Before & After Image Enhancement. How good is too good?
The topic of digitally altering photographs will most likely be debated, without consensus, for eternity. How much post-processing (or Photoshopping) is too much?
Der Spiegel online compares images (including some that the magazine itself has published) to those that came straight from the camera prior to post production. It is an unusually rare and honest self critique.
Image enhancement houses such as the Italian 10B – whose aesthetic has become synonymous with Noor photographers such as Yuri Kozyrev and Francesco Zizola – are at the forefront of such arguments as image enhancement spills from lifestyle and fashion magazines into news and current affair publications.
For those who can’t afford the services of 10B but who hold the likes of Kozyrev and Zizola in high esteem, there is a significant risk that a benchmark is being set which is simply unattainable (photographically), and that in order to compete (or simply keep up), the lines between “corrected”, “enhanced” and “manipulated” will be irreparably blurred or erased altogether.
Under one image of an anti-Putin protest in Russia, Kozyrev states that “the photos look totally flat in their original state”. The question must be asked; is that not because the scene was in fact totally flat?
While Kozyrev and Zizola are unquestionably world class photojournalists, such manipulation, I would argue, can narrow the gap between a good photograph and a great photograph – particularly in terms of the way the photographer has harnessed the natural effects of light and tone.
When lit by favourable conditions, an ordinary scene can be transformed into a dazzling photograph.
A good photographer knows how to manipulate their camera in order to best exploit such natural effects. It is one way in which a great photographer will distinguish themselves from a good photographer.
The chance of light functions as the great leveller in photography, and to attempt to manipulate that “chance” element is to take a leap across an ethical boundary that should be held sacrosanct, especially in an era where truth in photography is already under enough suspicion.
If a great photographer’s ability to harness light is rendered superfluous by image enhancers who can achieve similar effects with an average photograph, the art of photography is lost to computer technicians.
To see the full piece in Der Spiegel , CLICK HERE.