Topic Author
Posts: 120
Joined: Thu Oct 11, 2001 9:19 pm

PhotoShop - Where To Draw The Line?

Thu Apr 17, 2003 8:23 am

Hi fellow photographers.
I was just reading over the FAQ section and this question caught my eye.

Q:Can I send in digitally enhanced/composite photos?
A:No, does not accept photos that have been altered in any way.

I am very aware that splicing together two or more photos is not allowed and I am for that matter not interested in such pictures. It is the phrase digitally enhanced that got me curious.

What I was wondering about is where to draw the line with general altering of photos. I am used to sharpening my pictures and adjusting the brightness/contrast before sending them in for screening and I guess that is common practice. But that is still altering of the photo.

I am curious about where the screeners at draw the line with digital enhancing. Especially when it comes to adjusting the colour balance of the picture. Is it for example not well seen to increase the red colour in a picture of an airplane at sunset when such effect could easily be achieved with the use of filters on the lens.

Just asking.....I don´t want to break any rules.
Siggi  Laugh out loud
Posts: 4586
Joined: Fri Aug 27, 2010 12:26 am

RE: PhotoShop - Where To Draw The Line?

Thu Apr 17, 2003 9:28 am

A fair - and tricky - question. This has been discussed amongst the screeners many times, and while a definitive set of rules is difficult (as there are many grey areas), you will probably be safe with the following:

1 - Do NOTHING to modify the subject matter of the picture (eg. no superimpositions, backgrounds, altered registrations, markings etc. etc.)

2 - In general do not modify the environment of the image (ie. turn day into night, fake sunsets, modify the surroundings). However, cloning out a piece of litter may be acceptable ... unless the cloning itself is visible.

3 - Genuine "photographic" enhancements are permissable - ie. normal darkroom practice. This could include contrast adjustments, colour balance, exposure, spotting dust etc. UNLESS doing so violates 1 or 2 above.

There is, of course, every likelyhood that a skilled PS user will slip a manipulated image past the screeners. However, there are thousands of eagle eyed visitors who are very quick to point out "problem" pictures, so the chances are sooner or later that person will be caught out. At the very least, anyone caught faking can be sure all future submissions will be examined very carefully indeed and they may find borderline images falling in the reject pile instead of acceptance!


Colin K. Work, Pixstel
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Joined: Mon Jul 15, 2002 11:16 am

RE: PhotoShop - Where To Draw The Line?

Thu Apr 17, 2003 9:38 am

Good question, but there are really no hard and fast rules. Common sense, intgrity and good judgement should be your guides.

Here is what I personally will consider doing to a photo.

-Brightness, Contrast, Levels, Gama adjustment. Note that this can include using the mask tool (feathered or not) to selectively adjust smaller areas of a photo.
-Localized burning/dodging (same as a conventional chemical darkroom).
-Blemish repair, scratches, artifacts, dustmarks with the clone tool.
-Color adjustment, any and all channels.
-Hue/Saturation as required, all channels.
-Sharpening, typically some unsharp mask.
-Gaussian blur, typically to reduce noise or grain in the sky.
-Rotate, to get thing nice and square visually. Note that on a rotated image, I have added extra "sky" to fill the small triangular areas left because of rotating the image. It's either that or crop tighter which isn't possible if it means cropping into the aircraft body.

That's about the limit of what I will consider other than one very specialized instance where I removed a "bug splat" from the leading edge of a wing that was visually destracting.


User avatar
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Joined: Tue May 18, 1999 2:46 am

RE: PhotoShop - Where To Draw The Line?

Thu Apr 17, 2003 10:35 am

What would you say about a photo that is otherwise very good execpt for something like a light pole which cuts into part of the plane on the photo...and you can clone or heaal-brush out the pole?

Bruce Leibowitz - Jackson, MS (KJAN) - Canon 50D/100-400L IS lens
Posts: 743
Joined: Tue Feb 15, 2000 2:22 pm

RE: PhotoShop - Where To Draw The Line?

Thu Apr 17, 2003 10:40 am

I've removed a person from the tarmac in one of my photos, does that count?
Posts: 1870
Joined: Wed Jan 10, 2001 1:09 pm

RE: PhotoShop - Where To Draw The Line?

Thu Apr 17, 2003 11:01 am

I basically stole an image of an all white, Boeing 777 and added some wild colors to it and even added Peter Max's name to it, does that count as Photoshop maniuplation?

I can provide a link to the photo if you'd like to see it !!  Big grin

Posts: 804
Joined: Wed Sep 19, 2001 10:40 am

RE: PhotoShop - Where To Draw The Line?

Thu Apr 17, 2003 2:39 pm

Please momma no!!!!  Smile/happy/getting dizzy

[Edited 2003-04-17 07:42:43]
Give me a mile of road and I can take you a mile. Give me a mile of runway and I can show you the world.
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Joined: Fri Aug 27, 2010 12:26 am

RE: PhotoShop - Where To Draw The Line?

Thu Apr 17, 2003 5:35 pm

I would say Steve's approach is fine and should cause no problems with regards to

As to removing light poles ... well here we get into the grey area ... where does it stop - fences? Buildings? Other aircraft on the ramp? I think in any of these cases it's altering reality to an extent that someone who knows the location will know the image has been altered, which then could cast doubt on the veracity of other photos, or indeed encourgage others down that road.

I don't have any problem with modifying images for a particular purpose, and have done many such alterations at the request of a client. But I wouldn't for which I see as providing a historical record ... warts and all.


Colin K. Work, Pixstel

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