I guess it isn't totally clear what "fake" means. But it doesn't seem wrong to say that processing your pictures in photoshop makes them fake.
The line I personally draw is at a point where you start to combine multiple unrelated images, while implying that the result is real.
That aside, the artist captures light, and it’s up to them to make it look the way they see it. Counter-intuitively, captured light in itself carries no aesthetics. It’s up to the viewers whether the result is pleasing, but calling it ‘fake’ is something I personally really try to avoid, as it carries powerful yet subjective sentiment that can invalidate the effort in the eye of the creator.
It’s only using the light which exists in a single shot, so it’s not by a literal reading; yet it creates a scene which distinctly never happened, eg a certain person in a park at night.
I think many people view color alterations — creating “better than real” shots — to be a similar kind of non-reality, and for those people it would be perfectly apt to call modified photos “fake”: they don’t capture the reality of anything, but are instead an imagined work — how the photographer wishes the scene looked.
A polarizing filter under right conditions can turn sky at noon into very dark shades of blue. UV pass filters let us produce landscapes that are wholly surreal with black skies and white trees. Long exposures capture light trails and rivers of light that no one sees.
As to less extreme “better than real” cases, the light we see results in unique experience affected by countless factors, importantly including our preceding experiences. If a picture seems “better than real” (or better than straight out of a typical camera on default settings), perhaps it’s because that’s what the scene felt like. If it generally causes a negative reaction, perhaps it’s because the creator attempted to bite off more than they could chew in this sense.
I can sympathize with distaste for certain kinds of aesthetics (for example, I might not enjoy the average look of UV or astrophotography, and I know a person or two with just generic aversion to perceived post-processing), but for me it’s about careful choice of the word and whether I can enjoy the resulting look.
 Something that appears documentary at first might turn out to be another form of art. Whether there is purposeful misrepresentation goes beyond purely the appearance of the work, and is not black and white. It’s possible to capture a shot that uses none of pre- or post-processing, yet is misleading in a major way due to framing and context in which the picture appears.
I don’t object to impressionistic photography as an art form — but it’s not converting anything real, in the same way an impressionist painting of a tree doesn’t. It’s a fake scene by which the artist can convey the impression of emotions.
It’s not about aesthetics — a “fake” photo can be of exceeding aesthetic value — but rather, about if it conveys something accurate about the world. It’s also not about if it conveys content we otherwise might not have known, there’s whole fields of study on that topic.
Impressionist photos can quite reasonably be called “fake”, even those with merely surreal colors on literal geometric structure — because they fail to convey the world as it is, and are merely an artistic creation.
A map is not the territory; the map is not even of the world but merely of perception of it.
Addendum: no, I would never call a non-documentary work of any kind ‘fake’, the word conveys nothing of substance yet has the potential to discourage further creative work, which I would like to avoid. Depending on what it is, I might say ‘surreal’, for example. To each their own.
As to manipulation in general, even the most pristine photo needs to go through demosaicing, luminance, and color balance adjustments before being shown, resulting in quite some artistic freedom. Most people don't see that, as it's usually done by the camera between the raw and "jpeg" stage. Apart from demosaicing, this is nothing new compared to the analog era though.
Considering that today's cameras also do destructive operations like denoising, sharpening, and possibly tone mapping, the vast majority of photos we see are in some sense maniuplated.
Cameras are physically incapable of capturing as wide an experience as our eyesight+mind so photographers must compensate. As a simple example, note how pictures of mountains taken with a phone always feel cheap compared to the experience of being near them. This can go too far, like making the Aurora seem as bright as the moon. On the other hand, how best to capture the awe-inspiring nature of an undulating aurora than by making it fluoresce against the night sky in your photo? If the image weren't processed then you would see nothing at all...
> On the other hand, how best to capture the awe-inspiring nature of an undulating aurora than by making it fluoresce against the night sky in your photo? If the image weren't processed then you would see nothing at all...
So what you're saying is that if you were standing where the photographer was, you wouldn't have seen this image? It required an additional creative process to bring it out?
That's totally fine. That's _art_. Art is a fine thing. But if you start showing art to people and try to claim that you just snapped a normal photo, getting all upset when people claim it's unrealistic (like the article's author), you shouldn't be surprised if people call it fake.
Are you saying there can never be devices that capture the vision of auroras undulating, even a neural recording?
The issue with this statement is that it gives up too easily on the capturing end, and taken to an extreme it implies a dead end for photography.
- Open a RAW file in the manufacturer software, Adobe Lightroom, Capture One, etc., and all will show something slightly different.
- Different films are known for distinctive looks, which are oft emulated digitally, is one of them “real” and the other not?
