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SportsShooter.com: Member Message Board

We talk a good game, but ...
Chad Ryan, Photographer, Assistant
Fort Wayne | IN | USA | Posted: 2:37 AM on 06.03.08
->> How many times have we been through the ethics of the overtoning of images? How many threads have we read through on here saying how terrible it is that some resort to these types of tactics to win competitions? The answer: countless.

Here are some recent examples:

http://www.sportsshooter.com/message_display.html?tid=29027
http://www.sportsshooter.com/message_display.html?tid=29043
http://www.sportsshooter.com/message_display.html?tid=29174

Some photographers on this forum decide not to view shooters who get overzealous with Photoshop tools as problematic, but most blast them for violating ethical standards. Yet every year, someone puts together a portfolio containing obviously heavy-handed toning that ultimately wins big awards.

See Main story on SS.com right now:
http://www.sportsshooter.com/news_story.html?id=2002

Are there not images in that gallery that scream excessive corner burning and possible elimination of information altogether?

Now, obviously the photographer is very talented. The subject matter is powerful, and I truly feel for these people. But if we're going to debate standards for use of post-processing in news photographs then I have to say that I count at least four images with what I consider to be excessive burning based on information in previous discussions about this topic.

The image I question most is the third photo down on the far left. A person with a hand on another person's back. According to the angle of the light, presumably the sun, and the light wrapping around the hand on the front person's shoulder, the person at the rear should have some detail on the side of the head unless he or she is in the shadow of another object. This could be the case because there is clear defining line of light to shadow on the forearm of this person, and the other arm is entirely in shadow.

I question this image, however, because the sky behind the rear person's face, which contains no detail, seems to be clearly darker along a fairly defined diagonal line than the rest of the scene, and the water on the bottom right corner is darkened to near black. It makes me question whether the subject is actually in the shadow of another object or if the burn tool created or severly enhanced that shadow.

FWIW, I looked at these photos several times and went to the member's page more than once to view them larger before writing this post.

My intention is not to blindly accuse anyone of anything, or determine right from wrong. I could be way off base with my observations, and I sincerely hope I am.

But if I'm not my question is this:

Why does the PJ community continually blast these tactics then turn around and reward the photographers who might be using them?
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Stephen Maturen, Student/Intern, Photographer
Minneapolis | MN | United States | Posted: 2:50 AM on 06.03.08
->> ....I was thinking the same thing when I saw the story.
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Jamie Roper, Photographer
San Francisco | CA | United States | Posted: 3:12 AM on 06.03.08
->> nothing is true. everything is permitted.


("inappropriate", below)
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Vasiliy Baziuk, Photographer
Rochester | NY | USA | Posted: 3:21 AM on 06.03.08
->> Chad, good question-------->>>> "Why does the PJ community continually blast these tactics then turn around and reward the photographers who might be using them?"
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David Harpe, Photographer
Louisville | KY | USA | Posted: 7:37 AM on 06.03.08
->> "Do as I say not do as I do" has been proven time and time again to be the mantra of masses.
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Chuck Liddy, Photographer
Durham | NC | USA | Posted: 9:03 AM on 06.03.08
->> 10 demerits chad! you've outed photojournalism contests "dirty little secret".
well actually is not that much of a secret. 8(
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Aaron Rhoads, Photographer
McComb | MS | USA | Posted: 9:43 AM on 06.03.08
->> hmmm...burning the edges may get me an award.

So if I burn down the entire image.


I'm guaranteed an award right?
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Bill Miller, Photographer
Thousand Palms | CA | USA | Posted: 9:50 AM on 06.03.08
->> Ethics!!! It would seem that seem the implication is that somehow the photos that comprised the POY award were somehow unethical. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The assumption that it was a “Photojournalism Contest” is and was the 1st mistake. Take your attention to the rules of the contest. http://www.sportsshooter.com/student_portfolio/rules.html

No where does it state it is a Photojournalism Contest. The photos must be taken during a 7-day period, and captioned, period. Nothing about subject matter other than “poor taste or technical problems” Under the rules the entries could have been products, beauty, fashion, anything.

An excellent portfolio and good work Justin.
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Mike Brice, Photographer
Toledo | OH | USA | Posted: 10:22 AM on 06.03.08
->> Chad,

Great post.

