Photo Manipulation

by | Jul 22, 2017 | Experience, People

This image shows a corner store in the old city of Cartagena, Columbia. It’s been given a slight watercolor treatment which also enhances the colors. Is it still a photograph? A watercolor? Does it matter?

If I could be allowed an opinion, I have a pretty strong one on this topic… WHO CARES?

The idea of manipulation covers a wide range. The minimalist end would be photojournalism. There, it’s forbidden to make all but the most basic color correction and cropping. The idea is to present to the public the unvarnished truth as captured by the camera. The problem is, they have already performed the most major manipulation of all – where the camera was pointed and when the shutter was pressed. What is shown has a powerful effect on the impact of the event. If that’s not manipulation then I don’t know what is.

Most fine art photographers have a very different standard. Those standards range from no manipulation beyond classic darkroom techniques to “anything goes.” There are even some people who must spend most of their lives in the 15th century who believe that photography is not an art at all. No comment. By way of perspective, paintings are 100% manipulated by the hand of the artist.

From a purely pragmatic point of view, I believe in “anything goes.” The point is to create art. Whether the origin is photographic or manual is irrelevant. From a practical standpoint, my own standards tend to be on the conservative side. I’ll remove distracting objects but I won’t add anything that wasn’t there. There’s a good reason for this. Many times I’ll say to myself “The moon sure would look good there.” Or “I wish I had more dramatic clouds.” Things like this are easily done but if I did, sooner or later all my work would look alike. Since I have very little will power, I think this is a good line not to cross. But that’s just me.

A lot of juried shows prohibit manipulation beyond the very basics. I can see (not necessarily agree) if it’s a purely photographic show. For an art show in general, I don’t know why photographers are so constrained while painters are free to create anything.

OK, that’s my rant. I just want to get a discussion going. Please leave a comment below with your thoughts and opinions.

Canon A-620 – f4 – 1/500 – ISO 100. Post processed with Aperture 3 and Nik plugins.

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