Photography Myths, Perception and Reality

Photographers tend to manipulate their photos in many ways

Photography was initially thought to be a method to objectively represent truth and actuality, absolutely untouched by the perspective of a photographer. However, photographers tend to manipulate their photos in many ways, from selecting what to they're going to shoot to manipulating the resulting image by using computer digitalization. The inherent manipulation of photography brings about questions relating to the disposition of truth. Every art form manipulates reality as a way of revealing truths not readily apparent to the untrained eye.

Marina Sunset
I have used this photo with a number of articles. The original sky was quite boring, so I did a sky replacement

Today's photography has pretty much become a postmodern form of art and postmodernism asserts truths do not inevitably last, however truths shift and adjust with cultural changes. Modernism, however, asserts that basic truths do indeed last, and these eternal truths are reflections of fundamental, universal circumstances of humanity. These truths which last are typically expressed in mythic archetypes and themes. Journalism, science, and art all make extensive use of the relationship between truth and myth, most conspicuously, in the mythic form archetype labeled: beauty. News, documentary , scientific, and artistic photography all employ the beauty archetype as a link to truth. However, beauty, is based upon the beliefs within a culture, and doesn't necessarily equate truth. The bottom line is that, both modernism and postmodernism have their own place in the philosophy of photography. A grasp of photographic truth, similar to all other truths, is dependent upon an understanding of belief,, culture, history, and universal facets of human nature

Photography has a Manipulation History

When photography was initially introduced in 1826, it was viewed as the ideal documentary medium due to the mechanical aspect of the medium ensuring accurate, exact reproduction of the subjects at hand. The advances of camera technology along with the subsequent improvement in photojournalism have led to more realistic and clearer pictures. For example, in place the stiff poses the early, long-exposure times cameras required, the development of lighter, transportable cameras have allowed photojournalists to capture unrehearsed snapshots. Historian Judith Gutman asserts that, "never before, has the general public been able to see photos of bored ministers behind officials smoking cigars with cunning smiles and ungainly postures. Since photographs could now expose the reality of life from behind a fašade, the general public concluded photographs were reliable witnesses of authenticity. Photos conveyed "the truth" when they exposed people in a candid and unrehearsed manner.

Ralph Waldo Emerson enthusiastically claimed, "Photography is differentiated by its authenticity, its immediacy, and the incredible fact that the camera takes in more than information the human eye does. The camera displays everything. Photography generated a record of activities that even the courts of law accepted as irrefutable fact. Even though many news photographers assert their photos represent the unvarnished truth, in reality a large amount of adjustment goes into the fabrication and subsequent publication of an image.

One form of manipulation has been vast improvement in film itself, with the ability to adjust for scratches or other types flaws of the film. For example, at National Geographic, photographs are typically altered as compensation for such issues. Many of these alterations repair, enhance, or delete to fix these issues such as lens flare and scratches in the film. Others compensate for the print "compression effect", when size becomes smaller and less array of bright to darkness is obtainable. Electronic color-correction methods allow them to add sparkle, enhance contrast, and alter the density range as a way to brighten the image, or occasionally create a print that's better than the original film.

Another rationale for this sort of image manipulation is for enhancing any subsequent degradation that take place when depicting three-dimensional actuality in a two dimension photo. The photography editors at Nat Geo, for instance, "begin with the premise that film medium are "never perfect in replicating what was actually there." These Enhancement procedures can, they argue, create a photograph which is more near the pre-photographic actuality than the photo exposure

Another form of manipulation happens during the picture-shooting process. In making a picture, the photographer selects the subject matter, frames and composes a scene, and employs filters and other tools to adjust the character of the photo. Geoffrey Batchen an art critic makes a claim that photography intrinsically involves much absence of truth, goes on to describe how the typical process of getting a news photograph ready for publication involves considerable manipulation:

Traditional Photos

You know, the ones that our culture has consistently put so much of their trust in - haven't been "true" to begin with. Photographers intercede in every photograph that they create, whether through orchestration or directly manipulating the scene being acquired; by selecting, excluding, cropping, and in other methods of making pictorial selections as they shoot the photograph; and then by suppressing, enhancing, and cropping the final photo in the darkroom. Finally, they add captions and other types of contextual elements to anchor a potential meaning while discouraging another.

While a photograph, professes to portray truth, in actuality entails manipulation of both message and object. To assert that photographs portray the truth is totally incorrect; what they actually portray are tiny slices of life chosen and framed by a photographer. The photographer therefore selects what facet of reality he desires to epitomize both when he shoots the photo, and when he prepares it for publication.

Even as a photographer attempts to precisely capture a scene, he may entirely miss out the real meaning of a scene laying in front of him. "Photography, even the most faithful type, can convey truths even when the facts may be erroneous while on the other hand, can be quite erroneous as to the core of a setting despite having the facts correct," states Fred Ritchen. "This makes the traditional stance on photography being simplistic mechanical transcription seem even more shortsighted."

Manipulation of photography could therefore be necessary as a way to depict a setting or subject as truthful as possible. Events don't always appear to be self-explanatory or clear in photos, and devoid of captions many photo become ambiguous. In an Ironic twist, a photographer may feel obliged to manipulate an image as a way of representing a subject or setting as authentically as possible.

New Article Sep 8, 2014

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