Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Avoid martini mistakes

Down Bar and Lounge offers a Peach Martini at the lounge in downtown Dallas on Wednesday, September 15, 2004.
Mark M. Hancock / © The Dallas Morning News

I still like this image, but I'm posting it as a mistake example. This mistake could have easily been fixed in Photo Shop, but moving pixels is unethical, so I'm stuck with my mistake. It ran small, so I doubt anyone noticed. It's nothing to wake me at night, but it's like a fish that got off the hook. It's a "dagnabit" moment.

I used napkins to hold the peaches in position. From a 200mm angle, the napkin behind the peach half on the right wasn't visible. However, when I switched to a 50mm and moved closer, it showed up. I was worried about balancing everything in place (the glass had already slipped once). Simply stated, I got sloppy and didn't notice it at the time. This wasn't one of my selected images (because of the napkin), but the editor preferred this angle/lens/light combination.

So, this is an example of the importance of paying attention to the smallest details - even when there are bigger issues. Eventually, someone else will choose an image a PJ may not prefer. The PJ's mistake has his/her name attached to it, and the PJ must live with it. We try to learn from our mistakes. In this case, everyone can learn from my mistake.

Enough for now,


Michael Rubenstein said...

I can understand not moving pixels around for hard news images, but it seems to me that since you already moved the peaches around, propped them up and aranged everything to your liking, that the image ceased to be news and became an illustration. At that point, removing a bit of napkin from behind the peach doesn't seem like an ethical issue to me.

I would imagine the question becomes, what is the difference between physical manipulation and digital manipulation? Can you ethically "fix" images digitally if you don't lose/alter the essence of the shot and the meaning of the image?

Mark M. Hancock said...

If PJs move pixels, they've crossed the line. This image is a portrait of a drink. For this image, everything was at this particular bar. We're allowed to pose people for portraits and choose backgrounds. This image is no different.
The difference would occur if I did touch-up work on this image or on someone's face. I do neither. We're allowed to burn, dodge, crop and color correct to "normal" tones. All the pixels stay in the same place.