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Image manipulation is like candy – a little is okay, but too much can be bad for you. The question is when to stop.


As a starting point, I believe it is acceptable to manipulate images for purely aesthetic reasons. This website, for example, is a source of art, not news, and I do not owe you a duty to speak plainly, or even completely truthfully, in my images. That said, I remain suspicious of image manipulation.


The problem is that photography is bound in a more direct way to the real world than, say, painting or drawing. The viewer expects (legitimately, in my view) that the photograph has captured some real thing, a thing that actually existed or happened. This is at the heart of photography, a key reason for its power. We shouldn’t mess with it too much.


On the other hand, I think we can mess with it at least a little. So, in the interest of full disclosure, here are my thoughts on the subject:  


1.  I am fine with global corrective changes to an image, such as lightening or darkening, increasing or decreasing contrast, removing colour casts, or sharpening to improve detail. I routinely perform these changes, sometimes significantly lightening or darkening an image – effectively addressing poor exposure by after-the-fact manipulation.  

All Images © Tom Onyshko, 2017