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Lying in Photography

Move your mouse over the image here to see what I'm talking about:

Flower

The flower is, in reality, some sort of purple flower. But blue and yellow are complementary colors, so shifting the magenta channel in Aperture towards blue results in what I believe is a "more pleasing" picture.

I've posted this picture for tomorrow's Photo Battle in the purple version, but I was tempted to post it in blue. I felt like I'd be lying, though, and I'm not particularly fond of editing photos in a way that hides the truth.

Each photographer has his own set of rules, and mine isn't set in stone by any stretch of the imagination. Off the top of my head, though, my rules are:

  • Converting to black and white or another tone (sepia, etc.) is fine.
  • Adding a vignette (or removing one) is fine.
  • Adjustments to midtones, shadows, highlights, whites, blacks, color temperature, white balance, color saturation/luminance are usually fine.
  • Cropping and adjusting for tilt: fine. Same with sharpness, moire, etc.
  • Removing dust spots or the occasional, small, annoyance.

Basically, if I can do it in Aperture, it's probably fine - though as noted above I do take exception to shifting hues and I'm very picky about what I deem "removable" without affecting the "truth" of the photograph - it's done on a case by case basis, and 99% of the time I don't even think of cloning or brushing something out of an image.

What are your basic "rules"? Would you have posted the blue version (assuming you agree that it's the "better" version)?

3 Responses to "Lying in Photography"

  1. I'd say my rules are the same as yours, although I tend to avoid shadows/highlights as it feels more artificial than the others.

  2. Olivier said on April 29, 2008:

    I'd say my rules are the same as yours, although I tend to avoid shadows/highlights as it feels more artificial than the others.

    I too tend to avoid it, and for the same reasons. When I do use it it's usually pretty subtle. I may have to experiment with the brush tools added with the new plugin, though - localized shadows/highlights tools might quell the desire I have for some basic masking.

  3. Rule #1: There are no rules.

    If I want to show the truth in my image, then I do very little editing or keep it to what you mention above.

    But sometimes, I let my creativity flow and experiment with different colors and changing hues, etc.

    It usually depends on the photo and the atmosphere or mood I want to convey in that image. In the end my goal is get that mood across to the viewer, so whatever editing techniques I feel it requires to get there will be taken.

    Another instance when I do a lot of editing is when a photo just falls short of where I want it to be. If it has potential, I'll try to make up for what it is lacking in post processing.

    See my website for examples and you'll see some very edited images, and other that are natural.


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