PetaPixel

AP Sacks Photographer for Cloning His Shadow Out of an Image

The AP has sacked photographer Miguel Tovar for “deliberate and misleading photo manipulation” after Tovar cloned out his own shadow from a feature photograph. The Photoshopping came to light after an alert photo editor spotted a strange looking dust pattern in a photo of Argentinian children playing soccer.

A memo was sent to AP staff around the world to remind them of editing limits:

The content of a photograph must not be altered in Photoshop or by any other means. No element should be digitally added to or subtracted from any photograph. The faces or identities of individuals must not be obscured by Photoshop or any other editing tool. Only retouching or the use of the cloning tool to eliminate dust on camera sensors and scratches on scanned negatives or scanned prints are acceptable.

Minor adjustments in Photoshop are acceptable. These include cropping, dodging and burning, conversion into grayscale, and normal toning and color adjustments that should be limited to those minimally necessary for clear and accurate reproduction (analogous to the burning and dodging previously used in darkroom processing of images) and that restore the authentic nature of the photograph. Changes in density, contrast, color and saturation levels that substantially alter the original scene are not acceptable. Backgrounds should not be digitally blurred or eliminated by burning down or by aggressive toning. The removal of “red eye” from photographs is not permissible.

It’s interesting that even fixing the red-eye effect is considered unacceptable manipulation. You’d think that it’d qualify as a “minor adjustment” as long as the subject didn’t actually have red eyes…

(via Poynter via Reddit)


Image credit: Photograph by AP/Miguel Tovar


 
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  • MattT

    I would have sacked him for crappy photoshopping rather than photoshopping in general.

  • http://www.facebook.com/robbycornish Robby Cornish

    Looks like the smoke monster is about to attack the children!

  • http://www.casagli.com Alessandro Casagli

    I think it’s fair. Privileged photographers like AP ones should maintain a exemplary conduit and give exapmles on how photojournalism should be made.

    (don’t like my post, like my Facebook Fan Page instead)

  • http://twitter.com/Myrddon Henning Nilsen

    Nice advertising you have there, wouldn’t be a shame if something happend to it.

  • http://twitter.com/Myrddon Henning Nilsen

    Nice advertising you have there, wouldn’t be a shame if something happend to it.

  • Paul Richards

    AP are out of touch – can’t even touch out red eye. Hilarious

  • Paul Richards

    AP are out of touch – can’t even touch out red eye. Hilarious

  • http://twitter.com/Blackbird_2 Bob Dunkin

    I’m cooling with sacking him for the edit, provided that he’d done it before, or something similar to warrant firing versus some other form of punishment…  Though, I also find it tough to contemplate removing red-eye as being any sort of problem.  In fact, since it pretty much guaranteed that the subjects eyes AREN’T red…the photo is being brought BACK to ‘reality’.  IE their “normal toning and colour adjustments”.  Personally, for most of my shots, I do VERY little.  They aren’t always great, but to me its about telling the story, and NOT about an amazing photograph. 

  • Anonymous

    I thought those rules and standards were pretty well known in the news photography circles.  It would be interesting to hear Miguel’s side of it, hopefully that would yield insights as to why he did it.

    BTW: isn’t red eye often an indicator of bad photography techniques?

  • rockpix.com.ar

    ok, you do not admit cloning but admit cropping. Are we sure cropping does not affect or modify the content of an image? if we are going to play like this, cropping in PS should not be allowed.

  • rockpix.com.ar

    ok, you do not admit cloning but admit cropping. Are we sure cropping does not affect or modify the content of an image? if we are going to play like this, cropping in PS should not be allowed.

  • http://profiles.google.com/slimspidey Spider- Man

    If you look closely at some of the pixels you can see where there was a man on the grassy knoll!

  • http://profiles.google.com/slimspidey Spider- Man

    If you look closely at some of the pixels you can see where there was a man on the grassy knoll!

  • Anonymous

     I see what you’re saying, but cropping is hardly anything different than recomposing after the fact.  Cloning is covering up parts of an image.

  • Ajp

    Sorry but my grandfather was doing this in 1905 with Farmers Reducer, indian ink and graphite pencil I have the glass plates to prove it. King Canute fell foul of this sort of head in the sand mentality. You need to read a bit more about the history of your subject…..as for red eye, I rest my case…….crackers the lot of them….

