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SportsShooter.com: Member Message Board

don't they teach ethics in school anymore?
Melissa Lyttle, Photographer
Tampa | FL | USA | Posted: 5:21 PM on 04.11.08
->> This is a good read about making honest pictures that uphold a certain level of integrity and trust that our readers place in us -- as told through an ill-toned photo and a young, award-winning photographer. Ethics folks, lets get them, keep them and uphold them to the fullest...

http://cnotherside.blogspot.com/2008/04/ethics-and-toning.html
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Kevin Leas, Photographer
Rochester | NY | USA | Posted: 5:41 PM on 04.11.08
->> Wow...after seeing the pic on the top, I was thinking "what's wrong with that?" Then I saw what the picture actually looked like, and it blew me away. Truly, it's amazing how much you can change a scene with just some basic toning adjustments.

However: what if the photographer had made the top image in-camera? What if he/she had underexposed to kill the background and flashed the players in the middle. It would look a LOT different than it would have to the people who were actually at the event, but it's not all gussied up in Photoshop. So - what then?
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Jeff Conner, Student/Intern, Photographer
Rochester | NY | USA | Posted: 5:50 PM on 04.11.08
->> Melissa thanks for bringing this to our attention. This photographer (who i believe is well known on this site) def. crossed a line with this image, and its sad but it makes me question the rest of his/her work.
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Jody Gomez, Photographer
Murrieta | CA | USA | Posted: 6:03 PM on 04.11.08
->> I have to admit to feeling a little like the commenter who said "This just left me being jealous of other people's photoshop skills and not inspired to become a better photojournalist."

I kept going back to the image and wondering why I can't use PS that well.
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Myung Chun, Photographer
Los Angeles | CA | USA | Posted: 6:13 PM on 04.11.08
->> Jody, I wouldn't call that good PS skills.
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Jack Howard, Photographer, Photo Editor
Central | NJ | USA | Posted: 6:15 PM on 04.11.08
->> Melissa, it's all OK, looking at what the king of ethics, Tim Gruber considers the line. If you'll recall, last summer, Tim was the one of, if not the, loudest ethics-standard bearers in the Doug Thompson full moon fiasco:

http://www.timgruber.com/blog/2007/08/06/another-painful-lesson-in-ethics/

But excessive, ludicrous toning is evidently ethical and OK:

http://www.timgruber.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2007/06/tg-squaremissvabag...

This contestant's entire "hair" is uniformly RGB 0,0,0, throughout, meaning that Mr. Gruber has somehow managed to become such a ringlight master that he can bend and break the laws of optical physics and the reflectance properties of human hair, or that this contestant has far, far too much anti-matter spray in her hair. But nope. Overtoned.

But wait! It's not actually Mr. Gruber cooking and tweaking his own work: it was someone else--a Photoshop "guru" who toned these for him:

http://www.timgruber.com/blog/2007/06/28/miss-virginia-whats-in-your-bag/

Let's just face the fact that straight-from-the-camera shots are boring. Digital imaging has replaced the wet darkroom almost completely, ergo, anything you can do in digital imaging is ethical for all applications.

Or not?
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David Harpe, Photographer
Louisville | KY | USA | Posted: 6:40 PM on 04.11.08
->> It's graphic design, not photography. Many times PDN doesn't really draw a distinction between the two fields. They generally feature "photographers" that produce striking "images", regardless of the equipment and techniques used. A lot of the big time shooters they feature have legions of people who spend hours moving pixels around to give them their distinctive "look". Every now and again they'll run a before/after story and it's amazing how bland the original images are straight out of the camera.

But the CPOY award is a real surprise. I would have thought their standards for submission would preclude an obvious illustration.
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Jody Gomez, Photographer
Murrieta | CA | USA | Posted: 6:54 PM on 04.11.08
->> "Let's just face the fact that straight-from-the-camera shots are boring."

"it's amazing how bland the original images are straight out of the camera"

Thank you Jack and David. Your posts make me feel so much better about my work. I have often wondered why my photos don't look like the "big timers". I have spent hours trying to figure out how they shoot like that and what's wrong with me that I couldn't.

Those hours I've spent trying to recreate the "look" in the camera and never being able to reproduce it caused me to question my abilities more than once.

It's never occurred to me to do anything other than a LITTLE toning and a minor crop on anything editorial. Now I know why I never win contests - they look for PS skills, not shooting skills!
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Matthew Ginn, Photographer
Portland | OR | USA | Posted: 7:22 PM on 04.11.08
->> Photoshop is to photojournalism what drugs are to sport.

