Articles, Blog

Is Retouching Cheating??

September 4, 2019


– Bonjour mesdames and messieurs. In this video I want to talk
to you about whether or not retouching is cheating. I know this is a very, debatable subject. I have different viewpoints on it. I want to give you my view point on it. (dramatic music) All right, so I made a
little presentation for you to give you my honest
viewpoint about whether retouching is cheating or not. And, you’re completely
okay to not agree with me, leave me a comment,
tell me what you think, I will read your comment with pleasure. This is the G Master
Lens 85 millimeter 1.4, one of my favorite lens. And it has this ability to
give a very strong bokeh, like this photo I shot with
it, where you only have like the whole foreground
is completely blurry, then it’s very sharp in
the middle and it’s blurry in the background. Now, unless you really
have some eyesight issue, no human beings is ever
gonna see things like this. It’s a trick. We are tricking, we are
doing an optical illusion using a lens. Now how is that different
from the software? Well let’s carry on. Also, don’t forget to
smash that like button. It really helps me so that
other people can see the video, tell me what you want to learn. I make two videos per week,
I read every single comment and if you did not subscribe, please subscribe to my channel. This is another photo shot
with an 85 millimeter 1.4. I put some LED lights in the
back, you know you get this great crazy bokeh. That’s not something that’s
normal, the lens created that. So is that cheating, or
is that not cheating? This is a photo of Frans, my
good friend and you can see how blurry it is behind him. I mean, unless you really
have some eyesight issues, you are never gonna see that in reality. Again, a trick done by a device. Not by the software, but by a lens. This is an ND 1000. Now the ND 1000 is gonna stop
the light from coming in, and it’s gonna do some really
cool long exposure effect. Check this out. This is a one second exposure. You can see how the wave looks like, almost like oil painting. Is that natural? No. It’s a device, it’s an object that created an optical illusion. All of that to create an emotional impact. This photo is an ND, I put
the same filter on this photo. It’s a 92 second exposure. 90 second or something of
a sunset so you can see the stretchy clouds. Is that something normal? Is that cheating? It’s using an ND filter. This one is a three minutes long exposure. Now when you do a three
minute long exposure and the sky is white and
the water is kind of white. It becomes white after three minutes. So is that cheating or
is that not cheating? You are getting my point. My point is, we are artists
and we are trying to create an impact, an emotional impact. It doesn’t matter whether you use a lens, or a filter to create an emotion
or 20 hours in Photoshop, you are still trying to create an effect, of course, I am a fine art
artist, I’m not a reporter, you know, like a war reporter
who needs to make sure the photo is very accurate
for people to make sure that what’s happening there is real. You know, I remember when
there was some riots in Paris and people were cheating
by putting a small fire in the foreground and shooting it. So it, the photo was not retouched, but it was not a
representation of the truth. And you see that a lot in the press. Well, I’m a fine art artist,
I guess a lot of you guys are fine art artists, we’re just trying to make people happy. We’re just trying to share
the beauty of this world. So if you use a lens,
or if you use a filter to create an impact, is that cheating? I don’t think so. This is again, this is pano I did, every exposure is two minutes, you know, and all I did was use an ND filter. I converted it to black and white, but I didn’t really use the
software for that effect. It was all about the filter. One last, this is a long
exposure of Notre Dame. Beautiful Notre Dame, it was a great, this one is I think a minute
and a half long exposure. You get this really stretchy cloud effect. Look at the water. It’s completely flat. It does not look like this in reality. This was like five seconds of retouching. The whole trick was done with that filter. Now, I’m gonna talk to you
about my best selling photos in galleries and in case
you don’t know this, I’ve been working with the
Yellow Korner Galleries for the last six years now. I’ve got over 80 photos for
sell in over 82 galleries around the world. It’s, I’m very proud of that
and I’m gonna walk you through some of my best selling photos
of all times and you will see some like this one. This is one of my early
work, it’s very saturated, it’s kind of over the top,
and this was a lot retouching. I changed the sky, I did
a lot of dodge and burn, it doesn’t really look
natural, but never the less, it’s still one of my best selling photos. This one is another one
of my best selling photos, and it took me literally
five seconds to retouch this. Open the shadows, bring
down the highlights, a little bit of brushing,
but I used a preset on it, I think the whole thing
took me like four seconds. This one was a little longer,
it was an HDR but still was very fast to retouch,
it was, I just wanted to get all the details from the
sky and from the city. It’s one of my best
selling photos in gallery. This one was literally
10 seconds of retouching. Nothing to it. It was shot at 2000 ISO and it’s also a great
selling photo for me. This one was, took me a lot
of time because I brought in some sky, I made a layer
