Disarming the Debate of Photo Manipulation

Disarming the Debate of Photo Manipulation

Let’s Disarm the Debate!

01-Before-Manipulation-For-WebOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This afternoon at 4PM central I will be discussing the, oh so controversial, debate of Photo Manipulation.  In the pursuit of research on the topic, I asked the readers of EverydayHDR what their thoughts were on these questions:

Does photo manipulation (in any way) degrade the integrity of a photograph?  

If so, to what degree is manipulation acceptable?

The results were pretty shocking seeing the group here tends to be biased toward photo manipulation.  I will reveal the results and show you a couple tips and tricks with Topaz Labs software to ensure you don’t take your images too far if you are trying to go for the more “Acceptable” Post Processed look.


 

To go along with the Webinar there is a Doggy Bag for you loaded with Actions and the PDF from the opening of the presentation!

Download the Actions and Presentation


Get your Topaz Labs Software Here


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Blake Rudis
Creator of f.64 Academy
Blake is a husband, father, and avid photographer whose passion for Photography led him to create f.64 Academy and f.6 Elite. He is dedicated to bringing the finest Photoshop and Photography education on the web!
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33 Comments

  1. Nice job on today’s webinar on Photo Manipulation. I always seem to pick up something new or more in depth when I follow your tutorials.

    Nothing leaves the computer until horizons are straightened, distracting items removed deep unwanted shadowing lightened and exposures corrected. From there on, final versions may take on a variety of appearances depending on what I’m trying to emphasize. Not everyone’s preference, but pleasing to me and definitively mine among numerous shots of the same subject taken by other photographers at the same time.

    Reply
    • Good stuff! I agree with you there. Great points, thanks for attending the webinar!

      Reply
  2. Great Webinar Blake!! Lol…I didn’t know that there was an uproar about photo manipulation. I always thought both photography and digital art manipulation goes hand in hand Lol. Thanks for your input on subjectivity between the artist and the viewers. I was laughing about the Jpeg/raw story.Great analogy using the prep of enchilada too!! Hey thanks…I didn’t know that I could use Topaz Clarity to get rid of chromatic aberrations. I thought I could only do it with ACR. Thanks for the set of actions Blake.Take care.

    Reply
    • Yeah, it goes back to the beginning of Photo time! It is an interesting debate, you can look at any photography history book and see trace elements of it scattered here and there. Topaz Clarity can get rid of some pesky aberration, they tend to manifest themselves in the purple, magenta, cyan, and aqua adjustments.

      Reply
  3. Thank you Blake for a fantastic webinar, sharing your expertise, and your time. I caught the last half, so anxious to listen to the complete webinar!!! I shoot in JPEG, so would have to change to raw. Also, I have elements 13, and need to find if it is compatible with Elements 13. I have ordered most of the TOPAZ when on sale, just not installed them yet. I assumed it was possible to install with Elements. If not, guess I will give them to my brother. Your wife is very pretty and patient! Thanks to TOPAZ also for making these possible!!! You are a good communicator!!

    Reply
    • Thanks, Sharana! I will tell my wife you said that, her blue eyes stole my heart the day I met her! I appreciate your feedback and do apologize that the Actions do not work in Elements. I will have to see about picking up Elements so I can tailor the actions to both crowds. Thanks again for attending!

      Reply
  4. Outstanding Webinar. I always learn a new trick or two from you.

    And your commentary and overall presentation about the “debate” was delivered in an even-handed and understanding manner yet reflected the views of many of us who believe as you do that reasonable, honest and to some degree, restrained photo manipulation enhances the image and should be generally acceptable and artistically pleasing to most people. Many thanks for sharing your talents with us yet again.

    Vinny

    Reply
    • Thanks, Vinny! I do appreciate your feedback. It was a tricky topic to present, especially in an instructional Webinar. I think it went well and I was happy to see that the feedback reflects that. Thanks again, I always appreciate your sincere and genuine feedback

      Reply
  5. Hello Blake,
    Enjoyed the webinar! tried the download to get the actions and only get the presentation. Not sure they will work in elements as you suggested, but would like to give them a try.
    Thanks,
    Bob

    Reply
    • Sorry, I am not sure it will work for Elements. I do not own Elements so I cannot test my Actions with it.