I would be interested in hearing from the photographer, as well as seeing a comparison of the file straight out of the camera vs how the final image was presented.
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Chad Ryan, Photographer, Assistant
Fort Wayne | IN | USA | Posted: 10:28 AM on 06.03.08
->> Mr. Miller,

See the first of my linked message board examples that talks directly about the maniuplation of a photo by another SS.com member. So, in your mind, the SS.com contests do not require the same sore of guidelines even if they are not posted in a list of rules? I doubt most members of this site would agree that since the rules don't say you can't manipulate a photo then anything goes.

Now, I say that I do not question the ethics of the photographer. As I said before, I felt he had strong work. As a matter of fact, I believe he covered the subject better than I believe I would have. My question came in because there appears to be excessive burning in some of the photos. I don't think it changes the meaning or misleads anyone, but I think it has become commonplace to burn down corners in photos because it gives them the look that wins contests. Either that or every other photographer out in the field is shooting with some large customizable vignetting device on their camera. I haven't seen them being used in the field.

My point here is to say that we either accept this technique and move on with our lives or we stop preaching from a pedestal about how evil it is then turn around and reward it.
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Landon Finch, Photographer
Colorado Springs | CO | USA | Posted: 10:34 AM on 06.03.08
->> http://www.sportsshooter.com/student_portfolio/rules.html

"8. Do not put a border, or a frame, or any kind of 'decorative enhancement' on your "Week's Work" images. This includes any type of copyright or photo credit statement embedded within the image. Images alone, without special effects or borders of any kind are acceptable. If your image contains a border or any kind of special effect, it will disqualify your entry from that month's competition."

decorative enhancement?
special effect?


"Why does the PJ community continually blast these tactics then turn around and reward the photographers who might be using them?"

Because the images look cooler with the vignette and heavy saturation. (I do it to many of my images, but I am not a pj.)
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Nik Habicht, Photographer
Levittown | PA | USA | Posted: 10:43 AM on 06.03.08
->> How many of the outraged people posting in this thread, entered photojournalism during the days of shooting predominantly black and white film, and printing the images in an actual wet darkroom? How many remember working before Photoshop was readily available? How many have ever looked at books or magazines featuring documentary newspaper and magazine photography during the 1950s, 60s, 70s, and 80s?

I see nothing in Justin's work that wasn't being done on a regular basis by newspaper and magazine photographers in those decades....

Then again --- when I started we were still working on telling the story visually, not on providing xeroxes of moments in time, all inclusive, and totally unaltered....
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Robert Hanashiro, Photographer
Los Angeles | CA | | Posted: 10:48 AM on 06.03.08
->> Chad ...You have NO IDEA how pervasive this is until you've been a judge at POY or BOP ...

Trust me ... you are not pissing in the wind here, and I recognize the points you are raising whole heartedly. But this ... issue ... is something that is a lot bigger than you can ever imagine. Your questions and points made here should also be raised at the four initial organization as well.

This, and the recent incident involving a digitally manipulated newspaper photograph that was a CPOY winner and recognized by Photo District News, are good discussions.

Love to read this and I think it's healthy discussion.
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Robert Hanashiro, Photographer
Los Angeles | CA | | Posted: 10:54 AM on 06.03.08
->> And I have a theory on contests:

If you have questions or thoughts about the results of a photography contest, you need only look at the JUDGES to gain insight on the results.

Obviously this is not a 100% foolproof theory, but food for thought.

Contests judging is obviously (and HIGHLY) subjective and often times you really should look at the images ...and go beyond the "fancy Photoshop magic" performed on them.

It's the different between substance and "flash".
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Jeff Stanton, Photographer
Princeton | IN | USA | Posted: 10:55 AM on 06.03.08
->> It seems as if good, solid photojournalism rarely wins anymore. Always a gimmick involved. Just my 2
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Chad Ryan, Photographer, Assistant
Fort Wayne | IN | USA | Posted: 11:39 AM on 06.03.08
->> Believe me when I say that I don't envy contest judges. I've seen contest judging take place, and the judges definitely have their hands full. I also don't necessarily blame the photographer, who is likely just doing what he's learned.