with CPI and I brushed in back some of the colors. Took me quite some work. This one was very fast. This one was a few seconds of retouching. And this one, which by the way, was picked up by the state of California, to represent Hollywood around the world, by the official state of
California PR department, this one took me a lot of
time, I actually did a video on this, you’ll find the link
below on how I did this photo, but I added some clouds,
did some dodge and burn, cropped the photo. I did quite some work on this one. But here’s the point. Whether you spend 20 hours
on the photo or whether you spend five seconds on the
photo, it does not matter to me. What matters to me is do
people enjoy your work? Now I’ll give you one
trick that I’ve been saying over and over on this channel
which was a big realization for me a long time ago and
that is that when I started using Photoshop and Lightroom
I started going crazy, adding clouds, and having
really crazy contrasting clouds or super saturated photos,
just like a kid having a toy, I was playing with it. And some of the photos had a great impact, but when I would show a
photo like this to somebody, the first response was always,
oh, you’re good at Photoshop. And I hated that. I didn’t want people to
know that I’m a retoucher, I want to be a photographer. It took me quite some time to
get that photographing right. Yes, I enhanced it with
sky replacement, but still, the original frame is kinda cool. So I discovered the work of Peter Lik, awhile ago, and I walked
into many of his galleries, and he apparently sells
hundreds of millions of dollars of fine art sales. I know there is controversy about him, I love his work. I mean, I have so much for a
man who’s capable of opening at 14 galleries on his own. And I am sure he does a lot
of Photoshop retouching, but, the thing is, see, that
he nails his color really well. What I find and that was kind
of what was wrong in my work, is that if you have a sky
like this one for example, although it was done with
an ND filter that sky is really not natural, very magenta. People, because it doesn’t
look natural will respond to you Photoshopped it, but if
you show a photo like this there is chance that they will
respond oh what a great sky because it’s just a good
representation of the colors that were there. So just be careful when you’re retouching, to not put too much contrast on the skies. And by the way, I made a
video just on that called the five biggest mistakes in Lightroom. Check also the link below. Last, if you feel bad about
retouching your photos or spending a lot of time retouching them, let me introduce to you to one
of my mentors, Ansel Adams. Ansel Adams was the
king of black and white. He is known as the adventurer
landscape photographer, the best of all times. And, he is known for this
kind of really strong black and white with great
contrast of the National Park, this is Point Dome,
this is the Tunnel View. I mean, he is really,
really good, you know? But, I don’t know if you know this, this is Ansel Adam’s son,
which was interviewed by Mark Seliger, a good friend of mine, and he was walking through Mark the way he was retouching his photos. What he’s holding in his hand is what we call the dodge tool. The dodge tool, basically the
idea is that we’re projecting light against a positive paper
and if they wanted to make something brighter, they
would dodge the light. It would stop the light
from meeting the paper, therefore making it brighter. So, that’s him showing
the different tools. He had something calls the zone system, I’m not going to go into it very much, but the idea is that
different parts of the photo had different value of
luminosity and it was achieved through darkroom retouching. This is another tool that
they used to use to make something a little brighter. It’s the reverse, so,
the light only hits where there is a hole, making
this part brighter. But the problem is that if they
didn’t nail the retouching, you know once it was exposing the photo, they had to tear down
the paper and re-do it until they did it right, and sometimes they had
to do it 20 or 30 times. It was a lot of work. Way more than I ever
spent on any photo ever. This is one of the most famous
photos from Ansel Adams. It’s called Moonrise Over
Hernandez, New Mexico. That’s the original negative, and that’s the one that’s
being sold in gallery. You can see the sky is much
darker, look at the clouds. Look the before, look how
the clouds is more contrasty. Look at the village
that’s almost invisible and how it is there. And so, it’s not just Ansel Adams, this is some old archive from Magnum, where you can see this beautiful
photo of Audrey Hepburn and you can see all the
retouching darkroom instructions on the left side to make what you get here on the right side. Same thing with this photo
of James Dean in New York, Times Square under the rain. Or this photo, of Muhammad Ali. Every round is just an
instruction of like plus one stop minus two stops, heavy, heavy retouching. Heavy dodge and burn. So, here is my thought. Retouching is an art, it’s
been around since photographing was invented, so don’t
feel bad about using it. Concentrate on the effect you
create on your photography. Do people enjoy your work? Do they get some emotion out of it? That, all that matters to me. Tell me what you think
down below in the comments and don’t forget to watch my video, The Five Biggest Mistakes
to Avoid in Lightroom, starting right now.