      Reply
    • Please see my comment at bottom regarding PSE. Hope it works out for you!

      Reply
  6. Thanks so very much for the webinar this afternoon. I don’t use Photoshop very much and was very pleased that I could still understand what and how you were doing what you did. I love Topaz and own a number of the plugins. And now, thank to your discount, I own Clarity.

    Cathy

    Reply
    • Awesome! Thanks for attending. It was a tricky topic, but we made it through without having tomatoes thrown!

      Reply
      • Thanks Blake, but my point was, the download only seems to have the presentation..NOT the actions…might be me..just don’t see them.
        Thanks again!

        Reply
        • That is odd. I just downloaded it and was able to find the .atn file and the PDF.

          Reply
  7. Thanks for your interesting Webinar presentation. I thought that your introduction where you used the ageless controvercy of “purists v manipulators” to be most refreshing. I face such conflict at the Camera Club I attend.
    You could also make reference in such arguments, to the definition of photography which is “the process or art of producing images of objects on sensitized surfaces by the chemical action of light or of other forms of radiant energy”. The word ominous by its omission from that definition is “camera”.
    Your explanation that when a Jpg is brought into the computer it is a camera manipulation and when raw it by its nature requires manipulation, was brilliant!
    I’ve only used HDR infrequently and never considered your approach before. You have opened yet another new aspect of photography to me. Consequently I’ve just received confirmation of my joining your HDR family. Thanks once again.

    Reply
    • Ha! I like that, that is a very good point! I didn’t even think to look up the definition of Photography. That is critical in the argument for sure! Glad I can help, in any small way I can! Be prepared, you are about to receive 4 more emails about my workflow with HDR. I hope you find it interesting!

      Reply
  8. Thanks for an extremely well delivered webinar, Blake. You are an excellent teacher. You stay on topic, are organized, clear in your explanations, practical in your advice, humble in your approach to the craft, confident in your knowledge of the tools you use, generous with your time and skill in crafting actions, PDFs and screencasts to the benefit of other photographers, and are blessed with a pleasant voice making it easy to listen to your training. I wish you continued success in this rapidly advancing arena.

    As a trained painter, you perhaps already are familiar with the fact that painters and sculptors were among the most supportive members of the early adopters of photography. Photography offered much freedom, especially for landscape and historical document painters and sculptors to create their works back in their studio without having to spend long hours on site in all kinds of weather or relying upon hastily drawn sketches or imperfect drawings from others. I think this gives me some understanding, as a modern landscape portraitist using a digital camera, how to approach the recording, developing, and archiving of photographs I make whether for myself or others. (I think you should write an article on the subject summarizing your notes and include those two illustrations of analogies comparing RAW to JPEG.)

    Reply
    • Thanks a lot for the feedback, Jeffrey. Your words mean miles to me. Doing this for 4 years has been difficult at times, trying to keep up, ensuring the content is accurate, and well prepared. For you to see that, and comment on it, means so much. I thank you for your continual support.

      I like the idea behind writing an article about this. It was interesting gathering all of the points and seeing what others in the industry felt about photo manipulation, even those present at a webinar for software that manipulates photos, there were still several that were conservative in their approach and what was ‘acceptable’.

      As a painter I started using a camera only to document what I saw in the world so I could take it back into my studio and paint it. I did that because I was to confident in my photography abilities and couldn’t capture what I saw, so I captured what the camera would allow and painted it how I saw it. It was an interesting approach, but I can certainly relate to the historical support you presented.

      Thanks again, Jeffrey! You just put several more logs on this fire!

