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2009/08/08

Photoshop BANNED!

How is that for a sensationalistic headline? See, I can write, not just take purty pictures.

Interesting read about British Parliament supposedly wanting to ban all Photoshop use in ads for children under 16, and disclosures/disclaimers in ads for adults.

I am not a fan of this over-idealized world of perfect people and things we have shoved in our faces on a daily basis, but this is a slippery slope to walk on. First of all, who determines how much is too much? Photos straight out of the camera often need color correction, brightness and contrast tweaking and conversion from RGB to CMYK color space. Actually, even the photo coming out of the camera has already been "Photoshopped" - if you shoot RAW format then you use Adobe RAW or some other raw file conversion software to optimize the photo. If you shoot JPEG format then the camera is doing it before putting the info on the memory card.

New cameras have all types of atuo features built in. Things like mid-tone contrast (Nikon calls it D-lighting); facial recognition, smile detection and so amny other things that people would have to work hard to keep their cameras from doing something to the file.

Photos have always been staged/adjusted. The early portraits had the subjects sit with bolts in vises holding their heads still. Portraits were worked on by retouching artists - airbrushers and people with paint brushes and black inks that they used to paint onto the negatives before the prints were made... and the news photographer in a hurry was often known to rub the tip of his finger on the edge of his nose, then smear the oil from his skin onto a scratched negative to hide some of the defects. Old B&W sports photos were easily "improved" by the photographer placing a cotton ball on the paper where it would block the light for a while, then the photographer would give a light puff of breath and blow the cotton away - resulting in a whit blurry spot that resembled the blur of a ball.

Now cameras and computers and software are in the hands of almost everybody. Those with training and some incentive to be trustworthy - while others just want to be noticed. So people go after the tools that make it possible, rather than look at the problem of the people who are so unscrupulous as to alter reality and claim it as truth.

Look back over my images in this blog. Many are simply adequate. Getting adequate images day in and day out takes work and dedication. How easy my job would be if I had the personal moral ambiguities that allowed me to change the photos . . .

The answer is not to regulate Photoshop, but to teach people to learn to filter the information and know if the source is trusted or not.

"Citizen Journalists" are so often an unknown quantity - and yet more and more news organizations want to take their "reports" as facts because it was free, and the cost of having paid professionals was too great. You get what you pay for.
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