92 Comments

  • Reply urbanshadow777 August 30, 2019 at 4:23 pm

    Is editing cheating? No. Photographers have been editing their photos via the post process since the birth of photography, the only difference now is we do it digitally because the cameras are digital but in the film days it was done in the darkroom. Most people I see accusing retouching as cheating are people who don't have a clue how photoshop works and are not interested in learning it. Its the film equivalent of doing photography but then getting your prints done at your local supermarket. Editing your digital images in photoshop is just as important as editing in the darkroom. Don't over do it though or rely on it to fix bad photos. A bad photo is a bad photo regardless of whether its been photoshopped or not.

  • Reply Darrell OSullivan August 30, 2019 at 4:29 pm

    Thanks Serge for an excellent video. I am very tired of non-photographer "cheating" comments. For some reason they can't separate fine art from journalism. Their loss

  • Reply Randy Melton August 30, 2019 at 4:31 pm

    Here, here. Hat's off to you Serge, I totally agree with you and your views on retouching. Those that carry the banner for "getting it right in the camera and not retouching" have obviously forgotten that as good as DSLR's are these days, they still can't produce an image the way our eyes see the scene being photographed. The camera is either going to expose for the highlights or the shadows but it can't do both. That's where retouching comes in.

    Just as you mentioned, it can be overdone and that's when the comments of "oh you retouched that picture" or "you Photoshopped that picture to death" come in.

    So to the die hard "I want to get it right in the camera because I'm too lazy to post process" I say this…Get over yourself, your camera will never make a fine art quality image on it's own.

  • Reply Bill B August 30, 2019 at 4:33 pm

    Very interesting video, as right now I'm struggling with the idea that Luminar is moving towards manipulating photos with sky replacement etc. Currently I look at this as making a fake photo. When I look at a photo I would like it to be a representation of what the human eye saw. But I realize as I was watching your video, the little tweaks I do to photos to make them look sharper etc. which I looked at as just cleaning up a photo, really could be considered by some to be manipulating the photo. So now it becomes an issue of what is your level of comfort of altering a photo. I guess since my photos are just for me and to show my friends that places I have visited, I am looking for as realistic as possible. For a pro, who wants to sell his photos, I guess a more dramatic photo is what he wants. Thanks for the video, really did make me think !!!

  • Reply iannis anarys August 30, 2019 at 4:34 pm

    YES Every modification IS somewhere a cheat. After that there is small retouching, which is ok to me, and high end to much deep retouching which is not the truth. The real genuine photography is the image caught live withe the camera.

  • Reply tikawasi August 30, 2019 at 4:34 pm

    Great video – thanks.

  • Reply Jeff Miller August 30, 2019 at 4:38 pm

    Enjoyed your video and agree 100% about the difference between photo art and photo journalism!

  • Reply Sergeant Crow August 30, 2019 at 4:45 pm

    It is good to hone your skills at taking pics with no intent to retouch.. I try my best with that..
    It is totally acceptable or even necessary to retouch and 'paint' some images to something visually artistic and appealing to people so they want to buy the print and hang it on their wall.. I realise that now and I know I will have to learn.. What you do to your images is absolutely fantastic.. That image through the arch with the lights… Amazing !

  • Reply Didier Perrusset August 30, 2019 at 4:47 pm

    En Français Serge : Un juriste pointilleux pourrait dire que les retouches sont un "faux et usage de faux" puisque en droit pénal un faux est TOUTE altération de la vérité. Sans aller jusque là il y a développement d'une part et retouche d'autre part, et dans ces 2 notions des modifications légères et d'autres plus prononcées. Pour moi tant que c'est dans l'esprit de l’image captée, qui n'est que ce qui a été photographié in fine, les modifications légères sont acceptables et ne sont pas une triche. Si ces modifications vont trop loin, modifient de trop l'image alors il y a tricherie et plus encore si on ne l'annonce pas lors de la publication. A force de voir des images travaillées et retravaillées par des logiciels depuis 15 / 20 ans les gens ne savent plus ce qu'est une photographie, tel qu'on en a pris de 1827 à 1990 (environ) TROP DE RETOUCHE TUE LA RETOUCHE ET LA PHOTOGRAPHIE AVEC, la culture photographique du public aussi.

  • Reply Jake Fotograffix August 30, 2019 at 4:52 pm

    The only thing that true to us is our eyes. Don't trust your camera.

  • Reply Mickey Zombish August 30, 2019 at 5:20 pm

    This video should be called: Why retouching is NOT cheating.

  • Reply azzy doon August 30, 2019 at 5:22 pm

    loved your explanation…

  • Reply Aatish Shekhar August 30, 2019 at 5:30 pm

    I saw somebody who just looked just like you in st. petersburg Russia, but turns out he was not you… Great video, really gives me points to argue with others who don't understand the art.

  • Reply Pallab Majumdar August 30, 2019 at 5:39 pm

    Very good topic. The Ansel Adams segment on film retouching was a new learning. Thank You!

  • Reply Luis Amadeo August 30, 2019 at 5:45 pm

    Totally agree. I see lightroom/photoshop as tools of your artistic expressions, as is the camera or lenses that you use. Keep at it; you have great work.

