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It was a firing offence. Part Two

By Ken Wightman
Posted Nov 13, 2011 in
If you haven't read part one, click this link and then come on back.
Newspaper photographers are not supposed to manipulate images. They are allowed to adjust the tonal range, make blacks black and whites white, but this is not seen as manipulating the image. This is just making a good quality print.
But the day could have been flat and the dull-toned image might be accurate. Still, it was O.K. to change contrast. In the wet darkroom it was as easy as changing the paper grade.
Please check out the following link to the well known Pulitzer Prize winning photo by John Filo showing a kneeling, young woman screaming over the body of a fallen student, one of four killed when National Guardsmen fired in to a crowd of demonstrators.
Note the missing fence post above the young woman in the image taken from Life magazine. It is stuff like this that my old editors were trying to prevent. But today, with the ease that Photoshop can alter an image, almost seamlessly, adding water to a picture, water that is in fact there but cropped out by the camera, can get oneself into the deepest of job-threatening, doo-doo.
Newspapers and news magazines like National Geographic don't need to be defending their images. The National G. knows first hand how yielding to the temptation of improving an image in Photoshop can lead to red-faced embarrassment than can't be as easily Photoshopped away.
The National G. once was caught moving the pyramids and another time was accused of adding water to an image in order to use a horizontal image in a vertical format on the magazine cover.
The technology has made the modifying of images very easy and very tempting. If you work at a newspaper, the Devil uses Photoshop. Take care.

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