When does editing become "cheating"?

Travel Forums Travel Photography When does editing become "cheating"?

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1. Posted by ToonSarah (Travel Guru 1377 posts) 4y Star this if you like it!

I'm interested in hearing different views and perspectives on the above. Personally I see nothing wrong with some judicious post-production - the fact that we can do it digitally these days rather than manipulating things in the darkroom makes no difference. I don't think many people would object to a bit of straightening, cropping, maybe tweaking the exposure - would they?

Beyond that I've been known to pep up the colours slightly, increase contrast and so on. Still no objections, I hope???

But I also like to play around to get artistic effects, both in Photoshop and using the Enlight app on my iPad. As long as these are clearly manipulated (e.g. double exposures), again I think that's fine, but what if the effect is too subtle to be noticed? Is that still OK?

I see two schools of thought here. One says, the photo should be a representation of what you saw, so if you distort that too much you are effectively "lying" to the viewer. The other says, a photo is an artistic creation and the artist should be free to create the image that best pleases him/her, whatever that takes. Myself, I veer towards the second, with the proviso that a manipulated photo should never be used to mislead.

Following that argument, if I post a photo in my blog of a beautiful white sand beach and you go there and find pebbles rather than sand and ugly buildings where in my photo there were trees, you would be right to be angry with me! But if I remove something temporary, such as a piece of litter, or make the sky blue when on the day I visited it was cloudy, does that seem OK to you? And what if I also add something, such as a bird flying overhead to fill a space that displeases me?

Views please!

2. Posted by hasbeen (Travel Guru 1260 posts) 4y Star this if you like it!

I think It becomes cheating when someone tries to pass their own work as someone else's.

In the same way as an artist can paint a copy of a famous painting by Picasso .. it becomes cheating when it is signed as Picasso & portrayed as a Picasso.

Or a writer of fiction who portrays it as fact.

There was a photo competition on a cruise I was on .. a person entered a photograph he had taken of a postcard. To me that was close to cheating but he had said what the photo was of .. everyone knew what the photos was & he won the competition.

[ Edit: Edited on 03-Jul-2017, at 09:24 by hasbeen ]

3. Posted by Beausoleil (Travel Guru 1781 posts) 4y Star this if you like it!

Taking a photo of someone else's photo is copying, plain and simple. That is not allowed unless you have permission from the person whose photo you copied, clearly not the case with the postcard photo. The fact that it was a postcard means it was sold commercially so it was under copyright and it is against the law (most places) to copy this by any means. Yes, that was cheating and in his case, blatant cheating. The photo should have been removed from the contest. I'm sure the cruise people were trying to keep everyone happy but sometimes everyone can't be happy . . .

As far as digital manipulation of your own photos, it is your own photo so you can do whatever you like with it. The line is crossed when you try to palm it off as something other than what it actually is. Our local art organization photo section has a show category for digitally manipulated photos. You can't manipulate someone else's photo without their written permission, but you certainly can manipulate your own. I have been known to add pant legs to men in shorts in some of my church photos because their inappropriate dress offends me but the rest of the photo is lovely. Why should someone's poor taste put my photo in the dust bin? If the gentleman who had the pant legs added could see the photo, he might realize how much better he looked in long pants . . .

Occasionally I take out litter, remove power lines, deepen the sky color, add a pant leg or two, all while trying to keep the feel of the original photo. I always save the original so I can refer back to it. If you're posting it to show what a place looks like; it should look like the place. That's a given. If you are entering a show with it, you have other considerations including restrictions of that particular show. Some shows won't allow any digital manipulation which I find ridiculous considering what used to be done in the dark room. There was always manipulation; it was just messier.

Cheating is trying to pass off something as something other than what it is.

4. Posted by greatgrandmaR (Travel Guru 2048 posts) 4y Star this if you like it!

I agree that taking someone's work and passing it off as your own is cheating, but for TP purposes, I consider that photos taken by my family can be posted by me as a representation of what we saw. I don't think I have to ask my husband each time I post a photo that he took. For a photo contest, it would have to be a photo that I actually took.

Again for posting here on TP - it would be cheating if you posted a photo of a beach in St. John USVI and identified it as a beach in Costa Rica. Just like taking Ann Margaret's body and photoshopping Oprah's head onto it would be cheating.

I do sometimes try to edit out distracting elements (posts, telephone wires, branches growing out of people's heads) and I try to straighten photos so that you don't have a ship sailing uphill on the ocean. I don't consider that cheating. The shows that don't allow any digital manipulation must be requiring you to shoot RAW, because when the camera gives you a jpeg image that has been digitally altered

5. Posted by Beausoleil (Travel Guru 1781 posts) 4y Star this if you like it!

All the photographers I know who exhibit do shoot RAW. The digital alteration of saving into JPG is not the same as digital "manipulation" which would occur after it was saved as shot into JPG. I think that is what is being discussed here. If I used a relative's photo, I would credit them when I posted the photo just to be fair to them. Their creation; their credit.

6. Posted by ToonSarah (Travel Guru 1377 posts) 4y Star this if you like it!

I agree that passing someone else's photo off as your own is cheating, but it fine if you acknowledge them and have their permission (in which I include having the sort of "blanket permission" of a partner etc.) That photo contest example though, Steve, is ludicrous - if they knew it was a postcard how could they possibly declare it the winner?! I would be seriously annoyed if I'd entered that contest

But that's a different sort of cheating from manipulation, and no, I don't think the process whereby a photo is saved as a JPG counts in that respect - I'm talking about deliberate changes made by the photographer. It seems from posts so far that the rest of you are more or less on the same wavelength as I am on that issue :)

7. Posted by Beausoleil (Travel Guru 1781 posts) 4y Star this if you like it!

I agree Sarah.

8. Posted by Borisborough (Moderator 1615 posts) 4y 1 Star this if you like it!

Passing off someone's picture as your own is definitely a cheat as far as I am concerned. And I also think that using a picture of someone else as your profile picture on any forum (and it happens here quite often) is cheating too - if you don't want a picture of yourself there, put something different in, not a picture of someone else.

I personally don't think changing a tint or cropping or that sort of thing is cheating but I really haven't got time for all that - I think all of my pictures are all exactly as they come off the camera. I even have two or three there which are scanned photos from film pictures. I'm not quite so sure about removing power lines or adding legs though.

9. Posted by Borisborough (Moderator 1615 posts) 4y Star this if you like it!

After browsing through Travellerspoint, I went on the the BBC and just came across this article about spotting fake photos - fascinating!

10. Posted by Beausoleil (Travel Guru 1781 posts) 4y Star this if you like it!

Fascinating article. If you can blow up the photo, it's pretty easy to spot any manipulation, but just looking at it as in their little test, it's quite difficult except for the ridiculous ones. There was a famous photo of a shark under the Golden Gate bridge many years ago that everyone thought was real and it turned out to be a fake. It certainly got a lot of attention at the time.

Borisborough, don't wear shorts in church and I won't lengthen your pantlegs.