  • http://www.purveyorofdifferent.com Scott M

    Man….my 80 y/o grandmother who can’t even figure out a Jitterbug cell phone could do a better photoshop that THAT.

  • Feldman

    Seriously, if you are going to shoot these kids, position yourself where you don’t cast a shadow, maybe?

  • Flgraphics

    it’s not even a good photo.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Daniel-Austin-Hoherd/576367461 Daniel Austin Hoherd

    I think that the AP’s guidelines are perfectly rational.  They want people who report the truth, what actually exists, what is actually happening.  They aren’t looking for illustrators or people to fabricate their vision on how it happened.

    Cloning in photoshop is creating new content that wasn’t there.  It’s changing what actually happened, even if it’s just a shadow.  Essentially, the photographer is saying “I wasn’t really this close”, and that’s simply not true.  He was close enough that he could see his shadow, so let’s see it.

    As for red-eye, in the principle of not adding content that wasn’t present, it makes sense.  The red eyes were present.  People’s eyes really are red inside.  If the photographer doesn’t like that, he shouldn’t photograph people in a way that shows inside their red eyes.  He can’t simply add blackness to the photo.

    Eyes are an incredibly important part of how we perceive each other’s character.  Altering the eyes changes the way we perceive the person.  When was the last time you saw a photo on flickr where a person had nuclear glowing eyes?  It looks unnatural, and it’s not realistic.  It’s not real.  Neither is changing red-eye to blackness.  It’s unnatural, people will notice it if you change it to black, and if you try to blend the reflection then once again you’re illustrating and embellishing.

    That’s not reporting.  It might be photography, it might be telling the story, but it’s not reporting.  Photographers who want to do that kind of thing should not be reporters.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Daniel-Austin-Hoherd/576367461 Daniel Austin Hoherd

    I think that the AP’s guidelines are perfectly rational.  They want people who report the truth, what actually exists, what is actually happening.  They aren’t looking for illustrators or people to fabricate their vision on how it happened.

    Cloning in photoshop is creating new content that wasn’t there.  It’s changing what actually happened, even if it’s just a shadow.  Essentially, the photographer is saying “I wasn’t really this close”, and that’s simply not true.  He was close enough that he could see his shadow, so let’s see it.

    As for red-eye, in the principle of not adding content that wasn’t present, it makes sense.  The red eyes were present.  People’s eyes really are red inside.  If the photographer doesn’t like that, he shouldn’t photograph people in a way that shows inside their red eyes.  He can’t simply add blackness to the photo.

    Eyes are an incredibly important part of how we perceive each other’s character.  Altering the eyes changes the way we perceive the person.  When was the last time you saw a photo on flickr where a person had nuclear glowing eyes?  It looks unnatural, and it’s not realistic.  It’s not real.  Neither is changing red-eye to blackness.  It’s unnatural, people will notice it if you change it to black, and if you try to blend the reflection then once again you’re illustrating and embellishing.

    That’s not reporting.  It might be photography, it might be telling the story, but it’s not reporting.  Photographers who want to do that kind of thing should not be reporters.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/James-Robinson/1466726625 James Robinson

    ahaha, i would have sacked him for the shitty photoshopping!! someone who cant even do such simple photo manipulation shouldnt be part of the AP

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/James-Robinson/1466726625 James Robinson

    ahaha, i would have sacked him for the shitty photoshopping!! someone who cant even do such simple photo manipulation shouldnt be part of the AP

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/James-Robinson/1466726625 James Robinson

    ahaha, i would have sacked him for the shitty photoshopping!! someone who cant even do such simple photo manipulation shouldnt be part of the AP

  • http://twitter.com/DanMarshPhoto Dan

    I can’t remember the last time I saw red-eye in a photo shot using my EOS 7D and 580EXII flash.  Thanks to the camera, pre-flash, etc.

    There may be some unusal situation where a photographer has had to use a less sophisticated camera, and can’t avoid red eye.

  • http://www.bobcooleyphoto.com bob cooley

    An AP photographer should know better – all pro photojournalists know better. 