Melissa, thanks for pointing this out. It makes me feel better about my work and worse about my prospects at the same time.
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Matt Eich, Student/Intern
Athens | OH | United States | Posted: 8:30 PM on 04.11.08
->> Jack - This is just my take on it, but I don't believe Melissa's post was intended to be a call for everyone's opinion on who should be strung up for their toning techniques. I feel like dragging Tim Gruber into this discussion is unnecessary.

Cheers,
M
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Pouya Dianat, Photographer
Atlanta | GA | USA | Posted: 9:10 PM on 04.11.08
->> Alright....I will preface this post with the following statement: After seeing the blog post earlier this morning, the toning on that image is 100% unacceptable by all photojournalism standards. It is very similar to Patrick Schneider's first incident when he essentially dropped out a background on two firefighters crying, which won him some awards. What Dustin did to that picture, whether it was for a contest or not, was not acceptable and its a shame to see it. Now on to the point I wish to make...

The people on here that are insinuating that only Photoshop skills separate their shooting from Dustin's....please

Dustin, time and again, finds new angles, is very focused on the graphic quality of images and a look at his body of work will show you that. Again, I must reiterate this is not AT ALL in defense of what he did to that picture. And sadly it does bring into question his work henceforth. He must accept whatever consequences are coming to him as a result. As photoJOURNALISTS the only thing we have is our credibility and we must latch onto it with dear life.

I am a stickler for ethics, I have formal training in journalism unlike some people posting here and I challenge you to find one person who won't say the same about me. I think Dustin was wrong, he will get what is coming to him. He is a far more impressive shooter than people here are giving him credit for.

A lot of things separate the "big timers" from a lot of photographers - photoshop skills are rarely among them. It's sad to see this and I hope photographers learn their lessons with overworking images.
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Mark Davis, Photographer
Decatur | AL | USA | Posted: 9:39 PM on 04.11.08
->> The picture certainly reminded me of the late 70's to mid 80's when black and white image backgrounds were burned down much like the digital photo of conversation here. Those B/W photos at that time were the acceptable standard and burning down the backgroind to focus the readers attention on the subject was required to even think about winning a NPPA or POY award. Back then we did the adjustments when printing in the darkroom. It was never done in the camera. Additionally, when slide film was shot we'd under exposure and over develop so the colors would pop, so we'd have awesome vivid color. Maybe I am just an old-timer out of touch with current digital standards, but I can't see the ethic issue with this photo. If all photos are like the one shown straight out of the camera, there'd be no awesome pictures in the world. Has ethics changed that much since that time or is it just a lack of direction of what is acceptable?
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Pouya Dianat, Photographer
Atlanta | GA | USA | Posted: 9:42 PM on 04.11.08
->> Mark-

Under the current NPPA code of ethics it is unethical. Its not simply the boosting of colors in this case...burning the background in this case is so overdone that it removes information from the picture. It is not simply adjusting color and slight dodging and burning, it is over the top and not allowed under current ethics policies.

Pouya
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Thomas Boydston, Photographer, Student/Intern
Conroe | Tx | United States | Posted: 9:59 PM on 04.11.08
->> Being too young to recall the Patrick Schneider debacle, Patric Schneider (www.sportsshooter.com/patric) is not Patrick Schneider spelled wrong (or the other way around).

Pouya's post threw me for a loop at first as I tried to scramble around finding that photo of Patric's. Oops! Just thought I'd clarify in case other people were as dumbfounded as me.

I wasn't able to find a before/after of Patrick's though. Only the one with the blackened background. Does anyone have a link?
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Pouya Dianat, Photographer
Atlanta | GA | USA | Posted: 10:08 PM on 04.11.08
->> http://www.poynter.org/content/resource_popup_view.asp?id=20120

Patrick Schneider's photos.
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Erik Markov, Photographer
Kokomo | IN | | Posted: 10:09 PM on 04.11.08
->> Thomas,

http://www.poynter.org/content/content_view.asp?id=45119&sid=29

scroll down to link: side by side comparison
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Nick Adams, Photographer
Marysville | CA | | Posted: 10:09 PM on 04.11.08
->> http://www.poynter.org/resource/45119/done.swf

Also, Patric Schneider is not Patrick Schneider.

