Post-Processing: Editing or Manipulation?

7 min read

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DeniseSoden's avatar
Editing vs Manipulation

I had a feeling my newest tutorial would create a bit of controversy. It's still early, but it luckily hasn't stirred up to much of a wake as of yet ;)

I have had a few people bring up the topic, and I know it's always an underlying question behind any highly edited photos, how much is too much?

Editing takes a wide range from just cropping and curves to taking out litter/trash, lens flare, grass or straw from an animal's face... all the way to full on manipulations of creating a completely different illusion than the regular photo elicited.

Generally, I'm not a fan of manipulations. Most I've seen around are poorly executed, or I just don't care for the overall look it evokes. But there ARE some really great ones out there! It's its own art form entirely in my opinion.

Here is the definition of photo manipulation (according to Wikepedia): the application of image editing techniques to photographs in order to create an illusion or deception (in contrast to mere enhancement or correction),through analog or digital means. Its uses, cultural impact, and ethical concerns have made it a subject of interest beyond the technical process and skills involved.

And I have to say I completely agree with that description. Now it just comes down to the interpretation of illusion and deception.

All those stunning landscapes with unreal colors and contrast everyone loves? That's because they ARE unreal. Filters, post-processing, even with film - developing techniques that Ansel Adams used with film processing were not "natural." It takes a talented eye to notice what needs to be burned, and what needs to be dodged; what needs to be saturated or desaturated. It takes a good eye to find the right photo in the first place, but those images just don't happen. They take time, planning and work. I am a FIRM believer that all of these concepts MAKE great photographers.

So take out that dust speck on your camera's lens, or the glare off that surface, or hay you couldn't go hop the fence and move off that tiger's nose before taking your picture. Yes, a good photographer needs to look for all those things BEFORE the picture is taken and do everything you can to prevent them, but not all things can be controlled and by all means, if you know how to, fix them. Your pictures will thank you :D

Just so you all know I'm not bashing manipulations, here are some GREAT ones!

Stuck on You by Kumiko-Art Zebrafrog by oilcorner
:thumb112735966: Extravaganza by Gin-n-Juice Rock'N'Roll, baby by gre3g
Snorange by HumanDescent :thumb54612128: apple by pikachu6123
Affectionate Heart by inObrAS

[ps you will also notice i am now allowing manips for my contest. go nuts.]

I don't think photos such as my recent post can be compared these. For starters, the above images took way more imagination and artwork. They're beautiful, I don't think that can be denied. Secondly (and I'm not trying to defend it because its my photo, because the photo in this particular case really isn't very good) I don't think the integrity or the overall illusion of imagines like mine are compromised in the editing techniques used. Everything in my power was done to have it remain as natural as possible.

Meerkat Troop by DeniseSoden

Anyways, just a thought :D
What do you think?

[:dance: start discussion :dance:]

© 2010 - 2021 DeniseSoden
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TVD-Photography's avatar
I agree with Bubby on this one. I am not good at editing really but I do try to get more out of it wothout it being fake or too much. The most drastic one I did was one of my cheetah photos. There was a chain in the way and I edited it out. But I like to keep my work as natural as possible, I want my watchers to see what I was seeing at the time I captured it :nod:
jenniferstuber's avatar
I think people take this topic way too seriously. Editing is a very important, beneficial, and necessary part of photography.

Photo-manipulations to me are combining two or more separate images in order to create something new, not removing distracting bits in a photo or changing the colours. :lol: I think editing should really be encouraged, because it can make good images AWESOME images. Obviously over-editing should be avoided, because you won't your images to look as real and natural as possible. The photo you did of the meerkats looks incredibly natural, and the changes you made were very beneficial that took an good photo to a perfect photo. :)
NatureByDesign's avatar
Beautifully said, wow! This comment really helped clear up my own thoughts on this as well, so thank you for that. =)
jenniferstuber's avatar
Thanks Dave! I'm glad you found it useful!
NatureByDesign's avatar
You're welcome. You have such a good way with your words and it gets the point across so smoothly. =)
DeniseSoden's avatar
:clap: Thank youuu. Perfect explanation!!
jenniferstuber's avatar
:bow: Thank you, thank you! :lol: I do photo-manipulations and photography so I just wanted to share my views.
Kumiko-Art's avatar
:D Thank you so much for featuring my work :cuddle:
DeniseSoden's avatar
You're very welcome!
Svenimal's avatar
Post-Processing is the normal thing to do! You did it all at analog-photography (well, mostly the stores did it) for the developing. Noone would say: If I develop the negative pattern it's evil manipulating.
It's just a part of the process of photography!
Other is real manipulation, what was in the old days a pain in the ass. Now it's relly easy with photoshop, so many people do it. But that is not part of the normal process. But it is a further thing to do, what is not really photography anymore. But another (cool) thing :)

Just my two cents :)
DeniseSoden's avatar
:) Thanks for contributing!
meppol's avatar
thanks a bunch for the feature! Awesome selection! I'm not a fan of manipulations really, expecially the ones made with stock photos. I know that there are awesome manipulated photos, and that they require skills, creativity and ability, but I prefer to use my own stuff, not stock photos. It makes my photos more...mine, lol. But sometimes I make manips too. Very simple ones, though.
DeniseSoden's avatar
I totally agree :D The stock photos thing is what bothers me :\

And you are most welcome :)
lightrae's avatar
I didn't comment on your tutorial for the specific reason that you stated clearly and well that it was a TUTORIAL, not and EDITORIAL.
However, since this is more a discussion of definations and ethics, rather than mechanics, I'll toss in my opinions.

