring and change the range to 70-140mm and so on with each ring added.
    My wife and I really like this lens, it's way clearer than the starter pentax 18-55mm lens the camera came with.
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2014
  13. ssnakeboyy

    ssnakeboyy Active Member

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    Nice to see another Pentax user [MENTION=39804]critterguy[/MENTION], i use a k3. I do a lot of bird photography where sometimes you cant use flash because the birds too far away and often the light isnt too good and you end up getting a dull image. To me adjusting saturation, contrast, clarity etc isnt cheating, especially if you could just crop an image and edit a bit or buy a $10k lens and get the same results then id opt for the first option. it all depends on the person behind the camera and what they like.
     
  14. eipper

    eipper Very Well-Known Member APS Veteran

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    Only you "know" what would be the natural representation of the image Jedi. But to me the work you have done is minor/ if not less than minor so to speak
     
  15. Beans

    Beans Guest

    If you are changing the natural shape of the subject, eliminating defining features or 'flaws' then yes it's cheating. But if you were just touching up the photo, like making it clearer or if the lighting wasn't captured as well as you though then I think its okay. There's definitely a place for Photoshop, but people tend to go too far.
     
  16. Klaery

    Klaery Well-Known Member

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    If you are into photography, then get over your fear of post processing. Even with film post processing was done in the darkroom (why we use a program for post processing called lightroom today).

    Camera sensors are not perfect and all images will need a little sharpening, contrast and saturation adjustment to look their best. If you shoot in jpg (which you don't I hope) then the camera will do this post processing for you before you even see the image. So with that attitude everyone who shoots in jpg is a cheater.

    Post processing is a necessary step for every photo you take.
     
  17. yellowbeard

    yellowbeard Active Member

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    digital photography is cheating LMAO!
     
  18. Klaery

    Klaery Well-Known Member

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    I want to also add that post processing isn't going to fix what wasn't right in the camera. If you over expose and blow the highlights, you have lost that detail forever. Underexposing is better but it will still never be as good as it would have been if the image was correctly exposed to begin with. Likewise you can't sharpen your subject into focus.

    The kea below is one of my favourite images due to the subject and what it meant to get it, but it lacks a lot because I had to use a high iso and underexpose it (dark storm and needed a decent shutter speed). It needed a fair bit of work in post and will never be as good as it could have been if I was able to expose it correctly.

    [​IMG]

    The next image was correctly exposed in camera and so only needed minor sharpening and contrast (to replace what is lost through your aa filter). It looks that much better for it. Printed out at a decent size the difference is very noticable and would be night and day to anybody judging a comp.

    [​IMG]
     
  19. BrownHash

    BrownHash Well-Known Member

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    When most people think of post processing they think of photo manipulation and Photoshopping images into what they are not. Basic tweaking of photos had been around a long time and was being done before cameras went digital. I believe, as pointed out, that if the faithful representation of a natural form, behaviour or phenomenon is maintained then there isn't any real issue.
     
  20. PappaSmurf

    PappaSmurf Active Member

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    My wife was one of the leading & most awarded wedding photographers in Brisbane when i met her. ALL of her photos were on film. She gave it away when digital photography & then photoshop came in. The challenge was gone & very man & his dog suddenly became a "professional"
     
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