It's been taught through contest performance that these treatments are acceptable. This technique is obviously not new, and I'm not saying I have never done it to some degree. I don't know what the answer is, but I do know we can't have it both ways. I am saying that as a community it's time to face a s*** or get off the pot moment here.

For those that think otherwise, I'm not outraged. Given the recent examples brought up in the forums, I thought an intelligent conversation could result from this post. So far it has, and the email responses have been mostly positive.

Personally, I think the work exhibited would have been just as strong without the treatment.
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Andrew Miller, Photographer
Bridgewater | NJ | USA | Posted: 11:43 AM on 06.03.08
->> I felt the same way as Chad when viewing these images last night. Thanks to you, Chad, for putting your thoughts out here for discussion on this board. I guess what bothers me the most about this kind of toning is that I'm pretty sure I'd enjoy these moments even more if I wasn't questioning why they look the way they look. It's distracting to question the reality of the play of light and shadow rather than focusing on the message the photographer is trying to convey through the frame.

Sort of OT:
A question to photo editors: What would you do/say if one of your photographers turned in photos from an assignment with heavily burned corners?
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Ric Tapia, Student/Intern, Photographer
Santa Barbara | CA | USA | Posted: 1:01 PM on 06.03.08
->> Everyone here is talking a big game but if you would have voted maybe you could have changed the out come. Vote every month so your voice is heard and maybe the ethical standards will be raised.

http://www.sportsshooter.com/message_display.html?tid=29575
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Chuck Liddy, Photographer
Durham | NC | USA | Posted: 1:38 PM on 06.03.08
->> andrew, to answer your question:
"What would you do/say if one of your photographers turned in photos from an assignment with heavily burned corners?"
I'm not the boss but I know the answer:
Y-O-U-'-R-E F-I-R-E-D
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Aaron Rhoads, Photographer
McComb | MS | USA | Posted: 2:40 PM on 06.03.08
->> Speaking of taking award winning photos.

It's about the time of the year we'll be getting farmers with their oversized turnips, watermelons and such.

I'll think I'll try the 'decorative enhancement.';)
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Jean Finley, Photo Editor, Photographer
Iowa City | IA | USA | Posted: 8:48 PM on 06.03.08
->> I think you've asked a fair question, Chad. I also think that if you have a question about an image, the first person you ask is the photographer.

If it was your career or livelihood on the line, you'd appreciate the opportunity to defend yourself.

With digital manipulation an integral part of much of photography these days, and with so many photographers shooting is lots of genres for lots of different purposes, it is incumbent upon the contest to be clear about what it does and does not allow.

Digital manipulation, in and of itself, is not the devil here.
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Thomas E. Witte, Photographer, Photo Editor
Cincinnati | OH | USA | Posted: 10:09 PM on 06.03.08
->> It's so rampant it's not even funny. I commented on this once in my "rant of the week" and got several private messages with fake email addresses telling me to shut up. I commented on it somewhere in the forum and got the same. So not only is it wide spread, but the people who are doing it try to defend it.

I know of at least 15 members on this site who consistently use photoshop to mask their inabilities with a camera. Their motto is basically, "If I can't take a good picture, I'll make a good picture". Two of those members have sadly been displayed on the front page of SS in recent months, thereby reinforcing the unethical habit. They know what they're doing is wrong, but when they get their 15 minutes of fame, it overrides the guilt and just encourages them to do it again. Not only that, it forces them to do it more and more. If they win awards and falsely get jobs for it now, then they need to keep it up and accelerate the frequency if they want to keep on working because these "perfect" images are expected of them for every assignment now.

Take Allan Detrick for example. During that whole circus there was a nugget in one of the stories I read that explained what I said above; that the habit was positively reinforced. Now of course in that case we were talking more about cloning than hyper-burning, but what's the difference really? Neither activity is allowed.

All of this is precisely why I don't enter contests anymore. I'm not going to watch my perfectly good photos be beaten out by a lower quality photo that was photoshopped in to a winner.