Patrick Schneider work can be found at:
http://patrickschneiderphoto.com/main.php
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Erik Markov, Photographer
Kokomo | IN | | Posted: 10:10 PM on 04.11.08
->> that was a nice coordinated effort Nick :)
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Jesse Hutcheson, Student/Intern, Photographer
Newport News | va | United States | Posted: 10:18 PM on 04.11.08
->> "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone" or witch-hunt....which ever.
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Melissa Lyttle, Photographer
Tampa | FL | USA | Posted: 10:30 PM on 04.11.08
->> jesse, i have solid ethics. i adhere to them. i don't manipulate the truth. i don't take photos that lie. i don't destroy the integrity of the image or the trust of my subjects. what are you trying to say? =) -m
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David Harpe, Photographer
Louisville | KY | USA | Posted: 10:44 PM on 04.11.08
->> What Dustin did to that picture, whether it was for a contest or not, was not acceptable and its a shame to see it.

There's nothing wrong with doing photoshop work on an image - even to the levels done in his image. Photography is a creative pursuit, and it would be silly to not use the tools available to do creative work.

The problem occurs when you try to represent a retouched image as a "news" photograph. Did Dustin try to represent his retouched photo as a "news" photograph?

According to the blog, the picture ran untouched in the paper...so he's totally in the clear in that regard.

As a long time subscriber, I know PDN does not care about retouched imagery because they cater to commercial photographers and retouching is common practice in that world. So Dustin is in the clear with the "top 30" PDN thing...although he did screw up by not securing permission.

That leaves CPOY. In a quick scan I couldn't find the entry requirements/guidelines for the CPOY contest - but since the entry was submitted in 2005 you'd really have to look at the requirements at the time he submitted the image to be fair. If CPOY requires unretouched images, then yeah, that's a ding. But if there were no standards in place for retouching at the time he submitted, it's really quite possible he did nothing wrong here.
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Karl Stolleis, Photographer
Santa Fe | NM | USA | Posted: 11:07 PM on 04.11.08
->> "pictures straight out of the camera are boring"? Spoken like someone who does not have the knowledge or skill to make an interesting image "straight out of the camera"

Were J Moore's Bhutto pics boring? Were this years Pulitzer winners boring? I think not.

This really highlights the disconnect between people that spend hours "correcting" a single image and those who try their damndest to get them right the first time. Sad.

Taken in a journalistic context - this image that started this conversation was waaay across the line.
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David Manning, Photographer
Athens | GA | | Posted: 11:33 PM on 04.11.08
->> I fully agree with Melissa and Pouya here. This type of behavior is 100% unacceptable.

I have seen the overtoning of photos by former coworkers of mine in newsrooms. I don't agree with it and i always try to keep my own work within acceptable ethical limits as put forth by NPPA and my peers.

That being said, i feel that the photographer in question does excellent work and shouldn't need to do this in the future.
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Jon Cunningham, Photographer
Lisle | IL | USA | Posted: 12:21 AM on 04.12.08
->> Kevin Leas wrote: "However: what if the photographer had made the top image in-camera? What if he/she had underexposed to kill the background and flashed the players in the middle. It would look a LOT different than it would have to the people who were actually at the event, but it's not all gussied up in Photoshop. So - what then?"

Great point Kevin! I think about that every time I shoot available light basketball in a high school gym while someone else is using pocket wizards linked to flashes that are mounted from the rails of the bleachers at sideways angles.

Their images look NOTHING LIKE how things looked in that gym to anyone present during the game. Yet somehow these "strobists" think they are doing superior work.

I could accept that if their strobes were ceiling mounted or ceiling bounced, similar to the ambient light.

Anything else is creating their own reality.
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Allan Campbell, Photo Editor, Photographer
Portland | OR | USA | Posted: 12:27 AM on 04.12.08
->> I think ethics like this need to be based on where the photo is being published, what the story is about. As far as how it was being portrayed I have not read the PDN article. I can tell you as a department head of a prepress department how I would tone a photo for publication in our newspapers is completely different than how we would tone for one of our commercial magazines. Along those lines an editorial ad would be completely different than an advertising photo. It all depends on the actual use of the photo in addition to paper stock, printing press etc...

To me if the photo was toned correctly (per the newspapers own standard) when it was used as an editorial element then it was done correctly. If the photographer then made a different look for their portfolio toned differently you need to look at the expected audience. The PDN stuff almost always has a heavy handed look. The real question is was it being passed off as News Reporting, Editorial product, Commercial work...
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Jack Howard, Photographer, Photo Editor
Central | NJ | USA | Posted: 12:49 AM on 04.12.08
->> Karl, maybe you don't understand the subtleties of the written word--irony, absurdity, etc. Oh my.

