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When does editing become "cheating"?

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

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11. Posted by greatgrandmaR (Travel Guru 666 posts) 50w Star this if you like it!

Quoting Borisborough

...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...
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On some sites, people use photos of people in their family (for instance their deceased mother or child) for their photo. It depends on the site as to whether that is appropriate. I can usually tell if that is the case (like I know the person is a female and the photo is for a man in a WWII uniform) and it doesn't bother me at all.

I personally use a photo of myself when I was 10 on some sites. Also when it comes to the birthday of one of my family members, I will substitute their photo for a photo of myself for several days up to a month on Facebook. I use old historic photos of the person - when they were a child or when they were in school (depending on the age of the person).

I'm sure that isn't what you are talking about - here it is probably more a case using a picture of a more attractive person to make people think you are different than you are.

12. Posted by greatgrandmaR (Travel Guru 666 posts) 50w Star this if you like it!

Quoting Beausoleil

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.

There is a photo group I belong to where some of the guys claim that everyone should be shooting raw and that jpeg is digital manipulation which takes place in the camera. That was their contention - not mine. I considered shooting raw and have decided that I don't really need to try that for various reasons. Some people also contend that you should do all your exposure and focus manually. I don't. I did that back in 1958 when I got my first SLR camera because I had to. I don't have to anymore.

There is a big difference between entering a photo contest and just posting on a travel site. There can be cheating in both cases, but there is (IMHO) a slightly different emphasis on what cheating would be.

Cheating on a travel site would involve such things as cropping out a highway overpass which runs over top of the hotel, or enhancing a pool so that it looks inviting when it is really full of green algae. And also it would mean using professional photographs as your own.

Cheating when you enter a photo contest depends entirely on what the rules of the contest are. In the above examples, using a professional photo as your own would still be cheating, but if digital editing was allowed, the other two edits would be perfectly OK. You would be presenting a photo for judging as a photo, not trying to tell people what the hotel or the pool looked like so they could decide whether to stay there.

If the contest specifically says that no editing is allowed, then what they want is right out of the camera (presumably in jpeg format) and any editing at all would be cheating. Even cropping, straightening and brightening. (And since my photos are always a little crooked, that would eliminate me from entering that contest)

13. Posted by ToonSarah (Travel Guru 565 posts) 49w Star this if you like it!

Thanks Steve, that article is interesting and the quiz shows how hard it is to spot some fakes (though others were pretty obvious).

I agree there's a big difference in what we can regard as cheating depending on circumstances. For a contest it's usually clear, as it will have rules e.g. around whether editing is permitted, but outside that I think it's more fluid. I'm not just thinking of sharing on a travel site like this but also generally. I like to post my best photos on Facebook and Flickr, and would never post one that I hadn't taken myself, but I'm comfortable sometimes doing a bit of editing before I post.

14. Posted by king_golo (Respected Member 89 posts) 49w Star this if you like it!

I think one important point hasn't been mentioned yet: even if it's not cheating, any photographer will try to look for a nice angle to take their picture from. This basically means that you change the content of the photo as you e.g. take an angle from which the power plant in the back can't be seen or from which the dark clouds covering 95% of the sky won't appear in your photo. A photograph is never objective, it's always a subjective image of what the photographer had in mind. Therefore, I wouldn't consider it cheating at all if you change a few things, e.g. the contrast or colours (or pant-legs). I take 99% of my photos for myself and my (offline) photo albums, and of course I want them to look good in there. So changing the contrast and saturation or cropping or tilting the picture is perfectly fine for me, but I wouldn't go as far as (or simply don't have the time) to photoshop the hell out of my photos. I also take pictures in jpg, not in raw, as the effort to change them is much easier.

What sometimes amazes me is that many people post them online and think their photos are great, and they haven't even realised that a lamppost is sticking out of the photographed person's head or that the sea is flowing out of the picture because it's so strongly tilted. The latter is an absolute no-go for a photo (unless it's done for artistic purposes, but it almost never is).

15. Posted by ToonSarah (Travel Guru 565 posts) 49w Star this if you like it!

Quoting king_golo

What sometimes amazes me is that many people post them online and think their photos are great, and they haven't even realised that a lamppost is sticking out of the photographed person's head or that the sea is flowing out of the picture because it's so strongly tilted. The latter is an absolute no-go for a photo (unless it's done for artistic purposes, but it almost never is).