  • Reply Kelley Taylor August 30, 2019 at 5:46 pm

    Excellent tutorial from a master! Did you get a new laptop and what kind is it?

  • Reply Matthew Roddy August 30, 2019 at 5:52 pm

    Good show, sir.
    SO glad you show that heavy retouching and enhancing is nothing new. There's definitely a difference between journalism and art (not that journalism can't BE art, of course). There's nothing magical or more real about an image direct from the camera, as you point out. Even the crop factor can be modified in camera (3:2, 4:3, 16:9, etc, etc), so I never understood "purists" espousing that cropping is bad.

  • Reply theosax August 30, 2019 at 6:02 pm

    You're right Serge about this topic. Is the reason of making this video about negative reviews?

  • Reply Jeff Sibelius August 30, 2019 at 6:08 pm

    Ansel Adams used the dark room to do what we do with computers today. He compared photography to music – he said that shooting the picture was like writing the score, but printing the photo was the performance." If it's good enough for Ansel Adams, it's good enough for me.

  • Reply dunnymonster August 30, 2019 at 6:20 pm

    Is post processing cheating? Absolutely not in my opinion. I could just as easily make the argument that you didn't take a photo unless it was shot in full manual exposure. Those who use auto ISO, Aperture priority, Shutter priority or even exposure compensation dial are using the camera in part auto mode so that's cheating isn't it?. So because the person who pressed the shutter didn't make every decision regarding exposure manually, the camera should take the credit for the fantastic photo lol 😋 Regards post processing, if the photo is journalistic in nature it " must " be an accurate and true depiction of the captured scene so that is an exception. Everything else is artistic choice so edit all you want I say! 😊

  • Reply pixelasm August 30, 2019 at 6:25 pm

    The difference is the intent I think: If you want to create art every tool is ok. If you want to document not so much. In the end who cares? If you do like what you have created no one should play it down unless you ask for honest criticism to which everyone should be open though 😉

  • Reply Alistair Reese August 30, 2019 at 6:30 pm

    Is an Impressionist painter cheating by not putting all the details in? Was Claude Monet a cheat? Are recording engineers cheats because they add reverb and compression to a vocal track? Is a cabinet maker cheating if he uses veneered panels? na.

  • Reply Sam L August 30, 2019 at 6:50 pm

    This reminds me of the 1980's discussions over cropping. At that time there were a lot of articles about cropping in the studio versus cropping in the camera. It was an unimportant issue and so is the concept of cheating when it comes to making art. Intent and result are what matters.

  • Reply Alan Parker August 30, 2019 at 7:13 pm

    Great video. I agree 100%

  • Reply Jean-Michel Coin August 30, 2019 at 7:15 pm

    Chuis d'accord avec Serge.

  • Reply Ricardo Müller August 30, 2019 at 7:16 pm

    Serge, please tell us about the flambient technique for interior design photography. Comment prós and cons, make some photos with this technique and compare the results using your basic workflow of HDR look and dodge and burning retouching. This is my sugestion for another video.

  • Reply Mike Long August 30, 2019 at 7:19 pm

    Agree 100%. Purists would love to claim that using BW film is the only non-cheating in photography. Last I checked, 99% of the world's population don't see the world in black and white…

  • Reply Jacek Śliwczyński August 30, 2019 at 7:27 pm

    Thanks Serge. Totally agree 🙂

  • Reply Old Grumpy Jim August 30, 2019 at 7:34 pm

    Been doing this since the early 70's and the only thing I would say to all the people who say it is cheating is…..they are deluding themselves or know nothing of photography. Adams used to say 8 minutes in the box = 8 hours in edit or something similar. Stock photography companies have it defined as images are either creative or editorial and for as long as I can remember that was always the case. Unfortunately this cheating myth has been perpetuated by youtube armchair photographers and in particular one well known wildlife photographer who has stated often in his Chanel that his images are straight out of camera and anyone who has been involved in photography and on examining his images know it is not true. Editorial/Documentary photography is different for obvious reasons. Good vlog

  • Reply Cykomore August 30, 2019 at 7:43 pm

    A very interesting video Serge, like always. I have been doing photography for about two years and it has been some journey as well to figure out what I liked to do in terms of retouching on my own pictures (mostly landscape, wildlife and astro). Now keep in mind that I am a very new photographer, but I'd like to give my two cents on the issue. I think the issue is double.

    The first more obvious part is simple: many people do not know anything about photography, and will quickly assume you photoshopped something because they could never get the same result with a simple snap taken on the go on their smartphone.
    The second part is trickier, but also the one that annoys me the most. Instagram is, needless to say, prevalent to hundreds of thousands of photographer trying to share their work. The problem is that many do photography for the sole purpose of gathering followers, and ego flatting is one hell of a drug. Anything that works to bring the masses will definitely become trendy and influence their work, and oftentimes it will be composites, saturated or greatly retouched photographs. While I agree with most of the points you raise here, I'd still like to point the only instance where I consider retouching cheating, and it's also the most common in my experience. People that greatly alter a picture but do not disclose it or, even worse, make it sound like it is a "one click straight out of the camera" and will market it as skill. As an amateur photographer that do it by passion, it really angers me when these people get away with it and get a lot of exposure, but will quickly bury you into dirt if you ask because "you are obviously not as talented nor famous than me so stfu".

