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SportsShooter.com: Member Message Board

Why Do Photo Contest Winners Look Like Movie Posters?
Dylan Brown, Photographer
Helena | MT | USA | Posted: 12:49 PM on 02.20.13
->> A recent blog post by Allen Murabayashi brings up an important question... have photojournalists gone too far with post editing?
http://blog.photoshelter.com/2013/02/why-do-photo-contest-winners-look-like.../
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Paul Hayes, Photographer, Photo Editor
Littleton | NH | USA | Posted: 12:52 PM on 02.20.13
->> You might want to check the thread below this one.
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Matt Cashore, Photographer
South Bend | IN | USA | Posted: 4:32 PM on 02.20.13
->> Very well-stated follow-up to that post by Allen:


http://blog.photoshelter.com/2013/02/darkrooms-are-irrelevant-and-the-truth.../
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Dave Breen, Photographer
Somerset | PA | USA | Posted: 7:07 PM on 02.20.13
->> Has he seen the RAW files of any of these images? I don't know if he's referring to the second version of the Hansen image as the "original"; it's identified as "how it was first published".

He criticizes a Senator for an inaccurate statement, but provides no proof of his own.

A blog is as likely to be a zealot's soapbox as a educator's lectern.
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Chuck Liddy, Photographer, Photo Editor
PLANET | EARTH | | Posted: 1:05 AM on 02.22.13
->> That is a great photo. I don't give a crap about the "post processing" in this case. It just isn't photoshopped enough to "bother" me. I've dealt with contests and photographers who manipulated them beyond the scope of decency (and outside the ethical boundaries)...this passes the "sniff" test. Anyone who has a heartbeat and has been entering contests for the last 30 years knows contest images are tweaked...albeit some more than others...and yeah some go way over the line. does this image fit in that category? no. no content is removed. there is no excessive dodging or burning. It's a great photo. I'm confused with the drama. this is one of those cases where anyone complaining sounds like a sour grapes kind of thing. we should all be so lucky to make a shot like that.
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Chuck Liddy, Photographer, Photo Editor
PLANET | EARTH | | Posted: 1:18 AM on 02.22.13
->> ...as a caveat I must say after seeing the winner of last year's WPP I at least didn't think the judges were smoking crack this year......8)
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Chuck Liddy, Photographer, Photo Editor
PLANET | EARTH | | Posted: 3:16 AM on 02.22.13
->> In case I didn't make it clear....I think Allen is totally off base attacking this image. it doesn't matter how saturated it was. or if it was black and white. there are two dead children. the photographer was in the right place at the right time. it doesn't get any more real than that. I think it's shameful to even question a photo with this much power and impact. anyone questioning the "toning" needs to get a life.
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Chuck Liddy, Photographer, Photo Editor
PLANET | EARTH | | Posted: 8:54 AM on 02.22.13
->> Sorry if I offended our local crackhead in the above post. Geez.
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David Harpe, Photographer
Denver | CO | USA | Posted: 9:46 AM on 02.22.13
->> I think it's shameful to even question a photo with this much power and impact.

"Shameful"? RUFKM?

If ANY photo should be capable of standing up to ANY level of scrutiny, it should be a World Press Photo of the Year. This is a photo that is supposed to represent world-class photojournalism. Scrutinize the hell out of it. It should be able to take it. That's the point of good photojournalism - accurate, powerful documentation of a moment that can hold up regardless of how much you examine it.

As has been said many times before in previous situations involving obviously manipulated/toned/whatever photos, the problem you run into when this type of thing is done is it gets people to asking "...if they went this far, what else did they do?" The discussion in this thread - and many others like it elsewhere - could have been avoided if the photographer had simply submitted the original, as-published photo with the blown out sky and realistic lighting.

The toning/sharpening done to this image is right on the edge of compromising the integrity of the photo. I just wonder why he thought he needed to Dragan-tone it for the contest. The photo has two dead children, a brilliant composition and moment. Why on earth did he think that wasn't going to be enough?

