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Steve Bower

Do you submit Composite Photos, Any Ethical Concerns

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I may regret bringing this up but . . . Do you submit photo composites (i.e. change skies, add elements or dramatically change your original photos through plug ins, etc.) or do you have some ethical aversion to doing so?

 

Secondly:  If you do submit composites, is it your goal to make as realistic an image as you can (paying close attention to color, light direction, etc.) or is your primary goal to make the end result as dramatic and "eye catching" as possible?

 

Before I go any further, I need to admit that I am guilty of making "sizable adjustments" to some of my submissions so I am in no way claiming some ethical superiority in asking this question. 

Based upon the best selling images of almost any category, it is obvious that it pays to "Enhance" your photos.

 

SO. . .   Do you do "IT"?   If not, why not?   Is it lack of programming capability, skill, ethics or what?

Without creating a platform for bickering and argument, I would like to hear your thoughts on this subject. 

Please be respectful of your fellow contributor.  Thanks!

     

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Answer....Yes to all the above. I do what My creative side tells me to do. thats it. Back in the day before digital. when doing landscapes and such . we waited. Now i have over 1600 Cloud formations in every possible color and feel and time of day. I'll simply add what Looks right. and I aint gonna go all that way and what I want isn't there.It's become a no Brainer to do it so...I do it.

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pretty much Just skies. Old school........ No sky, No Photo. Ansel Adams.Without a background, No Foreground. just like painting. Paint a beautiful picture and forget the sky? ain't gonna happen.Why  would anyone have a ethical concern. many, Many very good Photographers even Here use the same sky Over and over. These are paintings so all original. But I have favorites i used again and again. I flip them. A puriest Im Not.whatever. These are Huge Oil on canvas. last 2 are simple 11 x 14 Watercolors. I always have a camera and when Im out and see a good sky. I will shoot it Horizontal and vertical I have a folder with about 1800 skies in every mood available. I even Taake road trips when the weather is stormy and such. DRAMA my friend.

CAT 4199 CD175 IMPERIAL VALLEY.jpg

CAT 4204 CD175 FARMHOUSE, WINTROP WASHINGTON.jpg

CAT 4206 CD175 SANTA ROSA CALIFORNIA.jpg

CAT 7387 CD264 OIL PAINTING.jpg

CAT 7483 CD267 OIL PAINTING.jpg

CAT 10270 CD349 OIL PAINTING ON CANVAS.jpg

CAT 11165 CD359 WATERCOLOR EARLY MORNING SANTA MONICA.jpg

CAT 11283 CD360 BEFORE SUNSET IN THE DESERT.jpg

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I think people make whatever adjustments they feel necessary in order to gain sales. It doesn't matter if you add a sky, change the size, crop, enhance etc.

Unless of course it is for editorial. 

This is a business of selling images, so do whatever it takes to sell the image. 

Adding a sky to photo is no different than having models pose and pretend to be office people, or nurses and having lighting and make-up etc etc...  

On some photography groups and websites, they want only the photo as it came from the camera, and that is fine. Some art groups only want paintings done 100% from your hand and mind, and that is fine too (and very difficult I think). 

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Laurin & Keith, thanks for your additional insight. 

In this age of "fake news", etc. I admittedly felt an obligation to present an "honest" representation of what I saw but as both you and Keith stated, "It's just business" and the competition is doing everything they can to make their images look "better".  I'm definitely old enough to remember the good old days and it's taken me a while to embrace the Art aspect of "Stock Photography" you do so well.

    

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Ethical?  How can there be any ethical problem with creatively producing an appealing image? 

It's not like forgery. 

Besides, if someone thinks that dinosaur really was roaming around my back yard, that's their lookout.

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3 hours ago, Steve Bower said:

Laurin & Keith, thanks for your additional insight. 

In this age of "fake news", etc. I admittedly felt an obligation to present an "honest" representation of what I saw but as both you and Keith stated, "It's just business" and the competition is doing everything they can to make their images look "better".  I'm definitely old enough to remember the good old days and it's taken me a while to embrace the Art aspect of "Stock Photography" you do so well.

    

 The art part is doing it right.Anything can be a art if done with Passion.

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I don't see any ethical problems with it, it's creativity. Obviously not for editorial, that's a big no no. But for commercial it's just another tool to use when appropriate. The end user isn't going to care how it was achieved, they just want an image that fits their requirements. And as to how far you go, whether realistic or not just depends on what you want to achieve. I don't think their are any rights or wrongs for commercial images, just do what works for the image.