I stand by my body of work. I don't have a SS POTY to my credit, nor a CPOY. I kinda have a Pulitzer with the Star-Ledger, but that's another story and a dayrate for an angle that never materialized--they got the trophy, I have my invoices and paystubs; whatever.

And folks, for the newcomers--I always prefer direct hatemail as opposed to "inappropriates."

Even an "Off-Topic" would have been better. Maybe if I'd called Tim out for it last summer would have been better--but I let it go at the time.

But seriously--this toning crap is out of friggin' control these days. Anyone who wants to play in the journalism space should understand the friggin' ground rules. I asked 2 SS members to discover another obviously overtoned image in a certain photog's portfolio and they both found it quicklike (hint: if everything in a silhouette is pure black, it's probably unlikely one object will be less than pure black.)

When I was starting out, I was at a jerkwater weekly with a total photoshop doctor. The ME didn't care. The publisher didn't care. His doctored photos sold newspapers. My honest journalism didn't have the same "oomph" or so I was told. His motto was "If you didn't take a good photo, make a good photo." Guess that's what's matters most these days, huh?

Hey, you know what? It's a decade later, I still stand by my body of work in all my endeavors. I'm a writer, editor, photographer, photojournalist, and more, and I subscribe to a number of different ethical models depending on the context of content, and I fully disclose any time I think I'm close to a line of Conflict of Interest--I'm sad to say I think that too many people these days simply don't care like that.

I was once asked publicly here: How could I keep it to myself to not share my advance knowledge of a certain exciting new camera? Simple: I was duty-bound to honor a non-disclosure agreement as a journalist.

When I accept a photojournalism assignment, I abide the most stringent rules of Photojournalism. Why? Because I am not ethically challenged. I captured what I captured.

And again, I'm gladly recant my statements about Mr. Gruber's Hand of God Toning when someone rewrites the laws of physics.

And yes, Juicing sucks. Doesn't it? I got mad Photoshop Skillz. I just never applied them to my journalism work due to ethics.
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Thomas Boydston, Photographer, Student/Intern
Conroe | Tx | United States | Posted: 1:32 AM on 04.12.08
->> Jon, I too shoot with tri-x film in my camera at 50mm exposing at f/8 and 1/60th a second from outer space.

Getting a little crazy aren't we?
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Aaron Rhoads, Photographer
McComb | MS | USA | Posted: 2:49 AM on 04.12.08
->> Wow!!

That's what I need to do to, "excessive, ludicrous toning" on my ribbon cutting/check passing photos.
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Vasiliy Baziuk, Photographer
Rochester | NY | USA | Posted: 4:00 AM on 04.12.08
->> Great posts everybody!

I just checked the SS monthly clip contest guidelines and there seems to be no mention that we should stick to journalism ethics or anything about, “preserving photojournalistic integrity” in our photos for the contest so I guess by that measure Dustin is in the clear. That argument might hold up in court. "I was just following the contest rules and there was no mention that I should adhere to photojournalism ethics." But c'mon, most of us know where we should not go. I'm sure that is common knowledge amongst all photographers no matter how green you are. And with all the internships that Dustin claims to have been on he should know better, and I'm sure he does.

Using the burn tool seems to be his hook. If he can photoshop his photos for the contest we all can start to photoshop our photos and just maybe SS.com will create a fifth monthly clip contest category that deals with photoshop skills. (FYI: that's me being sarcastic.)

As far as copyrights violation is concerned.... don't do the crime if you can't do the time.

And lastly before this thread goes any further and hurtful things are said that can't be taken back; Dustin Snipes should step up and defend his honor and issue an official statement defend his actions against these accusations.
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Aaron Rhoads, Photographer
McComb | MS | USA | Posted: 10:48 AM on 04.12.08
->> Would be interesting to see the raw image from his Oregon-USC 1 photo on his member page.
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Clark Brooks, Photo Editor, Photographer
Urbana | IL | USA | Posted: 12:40 PM on 04.12.08
->> To echo Mark Davis' comment, in the late 70s and 80s at my college paper we dodged and burn the hell out of prints in the darkroom. If we didn't make at least three prints to pass the PE's muster we were happy shooters.

While I find the 'hand of God' technique over bearing in the photo in question, I don't believe dodging and burning in itself is totally unethical as it has been a practice for nearly a century in this profession. I do believe it can be overdone and overused.

