Rethinking cloning etc.

Discussion in 'Photographic Discussions' started by The_Traveler, Jul 1, 2007.

  1. The_Traveler

    The_Traveler Completely Counter-dependent Supporting Member

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    In a few recent posts I have gotten some well thought out responses to pictures and a few have suggested cloning out some small details - I felt some emotional resistance to those suggestions and I've been thinking and trying to sort that out.

    Why don't I mind doing that kind of 'alteration' to some pictures but not to others? Why don't I have that same sort of feeling about increasing contrast or increasing saturation?

    What it comes down to is that some pictures I am attempting to capture things as I saw them - preserving reality as I saw it. And I don't want to change them because, in some way, that is being unfaithful to my memories. Changing contrast or saturation seems to be emotionally acceptable because, in my mind's eye, my pictures have perfect contrast and wonderful saturation and I am just adjusting the picture to match my emotional image. (if that makes sense)

    Other picture, particularly portraits, I am going to some lengths to make people look as good as they can be - and so using electronic pimple or wrinkle remover seems to be much more in the spirit of things.
     
  2. Alpha

    Alpha Troll Extraordinaire

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    Depends on what you're shooting. For me, I'd rather not touch up a straight up portrait, but if I'm shooting more of a glamour style, then I'll happily touch up a little bit. I do hate that plastic-look though.
     
  3. crownlaurel

    crownlaurel TPF Noob!

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    I wondered last night if perhaps cloning out some skin imperfections creates a false image of the person. Maybe Jane will look back at her portraits and lament how perfect her skin was, not remembering that the dark circles she now has were present even then, but they were "healed" or that she had that huge zit on her forehead (okay, I'd prefer not to remember that zit either) :lmao:. Of course by then they may make "photoshop" mirrors and we won't have to worry about how we really look.
     
  4. rmh159

    rmh159 TPF Noob!

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    Just depends on what you want the goal of a shot to be. If you're into shooting things to remember them or represent what's "real" than touching up probably won't sit right with that shot.
     
  5. craig

    craig TPF Noob!

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    It is a personal decision. I like how you touched on the differences between the clone stamp and adjustments.

    For me the cloning does not come into play too often. When it does it is always a battle. Generally if there is a poorly placed detail i.e bush, telephone wires I will just kick my self and move on to the next shot. Makes it kind of a learning process as opposed to a quick fix. Some how I have no problem cloning a couple of specular highlights. Certainly try to avoid them. Sometimes it is just cost effective to hit them with the clone tool. Maybe it comes down to making the photo look as good as possible.

    Love & Bass
     
  6. Garbz

    Garbz No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    As long as you're not basing your opinions on the "we didn't do this in film" attitude, because we did. I have many books about how to adjust the contrast of images, use pens to fix blemishes in negatives and other ancient touchups.

    If I go for journalistic style photography I'd be inclined to leave things as they are, but for portraits I'd pounce on the clone tool in a second if need be.
     
  7. Hertz van Rental

    Hertz van Rental TPF Noob!

