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February 18th, 2015

Should Photogs Disqualified from World Press Be Banned? Org Says No, For Now

In the days since World Press Photo announced that 20 percent of the photographs they considered in the final rounds of the competition were disqualified for manipulation, many in the industry have called for WPP to release the offending images and make their standards more clear. In comments by jurors, WPP administrators and photographers published on the New York Times Lens Blog, 2015 competition jury chair and New York Times director of photography Michelle McNally noted that the manipulations led “many in the jury to feel we were being cheated, that they were being lied to.” World Press Photo jury secretary David Campbell notes that newspaper and wire service photographers get fired when they are caught manipulating news photos: “Narciso Contreras and Miguel Tova have lost their jobs because of manipulations that crossed the one line we can draw.”

These reactions beg the question: If World Press Photo is a reflection of the photojournalism industry, should photographers who attempted to deceive jurors—and the public—be banned from the competition? After all, newspaper and wire services have fired photographers who manipulated images.

According to World Press Photo managing director Lars Boering, the organization is not currently planning to ban any photographers who submitted manipulated images to the competition. “I might discuss that with the board and the team that is organizing the competition,” he told PDN, adding that “a lot” of the disqualified photos were cases of “clumsy” Photoshop use rather than blatant attempts to deceive competition judges.

World Press Photo rules state: “The content of an image must not be altered. Only retouching that conforms to currently accepted standards in the industry is allowed.” In her statement on Lens, McNally clarified that the manipulation the jurors disqualified included “removing or adding information to the image, for example, like toning that rendered some parts so black that entire objects disappeared from the frame. The jury—which was flexible about toning, given industry standards — could not accept processing that blatantly added or removed elements of the picture.”

The organization is very aware that manipulation accusations can deal huge blows to the careers of photojournalists, Boering says, which is why they are keeping confidential the names of photographers who were disqualified—despite calls for more transparency. “If people get caught by agencies, then they are thrown out, and I know it’s difficult for these people to get back to work or find other agencies, so that’s a serious thing,” Boering explains. “If an agency makes that decision it’s up to them because that’s their rules. We organize a competition; we care a lot about photojournalism and visual journalism, but…I don’t think we should be the ones that decide on the careers of photographers, and whether they should be ruled out of competitions with others or whether they should lose their job with their agency.”

“We’re not going to put their names out unless we think it’s really severe what they’ve done,” Boering adds. “It might be that we think about talking to them about the way they go about it.”

Boering said WPP had today sent notices to the disqualified photographers presenting their evidence and explaining their decisions. He says the organizations has received one or two responses from photographers accepting the decision.

It’s more important to WPP that this controversy sends a message to photojournalists and the industry, sparks discussion and, hopefully, a resolution, Boering says. “Technology makes a lot of things possible, but it makes it possible to find things…. The technicians that do our research, they’ve showed me several examples of things that you can do and I think it’s amazing.”

Boering says he’s heard from people at agencies and news organizations, and others in the photo industry in the past few days. World Press Photo is planning “several debates” starting on the day of the awards presentation, that he hopes will help the “find common ground with the industry to get it right.”

Related: Mads Nissen Wins World Press Photo of the Year 2014 Prize
AP Cuts Ties with Photographer Narciso Contreras Over Photoshopped Image
Photographer Fired by AP Says Decision Was Fair, But Process Wasn’t

December 23rd, 2014

PDNPulse: Top Stories of 2014

As another fascinating year in the world of professional photography comes to a close, we look back on the stories that drew the most interest from PDNPulse readers this year.

From manipulated news photos, to photographers arrested for doing their jobs, to collaborative efforts between photographers and an interview with one of photography’s most influential star makers, these stories capture some of the highs and lows of the photography business today.

1: George Steinmetz Wonders: Was It Worth Getting Arrested for National Geographic Cover Story Photos

2: 2014 Winter Olympics Op-Ed: Everything You’ve Read About Problems for Photographers in Sochi is True

3: PDN Video: Lens Blog’s James Estrin’s Career Tips for Photojournalists

4: Photographers Share Intimate Images of Loved Ones for Curated Photo Website

5: AP Severs Ties With Photographer Narciso Contreras Over Photoshopped Image
5a: Photographer Fired by AP Says Decision Was Fair, But Process Wasn’t

6: How Much Do Editorial Clients Pay? “Wiki” Gives Names and Fees

7: If that Kim Kardashian Photo Looks Familiar…

8: Calumet Photographic to Liquidate, Closes U.S. Stores

9: Photographer Creates Free iPhone App for His Signature Style

10: Wal-mart Sues Photographer’s Widow Claiming Copyright for Decades of Portraits of Walton Family

11: Suffolk County Pays $200K to Settle News Photographer’s Unlawful Arrest Claim

12: How Should Clients React to Sexual Coercion Allegations Against Terry Richardson?