Cloning is great for art and advertising, but has no place in journalism and the editorial world.
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Chuck Liddy, Photographer
Durham | NC | USA | Posted: 12:44 PM on 04.12.08
->> jack had something very interesting to say which in all the ethics discussions we've had over the past few years hasn't been mentioned. those who are members of this site and don't quite understand photoj ethics are often cantankerous about the ethical standards we live by. I think the world jack lives in has something all of us can learn from. he moves in both orbits. he works in photoj but also does commercial/corporate work, and the cool thing? he actually GETS it. from his post we see he knows what he can do for a news assignment and knows what he can do during a commercial job. that's terrific. more folks should listen to what he has to say. it's sad in this day and age to see younger photographers who THINK to get an edge they need to 'totally over the top' manipulate images. I think if you're starting out you folks should realize the people hiring you know an over sharpened-saturated-burned-dodged-color shift image...etc etc etc.....when they see one. if you think it gives you an advantage you are way off base. one more thing that this post brought out. again as jack alluded to, what's with all the "inappropriates" lately. just because you don't agree with someone doesn't mean you should mark it "inappropriate".....
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Ric Tapia, Student/Intern, Photographer
Santa Barbara | CA | USA | Posted: 1:39 PM on 04.12.08
->> Having actually worked with Dustin side by side and seeing his RAW photos I can tell you that everything that his submits to ICON SMI does NOT break any "level of integrity or trust." Dustin Ethics are not corrupt in any way spare or form.

Yes, he does tone his image for contests and of the like. (it's a contest!) Its sounds to me that some people are a little jealous of his success at such a young age. If you have not met Dustin face to face how can you judge his ethics?

Ansel Adams was a MASTER in the darkroom! Not a master photographer. I know he was not a photojournalist but dodging and burning photos are just as old as photographing itself.
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Chuck Liddy, Photographer
Durham | NC | USA | Posted: 2:22 PM on 04.12.08
->> ric, I don't see any of the comments here being posted by "jealous" photographers. what I see are folks who might be a little bothered by someone who bends the rules as they see fit to take a rather mundane image and make it visually striking by digital manipulation. and you say "it's a contest"....well that is wrong. so if it's "just a contest" we should be able to completely make a photo we "wished" we had taken and enter it as a truthful image? I don't think most photographers are happy when they adhere to the rules and someone else who doesn't is rewarded for it. and the bottom line is if you don't want to be viewed as an ethically challenged photographer don't give people ammunition that can be used against yourself.
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Phil Hawkins, Photographer
Fresno | ca | usa | Posted: 2:23 PM on 04.12.08
->> I can see the hate mail now, raining down on me for what I am about to say, but I am not employed by a newspaper or other purely journalistic entity, so maybe that enables me to stand back from the trees to see the forest.

My observations are that photo manipulation in journalistic applications is as old as the camera itself. For as long as I can remember, photos in newspapers have been dodged, burned, cropped and sepia-ed to death.

The shot of Macarthur's return to the Phillipines was staged and planned, yet ran all over the world as "McCarthur keeps his promise". Sports shots of football players with dodged faces from Tri-X film were a daily occurrence. I can't find it in my search, but I seem to recall several shots of JFK taken during the Cuban missile crisis that were dodged to death.

I understand changing the content of an image to reflect something that wasn't there, but to alter it for increased emotional impact is nothing new. All journalism these days, as I see it, is pointed toward evoking emotion. Stories are written to extract emotion. TV reporters ask patently stupid questions of catastrophe victims such as "How does this make you feel?" that does nothing to add to the facts, but is only asked to pull a tear from the interviewee. Katie Couric is the Grand Slam expert at that. I cannot think of one interview she has ever done with a catastrophe victim in which she did not ask a ridiculously idiotic question of the person meant only to see them break down emotionally.

So, I see nothing wrong with the shot of the two football players since there is nothing about it that wasn't there in the original shot. Yes, it's been altered for emotional impact, but so what?
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Jesse Drury, Photographer
Belmont | CA | USA | Posted: 2:50 PM on 04.12.08
->> Ric, Ansel Adams never turned day into night. This photo is spray painted. This photographer IS young though. He has made a mistake.

Some Pj's, under pressure to succeed, succomb to this this type of madness. It seems to me that this happens when we try to make pictures to impress the photo community rather than producing genuinely compelling work.

We care way too much about what other photographers feel. We try way too hard to get other photographers to like us. And for what? To have some ink-stained photojournalist 1,000 miles away think we are gifted? I do understand that survival does depend somewhat on what others think.
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Andrew Miller, Photographer
Bridgewater | NJ | USA | Posted: 3:10 PM on 04.12.08
->> Chuck, I absolutely agree with your last statement. I too was bothered by the 'it's a contest' attitude expressed by Mr. Tapia. This is part of the problem. Why is it that some people think it's acceptable to bend ethical standards to their limits in order to win the 'big prize'? I know it's been discussed before, but everyone who is involved in the photojournalism field needs to come to terms with the fact that drastically altering photos to win contests, 'convey emotion', or whatever the excuse may be, can only hurt our credibility as a whole.