This is also why I love shooting for Sports Illustrated or any other publication that requires RAW files so they can do the work. I just shoot, caption and ship.
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Mike Ullery, Photographer, Photo Editor
Piqua | OH | USA | Posted: 10:32 PM on 06.03.08
->> I agree whole heartedly with Thomas. I am sick of seeing Photoshop-ed images and everyone oohing and ahhing over crappy work done by someone with skill at Photoshop and the time to waste sitting in front of a computer.

In the "old" days it was the good shooters who got the work and the wanna-bees either gave up or learned how to be a good photographer. Now, the good photographers are loosing too much work to wanna-bees who don't know crap about photography and don't give a damn as long as they get a few hours with Photoshop before they have to turn in their images.
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Jeff Stanton, Photographer
Princeton | IN | USA | Posted: 11:06 PM on 06.03.08
->> I was just having a discussion with a friend of mine who is about to open his darkroom back up at his house. He found an enlarger head on ebay that matches a stand he has and is in the process of starting to run film and make prints the good old fashioned way.

His comment was basically a lot of young photographers will never know the pride, joy and skill level required to work on film and prints, because it's too easy to do in Photoshop. No smelly fixer required. Well, I happen to like the smell of fixer in the morning.

Thomas, great post, my friend. I for one would like to see just the kind of photojournalism that makes us all want to be better photographers, not better Photoshop gurus.
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Chuck Liddy, Photographer
Durham | NC | USA | Posted: 11:10 PM on 06.03.08
->> gosh thomas, just waiting to see the "inappropriates" from your post. I love this site but one of the glaring problems which I have noticed is when people call out others photographers for glaring and obvious photo manipulation you get the "oh my why are you attacking this person? maybe you should approach them privately and ask them what they were thinking." then you are given an "inapproprite". that my friends is total horsesh*t. sorry no other way to say it. and the "well there are NO rules stipulating what you can do to a photo that's entered into the sportsshooter contest". folks lemme tell you, I don't have "mad photoshop skills" as one writer said a few months ago but IF I decided to manipulate and photoshop the photos I take I would kick the living sh*t out of all comers to the contest. plain and simple. I choose NOT to manipulate my photos. I DON'T enter the sportsshooter contest because after seeing some of the entries that win it makes me ill. we ARE our own worst enemies. we allow this to happen. JUDGES allow this to happen.......I guess that's why I'm never asked to judge a contest because I would smack down any heavy handed image.
the "inappropriate" button is on your far right. feel free to click on it.
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Thomas E. Witte, Photographer, Photo Editor
Cincinnati | OH | USA | Posted: 11:23 PM on 06.03.08
->> Oops. I wasn't trying to be wanker, I was just trying to be succinct. But alas, I still stand behind what I wrote because even if I'm off in left field, I'm not ridiculously off base.
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Rob Ostermaier, Photographer
Newport News | VA | USA | Posted: 11:37 PM on 06.03.08
->> I'm with Chuck.

Over photoshopping photos has been going on for years. It continues to happen because it wins people awards.

It will not stop happening until contest judges start throwing said over worked photos out of competitions.

If I can tell what you've done to the photo in Photoshop you've gone too far.
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Thomas E. Witte, Photographer, Photo Editor
Cincinnati | OH | USA | Posted: 12:30 AM on 06.04.08
->> [EDITORS NOTE: First off, let me be straightforward here that I'm not commenting on Maxon. I saw his stuff at Eddie Adams last year and the kid is a bitchin photographer that's going to go farther than a lot of us. My comments in the thread thus far and henceforth are strictly related to the problem of over toning as a whole in this industry and it's unfortunately being piggy backed on this thread.]

Well, I read Rob's post and it got me thinking (and you all know the drill; run for cover because when I start thinking it's like having a monkey at the helm of a missile silo... It'll be fun to watch, but bad things are going to happen).

We all agree that this has been going on since Niepce, but why is the signal to noise ratio so much higher now with us complaining about it? I think it's because those of us that grew up with our fingers reeking of stop bath are PISSED. Not because we'd spend 30 seconds exposing the paper and 10 minutes running it through the baths. Or because we'd risk our friggin lives sucking down potassium ferricyanide fumes. Or because we ruined entire wardrobes due to blix. Or because we destroyed the pluming in our houses in college because of all the E6 chemicals we may or may not have poured down the drain.