Maybe it's because previous winners had done the same thing and he thought realistic photos didn't stand a chance.
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Chuck Liddy, Photographer, Photo Editor
PLANET | EARTH | | Posted: 10:20 AM on 02.22.13
->> David, I will agree that was a little strongly worded. In all truthfulness I didn't and still don't think it was over processed. that said, the World Press contest has become somewhat of a joke over the past few years for the over the top processed images. this is not just a "photographer" problem. this has to be put back on the judges also. they're photographers too. they KNOW when a photo has been over processed...changing content? that's not so easy to spot....it is odd that there seems to be some hesitation for these big contests to actually want the raw images.....that said...I still wonder if there would have been this "tempest in a teapot" if mr. hansen had simply removed the color information and made it B&W. but as long as judges reward over processed entries this will happen.
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Chuck Liddy, Photographer, Photo Editor
PLANET | EARTH | | Posted: 11:06 AM on 02.22.13
->> well if you think this was bad....it ain't nothing compared to this...

http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache%3Ahttp%3A%2F%2Fwww.bag...

....armando started a thread (the lance armstrong title) ....it's now blowing up on the NPPA site and Facebook....totally off the chart.
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Sam Morris, Photographer
Henderson (Las Vegas) | NV | USA | Posted: 12:06 PM on 02.22.13
->> I was just discussing this photo the other day with my colleague John Locher and we both agreed that this is the wrong photo to be having this discussion about. Sure, everything is open to scrutiny, but near as I can tell the main thing done with this photo was desaturating and a little burning. I see it as just the opposite of what a lot of other photographers do by popping color with the selective color tool.

The Pellegrin issue that Chuck just referred/linked to is something that actually does trouble me and is a much bigger issue. I look forward to hearing his response.
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Mark Kauzlarich, Photographer
Washington | DC | | Posted: 12:15 PM on 02.22.13
->> It was interesting to read something that I completely missed when the "contest season" was ramping up last year, about outsourcing of post processing.

http://www.bjp-online.com/british-journal-of-photography/feature/2133918/po...

It actually is really impressive to me the work that they can do and how subtle it is to my eyes when I see it.

When I originally looked at Yuri Kozyrev's work I was blown away. I knew there was some desaturating going on, and a little other work (especially with the image of the blind protestor) but I didn't think twice about it. I chalked it up to a fantastic photographer doing fantastic work. And frankly, I think that's a good thing. It still is fascinating what a little bit of post will do. But I don't lose sleep at night knowing its done.
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Steve Russell, Photographer
Toronto | ON | Canada | Posted: 1:32 PM on 02.22.13
->> The World Press image that makes me shake my head the most is the synchro picture that placed third in sports action!

http://www.worldpressphoto.org/awards/2013/sports-action/zheng-wei?gallery=...

Wow, I was at that venue and no way did the light drop off like that!
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Matthew Hinton, Photographer, Assistant
New Orleans | LA | USA | Posted: 2:41 PM on 02.22.13
->> As discussed in depth previously
http://www.sportsshooter.com/message_display.html?tid=41232

A pdf file or whatever the copy of the front page is a processed image.
http://en.kiosko.net/se/2012-11-21/np/dagens_nyheter.html

The "original" was probably meant for newspaper and toned for the limitations of newsprint that requires more contrast and saturation for dingy paper and reflected light more than it was toned for a computer screen / website that is capable of more detail and using transmissive light. It's like comparing apples to oranges.

The toning for the front page was likely processed by some type of pre-press / lab technician or by using one of many types of auto image enhancement software.
http://i-grafix.com/index.php/articles/articles/auto-image-enhancement.html

The article describes one software's process this way:
"What this boils down to is that it identifies skin tones not only by a likely colour of, letís say, beige, but also checks if this area has the shape of a face, before adjusting the colours to the skin tone assumed to be ideal. The [Multi-Dimensional Processing] is also used before applying electronic sharpening, depending on whether or not sharpening has already been applied."

Obviously a "skin tone assumed to be ideal" is a matter of interpretation and would like be different for a Northern European audience compared to other parts of the world.

At the very least it's gone through a change of color management by going through different software probably Photoshop > InDesign or Quark > Adobe Acrobat or Acrobat Distiller> Acrobat conversion for web as pdf or jpeg.