    TL;DR: do what you want and retouch as you may, but please at least have the decency to not be an ass when someone points an obvious manipulation that you've been lying about

  • Reply Rick Rush August 30, 2019 at 7:49 pm

    The painter uses the brush and paint, photographers use the camera and computer.Does every painter depict the scene as it is in reality ,light, shadows,color and detail ? Does a painter eliminate unflattering objects…yes of course they do.Manipulation has been going on for hundreds of years ! It's art and it's what the artist wants it to be and if the viewer likes it or not it's up to them.
    " If you ain't cheatin ya ain't tryin"
    Good topic Serge.Thanks

  • Reply Thanos Bistolas August 30, 2019 at 7:56 pm

    Totally agree. Get it right in the camera and perfect it with whatever means you see fit. At the end of the day, if people enjoy the outcome of their work, this is absolutely fine. The only thing that is cheating is stealing the work of others and present it as your own. Thanks for sharing.

  • Reply Eyex August 30, 2019 at 8:01 pm

    great video!

  • Reply Gaby Isphoto August 30, 2019 at 8:27 pm

    VERY well said!

  • Reply Pedro Alves August 30, 2019 at 8:41 pm

    I agree with your point of view..

  • Reply Call Me Mom August 30, 2019 at 8:52 pm

    I think it depends on why you took the photo and what you want to use it for. If you are trying to lie to people in a way that affects them or others negatively, of course that's wrong, but making the photo look how the scene looked – or correcting for the differences between how people see and how the camera sees – or creating an image for a specific reason – say advertising or an album cover or to be fine art or just for fun, that's perfectly fine.

  • Reply Ибрагим Шишани August 30, 2019 at 8:54 pm

    Is Retouching Cheating -The way you do it YES

  • Reply david ellis August 30, 2019 at 9:30 pm

    I agree with everything you said. People forget or don't realize that photo studios in the past employed retouchers to clean up complexions or to slim subjects. If you are making art, Photoshop is a good tool. If you are documenting something then Photoshop obviously needs to be used judiciously .

  • Reply Tom Costanza August 30, 2019 at 9:41 pm

    Quite a rant Serge. I agree. Technical progress has moved a lot of skill to the tool from the user of the tool. In addition to photography, I also enjoy woodworking. Should I feel bad that I use a table saw instead of a hand saw? Would anyone criticize Picasso for painting with a palette knife? The truth is, almost anyone with an opposable thumb can use Photoshop, and do in 30 seconds what took Ansel Adams days to do in a wet darkroom. I have 2 types of photographs. Those that I don't do anything in Photoshop that couldn't be done in a wet darkroom, and those where anything goes. I don't try to pass the latter off as the former. But unless you're a crime scene photographer, who cares?

  • Reply Cristiano Giani August 30, 2019 at 9:52 pm

    I have noticed that often, those who criticize fine art photographers are those who do not know how to use post-production software.

    You know, the story of the fox and the grapes …..
    Thank you, Serge, and see you soon….

  • Reply Ni5ei August 30, 2019 at 10:25 pm

    It's called Lightroom for a reason.
    What photographers used to do in the darkroom can now be done in the lightroom. Nothing has changed, it just has become more advanced.
    It's called progression.

  • Reply Bart Ros August 30, 2019 at 10:32 pm

    Well said. I think its a good point as always to realize all photographers in the past used a type of post-processing. Lots more is possible today, but that does not mean they would have used all the tools we have now also. I get it from lots of photogs also. Not as savy with Photoshop. Its just a spot of jealousy…

  • Reply SEVEN BRIDGES ONE RIVER August 30, 2019 at 10:36 pm

    Do people enjoy your work…………………I don't enjoy ur work Serge……………..I L❤️VE IT! You teach us all so much and instil us with confidence! Thank you Serge! 🙏🏼

  • Reply John Fletcher August 30, 2019 at 10:38 pm

    Do you know that Ilford produced a multi grade B&W paper in the 1980's. The contrast of the print was changeable by changing the colour of the light the paper was exposed to using different strength of a purpleish filters below the enlarger lens.
    Was this cheating?

  • Reply BonesTheCat August 30, 2019 at 11:07 pm

    "You" (anyone) can display their shots however the hell they like. Nearly everyone I've heard make that "cheating" argument had the most uninteresting bland photography ability.