We're pissed because we're jealous that what took us an evening in the darkroom now takes 20 seconds. We're pissed because we could tell you what exactly potassium ferricyanide did but now its reduced to a mouse click.
All of us at some point are guilty of monkeying around a little more than we should have with an image. It could have been unintentional "man that looks so much better" versus intentional "man this would look better if this section went to black". It may never have made it to publication, but I'm willing to bet at least 95% of us did it "for portfolio use".

So yes, it's been going on since most of the members of this site were zygotes, but if we didn't police ourselves to put a stop to it then, why are we wasting our breath now? (Or, risking carpal tunnel in this case.)
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Bill Miller, Photographer
Thousand Palms | CA | USA | Posted: 12:32 AM on 06.04.08
->> It boils down to advertising. The contests are a method for a photographer to get his work out there, and hopefully win. If he's a winner, maybe just, maybe it will get him some additional work and recognition.

He/She is guided by the "rules for that given contest" nothing more nothing less. Until the promoters of the contests change their rules in writing, there will never be a change. Its not up to the judges, they are guided by the promoter and the rules. The promoter in this case was SS, however it could have been, Microsoft, Hasselblad, Canon.
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Anantachai Brown, Photographer
Jacksonville | FL | | Posted: 12:41 AM on 06.04.08
->> i can understand if you are cloning out/in part of the image......but please explain why adding a dark vignette around an image sooooooo unethical?


why in many of these competitions there has to be pain, sorrow, darkness about the images?





forgive me...non photo j here.
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Daryl Peveto, Student/Intern, Photographer
Ventura | CA | US | Posted: 4:45 AM on 06.05.08
->> I agree that discussing the ethics of what we do is important, as is transparency, but this thread has devolved into making a lot of unfair assumptions about Justin's work. Without having seen the originals, no one knows how much if any toning was done. Justin is a very talented shooter and someone who I believe has tremendous integrity for both his work and for his subjects.

I shoot with a Canon 5d, and some of my prime lenses create a vignette - especially when underexposed and shot away from light. I have gotten images far darker than Justin's straight out of camera. And I have been criticized for over-toning these images. So don't go accusing others of manipulation without some proof. It is just not fair.

While the conversation on ethics is good, it should remain about ethics and not impugning someone's work without any proof. Our integrity is all the currency we have as photojournalists. To have our name smeared tarnishes that integrity. Photographers don't win contests because of mad Photoshop skills. They win because they are great photographers, great journalists and great story tellers. Which is not to say that some don't cheat. They do. But most don't. If you feel your images are not good enough to win, it probably has nothing to do with Photoshop. Just keep shooting and keep working hard. I know that Justin has worked his ass off in the last several years to build this portfolio and I for one would like to say congratulations on his win. It is much deserved and I am inspired by his work. It only makes me want to shoot more. I would hope it would inspire all of us to go out and make better images.

Daryl Peveto
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Doug Thompson, Photographer
Floyd | VA | | Posted: 7:22 AM on 06.05.08
->> My copy of Athlete, the superb book by Walter Iooss, arrived via FedEx yesterday. I ordered it based on the excellent review by Brad Magnin. Like many here I've long admired Walter's work.

But a paragraph in Brad's review about Walter's shot of Michael Jordan dunking a ball on a blue court struck me as appropriate for this discussion:

http://www.sportsshooter.com/news/1982

"Iooss told me that Sports Illustrated Director of Photography Steve Fine found a different frame than what Iooss had originally selected from the 1987 shoot when he photographed Michael Jordan from a cherry picker dunking a basketball against a blue background that was in reality a parking lot that Iooss had painted blue just for the picture. Iooss shot the picture with a Canon F-1 high-speed camera at 14 frames a second on chrome. Iooss said that the new version of "Blue Dunk" is sharper and a better moment than the previous version."

Hmmmm. Painting a parking lot surface a brilliant blue to create a dramatic backdrop for a photo. That wasn't done for a contest but for a photo for a magazine that is often used as the benchmark for sports photography. Great photo but some might call that toning with a paintbruth.

