Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 2001/06/21

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Subject: Re: [Leica] PAW 24 (Nathan)
From: "Peter A. Klein" <>
Date: Thu, 21 Jun 2001 11:24:29 -0700
References: <>

This is an interesting topic.  What do people think: Is the digital
altering of photographic content "kosher?"  Is it a slippery slope we
shouldn't step on?  Or is it merely a tool to make our photographs
stronger?  And what about "the truth?"

I'm inclined to impose Nathan's restrictions on myself--to do digitally
only what one could do in a darkroom.  This means that dodging, burning,
cropping, spotting, contrast and color balance are OK, but adding or
removing objects from the photo are not.

Perhaps I feel this way because I learned about photography by reading
lots of "decisive moment" stuff.  I always thought printing full frame
was a bit of a pretentious conceit, because we are allowed to select the
slice of time and space we shoot.  But putting in a different background
or removing a distracting object seems to me to be interfering with "the
truth," whatever that is.  Once we begin to do it regularly, how can our
photos be trusted to show the scene as it actually was?  It's sort of
like the journalist who does a commercial--the perception of their
objectivity is forever altered.

Then again, removing the red light in Nathan's picture seems harmless
enough.  It doesn't change the relationship between the couple and the
old man, which is what the photograph is about.  So Ken's edit is akin
to removing the "ums," burps and belches from a recorded interview. 
When I was a public radio producer, I had no ethical issues with doing
this, or with removing irrelevant digressions so that what the person
actually said came through without distraction.

A few years ago, this subject came up in the press with respect to
wildlife photography, and the discussion broadened to whether *any*
photo can be trusted any more.  Are we all whores, and it's just a
matter of degree, or do some of us still have intergrity?  ;-)

- --Peter

Nathan says, regarding:

vs. Ken's edit:

> Hi Ken,
> Undoubtedly your corrected version is better. is no longer my picture,
> because removing the red light in PS crosses the line that I have imposed on
> myself (and I repeat, on myself, I have no desire to impose my rules on others).
> Nathan
> Ken Iisaka wrote:
> > As soon as Ted pointed out, the red traffic light (?) grabs so much
> > attention.
> >
> > How about this:
> >
> > I also think this works better in colour.  The dreamy feel from the flare in
> > the lens adds some softness.
> - --
> Nathan Wajsman
> Herrliberg (ZH), Switzerland
> e-mail:
> General photo site:
> Belgium photo site:
> Motorcycle site: