Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

PF Photo Contest Rule Discussion - At What Point Is It A Photo Editing ?

  1. Apr 6, 2012 #1

    ZapperZ

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor
    2016 Award

    PF Photo Contest Rule Discussion - At What Point Is It A "Photo Editing"?

    It is inevitable that, at some point, we have to revisit the PF Photo Contest rules and modify or clarify the rules that we currently have.

    The current issue is with Rule #2 in the contest:

    As SecularSanity has pointed out, cameras nowadays are capable of doing a lot more than what they can before. And at some level, all digital cameras do quite a bit of image processing. So where should we draw the line in where we consider to be photo editing?

    My whole "philosophy" on this is that the photo contest is about displaying what you saw with your eyes if you didn't have a camera. It means that it isn't a black-and-white image (unless the objects are truly just black and while), and it means no special features on the camera that only colorize one object and not the rest. As I stated in Rule #2, it is a photo contest, not a photo editing/special effect contest.

    The point in all of this is to allow for as many people to participate, regardless of the type of cameras they have. One might have an advantage with a DSLR camera in the quality of the photo, but not in the quality of special features or functions.

    So with this in mind, I am proposing that Rule #2 be kept, but adding the prohibition of using special features of a camera that considerably alters the scene. I consider using the b&w function, for example, as altering the scene. I'm sure that, at some point, I have to make a judgement call on what is considered to be "considerable alteration".

    So what do you all think?

    Zz.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 6, 2012 #2

    Jonathan Scott

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Re: PF Photo Contest Rule Discussion - At What Point Is It A "Photo Editing"?

    I agree with your position, and I also think it is already effectively already covered by the existing rule, in that rule #2 forbids other editing or modification of the picture without specifying whether implemented in the camera or otherwise.

    Of course cameras already include functions such as automatic focus and exposure control, white balance and image stabilisation, and I expect additional tricks may make this more difficult to judge in future, but for now I think it's generally fairly clear-cut.
     
  4. Apr 6, 2012 #3

    Borek

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Re: PF Photo Contest Rule Discussion - At What Point Is It A "Photo Editing"?

    Sounds reasonable to me as well.
     
  5. Apr 6, 2012 #4
    Re: PF Photo Contest Rule Discussion - At What Point Is It A "Photo Editing"?

    Maybe I’m colorblind. Did you ever think of that?

    Deuteranopia
    http://www.colblindor.com/coblis/uploaded_images/marcin_dirty_mess_deuteranopia.jpg [Broken]http://www.colblindor.com/coblis/uploaded_images/marcin_dirty_mess.jpg [Broken]
    Fine! Feel free to delete my original.
    Men...:rolleyes:

    6905391050_942fdd86c0_z.jpg
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2017
  6. Apr 6, 2012 #5

    AlephZero

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

  7. Apr 6, 2012 #6
    Re: PF Photo Contest Rule Discussion - At What Point Is It A "Photo Editing"?

    Jesus Christ, lighten up! Okay, okay I get the hint. Don’t let the door hit me on the way out.
     
  8. Apr 6, 2012 #7
    Re: PF Photo Contest Rule Discussion - At What Point Is It A "Photo Editing"?

    This is not possible. The act of recording a scene with a camera automatically changes the scene. As soon as you lift a camera to take a shot, you are editing. The obvious change is to render it static. The next obvious change is to render it "two dimensional". Less obvious are changes in the angles subtended made by the particular focal length of the lens. Then there are the issues of depth of field, which will arise from the aperture you or the camera selects, and blur, fine or gross, of more rapidly moving things in the scene which will arise from shutter speed.

    It is not possible for a photograph to be a record of what is seen with the eyes. A photo is a visual experience unto itself, suis generis, and an effective photograph requires that choices be made, choices that amount to editing in an artistic sense. As soon as you select one perspective on a subject over another, move to get better light, pan a little to the left to create a frame with a tree, you are editing. You crop: you are editing. Photographs as Art are judged by all the same criteria as paintings. (It's true, photographs are sometimes taken with the intention of serving as visual records only, for insurance and law enforcement purposes, for example, but there is no point in having a photo contest at all for that kind of thing.)

    You are never not editing. A prohibition against "special effects" is another matter entirely.

    You don't want someone photoshopping complete fiction, like an albino ladybug, or a VW beetle painted like a ladybug if they never actually encountered such a thing while out with their camera. And what would the point be of posting a picture with all the colors inverted?It's a cheap, one click, special effect. But, to what extent should you be allowed to enhance the colors in a colorful sunset, or the green of a meadow, or the yellow in a flower? Hard call. No camera records color faithfully, it's fiction from the get go. Maybe Andre and others who work seriously in color may have some guidelines to offer about when color correcting is acceptable editing and when it becomes "special effects."