Chad started this thread with the premise of "We talk a good game, but..." His point is valid. Do we hold an icon like Walter to a different standard than a up and coming shooter like Justin? I don't know the answer but the discussion here is worth the effort. I got nailed here last year for doing something incredibly stupid with Photoshop. I deserved the hits I took and learned a valuable lesson. Our goal should always be to learn from our mistakes and look for ways to be better shooters.
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Mike Brice, Photographer
Toledo | OH | USA | Posted: 7:59 AM on 06.05.08
->> While Sports Illustrated has been a benchmark for Sports Photography, I don't think anyone would consider it a benchmark for photojournalism.

They have done a lot of toning - both before and after the image - over the years to create a better magazine - things that would not be allowed by most photojournalism purists.
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Brad Smith, Photographer
Beijing | China | China | Posted: 8:27 AM on 06.05.08
->> First, I would say the conscious decision to make a background of a portrait blue, is much different than the conscious decision to tone a selected area of a photograph to a limit that appears to be outside what is technically possible on a single exposure.

That being said, Daryl, you're right. "Without having seen the originals, no one knows how much if any toning was done." I would add this; without having the photographer in question respond it is hard to know under what circumstances the photo was taken. It's possible something like a holga was used, and that created vignetting. Or maybe it's something that none of us has thought of.

No one is assigning guilt here, just trying to understand one possible instance of an issue that is very important to the future of the profession.
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Jeffrey Haderthauer, Photographer
Wichita Falls | TX | USA | Posted: 8:35 AM on 06.05.08
->> Doug- painting a parking lot blue for a PORTRAIT is way different than PS'ing the hell out of some daily assignment work.
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Doug Thompson, Photographer
Floyd | VA | | Posted: 8:52 AM on 06.05.08
->> "While Sports Illustrated has been a benchmark for Sports Photography, I don't think anyone would consider it a benchmark for photojournalism."

Mike, that may be true but folks here shoot for them and Thomas used SI as an example, saying "this is also why I love shooting for Sports Illustrated or any other publication that requires RAW files so they can do the work. I just shoot, caption and ship." Does this tell a young shooter that its OK if an image is altered as long as the publication does it and not the photographer?

When a young shooter sees a glowing review of a book that features a photo that is a pure setup I wonder if it sends a mixed message to those we are trying to mentor and encourage. Most guidelines on photographic ethics consider a setup shot unethical.

The New York Times canned a shooter for setting up a photo of a kid with a gun against a sign that emphasized the point. Life Magazine set up photos all the time. A famous photo feature of a young Cassius Clay training underwater was portrayed as part of his training program. It wasn't. The Iwo Jima photograph was a second raising of the flag strictly for the photographer's benefit. Do we take away Joe Rosenthal's Pulitzer 63 years later because the photo was a setup?

I don't have the answers but I think it is best to discuss these issues in full context. The real issue is more than just toning for a contest.
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Chuck Liddy, Photographer
Durham | NC | USA | Posted: 9:09 AM on 06.05.08
->> doug, try and get your facts straight. the iwo jima photo WAS NOT set up for rosenthal. geez that has been discussed at length on this site about a million times. also you're muddying the waters trying to compare portraits with regular
news/sports/ or stand alone moment photos. portraits are almost ALWAYS set ups due to their nature. it continually surprises me that after all the discussion we've had on sportsshooter over the years that there is still confusion over what's okay for a photojournalist to do ethically. but busting the chops of folks who shoot portraits and "manipulate" the situation either in the studio or on the computer is pure nonsense and does nothing to further the discussion of photoj ethics.
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Brad Smith, Photographer
Beijing | China | China | Posted: 9:16 AM on 06.05.08
->> After rereading my earlier post I want to make something clear.

Overtoning is not ethical. A portrait that has been meticulously and beautifully planned has no ethical problems whatsoever.

Also, your statement on Mr. Rosenthal is false, Doug.
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Brad Smith, Photographer
Beijing | China | China | Posted: 9:22 AM on 06.05.08
->> beat my ISP to it chuck....slow internet over here in the middle kingdom.
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Doug Thompson, Photographer
Floyd | VA | | Posted: 9:46 AM on 06.05.08
->> "doug, try and get your facts straight. the iwo jima photo WAS NOT set up for rosenthal. geez that has been discussed at length on this site about a million times."

