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NCPPA Strips Photog’s POY Awards

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Old 08-26-2003, 09:53 PM
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TwinbNJ TwinbNJ is offline
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NCPPA Strips Photog’s POY Awards

I have signed up for several news groups for the events section of this site --- but this head line caught my eye when I went through the E-mails tonight. I read the article with mixed feelings. We are in a very competative age for media "who has the best picture" and with the tools that abound I think that can lead to some "enhancements" on some peoples part.

I for one feel that images I see in news papers and news sites should not be enhanced --- that is photography not photo art, enhancement or advertisements.

Just wanted to get a feel for what you guys felt.

Here is the link to the article:

EDIT: Fixed some spelling.

Last edited by TwinbNJ; 08-26-2003 at 10:00 PM.
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Old 08-26-2003, 11:11 PM
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Doug Nelson Doug Nelson is offline
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See before and after comparisons of the photos in question here (you need the shockwave plugin to view):

I'm of two minds on this subject. Sure, I'd like to see unaltered, just-as-it-was scenes in news stories. But realistically, those don't exist. Choice of exposure, cropping, where to stand, focal length of lens, filters on lenses, and even which film used (or what kind of digital) will completely alter the image from what another photographer might have gotten.

Heck, a simple "say cheese" or "you stand here and you stand over here" alters the image from reality.

The images in this case seem to be more about exposure than anything else, and that can vary widely just in the printing. And, as the article points out, dodging and burning for news photos is a practice as old as news photography. I've seen several examples of Gene Smith's images before and after, including his "Tomoko in Bath" that won so many awards, and I've read his own descriptions. He admitted he would spend up to a full day dodging and burning one image. Dorothea Lange is another award winner that did extensive exposure work (and posed her subjects, to boot).

Personally, I think this is more about papers' covering their own posteriors than it is about realistic portrayals. Reporters edit and reform their stories, otherwise we'd never read anything but interview transcripts. This is simply the visual equivalent. As long as nothing substantive is added or moved, I say go for it.
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Old 08-26-2003, 11:44 PM
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What Doug said

In the 70's we joked about the newspaper 'burn' used in some portraits. Messages are refined in lots of ways, as long as content isn't manipulated to lie I don't have a problem with it either.
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Old 08-27-2003, 10:21 AM
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Personally, I think this is more about papers' covering their own posteriors than it is about realistic portrayals. Reporters edit and reform their stories, otherwise we'd never read anything but interview transcripts. This is simply the visual equivalent.
Exactly!! Even though reporters are supposed to be "objective", that's nearly impossible and I can read a story in the newspaper (at least my local one) and tell you which reporter wrote it based on what content was emphasized in the story. There is no doubt in my mind that our "news" has been spin-doctored before we hear/read it!

Also as Doug said, what about the "artistic license" that occurs before the picture is even taken? E.g., I took a lot of photos of wildflowers this summer in a very arid climate. The background was brown and ugly, so I started bringing a black board with me to use as a "backdrop". That helped isolate the flowers and made for some beautiful images. Now, is that considered "doctored"? What's the difference between that and putting in a black background after the fact in PS? Or what about all of the dead grass that I removed from around the flower that was distracting and detracted from the image I was trying to get?

You might say, "Well that's different. You were doing an "art" shot, not journalism." But, the truth is, I was trying to capture what my eye saw. We all know that our eyes can be very selective in what they choose to "see". How many times have we taken a picture of a beautiful scene, only to look at it later and think "How did THAT get in there?" Are journalists trying to capture a scene as they remember it? If so, then it's entirely possible that removing a parking lot or removing overhead wires is appropriate and helps the viewer see what they saw.

And when you think about how much "editing" can (and has) taken place in the "traditional" darkroom, I have a really hard time with the current "crackdown" on digital "enhancement".

Oh, oh, oh.... that reminds me! What about all of the completely fake (er, retouched) images of models that grace our magazine covers!?!?! Is THAT not digital manipulation at it's worst?? (I'm referring to the effect on women's self esteem, eating disorders, body image, etc. - not the retouching work itself.) Don't EVEN get me started on that!!

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