    I think a prohibition against black and white photos would be downright anti-photography. Photography was born with the black and white photo and reached maturity there before color was ever possible. The decision to make a photograph from the interplay of value alone, without color, is an eminently respectable artistic decision, just as Kodachrome vs Ecktachrome used to be a perfectly respectable artistic decision if you were taking color shots, despite the fact both give you fiction compared to what you actually see with the naked eye. If Black and White is not respectable, then you're rendering all the great 20th century photographers as "special effects artists."

    Does the effectiveness of this portrait boil down to "special effects"? :

    http://www.siegelproductions.ca/ottawarocks/images/einstein.jpg

    Karsh tightly controlled everything here, lighting, exposure, everything you can think of. That made him a great photographer, not a "special effects" photographer.

    By the same reasoning, this shot of Einstein:

    http://images5.fanpop.com/image/photos/28200000/Albert-Einstein-albert-einstein-28258227-800-990.jpg

    is not saved from being a poor photo by the alleged "special effect" of being in Black and White.
     
  9. Apr 6, 2012 #8

    turbo

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Re: PF Photo Contest Rule Discussion - At What Point Is It A "Photo Editing"?

    Another factor is that most digital cameras allow the saturation to be boosted. Those of us who lived through the Kodachrome/Ektachrome years know this well. Use Kodachrome and pay for the extra processing and shipping, and you'd get really saturated colors vs Ektachrome. If you view all your images on LCD monitors instead of CRTs you can be disappointed by the lack of saturation, and it's pretty normal to want to boost the in-camera saturation to compensate for that. So there are a few fuzzy details regarding in-camera processing.
     
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2012
  10. Apr 6, 2012 #9
    Re: PF Photo Contest Rule Discussion - At What Point Is It A "Photo Editing"?

    I think that black and white photos should definitely be allowed. We could potentially use the limitations of film cameras as guidelines for the limitations for this contest. But, I am not sure if some of the modern digital effects were possible in the days of mainstream film photography, if they were it would render my idea moot.
     
  11. Apr 6, 2012 #10

    AlephZero

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    Re: PF Photo Contest Rule Discussion - At What Point Is It A "Photo Editing"?

    I suspect trying to nail this in "rules" will reach the same point as Judge Potter Stewart in Jacobellis v. Ohio 378 U.S. 184 (1964), trying to define pornography:
     
  12. Apr 6, 2012 #11

    Andy Resnick

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor
    2016 Award

    Re: PF Photo Contest Rule Discussion - At What Point Is It A "Photo Editing"?

    B&W should be allowed. Other than that, I generally adhere to guidelines for figures submitted to peer-reviewed journals, for example:

    http://swehsc.pharmacy.arizona.edu/exppath/micro/digimage_ethics.php [Broken]

    Speaking generally, global alterations to brightness, contrast, etc. are ok, while localized changes are nearly always *not* ok.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2017
  13. Apr 6, 2012 #12
    Re: PF Photo Contest Rule Discussion - At What Point Is It A "Photo Editing"?

    Those guidelines pertain specifically to scientific images. Those are not art, but data, records. Things like dodging and burning have been part and parcel of art photographs for decades.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2017
  14. Apr 6, 2012 #13

    DaveC426913

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Re: PF Photo Contest Rule Discussion - At What Point Is It A "Photo Editing"?

    I think you are being pedantic. Zz nicely covered your points by being explicit that it is, indeed a photography contest. Photographs render an image static and 2D. Photographs require a focal length, a depth of field, aperture, shutter speed, etc.

    However, it highlights the point that there is no clear distinction where photographing ends and post-editing begins.
     
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2012
  15. Apr 7, 2012 #14
    Re: PF Photo Contest Rule Discussion - At What Point Is It A "Photo Editing"?

    I like this idea, global changes are allowed but local changes are not.
     
  16. Apr 7, 2012 #15

    Borek

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Re: PF Photo Contest Rule Discussion - At What Point Is It A "Photo Editing"?

    Won't work, unless you are ready to spend a lot of time learning about details of each tool used. In Photoshop there is a tool called "Shadow/Highlight" - slider to make details in burned out or too dark areas visible. Great tool - but is it local, or global? It is applied globally, you don't have to point the program to the areas you want to change, but the way it is implemented - it finds dark/bright areas of diameter at least x points and applies changes only there - means it works locally. You can even define diameter of the area. Should it be allowed, or not?

    Don't get me wrong - I am on Zz's side when it comes to keeping it the photography contest, I just don't believe we can write rules in such a way they will be unambiguous. With one exception, mentioned in the very first post - "in the end it is Zz's call".
     
