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SportsShooter.com: Member Message Board

Another Manipulation
David A. Cantor, Photo Editor, Photographer
Toledo | OH | USA | Posted: 7:19 PM on 10.02.03
->> Here's a good read.....
http://www.pdnonline.com/news/news100203.html
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Robert Hanashiro, Photographer
Los Angeles | CA | USA | Posted: 7:38 PM on 10.02.03
->> Old news on SI manipulating covers and now inside images.

What is interesting is the open comments on the battle between the photography department and the new editor and the art department.

As much as I love Sports Illustrated, their photographers and editors ... altering, manipulating, bastardizing images in the magazine ... ruins everyone's credibility.

Let's hope that the SI photography department wins the battle over use of images in its pages.

The Kahuna.
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Sam Morris, Photographer
Henderson (Las Vegas) | NV | USA | Posted: 7:39 PM on 10.02.03
->> This is all getting sickening. And the disingenuous comment by the magazine's flack Rick McCabe that it was a "mistake" and that it could be remedied by calling a "photo illustration" really shows how ignorant people who aren't photographers are about the issue.
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Bill Taylor, Photographer
Westerville | OH | USA | Posted: 8:34 PM on 10.02.03
->> If you look at todays issue, a ton of faces both football and baseball have been lightened to the point that even a hack like me can see it. Will this just be acceptable in a few years?
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Trent Nelson, Photographer
Salt Lake City | UT | USA | Posted: 8:48 PM on 10.02.03
->> I like the Getty quote, which seems to indicate that they don't care what is done to their editorial photographs as long as they're getting paid.

The scary thing is, this seems minor compared to the things I've been hearing about on the sly. Let's hope they can take care of these issues before it becomes a regular part of their workflow.
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Ronnie Montgomery, Photographer
Houston | TX | USA | Posted: 8:56 PM on 10.02.03
->> I've always looked at great photographs in the newpaper, magazines, contests, and on reputable websites and chided myself to work harder at ahieving the same level of skill demonstrated in those photos. In recent years I've been thinking that great photographers are a bit like great athletes in that they have a certain drive, skill, and inate ability that not everyone can duplicate no matter how hard they try. My theory was that much like there is only one Michael Jordan, there are only so many people who have the capability of being a great photographer and that perhaps I don't have the that certain inate ability, that certain wiring of the brain, that certain blend of art and skill. Now, what with all the revelations of manipulations going on I'm beginning to wonder if I'm being too hard on myself.
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Robert Hanashiro, Photographer
Los Angeles | CA | USA | Posted: 9:00 PM on 10.02.03
->> Let's get one thing straight ... dodging faces to "bring them back" is one thing. But taking something out of a photo ... a photo from a news event (yes, sports events are news) ... is a whole different thing.

As people have been hammering home in the Message Board and in various articles in the Sports Shooter Newsletter, journalism is about trust. We cannot manipulate images and maintain the public's trust.

Sorry SI ... to me, labeling an altered news photo an "illustration" is just a cop out. An illustration is something contrived and then photographed. An illustration is not a photograph from a game that has a player "Photoshopped out".

I guess what gets a lot of us upset is seeing a publication and photo staff that we all have admired for a long time get soiled by an over-zealous art director and editor that want something ... perfect.
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Michael J. Treola, Photographer
Neptune | NJ | USA | Posted: 9:50 PM on 10.02.03
->> Right on Bert! I used to think that SI stood higher from the rest of the magazines that airbrush, clone and do whatever else to the photos to get perfection each and every time. Every day I bust my ass working to improve my work to that of the work within the pages of SI. I've now begun to think the photos I see displayed so beautifully are not possible because the photos didn't really happen as it appears but was rather put together later in Photoshop. A creative designer could have made the image work had the art department actually WORKED at it instead they took the lazy way out and just got rid of what they didn't want in the frame. It probably took them 2 second to do to!