Chuck. My apologies and I stand corrected.

In a sports magazine known for action photography, it is always clear what is a portrait and what is not? Did the original photo caption of the Micheal Jordan provide details of the shoot? I don't have the answer because I don't have the issue.

I don't shoot portraits so I cannot speak on what is or is not acceptable in a portrait situation. If folks here feel this is apples and oranges then so be it.
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Chad Ryan, Photographer, Assistant
Fort Wayne | IN | USA | Posted: 11:34 AM on 06.05.08
->> I want to say that I do agree I should have contacted the photographer. But as I stated earlier my intent was not to accuse him of unethical practices, although it came out that way. My intent was to make the point that we cannot continue to bash the practice of over toning then reward pictures that appear to have that type of treatment. I don't believe the photographer used his post-processing skills for the sole sake of winning a contest, and I don't believe I ever said he did.

My initial concern when I started this thread was that the members who commented in the first linked post about the CPOY entry absolutely shredded that photographer. But we had another example of work with "what I considered" to be heavy post processing getting an award and top billing on the page. How can it be fair to rip one photographer and not at least question another?

Now, one could suggest the camera itself might have created a vignette. I can buy that as a possibility. I suppose a hood with two prominent sides, such as the one used on the Canon 16-35, could be rotated to achieve a burned opposite-corner look. But I've shot with the 5d and the 16-35 with hood attached, and didn't have that issue. I'm not saying it doesn't happen, just that it hasn't happened for me.

Three of the four updated galleries I've viewed just since I started this thread appear to have had similar treatments. It's obvious, to me at least, that some folks have Photoshop actions created specifically to drop vignettes on their photos.

So, I say again, it's either time to accept these post-processing techniques as commonplace and try to judge photos with that in mind or we stop giving out awards hand over fist to folks who use them. ***Note - I did not say folks won because of the technique - in most cases there is obviously more content than "magic."

The problem I see with allowing the use of excessive burning to draw attention to certain areas of a frame is that it can very quickly degenerate into something entirely different by the use of the same logic.

For those that question what I mean, follow along for a second.

Let's say I have my award-worthy photo (unthinkable, I know) cropped and toned, complete with burned-down areas like the way we did it in the wet darkroom days. Now I notice there's a guy standing to the left of my subject that draws a little more attention than I'd like him to. Enter a technique not available during the film days (at least not that I could do anyway) - the gaussian blur filter. Since I'm already just trying to bring attention to the subject, why not just blur that guy out a little? Well, that's where there is a problem. Using the same logic that allowed me to just burn down some corners turned into a whole other can of worms in a hurry.

So, my apologies to the photographer in the original post. I did not contact you first, and I am sorry for that.

Had I contacted him, though, my thoughts about the topic would've remained the same - just with less question about the image I cited for review. It's still a valid topic of discussion, and it needs to be addressed. If we can figure it out, think of all the extra space we'll free up on the message board because we won't be bitching about it. Wait - photographers not bitching? Well, at least it'll be about one less thing.
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Anantachai Brown, Photographer
Jacksonville | FL | | Posted: 5:55 PM on 06.05.08
->> .......why is burning the edges "unethical"?
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Chuck Liddy, Photographer
Durham | NC | USA | Posted: 6:08 PM on 06.05.08
->> ".......why is burning the edges "unethical?"

.........if ya gotta ask.................
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Aaron Rhoads, Photographer
McComb | MS | USA | Posted: 6:19 PM on 06.05.08
->> I'm now burning the middle of my photos.
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Chuck Liddy, Photographer
Durham | NC | USA | Posted: 6:27 PM on 06.05.08
->> aaron, just be careful of those bridges!
8))
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Jean Finley, Photo Editor, Photographer
Iowa City | IA | USA | Posted: 7:47 PM on 06.05.08
->> Hi Anantachai -


Let me translate for Mr. Liddy. In the photographic area known as "photojournalism" there are established ethical standards that make 'burning the edges' a no-no in most situations.

Here's a link to the ethical standards posted at the North Carolina Press Photographer Association website. (an organization that Mr. Liddy was the president of from 2002-2006.)
http://www.ncppaonline.org/pages/ethics.php

You can probably also find similar information from your state's organization or at nppa.org.

