Shane Baker | I couldn't have put it better myself
Wind-blown grassesWind-blown grassesDry grass blowing in the wind near Canberra.

I couldn't have put it better myself

July 13, 2015  •  2 Comments

I'm no photography purist. I manipulate my images as I can illustrate with these before and after shots of the Imperial War Museum in London:

Imperial War Museum, London - unprocessed image._D3H5116The image as it came out of my Nikon.






The original image is flat and boring. By converting to black and white and cranking up the contrast, I produced a "frameable" image. And for all that, every pixel is where it should be.

In doing this, I'm in good company.





Imperial War Museum, London - with some manipulation._D3H5116-Edit-EditImperial War Museum, London - with some manipulation.


However, there's a point where the manipulation becomes the content itself and at that point (in my humble opinion) the art ceases to be photography. I'm not saying to those practitioners "don't do it", I'm just asking that they not call the results "photography".

Anyway ... this micro-rant was prompted by an excellent opinion piece by New Zealand landscape photographer Declan O’Neill. He is writing about the awarding of the Landscape Photographer of The Year award due to excessive manipulation. His final paragraph is succinct and completely "on the money":

What is extraordinary is that Mr. Byrne should have won such a prestigious title as Landscape Photographer of the Year. Luckily, his alterations were brought to the attention of the judges who had been unable to detect them for themselves. But for the ‘purists’ his accolade would have reinforced the idea that we can alter images in the name of ‘art’ and still claim they are photographs. If something good can come out of this sorry debacle it is the lesson that landscape does not need our interference. The true joy of landscape photography lies in capturing its pristine beauty. Painting it in the crude lipstick of Photoshop is both unnecessary and an admission that we cannot leave it to speak for itself through our lenses.

I'm with you, Declan!







Shane Baker
Hi Charles. Thanks for your comments.

I think we will have to agree to disagree. I don't see a dichotomy between pre-visualisation and art, as is evidenced by the work of the great Australian photographer, Damien Parer. Hurley's images are spectacular, but often seem to be composites, or as in the case you mentioned, "photoshopped" decades before PhotoShop.

For me, Parer's images, made in the camera, have an immediacy which Hurley's lack in some cases.

To each their own.

Charles Jaggers(non-registered)
Frank Hurley did it. See the emotion in his "doctored" photograph of Shackleton leaving Elephant Island in the lifeboat compared with the image he captured. The story is better documented for it, and in part made it history. Pre-visualised Art over pressing a button any day.
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