Digital photo manipulation–cheat or treat?

This is an ongoing debate amongst the digicam vs film crowds.

And it will rage on forever and ever, perhaps until neither film nor digital exist, taken over by some hitherto unheard of medium.

But in my mind, the gist is this. Manipulation, be it during printing a negative in the darkroom, or via software such as Photoshop can only be called manipulation if the original shot contained something, maybe an object, but which for aesthetic reasons, was taken out and is not present in the final result….that is manipulation.

Or if for example we shot a sunset, and the camera lens caught he sun at the wrong angle, or we failed to use a lens hood, which caused flare in the shot….if we then went on to remove that flare, either by darkroom printing techniques or by software, that again is manipulation.

It is wrong for us to say that photography since day one has been all about manipulation; it has not.

Likewise, if I need to get a spectacular shot, I always try and get it by adding something at the taking end, ie a filter, lens hood etc etc.

Or I try to get a better angle to the shot, I move around till I’m satisfied before clicking the silver button. That way I know when I get my negative in my hand, or in my enlarger, there will be zilch need to do any manipulation….I did everything at the taking time!

So where do things like “burning-in” etc which film users have done for years come in? Well, burning in is a kind of manipulation, there’s no doubt about it, and it’s just the same as a digicam user increasing the contrast or brightness in a particular place of his shot….both are manipulation.

What film users call cheating is when digital shots are enhanced to such a degree, that the result looks nothing like the real shot. Likewise, if I sought to remove a lamp-post in one of my shots by burning-in, that too would be cheating, because that lamp-post is there in real life, but by removing it we are showing something that is not there. Whatever happened to that maxim “the camera never lies”?

Cropping is not cheating. Cropping is done by both digicam users as well as film users. It is done, not to change anything and create something that was not there….it’s done to concentrate the eye of the observer on the main subject in the picture, whatever that may be.

That is my view only….I know there will be millions of others, and they’re of course all welcome to their views, too.

Subject closed. Let’s get down to photography instead of arguing!




About filmcamera999

ME & MY PASSION! ok, you probably looked at the length of this "about me" page and thought, god, what's wrong with this guy!....does he have to start telling us his life story or something!!? well, youve come here now anyways, so why not hear what im like as a person, eh? ive been using film cameras for well over 30 first one being the family yashicamat twin lens! over the years, ive both bought sold and collected film cameras...too many to tell the truth! in fact, ive been buying and selling cameras well before the internet came on the scene, so anything you purchase from me is backed by my self-styled moneyback promise.....if you dont like what youve bought, send it back within 14 days and you get all your money arguments!! WHERE I STAND ON THE DIGITAL REVOLUTION! yes, i do use digital as well, but only as a ready-reckoner...i try and take most shots with my simple 2megapixel digicam....if the shot looks good, i pull out my film camera and shoot! i most defintely do not believe in digital manipulation of photographs....that in my eyes is not photography...its cheating! WHERE I USED TO LIVE, WHERE I AM NOW & WHAT I WOULD LIKE TO DO! i used to live in Ontario, Canada, but moved back to the UK a little while ago (its a long story..!)...but now i'm living in the one place i always wanted to be...Vancouver, BC..the next best thing to paradise on earth! as i work as a freelance writer as well as other things, i often find hat my work takes me to europe for short spells, so i get to travel a lot...not a blessing, as i just hate long flights! im a qualified Quality Assurance guy (you know...ISO 9000, auditing, documentation etc) ....99% of my skill-set is transferable so i can handle any admin or documentation-related roles....see you in BC! otherwise, i specialise in ISO 9000 auditing and documentation. my dream? to have my own thriving camera shop in Vancouver BC, whilst living in the mountains somewhere.....the best of both worlds!
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8 Responses to Digital photo manipulation–cheat or treat?

  1. If Michelangelo had been a photographer, he would have used photsoshop IMO

  2. Fresh Ginger says:

    I use Photoshop but appreciate the art of just what the camera saw. If you Facebook, my friend and I have a small group for the digital Straight Out of Camera (SOOC) folks.

  3. Cheating implies breaking a rule and you are of course free to set rules and call breaking them ‘cheating’ if it so pleases you…;-)

  4. MartyW47 says:

    I think digital manipulation is best kept in private… Oh wait your talking photography , I see it as an extension of the art though if one is going to diditally manipulate their images they should be up front about it,. As long as it’s not being misrepresented a great photo can be achieved through many different sources.

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