It could have gone through multiple changes in color profiles like Adobe RGB to a custom CMYK profile for the newspaper and back to another profile for this web display of the newspaper.

The "original" is not an original it's the first published version.
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Matthew Hinton, Photographer, Assistant
New Orleans | LA | USA | Posted: 3:11 PM on 02.22.13
->> Just to clarify. The reason for adjusting skin tone ratios is most due to limits in capture technology and differences in printing presses.

If you look at something photographed with Fuji Velvia it's going to look different than Ektachrome 200 (E200). Velvia was very saturated and tended toward a red / pinkish skin tone regardless of the subject and E200 had a less saturated skin tone.

This was because the color films could have up to 12 layers and 20 chemicals in the layers. Some layers were correction layers to make more natural skin tones or to make cyan or other colors reproduce better.

The early DSLR the Nikon D1 tend to give everyone a heavy magenta cast and had to be adjusted.

So it only makes sense to have skin tone ratios so people don't look like they are blushing red or look like the Incredible Hulk with a green cast.

Obviously in different regions of the world there will be different interpretations of an "ideal skin tone" because the "average" person looks different in different regions of the world.

Also this interpretation will often be due the different types of printing press machines employed. So an image that may look pink on a computer screen may look neutral when finally printed on a CMYK printing press from the 1980s.
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G.J. McCarthy, Photographer
Dallas | TX | US | Posted: 10:05 PM on 02.22.13
->> Steve:

You're saying the athletes you shot at this venue were not bathed in the same magical glow? That's a pretty serious allegation to make, my friend -- how dare you.
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Stew Milne, Photographer
Providence | RI | USA | Posted: 10:50 PM on 02.22.13
->> yes, here's another link on the "poster" images
http://timclaytonphoto.com/
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Matt Cashore, Photographer
South Bend | IN | USA | Posted: 9:50 AM on 02.23.13
->> And photo editor/legend Jimmy Colton adds his two cents:

http://jimcolton.com/blog/2013/2/22/photo-contest-bashing-must-be-that-time...

It's being discussed on more sites than ss.com and PS's blog so I can't guess at what others have said, but I don't read Allen's blog or any comments here regarding the Hansen photo as bashing, mud-dragging, sour grapes (or any other synonym).

It's the overall winner of the WPPI, thus an anchor for a larger discussion on contest standards and styles.

I regard it in the context of a professional photographer examining technical details of a photo contest without diminishing or negating the content of the image or its effect on me as a dad and a human being.
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James Broome, Photographer
Tampa | FL | US | Posted: 11:18 AM on 02.24.13
->> I side with those who feel this is the wrong photograph to be getting upset over. The amount of processing done with this image is pretty damn minimal - not nearly enough to argue 'truthfulness' with it.

Normal dodging and burning has always been acceptable in newsrooms. Adding contrast as well. I just don't see where anything more than those things were done to the image in question.

Not to mention the fact that the original unedited photograph hasn't been seen yet, has it? How can we discuss what he did or didn't do unless we've seen the unedited capture? What we're tripping ourselves over here is the difference between published photographs. Sorry, but differences in paper, ink, prepress techniques, etc. all contribute to the differences. All things the photographer has absolutely zero to do with.
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Keith Simonian, Photographer
Martinez | CA | USA | Posted: 1:29 PM on 02.25.13
->> Sorry to continue this thread, but I was wondering at what point does burning a certain area of a photo become removing an item from that photo.

I ask this about the synchronized swim photo that placed third. One of the earlier posts in this thread gave a link that included a PNG file of both photos side by side.
( non contest straight from another photographers camera and the contest photo )

http://timclaytonphoto.files.wordpress.com/2013/02/synchronised-swimming-pi...

Long story short, using the eye dropper tool to sample several areas of the contest image, I got readings of (2,2,2) in the contest photo
and readings of (100,100,100) over the same area in the non contest photo.

Just asking what do the rules say? Is taking parts of an image down 5 stops or more considered removing something from an image?

Disclosure: I have never entered the contest, and have no plans to do so in the future.
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Thread Title: Why Do Photo Contest Winners Look Like Movie Posters?
Thread Started By: Dylan Brown
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