November 28, 2007

Photoshop ethics & pistols & kittens

…these are a few of my favorite things.

Posted by John Nack at 5:27 PM on November 28, 2007


  • brian Hockenstein — 9:18 PM on November 28, 2007

    how does one get in contact with the great john nack? I have a question/idea i’d love to throw your way but no idea how to….
    [I don’t know about “great,” but I’m jnack at adobe dot com. –J.]

  • BWJones — 10:24 PM on November 28, 2007

    “When is Photoshop *use* unethical,”
    Ah, you must be hanging out with Ken Lunde… ;-)
    [It’s been known to happen. The pix are classified. ;-) –J.]

  • Eric — 9:49 AM on November 29, 2007

    That Photoshop and ethics article is old hat for photojournalists like myself. We’ve faced this issue since the first illustrated newspapers produced “Composmographs” in the early 20th Century.
    Imagine that name used for a photo editing program. Composmographicshop! :-D
    People keep rediscovering this issue and keep restating the same facts, myths and nonsense over and over again. Just like the canard that Photoshop and digital imaging makes photos less credible in court.
    The fact of the matter is that even in the good old film days (when negatives could be faked with the right equipment) any court case involving photographs had to include the photographer who would testify that the photos do indeed depict a given scene accurately.
    No difference, then, with today’s digital images. It requires getting to the source of the image – the photographer – to know the truth.
    As the wise man once said, “The camera never lies, but photographers do.”

  • imajes — 6:37 AM on November 30, 2007

    I’ve read the Reuters stipulations before and had the same thought then. Imagine the same simplistic thinking applied to film. Only Ektachrome 100 allowed, none of that nasty Velvia stuff allowed as the colours are too saturated and definitely no Tri-X either as reducing saturation like that makes things look much grimmer than in real life. And as for grain, real life doesn’t have grain so no fast films allowed either.
    I’ve seen the best photojournalism images of the year exhibition in London each year for the last couple of years and I reckon most of them would not pass the simpleminded Reuters rules, regarding colour, contrast and shadow detail.
    It simply shows firstly, that they do not understand that a RAW image is undeveloped and it needs work to make it look right. Flat images, straight out of camera are no more ‘real’ than those done with a Velvia or Tri-X look applied to them.
    Secondly, they forget good photojournalists are not just forensic photographers, they are also telling the story of what they see and by using B+W or contrasty images…..
    Autolevels being verboeten is also daft, not a tool I tend to use, but some use tweaked auto levels to quickly colour correct a wonky image and it can work very well also improving contrast too. Remember you don’t always have a RAW image to work on either or time to extract shadow detail. And even dafter as you are allowed to adjust Levels to histogram limits, which is basically what Auto levels does for you.
    No sharpening allowed in camera!? Well if you shoot JPEGs as you’ve say run out of space on your card and there’s some bad tempered militia between you and your laptop, then you will have in-camera sharpened images. As if that has anything to do with ethics, that’s like saying no accutance developers allowed when using film. This list of rules,seems like an ignorant overeaction to a genuine problem. Again no in-camera sharpening is contradictory, as you are allowed quite severe sharpening in PS!
    I have a phrase of mine that I use as a signature on some forums – ‘Tradition is the backbone of the spineless’ except here Reuters have forgotten their own traditon and made up a completely new tradition, based on a lot of ignorance about new technology, especially when compared to the film way of doing things.

  • BlueBuffalo — 12:24 PM on November 30, 2007

    What a smart little kitten! He must have learned that trick from watching episodes of COPS.
    Is PhotoShopping photos for more press, any different that the television news stations making issues sound like more than what they are, just to get more publicity and ratings?
    [I think it’s just a matter of people being more used to/cynical about the latter, whereas they’re at least accustomed to trusting their eyes. –J.]

  • ip-телефония — 2:24 PM on November 30, 2007

    Photoshop CS3 really rules! Thank you guys!

  • James Conner — 4:13 AM on December 01, 2007

    The Reuters Rules make the most sense if a photograph, whether made with film or a digital sensor, is treated as the equivalent of a normally exposed color transparency that was made to document a scene. Since by definition such an image is almost perfect, the only purpose for processing it in Photoshop (or another image processing application) is to prepare it for publication (almost always print publication). I think that some of the Reuters Rules are a bit quirky, but they’ll get the job done.
    But the farther the image recorded by a camera departs from the ideal color transparency, the less practical the Reuters Rules become. For example, a photographer might, in order to employ a shutter speed fast enough for the situation, reduce exposure three to four stops below the normal exposure as indicated by the meter (this is not underexposure, for it is intentional; underexposure is an imager darker than intended, a mistake), and use Photoshop to restore a normal tonal range. You don’t need auto levels for this, but you do need a lot of other tools. And because this technique generates a lot of shotgun noise, third party noise reduction plug-ins such as Noise Ninja or Grain Surgery can make the difference between a useable image and a pea-graveled reject. Digital pushing is a legitimate photojournalism technique, but the Reuters Rules do not recognize that fact.
    What I think the Reuters Rules are intended to address is the fact that some photojournalists think of themselves as artists rather than as reporters. Not only do they long to make stunning fine art prints that hang in the best public galleries, they long to use Photoshop’s powerful tools to bring out the truth in an image. Writers are not immune to such temptations — some have literary ambitions that get in the way of “just the facts, friend” reporting — but in my experience photographers are more likely to see themselves as creative artists rather than as historians, and thus to get into trouble by doing too much with Photoshop. Cheats will know that their modifications to an image constitute photojournalistic fraud, but artists who let their desire to reveal a higher truth triumph over their obligation to report fact sometimes are not aware that they have crossed into forbidden territory.
    Rather than supplying photojournalists with a laundry list of the Photoshop tools they are allowed to use, editing rules should define the kind of changes in an image that are permissible for photojournalism, and leave it to the photographer to select the image processing tools that he needs to complete his image while staying between the sideboards set by the rules.

  • sernak plywood — 4:49 AM on December 08, 2007

    I’ve seen the best photojournalism images of the year exhibition in London each year for the last couple of years and I reckon most of them would not pass the simpleminded Reuters rules, regarding colour, contrast and shadow detail.

  • Alper — 5:42 AM on September 01, 2009

    he must have learned that trick from watching episodes of COPS.

  • Artist with concerns — 10:40 AM on February 01, 2010

    Ok I really want to know something. If your not in it for a profit and your just an artist that just posted there art to show the world what they can do then why do people that made the software get so angry at you for using a pirated version of there product? I mean its not for sale and its not hurting any one at all because your just putting it up there for the sole purpose of trying to do better art by having people comment it. whats the big deal here?

  • Artist with concerns — 11:19 AM on February 01, 2010

    im not for pirated verions of the software but still whats the big deal?

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