I've alway thought the term "Illustration" is that of something beyond the boundaries of photography. Anotherwords there's no way in hell it can or ever will come out of a camera. So by my rule how is that manipulated photo an illustration?
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Trent Nelson, Photographer
Salt Lake City | UT | USA | Posted: 10:11 PM on 10.02.03
->> THIS JUST IN-
I've heard that in the interest of cleaner photography, and thanks to the efforts of the illustrious Sports Illustrated, all further games in the women's world cup of soccer will be played one on one. No more teams, no more goalkeepers- it's just too hard to get clean photographs.
Good think Mia Hamm is on my fantasy team!
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Brad Wilder, Student/Intern
Lexington | Ky | USA | Posted: 12:39 AM on 10.03.03
->> WOW! Let me just say for the record that I am shocked. In my few years on staff at the student newspaper and now in my freelance work, some of the first rules anywhere you shoot are: (1) Sports stories are news, no matter what some people think. (2) Do not clone ANYTHING out of a news photo. (3) Calling a manipulated photo or posed "news" photo a "photo illustration" is in most cases a cop-out; if it's not an illustration in the purest sense, don't call it one.
Even before I became a photographer, I have admired the work of SI's shooters. Jimmy Colton, Doug Pensinger at Getty, and all the photo staff, best of luck fighting for what you believe. I was admiring this photo today before I heard about this, as always dreaming of shooting for SI. Now, I'll have to say it will take a while for me to look at an SI doubletruck the same.
Anyways,
SI shooters: You all are the best of the best. Fight the good fight.
SI art and editorial staff: To quote you spokesman, "If [editors] feel it’s appropriate to alter a photo for esthetic or other reasons, that’s our methodology" This is not journalism. Altering a photo is no different than making up a story. Be ethical, be fair. I would rather have real aesthetics in a photo rather than perfect aesthetics that is a lie.
Everyone else: Hold SI accountable. Let them know how you feel as journalists, and as readers. I know I will. It would be irresponsible not to.
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chris schwegler, Photographer
Brighton | MI | USA | Posted: 11:35 AM on 10.03.03
->> my question is: what is the difference between this situation and the one with the war that got the photographer fired?

in my mind there is no difference, so the person that is held responsible should be terminated just as in the war photo.

my 2 cents and sometimes are worth that.

chris
http://www.schwegweb.com
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Robert Beck, Photographer
Carlsbad | CA | USA | Posted: 3:22 PM on 10.03.03
->> I'm not sure I condone what our magazine does with pictures at times but I feel some of you twist your views to fit your whims. Why, again, is dodging and burning okay to make the image look better? Did photographers in the dark ages argue about whether dodging and burning was okay? Why don't you just expose the thing properly in the first place. And when the Getty folks put that image out on the wire THEY knew it didn't look right with the odd arm and leg in there...So they cropped it out knowing it looked better that way. Why not just put the whole image up? If SI had run that picture cropped what would you say...Is that REALLY the whole picture? I doubt it. As for the comparison to LA Times guy...He created a picture that told a different story. What if SI HAD dropped a type box over that leg and you couldn't see it? Would you write in and say, "I wonder what's under that box of type?" I doubt it. Are there times when a photo is too manipulated? Yes. Is this one of them? Is some manipulation okay? Like dodging and burning? Sharpening? Color correction? Where does it start and where does it end?
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David A. Cantor, Photo Editor, Photographer
Toledo | OH | USA | Posted: 3:47 PM on 10.03.03
->> As always Robert raises an interesting point. To wit I offer these guidelines:
From the AP: "The content of a photograph will NEVER be changed or manipulated in any way. Only the established norms of standard photo printing methods such as burning, dodging, toning and cropping are acceptable. Retouching is limited to removal of normal scratches and dust spots."
From the New York Times: "No people or objects may be added, rearranged, reversed, distorted or removed from a scene (except for the recognized practice of cropping to omit extraneous outer portions)."
From the Washington Post: "It is our policy never to alter the content of news photographs. This means that nothing is added or subtracted from the image such as a hand or tree limb in an inopportune position. Normal adjustment to contrast and gray scale for better reproduction is permitted."

There does seem to be a concensus here that precludes people from doing what SI did. So this begs the question, does Time Warner have guidelines for its publications' use of photography?
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Trent Nelson, Photographer
Salt Lake City | UT | USA | Posted: 8:38 PM on 10.03.03
->> Robert-

There's a big difference between cropping, sharpening, color correction, and ERASING A PLAYER.

Where it starts and where it ends is a decision each and every publication has to make for itself.

At the Trib, we just went through a bunch of discussions here setting up our ethics policy, and I can tell you that people at many newspapers have defined these things very well and very clearly. This link to Poynter's photojournalism page has links to several policies from respected newspapers across the country.

http://www.poynter.org/subject.asp?id=29

One other point- If you can cheat with Photoshop to make your images perfect, where is the challenge? The hunt for great photographs is the fun part. Working on the computer is just that- work.

-trent
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Ronnie Montgomery, Photographer
Houston | TX | USA | Posted: 9:08 PM on 10.03.03
->> I agree that what SI did was a misdemeanor but it was still wrong.
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Colin Corneau, Photographer
Brandon | MB | Canada | Posted: 9:16 PM on 10.03.03
->> Robert

Allow a humble prairie photog to chime in on your post:

A type box laid overtop an intruding limb, or cropping out a section of a photograph, does not alter the fundamental information conveyed in the print.

Erasing something digitally DOES. You are distorting reality, and presenting a photograph as something that it is not...and that's called lying, where I'm from.