  • Reply David Wilson August 30, 2019 at 11:07 pm

    Always motivational in what you talk about. I think people we not aware of the "processing" process by really good film strip photographers. Thank you for your constant addressing of art photography issues/components.

  • Reply Ciaran Cosgrave August 30, 2019 at 11:13 pm

    Touché Serge. I think you may have been inspired to make this video by a comment which I recently left on one of your other videos. Maybe not.
    Either way, you have persuaded me that I was wrong. I need to embrace retouching!!

  • Reply Dean Brown August 30, 2019 at 11:27 pm

    I love your work and the way you are not afraid to use color and light to express what you see in your soul.

  • Reply Photo McPhotoface Poole August 30, 2019 at 11:36 pm

    Thanks Serge for opening up the debate. I don’t believe retouching is cheating, and I think you got it right when observing the reactions to your earlier work. I don’t think I would want to hear: “You must be really good at Photoshop.” That response means the viewer doesn’t altogether trust the image. Landscape photographer Charlie Waite said: “The moment the viewer feels unsettled or distrustful of the image the relationship between viewer and photograph is completely broken.” I like what I’ve photographed to have been something real that happened in front of my eyes, so personally, I’m not a fan of sky replacements, even if I took the photograph of the sky I might use as a replacement. If the light is not right, I prefer to go back another time and try again. But you are also right about being artists, and we should not lose sight of that. Everything from composition, long exposure, selective focus, narrow depth of field, shooting black and white etc. are all artistic choices. People either like them, or they don’t. If I didn’t retouch my images, they would be lifeless. Printing is important too. Likewise, what an artist does or does not do in retouching is an artistic choice. But if an image has had something like a sky replacement, or something major added, etc., I believe the viewer should be told how the image was created, especially if they are buying a print.

  • Reply Ross Sayer August 30, 2019 at 11:59 pm

    Totally agree with what you have said, Quote from Paul Reiffer – I have one simple goal: Which is with one image, I need to express to someone what it felt like there at the Time.
    This to me is what we should be doing as photographers.

  • Reply Nicholas Alcock August 31, 2019 at 12:55 am

    Spot on Serge.

  • Reply Scott Dance August 31, 2019 at 1:13 am

    I think it starts to become cheating at the point where you start adding/replacing things that wasn’t there. But, honestly, as long as someone doesn’t try represent it as “in camera” when it wasn’t, then it doesn’t matter. Do what makes you happy—just be honest about it. And Serge, you’ve always been honest about it.

  • Reply David Stella August 31, 2019 at 2:39 am

    I really enjoy your videos, and the insight you provide.

  • Reply nubscrub August 31, 2019 at 3:14 am

    Awesome video. That was refreshing and motivating. There’s no good reason to hold back in producing and sharing a vision in our art, whichever form it may take. Thanks for sharing

  • Reply Memories by Dotty x August 31, 2019 at 4:09 am

    I do both photojournalism, portraits, landscapes and mostly event and music photography. I agree with your opinion completely Mr. Ramelli. Well stated, represented and expressed. We are artists period. Learning photoshop and retouching successfully is not an easy task, it is a skill on its own. In todays world of digital effects, we are not involved with film any longer. Shooting in Raw means we must process our shots. Fact. What we create with those Raws is our art. Thank you for this video, I appreciate you, your work, your art and your creativity. Your work is phenomenally beautiful.

  • Reply Tonya Milam August 31, 2019 at 4:23 am

    Very well said! Thank you for the video! It's always been hard for me to explain this to anyone who doesn't understand. For me personally its creative expression and art. By the way I purchased some of your presets and I have been using them on some of my honeymoon photos from Alaska and people have been mesmerized by them and even asking to purchase prints. Thank you for providing the ONLY presets I have ever been able to actually use!

  • Reply Glidden Martinez August 31, 2019 at 4:39 am

    Serge we are artists. So people buy our interpretation of a landscape or a scene. My problem with Peter is his insistence in claiming that his pictures are "straight from camera"… which everyone that knows anything about photography know that is BS!

  • Reply NeoViny August 31, 2019 at 6:12 am

    There are two different things about it…. a pro photographer creating art…. and on the other side travel magazins/commercials with totally other intentions because the scenes that they create has nothing to do with the real world… one is true art, one is cheating…. I took a great photo on my wedding holiday… I made some arrangements in post and it looks awesome to me… I made a big print for my wall and I love it… for me it’s art because it creates emotions without commercial thoughts… when company’s trying to sell a lot of their products it is cheating. And even when most of the people know that it’s fake, does this makes it less cheating? No…

  • Reply Matlyn Wood August 31, 2019 at 7:13 am

    Great video sir and thanks for putting up a video of all the differences of how we retouch our work and not just talking about it. I believe there is a big difference between an explanation of a subject and a visual representation of the subject and easier understanding.