I do not in any way doubt in Dustin's skills as a photographer. Anyone with an eye for photographs can see that he's a very talented shooter. Nobody's perfect, let's just get that straight. Even sportsshooter.com has featured heavily toned bodies of work as their lead. The monthly contest winners on this site have featured heavily toned photographs.

A commenter on the blog Melissa informatively shed light upon said,

"your concerns are (largely) relative to the newspaper section of our world; as an editorial photographer I've had various magazine clients of mine do crazy sh*t to my images (swapping out heads from different frames into their favorite composition, drastic toning and color shifting, adding sky or background, etc.)"

As a journalist who does care deeply about ethics, it disgusts me to hear that this type of madness runs rampant in publications that claim in anyway to be journalistic. It also doesn't make the toning in the image in question acceptable or excusable. The excuse of, "Oh, I'm an 'Editorial Photographer', so that means my images are open to unbelievably drastic post-processing." really doesn't fly in my book. Maybe I just don't know enough about the editorial world, but if toning like this is what is expected or accepted than I am personally very dismayed.
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Chuck Liddy, Photographer
Durham | NC | USA | Posted: 3:19 PM on 04.12.08
->> phil, with all due respect, "I am not employed by a newspaper or other purely journalistic entity so maybe that enables me to stand back from the trees to see the forest"... with that statement you have to realize you're looking at an entirely different forest that photojournalists don't live in. one thing I never understand about these ethics discussions is how folks who admit they aren't in the business of photojournalism are so quick to find nothing wrong with an altered photo. sure it's your opinion and everyone is entitled to that but that's kind of the same as me spouting off about performing open heart surgery....it just would come across as me being misinformed.
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Brian Leddy, Photographer
Gallup | NM | United States | Posted: 3:41 PM on 04.12.08
->> Well said Chuck, well said.

And to add to your comments: Phil said: "photo manipulation in journalistic applications is as old as the camera itself"

But that doesn't make it right. In addition, it seems to me that this photo is in clear violation of the NPPA's Code of Ethics, which Dustin, I would assume, should adhere to and you do not. So the forest you seem to be looking at is not the same forest that we, as journalists, live in.
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Nick Layman, Photographer
Albuquerque | NM | USA | Posted: 3:46 PM on 04.12.08
->> Where can I get the contest and photojournalism hats? Does the local camera store have it or do I have to find it on the Internet? I hear if you put one on you'll win contests and people will just mark it up as a contest image.
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Sean D. Elliot, Photographer, Photo Editor
Norwich | CT | USA | Posted: 3:52 PM on 04.12.08
->> I always find the ethics discussions on this forum troublesome because of the mix of serious photojournalists and commercial photographers.

ethics is (are?) a construct of a community/society.

One community's ethics may not apply to another. The discussion here is a fine example of that.

And communities change/evolve.

Yes, the "hand of god" burning practice of the past were considered acceptable at the time.

But the practice of photojournalism has changed. the "lens" through which the profession is viewed has changed and the application of ethics has therefore changed substantially.

The "purity" of the moment has become much more important because of all the outside challenges and distractions in the field of photography.

People like Patrick Schneider/Brian Walski/Allan Detrich, who play(ed) fast and loose with the rules because they either thought they were operating in a gray area, or simply weren't paying attention to reality, make it difficult for the rest of us to be believed for the images we capture.

As a community we need to apply our ethics, and the NPPA's code is the baseline to which most of us subscribe, stringently or we can write-off any credibility we might still have in the world.

Anyone who saw the picture in question in altered form, and happened to be there, in the dome, would say, "was that person the same place I was?" and now the ability of that person to render credible reporting is endangered. And the publication for which that individual worked has suffered a credibility blow as well.

NO, it's not okay because it was for a contest. The contest should strip the award and the employer should consider sanctions (whether it be on the manipulation grounds or the copyright grounds, or both). The photojournalism community should consider sanctions as well, because we need to protect our credibility as best we can, because without it we might as well set up portrait studios at the mall and forget trying to "report" anything.

just my .02 of course.

