View Full Version : How much is too much?

05-07-2005, 06:51 AM
Hi all,

This is one that has been bothering me for awhile. How much 'doctoring' of a photo in your eyes, is too much? I'v added some samples here:

This is the original, cropped, leveled, etc. from the slide:


OK, so maybe I want to get rid of a power line or two that might ruin an otherwise good photo: (this poorly lit one is just for an example here)


Or maybe do the whole thing and wipe out the whole background: (maybe I want a 'clean' shot just for my own archive)


(photo is of CR ex-Auto Train U36B, one of only four or five on CR at the time)

Photoshop is wonderful. I use it on a routine basis for all my editing-on submitted shots, besides the usual color correction, etc. I clone or heal brush out dirt specks, etc. to make a presentable photo without 'cheating' and removing obstructions, etc.

I could never, in good conscience, submit a highly doctored shot but don't have any problem with the occasional power line or beer can in the foreground.

OTOH, in the collection I've downloaded of old fallen flag slides from the ABPR newsgroup and the internet, I've completely restored images for my collection that otherwise would get the delete key-I even clone out sharpening artifacts and other ruinous parts of photos, saving pictures that otherwise were no good.

How about some feedback/opinions? Figured this might make a good topic and I couldn't sleep!


05-07-2005, 04:25 PM
I think it really comes down to one's personal asthetic tastes. If there are power lines in the shot that aren't distracting, and there's good depth of field and they're out of focus, they can remain in the image IMOP.

Your images are a tough call. I have no objections on the tower in the first one, and the last one I guess I would have never known there was anything there in the first place! Perhaps it comes down to your audience I suppose, but in the end, you're the artist, and you have final say.

For example, I left them in on this image-


I liked the way the heat from the exhaust stack created a blur. It gives you something else to view. (other than just another dash-9!) Plus, that would be pretty tough to clone out, anyway!

Now on the other hand, if they detract from the subject, or give it the look like it has a protrusion or maybe antlers, they should be gone, like this one.


I've since redone it and removed the pole in the background above the cab. This was submitted when I was using a photo editor that didn't have a clone tool. You live an learn!


05-08-2005, 02:03 AM

I've talked about this before, and I'm of the opinion that what's in the shot physically should stay in the shot (power line, poles, drunken fools, etc.). I don't mind removing specks of dust or adjusting the color levels at all; you're just correcting problems or limitations with your equipment. For me in my mind, I'm not just catching pictures of trains, I'm catching a glimpse of history. With that intent, my photos would be false if I were to start removing items in them just because they aren't asthetically pleasing.

So, it comes down to artistic quality vs. historic accuracy. I tend to chose the latter...

05-08-2005, 02:14 AM
So, it comes down to artistic quality vs. historic accuracy. I tend to chose the latter...

I'm with you there, except I wouldn't call it artistic quality, but rather asthetic quality. When you start messing around with what is physically in the scene, that's when it's no longer fact, and becomes fiction. Removing a pole is no different than adding a locomotive...


05-10-2005, 12:53 AM
And if it is found that you are doctoring photos, you might even be removed from the site.


05-10-2005, 03:49 AM
And if it is found that you are doctoring photos, you might even be removed from the site.


That's why I restrict any doctoring to the occasional power line, and I mean occasional! I know there was a flap recently here over something like this. But I did want to know what other's attitudes were on this.