13: AP Photographer Anja Niedringhaus Killed in Afghanistan

14: Cowboy Lifestyle Photographer David Stoecklein Dies, 65

15: Photojournalist Camille Lapage, 26, “Murdered” in Central African Republic

May 6th, 2014

New Free Web Service Claims to Offer Solution to Runaway Image Fakery

San Jose-based Fourandsix Technologies has announced plans to capitalize on “a growing distrust of manipulated images” with the launch of new forensic tool “to prove that hosted photos have not been modified with Photoshop or other tools,” according to a press release.

The tool is available for free to individual users at izitru.com. A developer API making it possible to integrate the photo authentication software into any website is available to third parties for a fee.

“Viewers are unsure of what to trust, whether they’re looking at a selfie on Facebook, an item for sale on eBay, or a dramatic storm cloud photo on Twitter,” the company says in its announcement.

The izitru.com website prompts users to upload their JPEG images, which are then subjected to six different forensic tests to distinguish original camera files from “subsequent derivations”–ie, files altered with Photoshop or other tools.  “Images that pass all six of these tests get the highest trust rating,” the company says in its announcement.

One of our first questions was, Can this tool be used to determine the authenticity of images already posted online–such as winners of major awards in photojournalism contests, or any other news images, for that matter? (more…)

January 27th, 2014

Photographer Fired by AP Says Decision Was Fair, But Process Wasn’t

Courtesy of AP Photos

Courtesy of AP Photos

Freelancer Narciso Contreras, a talented war photographer who was cut off by Associated Press last week after he admitted he had Photoshopped a news photo, told PDN in an e-mail interview that he accepts his punishment, but said, “I’m critical when it comes to how the Industry handles the situation with individual photographers, especially when you are a freelancer.”

AP cut ties with Contreras publicly after the photographer informed the wire service that he had removed a video camera from a corner of an image of a Syrian rebel soldier taking cover during a fire fight. Contreras says he knew it could end his relationship with AP, but that he didn’t expect to be shut out of the process.

“I would have preferred to discuss with the editors the whole situation personally, [but] they went behind locked doors and made their decision.” He added, “As a photographer you should have the right to be included in the process.”

Contreras said he thinks AP also went too far in making its decision so public. “The public punishment seems more like an exhibit of power in order to protect [AP's] own interests,” he said.

Following is an edited transcript of PDN’s e-mail interview with Contreras.

Q: How did AP find out you had altered the photo? Did you tell them after they confronted you about it? Or did you voluntarily turn yourself in? And if so, what led you to do that?

A: I told one of the AP photo editors about the picture when we were working on selecting images for the [World Press and other photo] contests some weeks ago. I told the photo editor immediately when I saw the image on the screen. I didn’t hesitate in telling him, it just came up.

Q: If your own ethical principles required you to correct the mistake, why didn’t you tell AP sooner?

A. I was thinking all the time [about] that picture and I found the moment to explain [it] to the AP photo editor. Why not before? [For] the same reason that I submitted the altered picture, it was my wrong decision.

Q. Why were you retouching the image in the first place? Do you typically make the types of adjustments to your image files that AP permits, and if so, what are your usual adjustments?

A: I was conscious about the camera [in the original image] from the beginning. I couldn’t get the camera out of the frame when we were at the top of the hill and running down, away from the [gunfire]. I used a wide angle lens [because] the rebel [ie, the subject of the photo] was so close. [It was] difficult to work, under [fire]. So, when I got back to our base and tried to find a picture to describe the situation, I found this frame, but with the camera in the corner. It took me time to make the decision to remove it from the frame, but I did it.

I usually develop my images using the base process, RAW files toned and desaturated. The photo with the rebel ducking is my exception. I gave all my archives to the AP, almost 500 pictures, and they could see for themselves that this was a singe case.

Q. Do you know what caused your lapse in judgment? I am trying to understand: What caused you to cross the line this time–but not other times?

A: It took me time before I decided to take it [the camera] out. I recognize and assume the rules of photojournalism as the basis of my work, but I was weak at this point. There is no other reason, I broke my own rules. My fault was that I din’t contact my editors to ask for advice or try to get feedback from my very experienced colleague, who was with me.

I’m not trying to excuse myself, but it is not easy to be at a place where you are facing death every single moment, your mind and feelings are moved to another reality, far away from the one you are used to, [and] you perform like a different person. You can support long working days under tough conditions, your mind is set up to survive, and obsessively in the perfection of your work. This is the problem. We are obsessed about getting the perfect shot, that means you want to get the perfect shot under hazardous conditions. It is not worth [it] as a photographer, to come back with nothing if you risk your life [covering a story]. This obsession made the difference, and affected my decision to alter the picture. But I recognize that I made a mistake, a severe one, and a wish I could undo it.