Once your credibility is gone, it's extremely difficult, if not downright impossible, to gain it back. I really hope photojournalism doesn't fall into the old cliche of "not knowing what you have until it's gone".
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Timothy Hall, Photographer
Poway | CA | USA | Posted: 9:23 PM on 10.03.03
->> All this talk about were the "line" is just driving me nuts! We all know what is right and what is wrong, we all learned this during our photo education. Removing dust or scraches is okay, removing players or some other "offending" element is NOT okay. I don't care if taking out something does make the photo look better in their magazine it is still wrong. If I was a writer and they changed a quote in one of my stories to better suit their "editoral style" I think I would open a "a can of wophass" on somebody.
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Timothy Hall, Photographer
Poway | CA | USA | Posted: 9:26 PM on 10.03.03
->> If this crud continues every image we take will be suspect. God forbid
you actually get that once-in-a-lifetime photo because you will be
fighting to prove its authenticity for the rest of your life!
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Dagob ten Wolde, Photographer
bellevue | WA | USA | Posted: 2:00 AM on 10.04.03
->> Wow! Timothy (and most every one else), you have a point! I think the real CRIME of all of this is that we as a society could get so desensitized by all the faked great pictures out there, that when something that honestly was a perfection picture did come up, it would be lost in a sea of faked great pictures....

I think this retouching to perfection business is actually a result of the whole "everything and everyone must be perfect" that the mass media has been feeding us most of our lives. You know like the whole, all women must be skinny, witty, and perfect in appearance thing...and if your not perfect you have a real problem ( and we've got just the product to help you fake it)...

You can see the same in the sports world, people get locked into that whole our team has to be perfect and win everything or they aren't good.

I remember being totally disgusted during Gymnastics Worlds when the stadium was emptied before the Award Ceremonies because the US men's team had "only" won silver. The next day, nobody left early when the US women's team won gold...I hear the same things from other sports, "Oh X team are losers because they lost to the Bulls in the NBA finals." Hello, made it to the finals, they might not be the best, but they did simply amazing stuff on the way...

But to get back to the point...I think we've all been spoiled by this idea of perfection that simply doesn't exist...The real world isn't perfect, the whole point of sports and sports photography is doing your very best under the circumstances given you! For me, the hunt is the joy of it! Occasionally somebodies hard work pays off and true perfection appears...Hopefully us sports photographers can keep our area clean enough from cloned perfection that true greatness can still be identified for what it is!

I say fight the good fight, and keep the pictures real!


Dagob- What am I doing here, I'm supposed to be working!
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Robert Beck, Photographer
Carlsbad | CA | USA | Posted: 3:30 AM on 10.04.03
->> Again, I am not condoning or agreeing with the manipulation our magazine may or may not do to some images. BUT...eliminating that leg from that image, you must admit, DOES NOT ALTER "THE FUNDAMENTAL INFORMATION CONVEYED IN THE PRINT." Is SI trying to fake a "great picture" by eliminating that leg? I don't think so (sorry Doug). I am certainly not trying to create perfection through manipulation. I don't even have time for that. But it is confusing to hear photographers belabor the point when the first thing they do when they download their images is color correct them, sharpen them, fiddle with the contrast, dodge them, burn them, crop them and then "send" them. To me that is the same thing....Manipulation. In fact, that IS what Getty did. They didn't even send the whole image. THEY cropped out the leg in their image before transmission. What is that? False advertising? Stealing a peanut grom the grocery store is not the same as stealing a car. But it is still stealing. Sooooooooo....WHAT is manipulation and how much is allowed. I went to the Poyter website and ran through many of guidelines posted by newspapers. All of them have vague references to making changes to photos especially when it comes to color correction and "cleaning up" photos and so forth. How many times do you see the overdodged face of football players in your papers? I'm all for non-manipulation. None. Just like the old days of chrome. Get it right, in camera, or you lose. Including composition. Ouch for the auto-focus only kids.
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Christian Iooss, Photo Editor
Wilton | CT | USA | Posted: 9:26 AM on 10.04.03
->> Sorry to chime in a little late, but I wanted to get my two cents in on this subject...

It is a shame that a few of you think that this reflects poorly on the staffers. They, just like you, are out their busting their busts week in and week out to get the best shot. What happens after they ship their DVD's to the office is out of their hands. The bottom line is that SI is notorious for altering photos. They have been doing it for years. It is obvious from what happened, that certain members of the photo dept. are not happy with that. In my opinion, it is about time someone stepped up and said something. What happens from here on is the big question. As a photo editor, my policy is to never alter a news photo. Color correction, sharpening, adjusting levels, etc, is fine. Just along as you are not changing the content of the photo. In this case SI did, and they got busted. I think everyone's biggest fear is that readers are going to start the questioning whether or not a photo is real. Once that happens, your magazine or newspaper has lost all credibility.
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Steven E. Frischling, Photographer
Amherst | MA | USA | Posted: 9:38 AM on 10.04.03
->> Robert:

There is a big difference between colour correcting, cropping, and even pully bits of dust out of your images before transmitting and going into a shot a cloning out part of a person.