- Sensors and films tend to have more limited dynamic range than our eyes, does that make normal photos more “fake” and certain HDR photos more “real”?
A photograph straight-out-of-the-camera might actually be less faithful to the real scene than a processed one.
National Geographic has some reasonably sensible guidelines on processing/manipulation for submitted photos, but there’s still plenty of vague lines between faithful and unfaithful. To me, it’s mostly: did the composite parts of this photo all happen in the same location at around the same time such that if a human was there they would have seen those moments?
I'm not sure there's a professional photographer alive that doesn't run their images through Photoshop or Lightroom to make final adjustments to things like white balance and contrast.
A lot of smartphones do adjustments like these automatically, so that would make those fake as well.
It doesn't matter what your device does for you but you commit to one take on the scene.
Except double exposure.
Except 10 minute exposure time.
1856-57 same sky used with 3 different seascapes: "Although Le Gray never publicly acknowledged his method, he did leave some inadvertent clues in the pictures themselves: the same spectacular stormy sky looms above the horizon in at least three different seascapes, providing irrefutable evidence of Le Gray's canny manipulation."
p47 Faking it: Manipulated Photography Before Photoshop
One is compensating for the limitations of the camera - i.e. perhaps you underexposed to capture motion and then changed the levels to make the photo look closer to what you saw. The other is compensating for the limitations of the scene - i.e. using a long exposure to capture something that's unseen to the human eye. Based on the example photos I think he's doing the latter.
I think one of the expectations of a photograph can be to be a reproduction of a scene as it was witnessed, not as it happened. That is, as the photographer was shooting the volcano, he never beheld the Milky way and the sea of light from the valleys that way, that only appeared in post-production.
I don't necessarily think it's fake to prettify an image , but I can imagine why some people would consider it less than real.
1. "Pillars of Creation" looks awe inspiring in spite of: "The blue colors in the image represent oxygen, red is sulfur, and green represents both nitrogen and hydrogen."
It's also not really post-processing - it's a choice you make at capture time. Do I leave the shutter open for (say) 1/30s to document what I'm seeing, or 5s to capture the light trails?
It's no difference from fake imaging we've had since before photoshop ever existed. Intentionally screwing with the development to create something that has never been seen by the naked eye.
And yeah, the problem is him posting it to r/earthporn which specifically is for real scenes that look like real life, and not posting to r/photography or r/pics, while only reluctantly admitting that the shots are composites.
This one, by him, posted in r/earthporn does confuse me a lot: https://www.reddit.com/r/EarthPorn/comments/a8tzbf/top_down_...
On Reddit or in the PetaPixel article? As in the latter the only reference I see to multiple shots is for a panorama (which is possibly the least-controversial way of combining multiple exposures).
> r/earthporn which specifically is for real scenes that look like real life
Is it? There’s nothing in the subreddit’s rules about that. In fact its rules specifically state: “Panoramas, Image Stacks, Composites, and images edited via Photoshop or similar software are allowed”.
On reddit, which is where he's been angry about his photos being called fake or unnatural.
> Is it? There’s nothing in the subreddit’s rules about that. In fact its rules specifically state: “Panoramas, Image Stacks, Composites, and images edited via Photoshop or similar software are allowed”.
Yes, but there are finer rules about different things. Super long-exposing the sky in 1 photo and a lake in another for a night shot looks cool, but is not a landscape photo for earthporn, since it usues techniques to make the actual landscape darker and it could be moderated away usign the 'silhouettes' rule, but they seldom are. They shouldn't be there at all (as stated in the extended FAQ but in sky/space/water/whateverporn instead).
The picture I linked above needs to be a 'natural landscape', but isn't a landscape at all, and probably has never looked like that to anyone seeing it, ever.
I remember the first time my partner saw the milky way. She was disappointed because in her mind it was supposed to look like one of these photos.
However, if his complaint is that, in general, people are too quick to be skeptical of things they see on the internet, well, I can't exactly get behind him on that one.... :)
In the first one with the sunset, you can see where the sky meets the dark landscape and there's a weird black glow that bleeds out from the ground. That's what happens when you blur an image and blend it back onto itself, perhaps if one was trying to get a 'bloom' effect in Photoshop.
You can view a more detailled version here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/albertdros/19838085444/in/date...
Here's two taken from NatGeo's best photo's of 2018 :
To make things worse, you used the low-res/low-jpeg-quality version of the photo from the blog, which inherently have more error. If you use the original 2100x3100 photo , you get a much different result:
I'm not trained to read these diffs and somebody who's cheating professionally would know to cover their tracks. So while they can be used to detect forgery they cannot disprove it.