Q. Did you understand when you made the alteration what the consequences might be if you were caught? In other words, were you aware of AP’s ethics policy, and the consequences of violating it?

A: I did know the consequences to alter a picture, and I did know when I told the AP photo editor about this as well, but at the time I told the AP editor I was looking to be honest for what I had done, and I feel this time I took the correct decision to try to repair my mistake.

Q. What do you think of [AP's] ethics policy?

A: That policy means to respect the credibility of the profession and the credibility of the service that all journalists and photographers are doing. So, this is the basis of our work.

Q. Do you think the punishment was fair? If not, why not? And what action by AP would have been more fair?

A: As I mentioned before, the credibility of our work is on the table when a single mistake is [made]. So, to prevent this kind of situation [from] happening again, and to protect the credibility of our profession I have to assume the consequences. But all situations and cases are unique and should be treated as such.

I would have preferred to discuss with the editors the whole situation personally, before they took their decision, but I have not had the chance to talk to anyone. They went behind locked doors and made their decision. This is a very critical situation, and accordingly it has to be analyzed and talked through with whom committed the fault. We are not disposable. They have to analyze every single case according to its unique nature.

Q. Our readers are divided about AP’s reaction to what you did. Some think AP was too harsh. Others expressed zero tolerance for altering news images, and think your punishment was justified. What would you say to them?

A: Zero tolerance is justified when it comes to altering news images. We must all play by the rules. But I’m critical when it comes to how the Industry handles the situation with individual photographers, especially when you are a freelance[r]. [For] editors it is not always easy to handle mistakes, but as a photographer you should have the right to be included in the process. Every single case is unique and that has to be taken in to consideration as well.

Q. What would you have said to AP? Is there an argument you wanted to make to them, to prevent them from ending their relationship with you?

A: They have the right to cut ties if you break the rules, but they should not have the exclusive right to manage the consequences of a photographer’s fault. Dialogue is the base to solve any single problem. If you are not allowed to talk when you are being judged by a company, there is something that is not working properly.

I do accept to break up the working relationship between them and me if I broke the rules, but the public punishment seems more like an exhibit of power in order to protect its own interests.

Q. What effect do you think this incident will have on your career? Do you expect to continue working as a photojournalist? If so, for whom?

A:  This incident affected my working relationship with the AP, and probably with some other media outlets, but nothing has changed for me in terms of what I assume as my duty in life, as a person and as photographer, to document what I perceive as the breaking moments for our history. I’m still the same person that I was when I got recognition for what I’ve done in Syria or anywhere else. I’m still in the same place where I was when I started collaborating with the AP.

I made a mistake, but it does not mean that the whole body of my work is lost. I have to restore my credibility, firstly by assuming that I made a mistake and sincerely apologizing for this, secondly by reinforcing the working relationship with the media outlets I work with.

As far as I can, I would keep on doing photography. This incident affects my way temporarily, not permanently. I believe in what I do in my life, this is my engagement and this is beyond photography.

Related:
AP Cuts Ties with Photographer Narciso Contreras Over Photoshopped Image

January 23rd, 2014

AP Severs Ties with Photographer Narciso Contreras Over Photoshopped Image

Courtesy of AP Photos

Courtesy of AP Photos

Associated Press (AP) has severed ties with freelance photographer Narciso Contreras for altering a news photograph he shot in Syria, the wire service has announced. Contreras was part of a team of AP photographers that shared the Pulitzer Prize last year for coverage of the Syrian civil war.

AP reports that Contreras “recently told its editors that he manipulated a digital picture of a Syrian rebel fighter taken last September.” The image shows the rebel fighter taking cover in a rugged landscape. Contreras altered the image by removing from the scene a video camera sitting on the ground near the soldier.

Santiago Lyon, AP’s director of photography, said the alteration “involved a corner of the image with little news importance,” but it was nevertheless a breach of AP’s standards. “Deliberately removing elements from our photographs is completely unacceptable,” Lyon said.

AP says the altered image was not part of AP’s Pulitzer Prize-winning portfolio.

Contreras said he removed the video camera from the image in question because he thought it would distract viewers, according to the AP report.

“I took the wrong decision when I removed the camera … I feel ashamed about that,” he said. “You can go through my archives and you can find that this is a single case that happened probably at one very stressed moment, at one very difficult situation, but yeah, it happened to me, so I have to assume the consequences.”

Contreras, who is 38, began his career freelancing for newspapers in Mexico, but made his reputation with his coverage of the war in Syria. Time Lightbox showcased his work in December, 2012.