There is another more questionable area of commercial image altering though, and that's altering models. Airbrushing and skinnyfiying to unrealistic levels. It's a bit of a touchy area, and there was some recent laws regarding it, was it France? It sort of passed me by because I don't do it, but something to watch out for. It may end up being a stock rule that we can't do it. Someone else probably knows a lot more about it..
 

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Yes, I very often add a sky to a dreary grey day - it makes all the difference with sales.

In a way it is a type of deception, however as above if the buyer (& You) like the result that's all that matters.

The saying the camera never lies - is not true - you can do so much in camera to change how a photo looks anyway, so in this day and age with the technology available you are doing the same kind of stuff but on your computer.

It's no different really from cloning out an undesirable object.

 

 

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I'm more concerned with aesthetics on this issue.
So many bad composites that do not take into account the direction and strength of light source, inadequate color and white balance, poor isolation, forgetting to add reflection on water surfaces,
unsuitable DOF. etc....

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I was hoping there was going to some differing views about some aspect of my question but it's obvious that the majority (if not everyone) has little to no qualms about changing out a sky but where does that creative license end and when does it become intentional deception or even unethical? 

Hypothetical example:  A submitter clones out a very obnoxious element from a landscape (i.e. a sign, power lines a factory, a dump you name it).  The chamber of commerce for that area loves the image and uses it in their advertising.  You, the out of town or country visitor, plan your vacation to this area hoping to see unspoiled nature.  You leave more than just disappointed.  What's your position on this, is it OK, just business, deception ?

Again, as I've already confessed, I totally understand your position and routinely "enhance" my images BUT it took me a while and quite a little soul searching.    

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3 hours ago, Steve Bower said:

Hypothetical example:  A submitter clones out a very obnoxious element from a landscape (i.e. a sign, power lines a factory, a dump you name it).  The chamber of commerce for that area loves the image and uses it in their advertising.  You, the out of town or country visitor, plan your vacation to this area hoping to see unspoiled nature.  You leave more than just disappointed.  What's your position on this, is it OK, just business, deception ?

So, whose ethics would be in question? The photographer that made a beautiful image, or the buyer who knowingly chose an image that doesn't properly represent what the place really looks like?

There are articles all over the place about this. Here's just one example.

https://www.boredpanda.com/travel-expectations-vs-reality/

Another hypothetical is if you have a run-down flea bag hotel and you find an image of a 5-star luxury hotel and use that image to represent your hotel. Has the photographer who shot the 5 star hotel committed some breach of ethics?

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If the images you use to enhance an image are your own, or created by you, no ethics issue, but sometimes people go too far, or do too much. I am guilty of that. If I submit something as a photo, I try to stick with the basics, color/white balance, exposure,  and removing flaws or brand names. If I am replacing things, I try to go for as realistic as possible, though my vision far outpaces my skill (and available time) so many things are half finished in my hard drive. Though the originals are all untouched :).

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Perry,

Excellent Point and great article and photo examples.  In my hypothetical, I would feel (and I expect that most would agree) that the buyer is the most culpable as his choice was an intentional attempt to deceive to make a lot of money. However, didn't the photographer make that image adjustment for the same reason (to make money), albeit on a much smaller scale?

In your hypothetical, I would expect that all would agree that the photographer did nothing wrong.   

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I agree that a e.g - 'traveller' could go someplace and on arrival - thinking this doesn't look like the picture in the brochure!!!!  But that isn't the photographers fault - they have just tried to make the image look more appealing - it is the buyer who is falsely selling a place knowing it doesn't really look like that - however, there are many very over-manipulated images out there and an added sky or cloned / cropped adjustment doesn't make that much difference - it just sells the idea.

And yes we are in it to make money too - even though it may only be small $'s ;o)

 

BTW - Great Link Perry ;o)

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18 hours ago, Keith Tarrier said:

I think people make whatever adjustments they feel necessary in order to gain sales. It doesn't matter if you add a sky, change the size, crop, enhance etc.

Unless of course it is for editorial

This sums it up nicely.

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Paula,

Couldn't it also be said, "the photographer is falsely selling his photographer, knowing it doesn't look like that"?  Splitting hairs, I know but where should the line be drawn? 

I agree there are many photo adjustments we make that could still be a realistic representation of a place given a certain time or situation.    

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Ha ha - most of us are also trying to get the shot of a crowded tourist attraction the moment there are no people - or few people - in the frame. When you see the image in a tourist media you’ll be disappointed by the never ending crowd of tourists! Is that non-ethical ..?

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