  17. Apr 7, 2012 #16

    turbo

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Re: PF Photo Contest Rule Discussion - At What Point Is It A "Photo Editing"?

    Yep.
     
  18. Apr 7, 2012 #17

    ZapperZ

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor
    2016 Award

    Re: PF Photo Contest Rule Discussion - At What Point Is It A "Photo Editing"?

    This is why I asked this. Note that in my very first post, I acknowledged the fact that digital cameras, in some sense, inherently processed the images. That's why I brought up this question on to what extent digital manipulation is allowed, and when it isn't. The rules clearly stated that cropping, brightness adjustments, etc. are all allowed. To me, that doesn't SIGNIFICANTLY change the "view" of what we see. However, what I see SecularSanity is doing with his camera does not, to me, fall within the INTENTION of the contest.

    As some point, you need to ask if you get the whole intention of this contest. It is one thing to say that, no, you don't or you are not quite clear. It is another to say "well, I think I know what it wants, but it doesn't say it clearly in writing and so, I'm going to go test its boundary". (I appreciate that some of you have contacted me in advanced to clarify if a photo qualifies or not.) However, I don't think I want to make the rules so long, so complicated, so specific, so verbose. If it gets to that point, it is no longer fun, not just for you, but also for me, and we might as well call the whole thing off. It is just not worth the aggravation.

    So my request now is to get your feedback on whether we keep Rule #2 as it is, or we add clarification on Rule #2 to make it even clearer (assuming that many of you think that the INTENTION of the contest is still vague), or we scrapped Rule #2 completely (upon which I'd rather someone else runs the contest). If you wish to make Rule #2 clearer, please suggest exact phrasing that would convey the intention.

    Zz.
     
  19. Apr 7, 2012 #18
    Re: PF Photo Contest Rule Discussion - At What Point Is It A "Photo Editing"?

    I agree his entry is outside the bounds of the contest, and I think it's clearly ruled out by the statement it's not a special effects contest. I wasn't defending him.

    The trouble is that your definition of what should be allowed as conforming to what the eye would see is not tenable. The eye does not see things you're tacitly allowing, such as depth of field effects or motion blur. The act of taking a photograph, of clipping a static two dimensional rectangle out of your visual field and recording it, is automatically an act of editing. You can't escape that. I pointed that out because you extended your logic about "significant alteration" to include Black and White photos, which have been, traditionally, the meat and potatoes of photography, and never regarded as a special effect. The eye easily accommodates to Black and White as "real" just as it accommodates depth of field effects, motion blurs, moderate wide angle shots, macro shots, etc. People don't look at a B+W photo and have the reaction "This is significantly different than the way my eye sees!", despite the fact it is, whereas they would with the color truck against a B+W background, or any similar "special effect".

    I don't know if you, personally, don't like B+W photos or if you feel logic dictates that you have to exclude them based on your argument that there should be no significant alteration from what the eye sees. If it's the former, it's not a universally held taste; others would like the option of submitting B+W pictures, and if it's the latter, I think rewriting rule #2 simply to exclude "special effects" without defining them as something the eye wouldn't see, would be sufficient.
     
  20. Apr 7, 2012 #19
    Re: PF Photo Contest Rule Discussion - At What Point Is It A "Photo Editing"?

    I'll go along with Zz on this. We can't turn this into a "Who has the most widgets in their camera" contest.

    Perhaps we could start an "I did it with a widget" thread. It might even help those who get a new camera learn how to play correctly with their widgets.
     
  21. Apr 7, 2012 #20

    DaveC426913

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Re: PF Photo Contest Rule Discussion - At What Point Is It A "Photo Editing"?

    I still insist you're being pedantic. The desire is to aim for what the eye sees, even knowing this is unachievable, (So is true happiness, but we can live our lives in pursuit of it) but it is not a hard and fast requirement.

    Indeed, human perception does have depth of field and does have motion blur. What it does not have is the ability to make an image black and white with a single object popped in colour.

    Even if you counter these arguments, it seems like you're pursuing it for the sake of argument. We know the intent; we know a special effect when we see it; it is simply the fuzzy grey area between legit and falsified editing at question here.

    This isn't a matter of academic principle, it's a decision needed to be made for a practical end-goal - the contest.

    Are you suggesting by your arguments that it is futile to draw a line? If we can't draw a hard-edged line, that we should not draw a line at all?

    Or what are you suggesting as an alternate?
     
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook




Similar Discussions: PF Photo Contest Rule Discussion - At What Point Is It A Photo Editing ?
Loading...