Yes the getty photog cropped the shot so the leg was not it in, but that shot was more square, S.I. wanted a longer horizontal shot for the Leading Off, so when theyt got it they removed a leg which was in the photo.

Cropping needs to be done ethically as well, it can not remove a vital piece of information, if it does the photo becomes a lie.

If removing a leg is OK, then removing pesky telephone poles from behind girls screaming over deadbodies at a protest is OK. Life said that is was OK, then down the road the pole was added back. Maybe merging two shots to have a more dramatic feel of combat stress in the desert is OK, because really it is the same scene, under the same conditions, within the same second of time....so if you can get 8 shots in the second, why not merge them and make one shot instead.

So while removing a leg "DOES NOT ALTER "THE FUNDAMENTAL INFORMATION CONVEYED IN THE PRINT" it does bring up to many questions about the credibility of photojournalists in general. If S.I. does it and the L.A. Times does it and the Charlotte Observer does it, the general public assumes we all do it.

You might be OK with people thinking your final images are altered with legs, arms, poles missing, photos merged to make one photo, or the background burned down so much it is black......but personally I can't stand the idea of the people thinking I am cloning things out and altering the scene which I saw through my lens.
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Hans Kilian, Photographer
Frederiksberg | Denmark | Denmark | Posted: 11:58 AM on 10.04.03
->> Robert, I agree with you that the manipulation of images is done all the time by all of us and what is OK and what is not is largely a matter of tradition.

Cropping, dodging and burning are done to emphasize parts of the image and downplay other parts. So is cloning out the leg in the SI image.

Of course it's extremely important that people can believe the images they see in the news. One of the ways this can be achieved is to limit the things that can be done to a picture. And a good set of tools could be the ones that have been in use in the darkroom for years.

Maybe us that have the copyright on our images should add a clause to our licensing forms that state what kind of manipulation we'll accept on our images, with heavy fines for breaking them. Since publishers probably can't be bothered to check if every picture can be modified or not, they'll take the easy way out and stop doing it on all images...

And after all, it's your reputation as a photographer that gets dragged through the mud if someone manipulates one of your pictures.
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Colin Corneau, Photographer
Brandon | MB | Canada | Posted: 12:01 PM on 10.04.03
->> Robert, removing a leg (read: person) DOES alter the image. That's not what happened. In the real world, a human being was there...in the "improved" image that person was not. It didn't happen that way, so it's a pretty fundamental alteration, I'd say!
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Robert Beck, Photographer
Carlsbad | CA | USA | Posted: 1:02 PM on 10.04.03
->> I'm not disagreeing with you on the removal of something from an image boys. The disagreement seems to come where one of you improperly exposes an image and deems it okay to fiddle with it until it looks right. To me, that is manipulation and the same crime. Neither one is right in my book.
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Michael L. Palmieri, Photographer
Barnegat | NJ | USA | Posted: 1:36 PM on 10.04.03
->> I have been thinking this whole thing over, reading all of your comments and doing my best to objectively absorb all of the information. And for me, it all comes down to this: Learning that SI does (or has done) this sort of thing — to quote Seinfeld — is like finding out that Mickey Mantle used a corked bat. (BTW: They’re real and they’re spectacular).

From the time I first picked up a camera, my dream job was to be an SI staffer. Hell, that still is my dream. I look(ed) at the work of shooters like Walter Iooss, Neil Leifer, Peter Read Miller, Robert Beck, John Biever and all of the amazing SI shooters week-in and week-out, hoping that someday, I could call them my colleagues and not just my idols.

Like clockwork, every Thursday afternoon, my mailman delivers a new issue of SI, and therein is a fresh portfolio from each of those shooters. And now I find out that what I see might not have been how it was? That “perfect” image is really doctored to be appear way?

As Mr. Beck points out, any manipulation is just that: manipulation. And, to some extent I agree with him in that respect. But, I remember learning this once way back in PJ101: the biggest liar of them all is the camera itself. That is, unless we are shooting with a 50mm lens, every piece of glass we own distorts our world to some extent.

But, once we accept that fact, the lies just keep on coming. Yes, cropping is manipulating. Then again, cropping “in-camera” is manipulation just the same, isn’t it? Is shooting wide open less truthful than shooting at f/22?

On the exposure front, let’s all go back to shooting chrome. But, even then, we still removed dust from our scans, right? Was that manipulation? Or, before scanners, I guess the camelhair brush removed the dust without altering the image, so that was better.

