Thursday, May 18, 2006
Digital Fix Myth
Back in the days before digital cameras and Photoshop were common to everyone, when you bought a lens, you dealt with what ever characteristics the lens had. If it was a wide angle, you lived with the way it could distort images. If it was a super telephoto, you could see some distortion sometime known as barrel distortion. But when shooting film, people lived with it. Now with digital and Photoshop, everyone seems to want to fix these "flaws" where in reality, you are not making your image any better. Once you decide to remove a WA pincushion look to an image, or fix barrel distortion, you now have an altered image. Let's say you take a photo of some newsworthy event with a wide angle or fish eye lens, you captured the moment, but before you try to sell it to a newspaper, you run it through Photoshop and you slightly adjust contrast, color and sharpening. Fine. 99.9999% of the pro media shooters do this and it is an accepted practice, but you do not like the effect the wide angle lens did to people in the photo away from the center of the photo? No worries, run it through a Photoshop lens correction filter, or DxO labs plug in and you are good to go, everyone is straight, and the scene is just like you saw it with your naked eye. Wrong. This is now an altered image. While minor adjustments to color or contrast are accepted, physically changing the image with a third party plug in like this is not acceptable. You now have a computer altered image. It would now be unethical to try to sell this as a news image. It is fine for people doing art prints, landscapes and the like, but for news photos, no way. Do not alter an image beyond what you could easily do in the darkroom with film. Levels and contrast or curves is the equivalent of how much light you give your negative when printing it. Cropping is basically the same, although should be used on a very limited basis and never to purposely crop something relevant to the story out. Color can be determined with the film you used or paper you printed on, so color adjustments, again, lightly, are fine. Sharpening or USM is similar to focusing the enlarger. Anyone with basic film darkroom experience can do this and you can easily do this in Photoshop, but to physically change the way your gear captures a scene is not right. If you captured it with a wide angle lens, then you should understand that any pincushion effects it may have caused is normal and should be left alone. Live with it. Learn how to use your gear to lessen the effects like this. Do not get into the idea or mind set that you can fix it later in Photoshop, because you are no longer a photographer then, you are now a digital artist.