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Johnnie5

What functions in Lightroom would constitute a digitally alterred photo

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I am wondering what adjustments/functions would be considered digitally altering a photo by most people.  It would include Alamy stock, Alamy news, or photo contests.  Are there three different standards with three different requirements..  I have a friend that feels any manipulation of  digital photos is taboo for photo contests and I believe almost anything I can do is acceptable.  She and a lot of other people apparently believe that you can only do what used to be possible in a darkroom.  So, what would be crossing the line for all the various purposes of a photo?  I would like to get everyone’s opinions on what in particular would be changing the truth of a photo for whatever end use it is intentioned for.  As software for digital manipulation becomes more sophisticated it is very hard to judge how much manipulation is too much.

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I'm with the friend in that if you could have done it in the darkroom it's not digitally altered. Spotting, dodging, burning in and so on. I'd extend that to removing bits of rubbish and power lines.

Anything more is altered.

For Alamy, of course, it's quite acceptable. You just tick the box. An editorial buyer may need a guarantee as to the integrity of the image.

Outside Alamy, it's not necessary the doing which is taboo, it's concealing it.

Edited by spacecadet

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For news it is best to make no changes whatsoever, especially removing anything. Minor exposure adjustments are probably fine, but when I submit to news, I haven't made one alteration of any kind to the image.

 

Jill

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What about clarity, vibrance, saturation, adjustments to a raw file for news photos?  Would that be going too far or is it the same as an out of the camera Jpeg.  Does anyone upload unmanipulated raw files. 

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You can't upload RAW images to Alamy. I'm sure all the minor visual adjustments are probably fine, I just avoid anything on a news photo.

 

Jill

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What about clarity, vibrance, saturation, adjustments to a raw file for news photos?  Would that be going too far or is it the same as an out of the camera Jpeg.  Does anyone upload unmanipulated raw files. 

 

An in-camera JPEG is just one interpretation of a vast number of possible raw conversions, as chosen by the camera manufacturer. It is not necessarily even an accurate representation of a particular scene. Most cameras will have a range of possible profiles, each of which will produce a different interpretation. And then there is a wide range of combinations of shutter speeds, apertures and ISO settings, each of which will give a different interpretation. Add in different lenses and angles of view and the number of combinations is potentially vast. There is no a priori reason why any in-camera JPEG should represent an accurate interpretation of the scene. Consequently there is no reason why performing a raw conversion on a computer rather than in-camera should be any less valid. Obviously the tolerance for post-capture modification of news is a lot less than for other images but there is no reason why one shouldn't use raw images and process them sensibly.

 

I think the main criterion to use for all images is whether the final image (in-camera JPEG or computer raw conversion) is a reasonably accurate representation of a scene or not. Common sense is required. If we applied very strict criteria, then black and white images would be digitally altered, as most of us do not see the world in black and white, but this would clearly be ludicrous. I don't count perspective correction of buildings as digital alteration. Nor do I count panoramic merging of images. 

 

But I do think that removal or addition of objects generally constitutes digital alteration - removal of power lines would certainly be digital alteration as it could completely change the meaning of a scene.  Similarly I think removal of rubbish is digital alteration unless it is very minor, as removal is altering the scene. I don't count removal of birds which appear as small specks or blurs in the sky as digital alteration but I would usually count removal of a jet trail as such. If I mark an image as digitally altered, I usually give an explanation in the description field.

Edited by MDM
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I am wondering what adjustments/functions would be considered digitally altering a photo by most people.  It would include Alamy stock, Alamy news, or photo contests.  Are there three different standards with three different requirements..  I have a friend that feels any manipulation of  digital photos is taboo for photo contests and I believe almost anything I can do is acceptable.  She and a lot of other people apparently believe that you can only do what used to be possible in a darkroom.  So, what would be crossing the line for all the various purposes of a photo?  I would like to get everyone’s opinions on what in particular would be changing the truth of a photo for whatever end use it is intentioned for.  As software for digital manipulation becomes more sophisticated it is very hard to judge how much manipulation is too much.

 

Clearly there are different standards for news (no digital alteration) and photo contests. Many, perhaps most, photo contests now state clearly what is permissible. It obviously depends on the type of contest. For editorial stock, it is a matter of deciding what constitutes digital alteration and declaring it as such if necessary. Alamy gives reasonably clear guidelines for this. There are always grey areas.

Edited by MDM
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+1 MDM.

 
I would add that your eye is like a camera but, just like a camera, it does not “see”. It is your brain that interprets the input from the eyes, and the nose, and the skin, etc and “sees” the scene.
 
Our brains are all different because we all have different life experiences. Each brain sees from it’s own unique database of past inputs. Our different brains interpret the inputs differently, and therefore “see” the scene differently.
 
If blind people can suddenly “see”, their brains do not understand what their eyes are inputing. Their brains cannot actually “see”. Their brains “see” only visual chaos, sometimes for years. They sometimes revert to inputs they are familiar with, such as touch.
 
If it is not news, then anything goes as long as you let the buyer know in the caption or description.
 
Here is a news like image the camera saw.
smoke-exiting-chimney-in-ontario-canada-
 
Here is the image my brain saw. For climate change I think the multiple chimneys are closer to the truth. I think both images are valid.
photo-illustration-of-smoke-exiting-chim
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