  • Reply Daniel Gentili August 31, 2019 at 7:33 am

    Genius, mate you are a genius. I learned a lot just listening.

  • Reply An Vo August 31, 2019 at 8:38 am

    Totally agree with everything you said.

  • Reply Ian Meechan August 31, 2019 at 9:00 am

    I agree with your comments about the viewer liking the work at the end of the day. Isn't that what fine art is all about? I think the only difference being as I'm from a darkroom background, is the effort it used to take in the past to produce what a LUT produces in today's Instagram age. I'd have to dodge, burn or use my special mix of coffee, tea or whatever to tone a print so there was a great amount of effort in the work. I'm sure a lot of my ex-colleagues if they had the tech in those days to produce the same result without all the effort would have jumped at the chance. The only thing I would say is I'm not so keen on over manipulated images which can sometimes be the case.

  • Reply Amnon Mahalalel August 31, 2019 at 9:18 am

    Thank you very much Serge. I love your point of view and I am going to use it a lot. It represent exactly what I think

  • Reply Warren G H August 31, 2019 at 10:17 am

    All very true Serge but I have conflict as to who I should try to impress, other people looking at my work or me and to hell if 'they' don't like them.

  • Reply pancaro77 August 31, 2019 at 10:34 am

    Bonjour Serge,
    Nice idea for a debate: you put really good arguments! My girlfriend always tells me that my photos are not reality… merci!

  • Reply They Caged Non August 31, 2019 at 10:49 am

    Awesome video Serge, love your informative content 👍🏼

  • Reply Sakol Woothiphom August 31, 2019 at 10:56 am

    I don't give shit about the people tell me you used Photoshop I happy with my end result

  • Reply John Chilver August 31, 2019 at 11:25 am

    Exactly what I have been explaining to those who say you must have altered it as they prefer to stick with what the camera sees. Unless you have the RAW image you are not seeing what the camera sees because the camera produces the compressed version in jpg which is often a poor example of the RAW.
    You have to reprocess RAW images to enable sharing and printing.
    With negative and print the image quality depended on chemical and light exposures. It is impossible to be certain that any image captured at a specific time is a true copy of what the eye saw.

  • Reply Tony Murphy August 31, 2019 at 11:45 am

    Fully agree 👌

  • Reply Old Film Guy August 31, 2019 at 12:17 pm

    Well argued and I appreciated the honesty toward your own work and growth as a photographer. As a former photojournalist it has been a somewhat difficult transformation to go from not manipulating images (or at least only in a minimal way, cropping, exposure etc.) to having the freedom to interpret a photo for its artistic and emotional impact, but I am really enjoying the artistic side now.

  • Reply Vicente Capito August 31, 2019 at 12:35 pm

    Great video man, awesome content. Thx for this sharing.

  • Reply catherine godefroy August 31, 2019 at 12:46 pm

    Most of the people are just ignorant and know nothing about retouching. So easy to critize. So I agree with you it's not cheating It's an art to know how to retouch a photo.

  • Reply Bethany Pisani August 31, 2019 at 12:55 pm

    I think you explained and argued the point very well and made excellent use of examples to disprove that it is cheating. Retouching is just another tool to help us to arrive at our vision, or the cool effects that have an impact on us. Thank you for taking the time to make such a comprehensive presentation about it with your photos and explanations. It was also really helpful to see the old black and white photos and all of the retouching and dodging/burning instructions for the celebrities. Fascinating. I had no idea. 🙂

  • Reply Prabir Chatterjee August 31, 2019 at 2:59 pm

    I fully agree with your view on retouching. I shoot in RAW and I think all serious photographers do the same. Working in photoshop /lightroom is only working in digital darkroom and darkroom job in photography – could any photographer avoid it!

  • Reply Nek Lamp August 31, 2019 at 3:42 pm

    I completely agree with you!!!!

  • Reply Bret Bihler August 31, 2019 at 3:43 pm

    Like your thoughts! Always good information from you Serge. Keep it up!

  • Reply RAWSTER Photo August 31, 2019 at 3:45 pm

    Don’t pay attention to your haters 😉 If you don’t have haters you aren’t famoud enough. They are just jealous 😛

    You have a new laptop?

  • Reply chris rohwer August 31, 2019 at 4:25 pm

    I have some friends I will suggest watch your video, hope it sinks in with them. I have even used the Ansel Adam's examples. They don't get it.

  • Reply Jack Belliveau August 31, 2019 at 4:34 pm

    Thanks Serge. Completely agree

  • Reply Kyle Nadeau August 31, 2019 at 4:58 pm

    I think context is very important when talking about this.

    If you are shooting for pleasure/enjoyment, maybe you’re getting pictures together for a portfolio or an art show or something, then yeah, pull out all of your tricks and create the best picture you possibly can. There aren’t many rules when you are doing things for yourself.

