Startling fact: almost every image you see today – still or moving – has been digitally altered or enhanced.
It’s a reality of our time that images get ‘photoshopped’ to some extent ‘in post’. Sometimes it’s very obvious – for example the filters applied to Instagram images. Sometimes it’s subtle.
Photo editing is a reality and the source of considerable debate in the photographic community. What may surprise you is that it’s not new. Photographers have been altering their images pretty much since photography became a thing.
Here’s a well-researched discussion by some well know photographers on Youtube:
Here’s what I think – any digital image is manipulated by default.
The simple act of taking a photo in a digital camera is an act of editing. Not only so, every camera has its own particular characteristics in terms of the way it reproduces colours, sharpness, dynamic range etc. Every choice of lens also affects the image.
So whether you alter it in-camera of out of the camera, there is no such thing as a pure digital image.
But how much is too much? And should it be disclosed?
I think there is a line beyond which photography becomes digital art. This is particularly so where compositing is involved.
Photographers will decide how much of the process they will disclose. For many, it’s a kind of trade secret. And certainly, there are situations where the deliberate concealing of changes to a photograph crosses ethical boundaries.
Yep, I miss the good old days of film, but there’s no going back. Photography has changed forever, but it’s still an art and there will always be good and bad photos. It’s just a bit more challenging to know where the art behind a digital photo actually begins and ends.