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[filmscanners] Re: Ethics of digital manipulation

Tris Schuler wrote:

> I'm with you on this, Art. I was going to add my two cents earlier but then
> thought I shouldn't as it's none of my business. But since you've mentioned
> it. I regularly clone out valid material in an image when, say, I think it
> might be _interpreted_ as a defect of some sort. And why not? As you've
> noted, this isn't serious journalism where the fate of a nation might hinge
> on our accurate presentation of one of these scenes. It's for fun and for
> "art" and the bottom line's always the image itself.

I have two very strong views about this.  If I am producing a
documentary image which is supposed to be capturing a historic event, I
would probably do nothing to the image that would change the context
of it.  Now, this is still a gray area.  I remember a huge debate about
the fact that Newsweek or Time (or both?) altered the contrast on a mug
shot of O.J. Simpson making him look unkempt and with a couple days
beard growth when the original image did not appear that way.  However,
I don't believe there is a photographer who would consider changing
paper grades to a harder one in a wet darkroom situation as "cheating",
so these is a fine line.

National Geo altered the positioning of the Giza Pyramids in Egypt
because they didn't fit n their cover design.

When it comes to my photography as "fine art" I do whatever I want.  The
person seeing the end result is looking at an artwork, not a
photographic rendition of a time or place or event.  If I can merge two
images and give my image a sky that only happens once a year in that
part of the world and make it work with my foreground, then it could
certainly exist, even if I wasn't there for it. Heck, I might even place
a sky that can't exist with another foreground.  No one told Vincent (oh
no, not him again) that his sky was the wrong texture or that his
sunflowers were too yellow.  Just this week, I had a need for an image
of a gray squirrel in a field.  I had a lot of images of gray squirrels,
but they were on trees or on my back porch, but not as I needed it,
isolated on a grassy field.  So, out comes the grassy field from another
image and a nice portrait of a squirrel eating an acorn on my porch, and
about an hour later I have a squirrel on a grassy field eating an acorn,
and I think anyone seeing it without zooming into it with PS looking for
errors would be convinced it was a one image shot.  I had to change
lighting and tones, and hues, and even clone some individual grass
blades, but it works.  I have no guilt ;-)

> As for those Newtonian rings, I'd have simply cloned the one next to the
> Eiffel Tower out--wouldn't have taken two seconds.

Maybe its my monitor, but that Newton ring interference and the other I
one I mentioned (and I have since found a bit more) is pretty
wide-spread, and actually goes through the Eiffel tower and extends to
the other side.  I agree that the sky is where it is the most obvious,
and probably the confusion of the Eiffel tower structure would hide most
of the problems, it would be nice if they could be avoided to begin with
by rigging up a spacer.

The jet trail's a tossup
> from where I stand.

I dislike jet trails, especially when it is otherwise a perfectly blue
sky otherwise, that and power lines make me crazy.  I have used both as
design elements in images, but usually they are just plan distracting.
Since it is not a part of the image that adds any meaning to it, IMHO,
it would go bye-bye in my image.  I suppose you could assume it was a
Concorde trail and then maybe it is meaningful ?

In a way it doesn't add anything, doesn't even look all
> that much like a jet trail. Another two seconds to rid ourselves of that.
> And as long as we're at it, why not just pore over the sky for a few
> minutes and pick up any other oddities and inconsistencies we find. most of
> which won't be visible at normal viewing size, but these things bother me
> when I'm editing at high resolution and have the image huge RAW TIFF to
> work with, which might well be 5x or more the size of the final reduced
> image I'll offer for public view. At that resolution there are lots of
> defects and they're not hard to see at all and anal as I am they tend to
> drive me nuts . . . so off with their heads!

I'm the same way.  I find cloning almost meditative, and I don't mind
spending a few minutes getting rid of those little spots here and there.
  I don't see many with the Polaroid scanner.  With the Minolta, it does
become a bit of a hassle, because they are everywhere.

> I can't see any rings over the building to the right of the tower. There
> are large blemishes about, but I took these to be JPEG artifacting in lieu
> of any more information to go on.

I'm pretty sure I'm seeing Newton ring interference there.  But you are
correct that the jpeging can cause odd posterization that looks like
Newton rings sometimes.

> I like both of the pictures Anthony has shown us. I find their composition
> to be solid and the rendering looks professional, as far as these things
> go. But then I'm into that "art" I mentioned, just good pictures. Both of
> these want to tell stories in their own ways, and I like that.

OK, now you have to go and spoil it, and talk about the images in terms
of how you respond to them emotionally.  Humph!  That just doesn't
belong in this list at all! ;-) ;-)

Actually, personally, As nice as these wallpaper images are, I prefer
Anthony's B&W "misc", particularly his street images.  I found Paris was
amazing for street photography.  I have some very unusual images I took
around the G. Pompidou (Sorry, if that's misspelled) Centre.
Unfortunately, at the time I was working with medium high speed Fuji
negative color film and the grain is the size of ping-pong balls on
many.  That area attracts the strangest mix of artists and "odd people"
(not necessarily one in the same)...  I think if I lived in Paris, I
would be shooting tons of B&W street scenes.


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