Ah, but what exposure? What about mid-summer baseball and that harsh July one o’clock light. So, so contrasty. But, if I expose for those skin tones, especially that dark area under the cap, those white uniforms will be a mess. And, what about accounting for the various skin tones of the players? Oh, what to do?

To get back to an earlier point, I guess if the camera is indeed the biggest liar of them all, film (or the digital equivalent) is number two. I mean, the exposure latitude and the tonal/contrast range makes it so. That is, our eyes seem to handle contrasty light much better than our film ever did. Again, what to do? Mr. Beck is right: get it right in the camera. That’s the best way. However, even that isn’t always “perfect” even when it is right.

My point is, there is always going to be debate about what is right or wrong. In my eyes, doing what I need to do to ready an image for publication is OK. But, cloning out a leg in a soccer shot? No! An extraneous hand in a hoops photo? No! An unfortunately placed power line or telephone pole? No!

And I guess for me, one of the crappiest things about this SI situation is that the photgs had (have) NO SAY IN ANY OF IT. They don’t see it until Thursday afternoon just like the rest of us. Like Christian Iooss pointed out, staffers just shoot, burn and send. Someone else takes it from there.

That being said, credibility is our most precious commodity as journalists, and we must do all we can to protect it.

-- Michael L. Palmieri
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Tom Braid, Photographer, Photo Editor
Edmonton | AB | Canada | Posted: 2:05 PM on 10.04.03
->> This subject is really starting to make me sick!!!!! I have been battling on other threads about this subject one thread had 50 posts in just a few hours as it was over a little "flare" that was taken out of an image. My argument to that is it is wrong as the picture has now been "Photoshopped" and it is those little things that are really killing our overall credibility.

Once you start where do you stop is what I keep saying. What is okay for one person and what is okay for the next are two totally different things.

I remember the fist time this became big news, National Geographic moved the pyramids on a over shot. Some were saying this was the start of a very bad thing...... others argued that it was so hard and expensive to do that it would never spread. Day in the Life of America had an issue with the cover shot and the battle raged again.

Now we are to the point where one of the most regarded photography magazines in the world is just Photoshopping images because some art department personal think it looks better. Sports is news and changing these pictures is wrong.

Has SI really been doing this for years???? On the cover it has been talked about for some time....... but on inside photos just because!!!! Does SI stand for Sports Illustrated or Sports Illustrations?????

As the new generations of art people and shooters hit the street it seems the tolerance for Photoshopping just keeps going up and up and up.

This is becoming a run away fire that is going to be impossible to stop!! The first people stand up and say "WAIT A MINUTE HERE" where right all along.

With the new Photoshop CS (8) coming out this kind of stuff will just keep getting easier to do and harder to see when it is done.

Let's just say that an editor was working there at SI and they were a HUGE Buffalo Bills fan and when that ball went wide-right to loose the first big game for them and this editor did not like that outcome of the Super Bowl........ write the story as if it went through the uprights and drop the trophy into Kelly's hands instead of the way it actually happened and go to press the way the editor wanted to see it happen in the first place.

Sounds far fetched....... but when this first picture manipulation thing started there were those that said it is never going to spread into this industry in any big way. Well it has spread far and wide and it keeps biting this business in the ass.

If this was a box score for a game that was just played it would be:

Sports Illustrated Illustrators-1....... The Magazine's Credibility-0
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Tom Braid, Photographer, Photo Editor
Edmonton | AB | Canada | Posted: 2:13 PM on 10.04.03
->> Below are just a few threads that were started about Photo Manipulation on SS forums. This was done from a quick search. There are many others out there on this forum site as well that I have not found and posted below. We just keep going around and around in circles. Very frustrating. People get fired for this kind of stuff and some papers.

http://www.sportsshooter.com/message_display.html?tid=3532

http://www.sportsshooter.com/message_display.html?tid=3391

http://www.sportsshooter.com/message_display.html?tid=4264

http://www.sportsshooter.com/message_display.html?tid=4341

http://www.sportsshooter.com/message_display.html?tid=4356
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Colin Corneau, Photographer
Brandon | MB | Canada | Posted: 6:25 PM on 10.04.03
->> I think it is disingenuous to compare contrast and exposure to the outright changing or deleting of elements from a photograph...it's faulty logic and not at all convincing.
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Trent Nelson, Photographer
Salt Lake City | UT | USA | Posted: 10:35 PM on 10.04.03
->> Colin- great point!

I'm sick of everyone comparing cropping and dust removal to deceptive practices. And anything but a 50mm lens is a liar? And chrome film is as pure as Judge Wapner? Please! I hardly see the world like chrome film does. I mean, my eyes have more than a 3-stop latitude. I don't know about you, but I can actually see shadow detail through my eyes.

