Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Debating the Rules and Ethics of Digital Photojournalism

These sorts of articles and debates are always interesting to me because, while it’s true that digital tools make photo manipulation easier, photos have never been 100% free of manipulation.

In college, I took a class on the history of photography, and we were presented with this incredible photo of an arched promenade, and we were asked what was odd about it. After a beat, the professor noted that it was actually a composite of several negatives, each taken at a different focal length. I wish I remembered the name of this particular photo to cross-reference this account, but I don’t think I’m mistaken. Photo manipulation has a very long history.

On the other hand, these are examples of photojournalism, which one expects to be unadulterated. On the other hand, are different white balance or exposure settings adulterating an image by transforming its mood? Such photos would, after all, be straight out of the camera, so to speak. Is the determination of whether manipulation is excessive like pornography, in that “you know it when you see it”?