Sean
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William Bretzger, Photographer
New Castle | DE | USA | Posted: 4:22 PM on 04.12.08
->> Not to change the subject, but Ric: If Ansel Adams was "not a master photographer" then who is?
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Mark J. Terrill, Photographer
Simi Valley | CA | USA | Posted: 4:27 PM on 04.12.08
->> The problem with doing this is that, not only does it call into question all the good work that Dustin has done, but it also further erodes the public's trust in us. And I think that is the point that many non-photojournalists are missing.

If you manipulate a photo, even as a commercial photographer, you should let your client know. Say for example you manipulate a photo for a corporate client and they decide to release it as a handout to the wires or newspapers. The legality of that notwithstanding, if the photo is found to be a fake, you've now embarrassed the news organization, your photography peers, your client (which you've now lost) and yourself. You may have even opened yourself up to a lawsuit for misrepresentation. So whether you're a photojournalist or not, I think ethics should matter to you.
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Richard Orr, Photographer
Longmeadow | MA | USA | Posted: 4:32 PM on 04.12.08
->> I guess my only question is that as a photograph capable of showing what a photographer is capable of producing for a commercial client, how is this horrible.

I am not a journalist, but I do make my living shooting sports. I know that the stuff that I produce can be cropped, dodged, and what-not to produce the desired effect. Yes, I have staged shots (setting up tennis, volleyball, and swimming action shots) so that the client gets the best possible result. That said, they are never represented as anything other than what they are.

Is there a difference between using a shot made as a journalist and the same photos use in a commercial venue? Just wondering.
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Tom Sperduto, Photographer
Edison | NJ | USA | Posted: 4:57 PM on 04.12.08
->> Richard,
I work as a commercial photographer and I also freelance as a photojournalist. I find myself more and more shooting the commercial assignments and less PJ. Yes, there is a difference between using a shot made as a photojournalist and the same photos being used for commercial use.
Chuck and Jack already touched on this.
If I open a newspaper I expect to see what is real. I want to see the world as the photojournalist saw it and recorded it - without changing the meaning of the moment.
When the photo is being used for commercial use all bets are off - it's not news.
I agree that the photo in question is manipulated and the photographer was wrong in doing so. But, I am glad that someone(thanks Chuck and Jack) brought up the fact that some of us wear two hats - Photographer - Photojournalist.

I shot an Ultra Marathon today. It's a personal project I am working on. Some of the images will be toned for a fine art feel so I can send them to a commercial client interested in hiring me to shoot calendars and fine art prints. Some will be sent to a newspaper. The ones sent to the newspaper will be enhanced, but I will not change the meaning of the photo.
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Aaron Rhoads, Photographer
McComb | MS | USA | Posted: 7:16 PM on 04.12.08
->> "its a contest."

What kinda contest did he win?

A photo contest or a photoshop contest.
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Grant Morris, Photographer
Nashua | NH | USA | Posted: 7:25 PM on 04.12.08
->> sigh.

I think it's time to take a step back. Let's look at ourselves... Who are we? are we photographers who are only interested in making money with pictures and winning contests? Or are we people who care genuinely about our subjects and fellow man?

I understand that this is a forum for photographers but, I think it's important to review why we photojournalists do what we do.

Technical jargon aside, nothing we do means anything if we are self serving beings. We've all been given a gift that should be used with care and should be respected highly. Believe it or not, people still respect us for what we do and that is way more than can be said for people in thousands of other occupations. When was the last time you felt a ton of respect for a bank teller because of the careful way he/she counted out your hard earned cash?

Don't get me wrong here, I'm a staunch supporter of STRICT ethics. I graduated from Brooks in December and I think of higher learning, there is more talk of ethics than alot of colleges, nearly everyday there was a discussion of some sort. But, there is something more important to me. Serving the other 7,999,999,999 people on this planet.

The way I see it, there is a lot more wrong with this planet we call home than stringing up an esteemed colleague on a meaningless message board. So how about we get out and make a difference.
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Joe Cavaretta, Photographer
Ft Lauderdale | FL | USA | Posted: 7:40 PM on 04.12.08
->> I think the problem with the photo in regards to contests is that the manipulation is dishonest.
As a judge I would have assumed this guy was playing by the rules, which to me means when its real people doing real things, no manipulation.
Which means I would be thinking this guy is incredibly talented and confident enough in his skills and ability with the strobe to use an off camera strobe with maybe a grid spot or a snoot and underexpose the background and do this in a pretty high-risk situation, ie. good chance you might not get anything- and there is only one state championship jubo every year. No retake. No second chance.
But, no, turns out its a fake. Done in photoshop after the fact.
Big difference.
The fact is, there are photographers out there who CAN make that kind of picture in that kind of situation. Those are the people who should win the awards.
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Mark Smith, Photographer
Elk City | OK | USA | Posted: 7:44 PM on 04.12.08
->> This conversation isn't about stringing anyone up. It is about a continued effort to protect the credibility of photojournalists. Without credibility, the ability to serve the "other 7,999,999,999 people on this planet" is seriously impaired, perhaps destroyed.