Please note that regardless of which pronouns I may use, nothing is directed at or refers to an individual.

1st: I am not opposed to any kind of processing or manipulation. It's silly, like saying I oppose oil painting to attempt imposing my preferences on anybody else. Building images, rather than capturing them is just not something that I want to do. I don't even have PS on my computers.

2nd: Saying stuff like, "Adams dodged and burned.", does NOT prove that alterations are not manipulations. It proves that Adams was manipulating, too.

3rd: Definition is the bugbear. There seems to be a very widespread, almost universal willingness to present pictures as examples of photographic skill when in fact they are not.
Everyone seems to have a defination of manipulation that jussssssst allows their particular work to slip under the wire.

4th: Creating an on-computer effect is NOT the same as doing it on-camera, even if it looks the same.
When you use a filter on your lens you are manipulating LIGHT and you are creating an original LIGHTGRAPH.
When you create the same (or approximate) effect in a darkroom or on a computer you are altering the original lightgraph.

5th: I'm amazed that so many people who decry airbrushing et cetera in publications as "fake" turn around and defend the very same manipulation of their own pictures.
Exactly what is the difference between removing that piece of grass from our puppy's nose and removing the mole from the Playboy Bunny?

6th: In my opinion, the arguement is more about whether an image is presented in a manner that is deceptive. The very first thing that I seek is the EXIF.
While I know that shooting information is also subject to manipulation, the lack of that information is a very, very strong hint of manipulation.

I don't care what you do with your image. The amount of alteration or manipulation is not the issue.
If I find it pleasing I'll give it (and you) my time and thought.
If, however, I know, or suspect, that you are deceiving me then I delete the image. If I see it happening again, I stop looking at your images.
Just yesterday, I saw someone who told a great story about getting a good winter shot. Unfortunately, the snow was mostly all photoshopped. I checked their gallery and found more deliberate deceptions. I'll never fav, watch or recommend that person. That person is a liar.
As a certain TV judge said, "Don't pee on my leg and tell me it's raining."

7th: This last thought; have fun with your choosen endeavour. Manipulate as much or as little and by any method as you please.
Nothing is bad or wrong.
It's only how we conduct ourselves, our ethics, that really count.
DeniseSoden's avatar
Thanks for posting all of this here instead of the tutorial :D It's good to hear everyone's opinions and I agree with some of the points you made. I appreciate the time you took for this.
ShadowsGrnEyes's avatar
In my opinion your image falls into a specific category where photo-manipulation and Photo-Editing overlap.

My argument, Photo manipulation can be used to edit. This is the case with your picture. You Brought in elements from another picture to improve the existing picture. This by its very definition is photo manipulation because the image you created did not exist naturally. The composition is a creation of your skill set in photoshop as opposed to your being ridiculously lucky(and or have animal mind control powers) with a group of meercats.

The image itself, I would not qualify as a photo-manipulation image. You used photomanipulation to improve the image but you did not create the type of art that is typically presented by the Photomanipulation category. That particular category is for a more recognizably false reality. You didn't put the meercats in space, you just made "natural" the image you couldnt get the little buggers to pose for.

p.s. I didnt spell or grammar check this so just go with it.
DeniseSoden's avatar
:D Thanks for your well thought out reply. Very accurate!, and the grammar/spelling was fine ;)
kayaksailor's avatar
yeah, I knew I was opening a can of worms when I asked :giggle: sorry :D
DeniseSoden's avatar
No worries :D I liked looking up the manips anyway :)
inObrAS's avatar
Thank You very much for the feature! :hug:
DeniseSoden's avatar
You are very welcome :D :hug:
NatureByDesign's avatar
Oh my... I don't want to touch this topic with a ten foot pole! :laughing:
DeniseSoden's avatar
That's my bravery again :D lol.

You should chime in, back me up with some of those awesome edits I did for you lol, jk. That's collar? Huh, huh? How much do you love that photo ;)
NatureByDesign's avatar
Yeah really, that's like jumping in between two tigers fighting. You are on your own! ;p

Ohhhhhhhhhh..... okay, that's how you want to play it, huh? Guess I'm busted for the collar now. Alright, I'm in. Ha ha...
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