Friday, February 5, 2010

Is Architecture Editorial?

I think just about everyone knows or has heard stories of the perils of editorial shots being sacrosanct and nothing can be done to them to alter the reality of the scene. Photographers have been fired for adding or subtracting elements from their shots. The dilemma for today's image is, has the "reality of the scene" been altered? Looking at the shot it does pass as a straight shot, something right out of the camera, but. ??? Was it? Well, it should be sort of obvious that "something" was done if the question is being asked. The entire interior is exactly as shot. The only things done to that portion of the image are things that are definitely permitted in editorial usage. Color correction, sharpening, straightening the shot up, a vignette and possibly removal of sensor dust that shows up in the shot. All within the realm of what's permissible for editorial. So, if everything inside the building is "within spec", the discussion has to center on what's outside the building. To hear about what's going on beyond the building, hit the "read more".

The image was shot on a "cloudy bright"* day with a bald sky. Those who frequently read the blog can see where this is going already I'm sure. There's two things outside the building, the treed hillside and the sky. I'll give you a hint, the hillside was there. We're left with the fact that the sky was replaced. All you'd have to do is look back a couple of posts to find out the easy, one click, method of replacing a bald sky. If the use was going to be a newspaper article about the event at which the shot was taken I'd probably offer the skyless version. If the use was to be a magazine article about the company where the shot was taken I'd recommend the image with the added sky.

But now the reasoning behind the suggestions. It doesn't have anything to do with the sky itself, but the reflection of the sky on the floor inside the building. It did a great job filling the hotspots and didn't add any "content" to the story of the image, but it's just enough to make it questionable. If I were submitting this to any photo editor I would make sure he/she knew exactly what was done and let her/him make the call. Without seeing the original, you'll just have to take my word that adding the sky made it a "more complete" image.

*"Cloudy bright" is actually a real photographic term. On the detail sheets that used to be packaged with film there would typically be a chart that gave the proper exposure setting for different conditions. If you haven't run across the "Sunny 16" rule you haven't lived (in photography aynway). The "rule" says that the proper exposure on a sunny day is F16 at one over the film speed (the ISO on a digital camera). If your ISO is set to 200, the correct exposure setting, on a sunny day, would be F16 @ 1/200 of a second. The next step down from a "sunny" setting on the charts was "cloudy bright", which was defined as cloudy, but having visible shadows. Like the shadow you might see under a car. You can see what's going on in the shadow, but it cloudy outside. The proper exposure for "cloudy bright" is one F stop more than more sunny conditions. The settings would be: ISO 200, F11 @ 1/200 second. That means you would be allowing twice as much light in as the sunny settings. Hope this helps.