Maybe I should quit photography right now, because all of the "lying" I've been doing is really getting on my conscience. Father (someone did call me "boy" in this thread), forgive me for I have sinned. I have used lenses other than a 50mm. I promise I won't do it again.

Ever seen old Soviet photos where they had to airbrush out the various government officials who had been purged? That's the crap I'm talking about. That's what SI did in this case, and how many others?

Let's look at a hypothetical situation. Say you were covering an NBA game for a story on a lousy team (the Clippers). You photograph a fan wearing a bag on their head and the bag reads something like, um, "Another Sterling Season!" When the photo appears in the magazine, the words on the bag have been changed (digitally manipulated) to "Clippers Suck!" Something like this actually happened at a major sports magazine, people know about it, and it goes on and on.

To end this post, I would like to offer the following prophecy:

For every one scandal (sorry, but it is a scandal) that comes out in the open like this one, I'd bet you anything that there are one-hundred unethically-manipulated photographs that slip through unnoticed. And as people here and there get caught, the credibility of every photographer is damaged.

I agree with Robert: Get it right in the camera. However, cropping, color-correction, dust spot removal, and sharpening for publication are not deceptive practices.

This is a big deal. Kudos to those who are under fire at their publications for bringing objections to deceptive practices. You have my utmost respect.

-trent
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Ron Scheffler, Photographer
Hamilton (Toronto area) | Ontario | Canada | Posted: 11:12 PM on 10.04.03
->> I would agree with Colin's line of reasoning, that dodging, burning, toning, all done within reason (based on established traditions in photography) cannot be directly compared to the intentional removal of elements within an image that therefore changes the context, the viewer's understanding of the image. However, dodging, burning, toning, etc., are still manipulations.

But where does the debate end? Could it not be argued that any photo is a manipulation of "the truth"?

By photographing something, we make deliberate decisions regarding composition, dof, perspective, lighting... By not including (or including) something in the frame can totally change the meaning of a photo, as can the perspective, etc... So what is the truth? Perhaps truth is relative. Relative to what we see, record and decide not to record. Could our presence at an event have an effect on the "truth", on the way a situation develops? As photographers we document events based on our perspective of a given situation, just as a writer writes a story based on the information available to them and what they feel is the compelling angle. Is it realistic to expect a story/photo to tell everything, especially considering the ever present space limitations? Ultimately it is up to the reader/viewer to make their own conclusion, but we definitely steer them in a certain direction. It is certainly dishonest to mislead by changing content after the fact.. but what about the act of image capture?
As content providers, photographers and writers are ultimately at the mercy of the subjective decisions made by editors and publishers of their work. As we all know, it is a layered process. A lot of decisions are made - sometimes right - sometimes wrong - and the decisions are subjective - based on opinions as to what works best for the given end product.
I guess my line of thinking is that there is no publication in the world that is unbiased. But ultimately, isn't it impossible to be unbiased? There are always content decisions to be made, which affect how information is presented to the consumer which in turn ultimately affects the understanding of a given event.

I'm not condoning removing content from images, altering the relationship between objects/people in photos, etc.

My issue is in part with how we use and understand terms such as "truth", "reality", etc... Nothing that is in a newspaper or magazine should be assumed to be "the truth". A writer's or photographer's interpretation should be used by the reader to form his/her own opinon. What the reader ultimately decides to believe is very much dependent on how much they want to find out about a given topic and the sources of information used to create that opinion.

Are newspapers and magazines today less "truthful" than 50 years ago?
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Colin Corneau, Photographer
Brandon | MB | Canada | Posted: 11:36 PM on 10.04.03
->> Or are we all simply MUCH more media-savvy and literate than our ancestors were?

I think there has always been manipulation of the media by those with power and vested interests. Look at William Randolph Hearst, and how he demonized hemp (which was a direct threat to his pulp interests) back in the 1920's.
And today...well, we all know that big media conglomerates would never DREAM of censoring information or twisting it around to better suit their profit motives, right!

I think people are about the same, honesty-wise...but whether our craft and profession gains respect, credibility and honour is up to us, in the end. And weaselly actions like altering a photo blatantly and presenting it up as a honest representation of what happened, will NOT reflect well on us all IMHO.
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Jason Orth, Photographer
Raymond | NE | USA | Posted: 12:59 AM on 10.05.03
->> I still agree with what I said in a previous thread - http://www.sportsshooter.com/message_display.html?tid=4455 - that there is no difference between altering the appearance “in front” of the CCD (CMOS, frame, etc.) than there is in doing it later in Photoshop. I agree with Mr. Scheffler, there’s bias in everything.

