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Photo Manipulation

Photo Manipulation

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Published by: clemwork on Nov 03, 2010
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02/04/2014

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 Nick GastJour 481Case StudyOctober 21, 2010Photo ManipulationThe National Press Photographers Association¶s Code of Ethics states, ³Editing shouldmaintain the integrity of the photographic images' content and context. Do not manipulateimages or add or alter sound in any way that can mislead viewers or misrepresent subjects.´
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 While this code is the standard by which all photojournalists are judged, it also leaves a lot up tointerpretation. At what point does an image manipulation become misleading? Is this somethingthat varies from case to case or is there a defined line that photojournalists are never allowed tocross? The questions that arise from cases of photographic manipulation in journalism will probably never all be answered, but the discussions they provoke are important to the field of  photojournalism and the ever evolving landscape of media ethics.Manipulation in photography didn¶t just arrive with Photoshop. As early as 1839, photographers were staging photographs and faking captions. By the time the Civil War rolledaround, at least one prominent photographer was routinely faking photographs. Matthew Bradyand his staff of photographers were discovered to have staged a variety of battlefield photographs, including some depicting battle and death. Brady also used crafty editingtechniques to manipulate his photos. His famous portraits of President Abraham Lincoln andGeneral Ulysses S. Grant were both fabricated by placing the men¶s heads on different bodies.
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 As time went on, manipulation in photos became more and more prominent. Mostly used for 
1
http://www.nppa.org/professional_development/business_practices/ethics.html
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http://commfaculty.fullerton.edu/lester/writings/chapter6.html
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http://www.cs.dartmouth.edu/farid/research/digitaltampering/index1.html
 
 political purposes, photographers exhibited more and more skill with their editing. During theWWII era, one of the most popular techniques used by photographers was cloning people out of  photographs. From dictators like Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin removing figures that had fallenout of favor with them from photos to Benito Mussolini removing a horse handler from a phototo cut a more heroic portrait of himself on a horse, the widespread use of photo manipulation inthis era no doubt helped lead to the current photo editing culture.
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 As technology advanced, so too did photographers¶ ability to edit their photos. When personal computers and Photoshop came into the picture, photo manipulation became easier thanever. One of the first public cases of digital photo manipulation was a 1982
 National Geographic
magazine cover featuring the Great Pyramid of Giza. In order to get the pyramidand the camels in the foreground to fit the magazine¶s vertical format, the Great Pyramid of Gizawas digitally moved.
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A more recent example of high profile photo manipulation involved a2003 photo by Los Angeles Times photographer Brian Walski. Walski, a 20-year veteran of the business, was on assignment in Iraq when he turned in an image of an armed British soldier urging Iraqi civilians to seek cover. The photo was so well received that it ran above the fold onthe front page of the LA Times. It was also a fake. Walski had created the image from twoseparate photographs. When his ethical lapse was discovered he was fired.
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One of the most prolific photo manipulators in journalism was a photographer named Allan Detrich. Discoveredin 2007, it was determined that he had submitted 79 digitally altered photos to the
Toledo Blade
 since January of that year. Detrich had routinely erased extraneous elements like people, treelimbs, and wires from his photos and added things like basketballs and shrubbery to others. He
4
http://www.cs.dartmouth.edu/farid/research/digitaltampering/index2.html
5
http://www.cs.dartmouth.edu/farid/research/digitaltampering/index2.html
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http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/photo/essays/vanRiper/030409.htm
 
had been working for the
 Blade
since 1989 and was even a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize in feature photography in 1998. Detrich initially denied the accusations.
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 Some of the most controversial cases of photo manipulation involve celebrity photos.One of the first instances of celebrity photo manipulation was a 1989
TV Guide
cover featuringOprah Winfrey. The photo, which shows Winfrey lounging on a pile of money in a sparklingdress, was actually a composite of Ann-Margaret¶s body and Winfrey¶s head.
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Another  photograph along those same lines involved a
 Newsweek 
cover of Martha Stewart. The cover ranin 2005, just before Stewart was released from Prison. For the photo, her head was superimposedon the body of a model who was photographed separately. Newsweek said they intended the photo to clearly be an illustration, but the NPPA still called it a ³major ethical breach´, addingthat this type of practice ³erodes the credibility of all journalism, not just one publication.´
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Theidea of a photo illustration wasn¶t anything new. In 1994, in the midst of the O.J. Simpson arrest,
Time
magazine ran a cover portrait of Simpson that had been substantially darkened. When themagazine came under fire for running the photo, they too claimed that it was intended as a clear  photo illustration. This was a particularly controversial case, because
Time
had to deal with theethical implications of the photo alteration as well as allegations of racism because of thedarkened image.
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 In 1990, photo critic Andy Grundberg predicted, ³In the future, readers of newspapersand magazines will probably view news pictures more as illustrations than as reportage, sincethey will be aware that they can no longer distinguish between a genuine image and one that has
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http://toledoblade.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070415/NEWS08/704150316&SearchID=73278129833947
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http://www.pdnonline.com/pdn/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1003571795
9
http://www.cs.dartmouth.edu/farid/research/digitaltampering/index2.html
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http://www.nppa.org/news_and_events/news/2005/03/newsweek.html
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http://www.nytimes.com/1994/06/25/us/time-responds-to-criticism-over-simpson-cover.html

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