Photoshop Ethics

It’s #TravelTuesday and I, Dave Williams, am here as always. Today I’m getting prepared for another quick trip which you’ll see over on my Instagram Story from Friday but whilst I’ve been getting my admin and backups up to speed from the last trip, I’ve been thinking. It all came from this: –

This is Neist Point, Isle of Skye, Scotland. To my left and right while shooting were Scott, Erik, Nando, Paul Kober and Jeff Kelby. They know the truth behind this scene and when I posted it to Instagram a couple of days ago I made it clear what was real and what wasn’t with this simple phrase: –

‘Not real from the waist up’

The starry, night sky is all me. It’s nothing more than a Graduated Filter to a darker Exposure and a shift in Color Temperature toward the Blue end of the Slider, followed by a few splatters of stars using a star Brush.

In a world where AI and ML artwork is very much a reality and getting better by the day, a whole new case needs to be opened about what the limits are for photography. I often see exchanges in the comments sections in Facebook Groups about photography where it’s clear no two people can agree on where to draw the line on photography versus retouching, or reality versus interpretation. I’m reminded of this TedX Talk by Scott Kelby himself. Take a watch: –

To me, photography is my interpretation of what I saw in my minds eye when shooting a location. I use Adobe software to recreate what was happening in my mind and to enhance and hide the things I want to emphasise or remove. I’m essentially controlling what you see in my images and how much attention you give specific elements within it using composition, light, and retouching. So, do we need to draw a line? Do we need to specifiy that our images have been retouched, or should it be implied that nowadays all images have been, as is being considered here in the UK and in many other parts of the world?

Going back to basics, every image outputted by a digital camera has been retouched. A bunch of edits determined by algorithms built into the camera are applied to the JPG output, and if we shoot raw (which we should) we add edits ourselves. What do you think? Where’s the line? Do we need labels?

Much love

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