Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Underwater Photography-A Case for Photoshop

We booked a diver the other day to Isla Guadalupe who turned out to be an "old school film photographer".

As we discussed the relatively recent and meteoric rise of commercial digital photography in the industry he said, "90% of those commercial images are photoshopped".

Which opens an interesting debate about the current trend in commercial underwater photography, and elegant solution.

Underwater shooters are without a doubt a rare breed of photographers. With the advent of digital shooting along came the ability to change and modify the images ad hoc. Long gone are the days where the final image was the final image causing those that had honed their craft on film to cry foul. Now a decent photographer can be a fantastic one by changing the image after the shoot with powerful tools available throughout the marketplace.

Exactly what makes a great underwater image? How many modifications are acceptable? And will we as consumers of those images ever know?

The answer to that has an elegant solution. Digital media allows each image to be tagged. The solution would be for a software program (typically the same program that allows you to modify the image) to keep track of each and every modification, and for those who use these images commercially to share with the public each and every change.

This would change the current digital underwater photography paradigm from "here's the image" to "this is a true image".

Case in point, the image we started this blog post with. Fake.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Photoshopping is a natural as the clear perfect shots that we see over and over again in magazines.

All of the biggest names do it, does that make it right? No.

M4 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
M4 said...

There's a great article on Digital Forensics, "Digital Forensics
An Interview with Dr. Hany Farid
February 2008"That discusses manipulation detection. There are some great examples. There's also history about how this manipulation has been employed to 'improve' the story pictures have told for years.
Wish I could add the link for you... it's on the digitaljournalist.org.
Sorry.. can't seem to get a link to show.

Shark Diver said...

Thanks for the expose M4. We have been concerned about this issue for a while watching the rise of the "new underwater shooters".

You have to ask sometimes are those images as good as they seem?