When does editing become "cheating"?

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

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

I cheat when I paint and usually for reasons of composition. I'll take a tree in a photo and move it to a different place relating to the rest of the scene to make the painting balance. I suppose if you did this to a photo, it would definitely be cheating because it is not representative of what you saw. If you are showing a photo as something you actually saw, it should look like what you saw. If you need to push the colors or adjust contrast to make it look like what you saw, that's fine. If you start moving trees, that is not. You need to get the balance right when you take the photo, not afterwards. If you do that, it should be shown as a digitally manipulated photo and not an accurate representation of a subject.

22. Posted by greatgrandmaR (Travel Guru 2037 posts) 3y Star this if you like it!

Unless you are painting a portrait of someone that you want to actually look like them, then anything you do in the painting that is not a direct representation isn't cheating - it is art. Some photography isn't meant to be completely representational and it is also art, and not cheating. Other than claiming a photo as your own work when it is not, mostly cheating in travel photography involves editing the photo in such a way as to conceal the things which would make a person decide not to visit that place. Moving a tree wouldn't be that kind of thing - mostly whether a tree is there or not is not going to influence someone to visit or not visit. But taking a photo with a telephone lens, even if it is not edited, might give someone a wrong impression of the site and could be considered cheating.

23. Posted by ToonSarah (Travel Guru 1377 posts) 3y Star this if you like it!

Quoting Beausoleil

I cheat when I paint and usually for reasons of composition. I'll take a tree in a photo and move it to a different place relating to the rest of the scene to make the painting balance. I suppose if you did this to a photo, it would definitely be cheating because it is not representative of what you saw. If you are showing a photo as something you actually saw, it should look like what you saw. If you need to push the colors or adjust contrast to make it look like what you saw, that's fine. If you start moving trees, that is not. You need to get the balance right when you take the photo, not afterwards. If you do that, it should be shown as a digitally manipulated photo and not an accurate representation of a subject.

That's interesting. To me, photography is as much an art-form as painting, which makes me question why something should be considered fine in the latter but not the former. I guess it depends on how the photo is then used. If by travel photography (taking Grandma's definition) we mean photos in tour agent brochures, hotel adverts etc., then any manipulation of the content of the view does feel like cheating, as it might lead a customer to purchase something under false pretences. But in my original question at the start of this thread I wasn't really thinking about that sort of photography but rather our own images that we share among friends and online. In your example of the tree, I might possibly delete it from a photo but probably not, because it would be part of the natural scene. But I have certainly deleted intrusive telephone cables, the stray arm (or more) of a passer-by who wandered into frame, an unfortunately parked car etc. If we are basing the notion of cheating on what is an accurate record of what I saw, all of that would be wrong, but if we base it on what another visitor to that place might see, then removing the person or car should be OK, because they will probably be gone by the time that visitor got there Likewise, if I change the sky to make the weather look better, who is to say that it won't be better when my hypothetical visitor arrives?!

But in my case I don't make any changes for the purpose of convincing others to visit a place or otherwise, but rather for the purpose of creating a more pleasing (to me and hopefully my audience) photo. Does that make it OK if I then share that photo as 'art', but not if I share it (here for instance) as a travel image??? Interesting

24. Posted by greatgrandmaR (Travel Guru 2037 posts) 3y Star this if you like it!

If you are just sharing images among friends and not entering a competition with rules about what editing is permitted, then you can do what you like with the photo (editing wise) and it is not cheating. I only referenced travel photography because this is basically a website about travel, so it was an honest mistake to make in answering the question.

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

Hi Sarah. I agree with you wholeheartedly. I think of cheating in photography when you try to mislead people with edited photos or when you edit them and say you didn't edit them. I'm remembering the famous shark sighted under the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco that really wasn't there but made all the major news outlets. That is dishonest and was a deliberate attempt to mislead people. Removing someone's arm from your photo of the Eiffel Tower is simply good sense.

People today tend to forget how much photo editing was done in the dark room. You want your photo to look as good as you can make it and that is understandable. Putting the Golden Gate Bridge in Pittsburgh is not.

As far as competitions, they all come with a Prospectus that gives all the rules for that particular competition. You have to read it, agree to it and follow it. That's pretty clear cut and simple. Some allow no digital manipulation at all and others have varying policies. They each have their own reasons for the policies and if you don't like the rules, you don't submit to that competition.

26. Posted by ToonSarah (Travel Guru 1377 posts) 3y Star this if you like it!

Quoting Beausoleil

People today tend to forget how much photo editing was done in the dark room.

Very good point! Even the greatest photographers manipulated their photos to create the effect they wanted. Anyone interested in this should read about Ansel Adams, probably my favourite photographer ever. The wikipedia article about him (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ansel_Adams) describes one of his best known photos, Moonrise: ' However the exposure was actually determined, the foreground was underexposed, the highlights in the clouds were quite dense, and the negative proved difficult to print. The initial publication of Moonrise was in U.S. Camera 1943 annual, after being selected by the "photo judge" for U.S. Camera, Edward Steichen. This gave Moonrise an audience before its first formal exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in 1944. Over nearly 40 years, Adams re-interpreted the image, his most popular by far, using the latest darkroom equipment at his disposal, making over 1,300 unique prints.'

27. Posted by greatgrandmaR (Travel Guru 2037 posts) 3y Star this if you like it!

Yes absolutely. Back in the day, I took a photography course which involved buying bulk film, packaging it into cassettes, taking photos and then developing and printing the photos. (it was an adult education class) I still have the darkroom equipment. I practiced dodging and burning.

But that kind of manipulation of the picture is mostly adjusting the exposure. Film (or nowadays digital copies from a camera) has limits which our eyes do not have. Our Mach 1 eyeball does a marvelous job of allowing us to see things in detail in almost any light level. We can see things in equal detail even when part of the room is dark and part is very bright. Cameras can't do that. We have to 'fix' it so that the photo is closer to the reality of what we see. We have to dull the "blown out" bright area and lighten up the dark area so that the photo has the detail in that area that we can see in person.

If you put people's heads on bodies that are not theirs or remove a freeway from beside a hotel that's dishonest. But if what you are doing is fixing the exposure or removing distractions (telephone wires), that's not a problem. (IMHO)

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