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    It depends a great deal on attitude.
    When I worked with film I, and a great many of my peers, took considerable pride in our work and our skills as photographers.
    On B&W sure you did spotting out because of dust and scratches - but it annoyed the cr*p out of you so you invested money and effort in trying not to get them.
    Dust and scratches were seen as a failing.
    Again, certainly some portraits (of stars or for the cover of magazines) were re-touched to remove minor blemishes. But that was a decision taken by the Art Director or Studio without consultation with the photographer - because we would work hard not to get those blemishes as we would see them as failings in us.
    Sometimes there would be a major re-touch that was unavoidable - like where you had to have three cars in the same shot but located in different parts of the world. We would then put the effort into ensuring that all the elements that were to be bolted together all matched (in lighting, style and so on). In cases like that you had to accept it - though you didn't like it.
    The dislike of re-touching was for several reasons: the re-toucher got paid a heck of a lot more than you did so why pay him when for a bit more...; any 'messing' with the image after you had shot it was seen as a lowering of your status; the need to alter the image was an admission that your skills weren't up to it. And our egos didn't like that.
    In short, re-touching the image was outside the control of the photographer and we didn't like it.
    I knew a photographer (Mickey Moulton) who could do multiple imaging on the neg using mattes inside the camera. I think he did one shot with 8 seperate exposures. The results were stunning and pretty near perfect. And the re-toucher wasn't needed.
    Adjusting the contrast and such is a different matter as you are not actually playing with the image itself. You lit it and shot it and exposed it so that it was as near perfect as you could get - but you knew that small things like film variations and different labs would interfere so a little tweaking during processing was acceptable. Besides, a lot of skill went into assessing the amount of tweak so that made it OK.
    I still see that sometimes a re-touch is necessary - and I consider stitching images together to make a panorama a retouch. But it is essential that any re-touch is planned when you take the picture. The retouch is essential to achieve the image you want so it becomes a part of the creative process. Where I think it un-necessary is when you take a picture and then decide to improve it by adding bits or taking bits away. What you are doing is trying to rescue the picture. It's a cr*p picture because you didn't do your job. Your skills as a photographer are not up to it. You should have seen these faults when you were taking the picture and either taken steps to remove or minimise them - or incorporated them as an integral part of the image.
    Example: my shot Electricity. A nice view spoiled by a power pylon. I could have removed the pylon in PS but that would have just produced an average image. I chose the other route. I framed it and shot it so the pylon became the focal point of the picture - an integral part of it.
    I took the way of the photographer and not the way of the technician.
    Far too many people use PS to try to make up for their lack of ability and then make cases to argue that they are 'justified', that it's 'OK'. And that anyone who takes the opposite view is some kind of dinosaur and not moving with the times.
    These people are only fooling themselves.
     
  8. TheLostPhotographer

    TheLostPhotographer TPF Noob!

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    Totally understand this. The 'reality' of photography is the essential appeal of the medium for myself. Although, we all perceive the world from our own viewpoint and that viewpoint can often be distorted by our own life experiences and emotions.

    On the other hand, the 'reality' of photography doesn't stop me enjoying heavily manipulated photographs taken by others.

    On the portrait front, I think people who employ a pro photographer to take portraits expect something a bit better than reality. Sophisticated lighting and a bit of subtle touching up to make them look their best or, bring out their unique character. Clever lighting can manipulate reality as much as digital manipulation can. There is probably a clear difference between lighting and post production alterations. However, if the PP is done extremely well it is barely discernible to the average eye.
     
  9. Hertz van Rental

    Hertz van Rental TPF Noob!

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    It is, however, often an afterthought.
    And you also raise issues of honesty and integrity.
    When most people see a picture they really like, if they find out later that it has been manipulated they can feel cheated and let down. The photographer is seen to have cheated them.
    There is in this, of course, a clear distinction between manipulated images that are meant to look manipulated - and those that are manipulated but try to pretend they haven't been.
     
  10. NoFilter

    NoFilter TPF Noob!

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    All pictures are manupulated, even if there is no PP done to them, whether digital or film. The simple act of pointing a camera at a subject with a creative/editorial eye is a manipulation.
     
  11. The_Traveler

    The_Traveler Completely Counter-dependent Supporting Member

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    facile but off the point, I think.

    Adjusting saturation, contrast, levels doesn't bother me. If the sensor or film was as discerning as my eye, I wouldn't need to. To my mind, I am merely adjusting what was already present in my mind, just incorrectly captured by the sensor/film.

    OTOH, if I had a picture that was marvelous except it was lacking a person in one corner and I could add in that person without being detected, I would feel guilty if I did. I would be violating the truth of what I saw and captured. So, in reverse, removing something significant from a picture would bother me in the same manner.

    To me there are certain boundaries in photography and we need to play our game within them. You can set your own, just let me know what they are.
     
  12. Hertz van Rental

    Hertz van Rental TPF Noob!

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    I seem to remember saying that in here quite a while back. Although I hold that all photography is an act of manipulation.
    The point I was trying to make is that the line (fuzzy though it is) is not drawn through the type or degree of manipulation - but through the point at which the decision to manipulate was made.
    However much manipulation you do, it's fair game if you decided to do it when you took the picture.
    Where I think it is 'bad form' is when it is done as an afterthough to try and rescue a picture that is essentially cr*p.
    Q: "How can I improve this picture?"
    A: By having thought a bit more before you took it :lmao:

    But the bottom line is: the amount and type of manipulation acceptable is a decision made entirely by the person doing the manipulating - and the viewer.
    One person's acceptable is another person's cheating.
     

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