Acceptable manipulation.

This is one that rolls on and on. And on. What is an acceptable degree of image manipulation? Well just to clarify, I’m not entirely sure.

Just this week I’ve been included in a circular e-mail about the ‘manipulation’ scandal and how one photographer in particular, is ‘duping’ both editors and readers of a well known Dutch magazine, and is gaining an ‘unfair’ commercial advantage. I’ve also been running a workshop during which one guest showed a number of images that he’d produced using the controversial ‘HDR’ technique. Whilst undoubtedly striking, some of them had an ‘unreal’ appearance. So what is a step too far?

Well that depends on context. If you view nature photography as a means of biological recording, then accuracy in content and aesthetics are paramount. If however, your perspective is more creative, then the criteria is much broader and arguably, anything goes.

Perhaps the important word here is integrity. Rather than dwelling on what’s right or wrong, perhaps we should resist trying to mislead our audience, be up front with how our images are produced and let consumer taste run its course.

For the record, the image below of the Summer Isles at sunset has had the following treatment:

1. A 10 stop ND filter to slow shutter speed and blur water.

2. A reduction in colour temperature.

3. A slight deepening of the blacks to increase definition.

Is it ‘straight’? Probably not. Is it ‘acceptable’?

Sentiment or Sense?

Now let’s get things straight here: I don’t wear sandals (especially those weird hemp things); I might go unshaven every now and then but that hardly qualifies me as a beardie, and I’m not fussed about nut cutlets if I’m honest. I respect freedom of choice and I acknowledge that as a species, as well as a society, we are generally omnivorous with most people eating a fair amount of meat – I generally don’t (apart from venison sausage which is great with brown sauce) but that’s because my wife does our cooking and she doesn’t like it.

But if we are going to eat meat, don’t you think it’s a good idea to know where it comes from, what it’s eaten and how it’s been raised? I have to say I do. Informed choice is one thing, ignorance, or worse still, indifference, is something altogether separate.

Environment Films have just produced a short documentary called Farm to Fork. You should watch it;  your kids should watch it; we all should watch it. It won’t upset you (in case you’re worried) but it might enlighten you. I’m not a huge fan of sentimentality but this is more about just common sense and decency.