I also wear several hats. I shoot sports as a journalist, I shoot sports as an event photographer, I do portraiture, weddings and commercial photography. All of these different endeavors have different rules, but they really aren't difficult rules to understand.

I'm not going to assert anything regarding this particular photo or photographer. I don't have enough details and I don't know him. I will say this, if a photo is submitted to a contest and the photographer knows that the perception of those judging the image is that it was a captured journalistic unaltered image, then dramatic manipulation is dishonest, plain and simple.
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Matthew Williams, Photographer
Nashville | TN | USA | Posted: 8:10 PM on 04.12.08
->> I understand the concern with over-toning images, but in my opinion the image doesn't mislead the public or deliberately try to trick the viewer. Kevin asked,

"However: what if the photographer had made the top image in-camera? What if he/she had underexposed to kill the background and flashed the players in the middle. It would look a LOT different than it would have to the people who were actually at the event, but it's not all gussied up in Photoshop. So - what then?"

Ok, the difference is that maybe it was premeditated, but the overall look was the same.

What if you use a flash with the zoom head at 80mm to get the same look. Is using an extremely shallow depth of field, then also misleading, or is it acceptable because it is the norm? In addition, the question must be asked, If we are trying to capture reality, and purely reality, then why is it acceptable to expose for the highlights of a high contrast scene and let the rest go to black and why isn't everyone shooting at f/16? Is the only difference that one is "in camera" and the other is post? The comparison between the RAW file that was taken by the camera and the final version is meaningful in many ways, but who's to say that the file captured by the camera is always a truer representation of the scene?

Bottom line, i respect Dustin's work a lot and don't feel like this conversation is appropriate for a forum on sportsshooter in the manner that it was presented. It's hard enough to make a solid reputation as a young photographer these days without being singled out for something like this as an example as to what many photographers are already doing. I could give thousands of examples of "overtoned" images I have seen in major publications or by prominent journalists in the field, but does that mean they are wrong in doing so? When does digital enhancement turn into digital manipulation and when do "in camera" decisions (i.e. flash use, lens choice, aperture, shutter speed, etc.) essentially become the same thing?
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Michael Fischer, Photographer
Spencer | Ia | USA | Posted: 8:59 PM on 04.12.08
->> First of all, Melissa, thanks for starting this thread. You are one of my favorities on here and this thread is just one more reason why. You give a damn. Thank you again.

Let's be clear on two things: The cause and the effect and the implications. The rules of photojournalism are clear: You don't alter a photo and present it as a news photo. Strobing a gym to get a image is one thing, using photoshop to alter a photo far beyond what is considered normal is another.

If you ever saw Bonfire of the Vanities, there's a quote by Morgan Freeman's character that sums it up for me:

"Decency! And decency isn't a deal, it's not a contract or a hustle or an angle! Decency... decency is what your grandmother taught you. It's in your bones!"

Translation: We all should know what is right and wrong. If you here the little voice in your head saying "it's all right - no one will know" - then it's wrong. Another way of saying it is: CHEATING.

The implications are clear. If you think photographers getting laid off are bad now, just imagine what the situation would be if the average person believes that all those images are manipulated. There have been those in every generation who cheat to get ahead. Sometimes, many times, they do. That doesn't make it right. It just means they didn't get caught. If one's willingness to bend the rules is that shallow, and we let it go unchallenged, then we are no better than those that did the cheating.

Sorry if I went into a rant. But I will love photojournalisn until the day I die. I won't be world famous, I don't care. But I can honor all the photojournalists who played by the rules and deliver the truth without manipulation.

In a increasingly complicated world, where truth is ground up, spun and hydrogenated, it is more important than ever that ethics be important.

As for teaching it at school I must disagree. It needs to start at home. I could go on for hours about how lying and cheating has become more "acceptable" but it all comes down to one thing:

"Do the right thing". It IS what your grandmother..and parents hopefully taught you. And even if they didn't - you still have a obligation to do it.

One last thing: Publishers and ME's who think it's ok, are burying themselves. Eventually the readership gets it, and goes somewhere else. There is a order in the universe, and a balance as well. Violate it at your own risk.
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