    But say you are entering a photo contest and the assignment is “Wildlife”. I think it’s completely cheating if I just take an empty picture of my backyard and superimpose the wildlife on top of it in photoshop or other photo editing software. I didn’t actually photograph the wildlife, I fabricated the image using pre-existing images. I manipulated everything to make it fit the assignment, but I didn’t actually DO the assignment.

  • Reply Harry Vitebski August 31, 2019 at 8:25 pm

    Totally agree with you Serge!
    People constantly confusing the concept of art photography with documentary photography.
    Over the past 50 years, I have heard these disputes countless times. I always have a simple argument: documentary photos can be fundamentally changed by simple cropping. And this can lead to complete falsification of the image, without the use of Photoshop, without any editing at all.

  • Reply rj934 August 31, 2019 at 9:09 pm

    Serge, I agree completely. In general, there are two types of photography, journalism or reporting and artistic. In the journalism style of photography you try and reproduce the visual scene as accurately as possible. In the artistic style, as you stated, you are looking to generate an emotion. Thank you for your input and contributions to the art form.

  • Reply Ed Sanford August 31, 2019 at 9:14 pm

    Serge you absolutely nailed it…. Photography and retouching have been together from the beginning of photographic technology.

  • Reply Timothy Moore September 1, 2019 at 3:41 am

    Great thoughts! Thank you.

  • Reply S ROY September 1, 2019 at 8:11 am

    Your point is well taken.

  • Reply johan bauwens September 1, 2019 at 9:48 am

    You are right

  • Reply Arthur R McPhee September 1, 2019 at 9:06 pm

    Brilliant video, you nailed it! I'm in total agreement with you about photography and the people who seem to believe that only maybe a Polaroid is real! For every other photographer please feel free to make the choices you want to create the image you have in your minds eye. Bravo Serge! Back in the day when I was making photo's for magazines and ad agencies, there was a whole industry supporting each photographer, from wardrobe stylist, makeup, hair stylists, different kinds of lighting daylight and flash and even location scouts, black and white specialist printers for professional photographers as well as colour labs. Does that mean the images are fake?

  • Reply Thomas T September 1, 2019 at 9:10 pm

    Totally agreed, Artist has their own tools to do their work so I don't think that is cheating. Similar to automatic use computer machine to read the engine codes, or constructions uses jackhammer instead of shovels, etc… good Point Serge.

  • Reply Gian Luca Caputo September 2, 2019 at 9:32 pm

    Totally agreed Serge. 👍🏻👍🏻

  • Reply Andrew Adams September 3, 2019 at 7:22 am

    I'll be honest, I am still not sure about the whole debate. For me though, I come from a different perspective… Yes, photography can be artistic and I love and appreciate that, with the caveat that it is done in the camera. Doing it in-camera with lenses and filters requires more skill and talent. Retouching in Photoshop can be reset, remade, worked on for hours. BUT, if you can get the same within camera through the lens, that is true artistic talent and skill.

    Yes, @Jeff Sibelius, sure Ansel Adams did darkroom work but that focussed on dodging and burning, not on introducing blurry water where there was none, or adding in a moody sky where there was none, to begin with.

    It boils down to this for me. Create the artistic element in the camera. Use photoshop for traditional darkroom work (dodge, burn etc…), not for changing the image in a material way. So for me, in-camera is true art and talent, with the normal darkroom processes.

  • Reply Σπύρος Χατζησταυράκης September 3, 2019 at 11:12 am

    Great work!! Ramel-li-ghtroom!

  • Reply Rejean Nantel September 4, 2019 at 6:05 am

    I agree Serge!

    When people argue that photos are software edited, they seem to compare digital images to film – some assuming that they were no artifices while others accepting only in-camera artifices.

    Many people praise the work that is done in-camera because that’s were most past great photographers come from. Still many of them were great photo retouchers – and when they were not, they hired specialists to do it for them. Robert Mapplethorpe was one who hired great film developers.

    People also forgot that “composite images” were done as early as the 1860’s. William Notman made many such composites because of the technical limitations of the times.

    They are also a group of purist that will debate that what the camera sees is the only true reality. Sure enough you’ve proved them wrong with what one can do just using a camera. But everybody seems to forget is that a photographer manipulates reality just by choosing his frame. What he chooses to include or exclude in his images will guide the viewer to his message or his mood.

    Although I like to retrieve some elements that distracts the viewer in my photographs, I’m not a fan of composite images and I do not replace elements. I think that replacing a sky or adding an element to make a composite is beyond the limitations accepted as being truthful. That’s why I would like to see some indication that an image is a composite. Many fine art photographers who have denied using such techniques were proven wrong afterwards. At the price consumers pay for limited editions prints – they have the right to know the truth. Photographers who refuse to acknowledge this type of manipulation impair the reputation of those who don’t.

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