I agree - I would be embarrassed to share a photo with some of the 'faults' I spot in others' But I have to recognise that not everyone is as fussy as I am, and if the photo pleases them I guess that's enough.

I participate in an informal photo contest on FB and I'm sometimes amazed not just at the photos that some people choose to enter but also that they get votes. I think in part that's due to the fact that I visit photo exhibitions, have (informally) studied good composition and design, etc., so I tend to notice these things (or the absence of them). But also that people often judge the content, not the photographic skill - so if the theme is the sea, and the photo shows a dramatic seascape, no matter that the water is flowing downhill and the whole thing out of focus, it's a winner in their eyes ;)

16. Posted by greatgrandmaR (Travel Guru 666 posts) 49w Star this if you like it!

I do agree - sometimes people submit photos that aren't very good to contests. I have gotten into trouble and been thrown out of two FB groups because I pointed out that the photo being judged did not follow the rules, or similar infractions. So I've learned to bite my tongue and not say what I think, but it irritates me when a photo which does not meet the criteria of the contest wins. I will not vote for a photo that is not straight, or one that is obviously a tiny crop. And I also have personal prejudices for/against certain types of pictures, which I think I may be allowed to express in my voting as long as I keep quiet about why I'm voting or not voting for a certain photo.

I am not a professional photographer - my photos are snapshots which I take so that I have a record. I can tell that when I compare my photos to others. But I generally only post the better ones.

17. Posted by Tabithag (Full Member 118 posts) 49w 1 Star this if you like it!

I'm not keen on photos being edited in a way that means it is no longer a true reflection of what you saw, and that someone else might see. I particularly think that if the photo is shown within a travel context, where it is saying either "i saw this" or "you should go there and see this", then it is disingenuous to add or subtract anything that makes a substantive difference to what can actually be seen.

I don't mean simple corrections, like straightening, cropping, adjusting the light and colour etc, which can be done to bring the image closer to what we really saw, effectively just making up for our initial mistakes with the camera. Whilst even that might feel like we are giving a false impression of our skill level, it is no different to what always took place in the darkroom.

As to whether it is cheating, then passing someone else's work as your own clearly is, the rest really depends on the context and rules. But even if something is not cheating, it still might be dishonest. Personally I'd like to see photography split into categories. To me, photography is about capturing an image of a place, event etc, in an honest way. Yes make it the best representation of what was there, but don't make it something that it wasn't. If you want the rickshaw in front of the temple, then do what the professionals do, and wait for that perfect shot, rather than Photoshop one in afterwards. If you want to have the perfect sunrise colours, then get up early and take the photo at sunrise, don't edit the colours in.

That said, I do think that there is a place for what I would call artistic photography, where you take a photo and play with it, to make it something else. Whether that be multiple exposures, adding in extras, or any of the other myriad of things that it is possible to do these days.

I suppose for me, and I know that I am likely in a picky minority, the important thing is that the photo is honest. If it is a creation, then great, that is a skill in itself and allows real artistic expression, but say so. Of course none of this matters if the photo is just for you, only when you show it to others, as that is the point at which you are using it to tell a story.

18. Posted by king_golo (Respected Member 89 posts) 49w Star this if you like it!

Quoting Tabithag

I don't mean simple corrections, like straightening, cropping, adjusting the light and colour etc, which can be done to bring the image closer to what we really saw, effectively just making up for our initial mistakes with the camera. Whilst even that might feel like we are giving a false impression of our skill level, it is no different to what always took place in the darkroom.

Good point - I suppose almost none of us is a professional, and if getting rid of those tiny mistakes all of us make it's absolutely acceptable imho.

19. Posted by RachelB17 (Budding Member 34 posts) 22w Star this if you like it!

WHen you try to pass someone else's work off as your own!

20. Posted by greatgrandmaR (Travel Guru 666 posts) 22w Star this if you like it!

Quoting RachelB17

WHen you try to pass someone else's work off as your own!

Well, yes that. But there's more to it than that. There are other forms of cheating using your own work