  • http://www.bobcooleyphoto.com bob cooley

    An AP photographer should know better – all pro photojournalists know better. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=695530812 Emanuel Brunson

    The photoshopping job was horrible.  I can’t believe he would even send that in.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=695530812 Emanuel Brunson

    The photoshopping job was horrible.  I can’t believe he would even send that in.

  • Mark Wheadon

    If you remove severe red-eye from an image, you do sometimes end up with something that makes the subject look — odd as in “I think I’ll cross to the other side of the road to avoid him” odd :-). As a previous comment pointed out — we do read a lot into the look of people’s eyes, so I can see where The AP is coming from.

    Mark

  • Allan

    I agree that nothing should be added or removed from photography, simply because athink that it would be considered as another kind of art, photo montage for instance. But i am totally against the “prejudice” that old photographers (mainly) have with post production. It’s kind of nonsense not to use the resources that we have today to enhance the photography just because it wasn’t possible in the past. 

    Why dodge and burn is accetable and modify the saturation is not? Why hand tint is accetable and remove red-eye is not? Am i the only one that thinks, that all of these manual procedures for changing the color or exposure from a photography, its like an old photoshop?

    How do you take a photography in RAW without use the saturation? The raw format is known for making color “less vivid”.

    I really would like to understand why some modifications are accetable and others aren’t and based on what its is defined.

    The only solution I see is to break photography in two categories, analog and digital. (photo competition) Where in analog, every process must be analogs, the camera must use film, the revelation must be the old way, as well as the retouches. And in digital any modification with photoshop or similars are accetable. (once they don’t add, or remove anything from the photography).

    I would like to know the opinion from the people in here if possible.

    Best regards for every one, from the old school to the new ones!

  • Allan

    I agree that nothing should be added or removed from photography, simply because athink that it would be considered as another kind of art, photo montage for instance. But i am totally against the “prejudice” that old photographers (mainly) have with post production. It’s kind of nonsense not to use the resources that we have today to enhance the photography just because it wasn’t possible in the past. 

    Why dodge and burn is accetable and modify the saturation is not? Why hand tint is accetable and remove red-eye is not? Am i the only one that thinks, that all of these manual procedures for changing the color or exposure from a photography, its like an old photoshop?

    How do you take a photography in RAW without use the saturation? The raw format is known for making color “less vivid”.

    I really would like to understand why some modifications are accetable and others aren’t and based on what its is defined.

    The only solution I see is to break photography in two categories, analog and digital. (photo competition) Where in analog, every process must be analogs, the camera must use film, the revelation must be the old way, as well as the retouches. And in digital any modification with photoshop or similars are accetable. (once they don’t add, or remove anything from the photography).

    I would like to know the opinion from the people in here if possible.

    Best regards for every one, from the old school to the new ones!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tatyana-Skymyrka/723478596 Tatyana Skymyrka

    absolutely in agreement with AP policy.  Integrity and authenticity is of utmost importance in a digital document.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tatyana-Skymyrka/723478596 Tatyana Skymyrka

    absolutely in agreement with AP policy.  Integrity and authenticity is of utmost importance in a digital document.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tatyana-Skymyrka/723478596 Tatyana Skymyrka

    absolutely in agreement with AP policy.  Integrity and authenticity is of utmost importance in a digital document.

  • Shawnc Public

    The policy is absolute since the AP cannot afford any [additional] doubt be cast on the veracity of their reports. If Miguel was willing to break the rules here, what else has he done?

  • Jack

    What is that supposed to mean? Was that a threat?

  • JT

    It’s “butt-covering” on the part of AP.  By having a zero tolerance policy, they are less vunerable to criticism that they allow manipulation of images…

  • nick

    whoever told him that it ‘looks fine” is awesome!

  • kyoshinikon

    Absolutely… If a serious photog gets red eye, it is either because he/she is just plain amateurish in his/her approach or because he/she encountered a freak situation (Ie somebody else’s flash or a light that hit the eye the right way….)

  • AtlantaTerry

    WRONG! Your statement shows that you have no idea what causes red eye. Only a light that is almost at the same source point as the film or sensor will create red eye. Being just a few degrees off axis will prevent it. Since no other photographer’s flash will originate where your camera exists in space time, it is not possible for their flash to cause red eye in your photos.