      Reply
      • I don’t know that I can agree with one of the Unacceptables, changing the background. In a portrait studio, all sorts of backgrounds are used for enhancement.. plain solid, seasonal, scenic…I see changing or altering a background in the same light if it improves the image. Many of our photographs are taken at events or places with crowds. While every attempt is made to choose the right angle or wait until other passerby are not in the scene, sometimes its unavoidable and a major distraction in an otherwise good shot.

        Reply
        • I agree with you 100%! I was just taking a poll on what others thought. But I am with you, I change backgrounds all the time!

          Reply
  9. I truly enjoy your webinars using Topaz filters. I love to do photo manipulations. Thanks for your actions and your willingness to help us.

    Reply
    • Thanks Carolyn! I appreciate the feedback!

      Reply
  10. Unfortunately, I missed this webinar. I tried to listen to it later but the link to QuickTime does not work with Macs.

    I started out as a journalism photographer, processing black and white film. There’s always been concern about the manipulation of photos and the stories they tell. Every single photograph is in some way manipulated by the photographer. The angle of the shot. Time of day. What’s cropped out and what’s left in. Every photo is a story told from the photographer’s point of view.

    OTOH … there is digital manipulation (harder to do with film by adding elements that weren’t in the photo. Or, totally changing what was shot in the first place.

    Then there is photo art. What is creative expression.

    Reply
    • No problem Mikki, I just embedded the video into this post, so you can catch it now!

      I know, it really is a mixed bag and something that is so prominent in Camera Clubs. I am not sure why it is still such a debated topic, Photoshop is just an extension of the traditional Darkroom, just a bit faster… okay … A LOT faster! And you are right, it starts with the angle… or does it start with the scene, what if a branch is moved, or a stone is picked up… Manipulation!

      Reply
  11. I so enjoyed the seminar! I own all of the Topaz products, except Impression, which I plan on obtaining after my trial. I learned more in the hour of your seminar than in the months of trial and error on my own.

    Reply
    • Awesome! Glad to hear it! Impression is great, it is a nice stand alone and very addicting to use on photos. I am glad to hear the webinar was effective for you!

      Reply
  12. Everyone’s comments were very interesting and helpful to read. This was great! Thanks Blake again for your time with the video and taking the time for the comments!! I guess you can see how much you were appreciated for your presentation, and hope to hear more! I guess I can just try with elements 13 and Topaz. Nothing to loose… THANKS!!!

    Reply
  13. Darcey Wheeler stated with topaz labs (I googled it) that “Yes, our plugins are compatible with PSE 13. If you cannot find the plugins in your Filter menu, please see here for instructions on how to add them in” It is under Topaz labs, for the instructions. He also said yes to Elements 12, not certain about earlier versions I did not research them. Hope this might help some folks. I have not installed them yet.

    Reply
  14. Thanks for uploading this webinar Blake. I really appreciated it since I could not attend. Your POV on manipulation is similar to mine. Once we start using a camera to record a single moment, we are not seeing it either as our eyes do, or as our minds-eye does. Post processing is crucial to trying to realise both of those things.

    I appreciate the actions bundle that you offered and will definitely use them to see if they work better than my own processes (which I have been too lazy to record as actions). It is one of the joys of Photoshop that it offers many different ways that one can achieve similar results.

    I look forward to more and your further insights on the Topaz tools, some of which I have already purchased and use very regularly. I have not bothered with Clarity before, but seeing how it can be used will probably see me pulling out my CC.

    Thanks, David

    Reply
    • Not a problem David! Glad you liked it and were able to take some things away. I love Clarity, it is my personal favorite Topaz Plugin. It is so powerful!

      Reply
  15. Great video!! – and was particularly interested in the way you made the photo filter in photoshop so that it would apply to the photo except for the highlights. I, myself, would like to learn exactly how to do this. Yr. explanation was done rapidly assumedly because you offer the action which will perform this maneuver. It would be great to have the option to see these steps actually written out in a short PDF outline.
    I know you are busy enough as it is!!! And I want to thank you for all that you do and for doing it so well>
    Bill

    Reply
    • Thanks Bill, I will keep that in mind. I have added it to my list of things to do 🙂 I like your thinking.

      Reply

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