Mr. Beck had an excellent point: what about the crop done by Getty or if a text box had covered the cloned out player?

Yes, in the end the photo was about Mia Hamm making a play in a soccer game. The person on the right didn’t change that. That person could be in the shot or out. Composition-wise, it’s a better photo with her out of the shot. But someone with a loud enough voice to the right people showed that photo was manipulated in a way that many professionals and most laymen would see switching heads on brother and sister in a Digital Photo 101 editing tutorial. In THEIR minds, it’s fake.

Yes, it’s nothing new. Writers and television personalities have done it for years whether it be leaving out details or making partial quotes or, such as CNN’s “Tailwind” piece, putting out false information as true. The rise of the “information age” at the very least was a catalyst for people to question what’s coming out of the box or page. It’s now common practice for many readers and viewers.

Again, would everyone have been OK if the photographer had been able to shoot tighter? Maybe, and in terms of what the final picture says it’s no different. What is different is someone made a change in a way that is still *PERCEIVED* AS DECEPTIVE to many, including those without any journalistic training…the people who make up the majority of the magazines buyers. These are the same people who have accepted SI’s claim as (among other things) a *news* magazine, and also accepted (at least in part) those news stories’ veracity. No different than asking how steep the slippery slope is in manipulation, the same question now affects the amount of what we’ll accept as truth and what isn’t. Where does it end? Cropping out a player, or changing the content of a possibly incriminating photo? We’ve questioned the writers, now we must also question the images – this adds another doubt as to the overall publication’s claims or their marketed image of their standards.

Think of the converse, we’ll laugh at the National Enquirer for putting fake images of waif celebrities gaining 50 lbs. on the cover but go forth with a drug abuse story on Rush? Most questioned the story as a reflex…but other news sources found some elements are true. Does that elevate the Enquirer’s credibility now? Again, it's perception.

Just because someone allowed other techniques and not others doesn’t make it different. It’s what the reader accepts of you, what they give you license to do. In the end, since we live in a free market economy it’s about the reader - the consumer - and what they are paying for. Will those news readers whose trust has been lessened leave? On the other hand, will there be new buyers who would like illustrations and maybe a sports gossip column? It’s about what you say you are and how the consumer accepts that claim. In our market economy, those that match tend to succeed, those that don’t fail.

Maybe one day the readers will accept an “illustration” instead of an “actual” photo as news. (We do for sketches of a courtroom....) The difference between artistic license and B.S. is a fine and fluid line. For many, at this moment in our history, it was crossed. Damage was committed, but the severity is anyone’s guess.
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Michael L. Palmieri, Photographer
Barnegat | NJ | USA | Posted: 8:11 AM on 10.05.03
->> I stand by my opinion that while we, and the public, may agree to the contrary, anything but a 50mm lens does distort reality. And, honestly, even that fails to convey the world as most “see” it. Why? Well, as Mr. Scheffler points out, DOF and perspective create a feel to an image. Is the clean background that a 400/2.8 creates desirable? Certainly. That’s why we shoot wide open even in broad daylight. But the reality is, nothing in photography really IS as it seems. The camera really is the biggest liar of them all.

However, one unfortunate thing to a written forum like this is that sarcasm rarely shows through. My point in regards to chrome was just that. Mr. Beck makes a wonderful point to get it (exposure) right in the camera. But even that distorts reality. As Mr. Nelson notes, our eyes have more than a 3-stop latitude. That was in fact my point. How can we be 100% truthful while using technology that distorts reality?

But, where to begin and where to end? Is cropping in camera different than cropping in postproduction? Is dodging a face under a baseball cap the same as burning down a distracting reflection in the background? Ethics are a slippery slope.

But I digress. The heart of the matter here is manipulation. SI’s editors were WRONG in every sense of the word. Nothing should ever be added or removed from a scene. It’s that simple.
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Denis Rochefort, Student/Intern, Photographer
Providence | RI | USA | Posted: 12:07 PM on 10.05.03
->> Michael- I'll disagree with the 50mm thing. Our eyes have a field of view of about a 17mm lens, and our eyes do distort shape like any wide angle lens would, our brain just cant take in the scene completely in order to see that a straight line (as long as our field of vision) is curved, and even if we could, it wouldn't process as arched because we know it is a straight. A picture gives our eyes the opportunity to see a large view in a size that our eyes and brain can see, thus us noticing that a wide angle lens distorts lines. What a 50mm lens does is keep the same perspective between near and far images as the human eye, which a lens wider than 50mm cannot do. My point is that a 50mm lens is not completely reality either. Of course, photography in general is not reality, so there is no way around it. Listen, photography and art (painting,sculpture, etc..) has always been altered in some way; Its definately in our history. Its the nature of the medium, and there is no way that it will ever be completey legit.

