So, this picture looked pretty good right off the disk.
|Directly from the camera|
There's the bright pink clouds, a bit of ocean at the bottom, framed by the palm trees.
But could I make it better with a little tweaking? Nothing fancy. No photoshop. Just playing with the contrast.
|Contrast bumped a little|
Which would you prefer to see?
Does it matter if it's digitally enhanced?
Would you know it was enhanced if I didn't say so and the other picture wasn't there?
Would you know the other one wasn't enhanced?
And, does it even mean anything, since the camera doesn't capture a true image anyway?
Do you even care?
Would you like enhanced images to be marked somehow so that you know?
Does cropping count as enhancing?
Does increasing the contrast matter?
Where is the line? Adding in the palm trees? (I didn't, they were there) Changing the color radically?
For pictures like these, my questions are more aesthetic. But when wrinkles are removed (or added) to people's faces larger ethical issues arise. And what people are doing is manipulated (a gun is put in someone's hand, or removed) there are more questions. (I removed a cigarette once from someone's hand because he wanted to share the post with family, but they thought he'd stopped smoking.)
Will people just become sheep and accept what they see if it supports their world view? Or will they not believe anything? Both situations become debilitating for a civil society.
These aren't new issues. Jerry Lodriguss goes into more detail on this issue in The Ethics of Digital Manipulation. He even says there are times when it would be unethical to NOT manipulate the picture. I couldn't find the date of the post.
Another post, on what sounds like a promising website - Ethics in Photo Editing - offers some examples starting with an Abraham Lincoln photo. The problem is that the posts I could find were all 2009, so either this blogger moved stuff elsewhere, or just gave up.
Another problem is that the post is dated April 1, 2009. I always have to wonder about things posted on April 1. But whether the examples are real or not . . .
[Writing that caused me to google one of the pictures (Oprah Winfrey's head on Ann Margaret's body on TV Guide, with neither of their permission) which got me to a 2012 Atlantic article with some of the same examples, which linked to Izitru (say that out loud) which has a large collection of such doctored photos. It also has a service where you can send your jpg pictures and they will officially verify that it's not been manipulated.
There are some pretty egregious ethics lapses - there's one where anti-John Kerry folks added him to a picture of Jane Fonda talking to a crowd making it look like they had appeared together.]
I guess, since I posted about The Cloudspotter's Guide, I should be saying something about the clouds. I still haven't read that much more of the book so I'm not too sure. My guess would be cumulus medics radiatus but that's because it's one of the few I've read about. And cloud experts out there can you confirm or correct?