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Chapter 15. Compositing and Retouching f... > Honesty is the Best Policy

Honesty is the Best Policy

When manipulating photographs for publication, an additional constraint accrues that we don’t have to worry about when we’re simply trying to amaze or mislead our family, friends, and colleagues. Overly fussy people, such as the news media and the judiciary, tend to freak at the thought of a photograph’s being changed in ways that will lead people to the wrong conclusion. The media have even established a set of guidelines about how retouching, compositing, and other photo tricks can or cannot be used for news photos (erring mostly on the cannot side). The legal establishment has its own directives, most of which fall under the rules of evidence and can result in rather severe sanctions if you break them.

Advertising, as well, is governed by rules and laws about what you can or cannot do when a photograph is made, or afterwards. For example, it’s illegal to put marbles in a bowl of soup to make all the toothsome ingredients rise to the top for a photograph. On the other hand, it’s OK to use a professional photographer to create “amateur” snapshots for a print ad, as long as the resulting photos, after they’ve been subjected to halftoning and the printing process, look no better or sharper than photos an amateur might produce with typical amateur equipment.


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