What if Eddie Adams cropped out the soldier in his photograph and only showed the gun and the Vietcong man being killed? Or showed him dead on the ground afterwards? Everyone would have a different feeling about it. The way it is now is powerful because you see two faces, and it gives you a gut feeling because of the confrontation. Just a gun and a head would make the photo less effective in showing the real story because the gun becomes anonymous and it even makes the vietcong anonymous. The confrontation between the soldier and vietcong man is the story, Unlike most war photographs, it is not just the effects of the war, it is the war. Ok my point is that what I think Robert is saying is that everything should be right in the camera in the first place because as a real journalist you should be telling the story correctly in the camera. That was the reason the first photojournalists, and great photojournalist, did not believe in cropping because it ruined the integrity of their journalism and their vision.

The way photographers are fighting with the higher ups at SI about altering backgrounds in our time is much like W.Eugene Smith would fight with editors about the way his pictures were played LIFE in his time. He would argue that if they weren't run his way they shouldn't run at all because it changes his story, and affects his journalistic integrity. The fight is the same, just under different circumstances.

I do agree that in the digital age, altering is a tough area, but leave it at that. No one here is going to fix that problem, all we can do is be a part of the population that does not do it. When the SI photogs send in their pictures, its out of their hands. As long as they are not changing the pics before they send it, everyone should lay off of SI. They will out shoot 99% of sportsshooters out there, so you cannot degrade their talents because the magazine changes some photos.

-Denis
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chris curry, Photographer
Peoria | IL | usa | Posted: 1:30 PM on 10.05.03
->> If manipulating a picture for it's distracting content is can be called "illustration" then why not manipulate every single picture to achieve perfection.

And color correcting a black and white photo? Does Ted Turner own SI now?

It makes me wonder how many times manipulation is done to an image and goes by unnoticed.
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Tom Braid, Photographer, Photo Editor
Edmonton | AB | Canada | Posted: 12:34 AM on 10.06.03
->> Kenny F. Irby had another column (posted on September 25th) on the subject of Patrick Schneider, his suspension, loosing awards and the need for clear printed standards on just what you can and more importantly what you can not do.

There is a growing list of papers and their printed policies on what each paper believes the rules should be. The links are all there at the bottom of this link. Interesting stuff to be read and to forward to whoever you think needs to read up on this subject.

http://www.poynter.org/content/content_view.asp?id=47867&sid=29#sidebar
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David G. McIntyre, Photographer
Hong Kong | ** | China | Posted: 3:06 AM on 10.06.03
->> Mr. Beck, why don't you just add another leg to the photo then. You say it doesn't change the information much of the photo, so you can add a leg. Removing the leg, and adding grass and background like SI did is wrong. Editorial is editorial, no illustration/commercial.

Make we wonder about other departments of the magazine, like the writing. Are their quotes all correct? I subscribe to the magazine at US$ 150.00 per year to get it overseas. I want an accurate magazine, not a fabricated one.
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Richard Walker, Photographer
Honolulu | HI | USA | Posted: 9:11 AM on 10.06.03
->> I'm canceling my subscription to SI in the morning. I've had enough, thank you.
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Scott Sommerdorf, Photographer, Photo Editor
SF | CA | USA | Posted: 2:04 PM on 10.06.03
->> The worst - but not at all surprising part of this:

"Sports Illustrated editor Terry McDonnell and design director Steve Hoffman did not respond to requests for comment. "

My own first-hand experience has been that when this sort of liberty has been taken with photos, the recurring theme is that these "artists" do not stand up to take the heat.
They often choose not to have a "credit" line associated with their "creations."
Better to sit back in the shadows and futz with things till it looks pretty --- oblivious to the ethical consequences. And when the heat is turned up - they are nowhere to be found.
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Colin Corneau, Photographer
Brandon | MB | Canada | Posted: 3:14 PM on 10.06.03
->> That speaks volumes, eh Scott?
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Robert Hanashiro, Photographer
Los Angeles | CA | USA | Posted: 3:34 PM on 10.10.03
->> But SI is now "inspiring" since McDonnell took over claims this writer :
http://cbs.marketwatch.com/news/story.asp?guid=%7B81611792%2DB998%2D4CE6%2D...
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Trent Nelson, Photographer
Salt Lake City | UT | USA | Posted: 4:32 PM on 10.10.03
->> Bert-

I saw that article. What is he talking about? Peter Read Miller's crop-dusting photo essay?

-trent
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Neal Vaughan, Photographer
St. Joseph | MI | USA | Posted: 5:07 PM on 10.10.03
->> ironic that in an article disccusing sports ILLUSTRATED, it's photographs are not mentioned once, just the sportswriting and articles.
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Thread Title: Another Manipulation
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