L.A. Times publishes doctored photo

Discussion in 'Current Events' started by Doctor Q, Apr 2, 2003.

  1. Doctor Q Administrator

    Doctor Q

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    #1
    Without knowing it, the Los Angeles Times published a doctored photo on its front page on Monday, March 31.

    A front-page "Editor's Note" in today's paper (Wednesday, April 2) said, in part:
    A thumbnail of the doctored photo is at http://www.latimes.com/media/thumbnails/blurb/2003-04/7243124.jpg. The man behind the soldier's knee is the same man at the left of the photo. Free registration is required to view the Editor's Note at the L. A. Times website. It can be retrieved by searching for "Walski photograph" and clicking on "Editor's Note (04/02/03)".

    According to foto8.com, Brian Walski has been a newspaper photographer since 1980 and has worked as a staff photographer at the Albuquerque Journal, the Patriot-Ledger, the Boston Herald, and the Los Angeles Times (since 1998). His Kashmir: A Vale of Tears photos are wonderful.

    We all know how easy it is to modify a photo or merge two photos. In this case, it was done to improve the look of a news photo. Should we be shocked that a doctored photo made the front page, or was it "no harm, no foul"? How often does this happen without being noticed? Should we care more about the motive and less about the amount of touchup?

    I have mixed feelings about this and would like to hear others' opinions.
     
  2. jelloshotsrule macrumors G3

    jelloshotsrule

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    #2
    i'm not 100% sure how i feel... what i think is interesting is that his touching up wasn't done as propaganda or anything... for instance, making something entirely unreal look real to make it look like the US was doing something great or whatever... but rather, from what it sounds like, he wanted to fix his artistic composition... something that most would find trivial really

    while i am happy his intentions weren't "bad" per se, i think that if this type of thing is allowed, then it will just blur the line even more in the future. and who knows what other photographers will do

    if nothing else, the photos should have a note mentioning the fact that it's been altered and maybe even how it's been altered.

    if possible, could someone post the text of the editor's note?
     
  3. Doctor Q thread starter Administrator

    Doctor Q

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    #3
    Almost every photo gets contrast/brightness adjustments, and maybe a sharpness or color tweak. In that sense, I'm sure the L. A. Times doesn't really have a zero tolerance policy for altered photographs. In this case, it was a dumb move by Mr. Walski. If it hadn't ended up on the front page, maybe they would have been a little more lenient.

    It's only a few sentences, but I didn't want to post an entire copyrighted item. I PM'ed it to you.
     
  4. bryanc macrumors 6502

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    Fredericton, NB Canada
    #4
    It's an issue of credibility

    As a scientist who uses photoshop extensively, I have very serious concerns about this issue.

    I have not looked at the photograph, or read the editorial, but I think I understand the situation. As much as I sympathize with the photographer, who only wanted to improve the visual impact of his image, and did not intend to change it's 'meaning', I have to agree with the editorial decision to dismiss the photographer. If the context of the photograph had not been a *news* paper, I think such alterations would be acceptable if plainly indicated in the caption, but in the context of a newspaper or scientific publication (where portraying *reality* is the issue), such alterations cannot be allowed.

    However, it is common for researchers to remove debris or extraneous artifacts from images, as well as adjusting brightness/contrast, in scientific publications. Such adjustments are simply noted in the materials and methods sections, and certainly would not be acceptable if they changed the informational content of the image. Thus, the types of manipulations acceptable depend on the analysis being done.

    Cheers
     
  5. Doctor Q thread starter Administrator

    Doctor Q

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    #5
    Re: It's an issue of credibility

    Good point. Of course, the photographer's or scientist's purpose may differ from the observer's purpose. People sometimes study old photos while researching new topics, such as looking at the people or scenery in the background. You might edit out a smudge in your nature photo and find somebody years later using it to dispute the existence of a comet that should have been in the photo!

    Technology gives us a chance to fool the eye and ear, and there can be good, bad, intentional, and unintentional results. Examples: counterfeiting, court admissibility of photographic or sound recording evidence, music sampling, etc. Blanket rules don't seem to apply.
     
  6. macfan macrumors member

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    #6
    It was right to fire him. The original picture on the right was better anyway.
     
  7. bryanc macrumors 6502

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    #7
    Re: Re: It's an issue of credibility

    You're absolutely correct. That's why any alterations must be documented, and the only acceptable alterations are ones that do not change the informational content of the image (eg, when you know what you're erasing from your micrograph is a piece of lint that was in the field of view, but what you're documenting is the sea urchin embryo, or whatever).

    Cheers
     
  8. rainman::|:| macrumors 603

    rainman::|:|

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    iowa
    #8
    it makes me just slightly less pissed to know he wasn't doing it with political motives... still, it's infuriating. LA Times should have sued and then sued again for good measure.

    if the guy didn't think he'd get caught, or realize this was a bad idea, he's an idiot.

    pnw
     
  9. mcrain macrumors 68000

    mcrain

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    #9
    Not to be picky, but if they sued, since he was an employee, they would be liable for his actions.
     
  10. JesseJames macrumors 6502a

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    #10
    My opinion is that he's a journalist documenting history. You should NOT doctor photos in this context.
    If it was for advertising or entertainment purposes, fine.
    They did the right thing by firing him.
     
  11. City of Glass macrumors member

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    Northern California
    #11
    At the brink of "1984" . . . when news and history is edited per the whims of a ruling class.

    I would not be surprised if this were quickly swept under the rug.
     
  12. LethalWolfe macrumors G3

    LethalWolfe

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    #12

    Besides the fact that the guy was fired and this made all the major news outlets when it happend a month ago I'd agree that it's been quickly swept under the rug...


    Lethal
     

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