If you have a question, please ask it. Someone here will be willing to help.
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Chuck Liddy, Photographer
Durham | NC | USA | Posted: 9:59 PM on 06.05.08
->> sorry jean, you're a tad confused. burning the edges....oh nevermind...some people never get it
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Chuck Liddy, Photographer
Durham | NC | USA | Posted: 10:13 PM on 06.05.08
->> oops my bad. there should have been a ? after "burning the edges" jean, it's okay, really,obviously you don't understand PHOTOJOURNALIM ethics after your snide comments and the emails you have sent me. if you TRULY don't understand what we have been saying here on sportsshooter about PJ ethics..it's okay. go about your business, whatever it is....but please refrain but busting our balls for the ethics we, as photojournalists adhere to. it's OUR job. we have a code we live by. if you don't, as others on this site don't, IT'S okay. but please don't insult those of us who do this for a living every time we take a photo.
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Jean Finley, Photo Editor, Photographer
Iowa City | IA | USA | Posted: 10:40 PM on 06.05.08
->> Mr. Liddy -

I would have preferred to discuss this privately, but since you'd like to discuss it here, I'm happy to respond.

First, let me say I am a photojournalist and a well-educated one. I adhere to the same ethical standards you do when it comes to photos made for editorial purposes. Anyone who knows me or my work can attest to that.

My emails to you were in the spirit of professional dialog and I remained professional during those exchanges. I was interested in talking to someone with a great deal of experience in advocating for the adherence to high standards, in both ethics and professional conduct.

As for my comment in this thread, I was trying to help Tony. I took the time to look at his portfolio and his website and didn't see any evidence that he'd had the advantage of having a mentor or group affiliation that gave him all the info he needed to know all the rules. I know (as you said in your email) that you're frustrated with the nature of some of the ethics questions that pop up here.

So, understanding your frustration, I went directly to your state organization to get an answer that Tony could read. I thought that was the best way to share information that you yourself would have given, had you not been so frustrated. There was nothing wrong with that, and I'd do it again.

As for the specific question on 'burning the edges'. Your association's policy says the following:

"Photojournalists may not alter the editorial content of a photograph. No people or objects may be added, re-arranged, reversed, distorted or removed from a selected scene. Common practices in our profession that affect the scene to a much lesser degree are permitted. Dodging or burning to de-emphasize or emphasize areas, never adding or erasing information, is acceptable. Toning and color correcting that remains true to the tones and colors of the original scene are acceptable, as are cropping, contrast adjustment, sharpening and spotting. Cloning (i.e., the rubber stamp tool in Photoshop) may only be used to remove dust and scratches. Conversion from color to grayscale is permitted."

I personally would have told Tony that burning the edges is a slippery slope and don't even go down that road, but since your policy says: "Dodging or burning to de-emphasize or emphasize areas, never adding or erasing information, is acceptable" I decided to err on the side of your policy and use the word "most" in my description.

I haven't insulted you and I haven't 'busted' anything. I have a great deal of respect for your contributions to the industry. It is with that same respect that I take questions like Tony's seriously and think that if he's brave enough to ask, then we should be not just willing, but anxious to answer.

Photographers with answers are less likely to make mistakes that are hard to recover from.
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Chuck Liddy, Photographer
Durham | NC | USA | Posted: 11:34 PM on 06.05.08
->> jean, I'm sorry if you have been offended in any way through our discourse on this subject. but the fact of the matter is and shall unfortunately be the same is the same questions are asked over and over and over ad naseum on this site. I guess I don't have enough patience. but I usually assume someone who has been a member of the site for more than a month has a basic knowledge of photoj ethics from the myriad of posts on the subject. OR has the curiousity to look in the archives. we all have to be teachers but babysitting is NOT part of the deal. unfortunately I have to disagree with you on:
"Photographers with answers are less likely to make mistakes that are hard to recover from."
I personally know two photographers who had all the answers and all the talent but they still made the ultimate mistake(s)
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Anantachai Brown, Photographer
Jacksonville | FL | | Posted: 11:50 PM on 06.05.08
->> appreciate Jean......what if the photographer used a "lens baby"?




interesting thread.......
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