It’s depressing to read the fuss over that excessively Photoshopped shot of that Icelandic volcano whose name no one can actually spell, most recently at the Toronto Star‘s photo blog. The Star demonstrates excellent judgment in declining to attempt the spelling, but pretty poor judgment in the discussion of the issue.
The discussion is aimed at a general audience who might complain that the photo looks fake, which of course it does. The photo looks horrible; it’s the typical output of someone who has just discovered the saturation slider. But is there a real ethical issue here?
Not unless you decide that the important thing about a news photo is that the colours pop.
None of the content has been changed; the photo has just been dolled up in an attempt to make it look more spectacular—to improve its quality as eye candy, that is.
Never mind the more serious ethical questions in photojournalism. Never mind the ways in which photographic “truth” is manipulated by framing, timing, and the choice of which photo to run. Never mind that photojournalism is the one area outside the editorial page where one is permitted—encouraged—to express a point of view, a point of view that the mass audience tends to accept as truth.
No, the important ethical issue is oversaturating a picture in an attempt to make it look cooler.
Has Photoshop destroyed our ability to think about pictures in anything but the most superficial ways?