“[Contreras] has managed to illuminate and distill the horrors of the…war — more consistently than any of his often more-experienced peers,” Time senior photo editor Phil Bicker wrote in a story that accompanies the 44-image gallery. “What makes Contreras’s work in Syria even more astonishing is the fact that he has, in a sense, come out of nowhere to emerge as the one photographer whose work will likely be seen as the photographic record of the conflict.”

AP says it has removed all of Contreras’s images from its archives. There were about 500 in all. AP says it has compared as many as it could to Contreras’s original image files, and found no other instances of alteration.

January 7th, 2014

Kelby Training and National Association of Photoshop Professionals Join Forces to Launch KelbyOne

Scott-KelbyHere’s an interesting pro photography announcement to come out during the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas (though it does not seem to be directly related to the show): Kelby Training and the National Association of Photoshop Professionals (NAPP) have merged to create a new company called KelbyOne.

Scott Kelby, who started both Kelby Training (an online photography educational site) and the NAPP, said the decision to combine the two came from members of both groups.

“For years Kelby Training members and NAPP members have wanted access to the benefits and courses offered by both organizations,” Kelby, who is president of NAPP and CEO of the Kelby Media Group, said in a news release. “The message was clear — members of both communities wanted to have it all.  Now all members of both organizations will have access to the best of both worlds with some exciting new added benefits under the new KelbyOne.”

Members of both groups now have access to over 10,000 online training videos in photography, Photoshop and Lightroom on the new KelbyOne website. Current Kelby Training and NAAP are automatically enrolled in KelbyOne, effective today, and have been grandfathered in to the new memberships at the previous rates. New memberships for KelbyOne will cost $249 for the year, or $25 per month.

There’s more info at a KelbyOne FAQ page and in the below video and press release.

(more…)

September 10th, 2013

onOne Software Announces Perfect Photo Suite 8

onOne Software has announced version 8 of its Perfect Photo Suite program, available as a standalone version as well as for Adobe Photoshop, Lightroom, Elements and Apple Aperture. The software will be available on November 26 but can be pre-ordered now. If you want to be one of the first to go hands-on with version 8, a free beta program is being launched in October.

To get more details about the new features and pricing, visit the Tech Tuesday blog on our sister site, www.rangefinderonline.com.

 

August 22nd, 2013

Corel Announces PaintShop Pro X6

COREL PSPX6ULTEN_Left jpegCorel just announced the latest versions of its image-editing software, PaintShop Pro X6 and PaintShop Pro X6 Ultimate, as well as Photo & Video Suite X6. Don’t go rushing to the Corel site yet. It’s a two-stage release: Today’s release is available to current users only; everyone else will have to wait for the global launch on September 4 to purchase or download updated versions or a free trial.

Based on the results of a major research study–the largest the company ever conducted in the history of product which is now in its 16th iteration–Corel concentrated on several aspects of the software. While the previous updates for X5, focused on social media and creative effects, the big news for X6 revolves around performance. PaintShop Pro X6 has been completely re-architected  as a 64-bit product with much faster performance (a 32-bit version is available and, if necessary, can be installed along with the 64-bit version). Some of the benefits of 64-bit include 10% faster launch speed, the ability to access more than 4GB RAM, better handling and processing of  large files (e.g., 400MB) and opening and batch processing of upward of 50 RAW files. Corel estimates that batch converting 50 RAW files to PNG, for example, works 57% faster than in X5.

Specific tools and tasks such as the Smart Carver and HDR are direct beneficiaries of the 64-bit processing with faster, smoother performance and Corel has added two new selection brushes, auto grouping of sequential images, searching by IPTC data, to name just a few of X6′s enhancements. Other major improvements revolve around a refined user interface, which simplifies the application’s visual look and feel as well as the workflow with easier access to resources, the ability to drag and drop an image to the layers palette to automatically create a new layer and more.

Like PSP X5, the new software is available in a standard version, Ultimate and as part of a photo/video suite. X6 Ultimate is only $20 more than the standard version but offers extras like a full version of Athentech’s Perfectly Clear, portrait enhancement software Face Filter 3 and a creative collections of brushes and picture frames.

Interestingly, the research study conduced by Corel took place before Adobe’s Creative Cloud was introduced but Corel was thinking along the same subscription-based line. As part of the study, Corel asked its users what they thought about a subscription-based delivery model for PaintShop Pro. The response was very clear: users wanted PaintShop Pro to remain a perpetual license product. And, Corel listened, so you can purchase the software outright with no subscription required.

Corel did, however, introduce a standard membership program, which is free with the purchase of a perpetual license product. Membership takes the place of registration, although members will have to register on an annual basis. According to Corel, the company wanted to “connect with the customer on a different level. It’s not just about buying the product and never hearing from each other. It’s a way for us to keep in touch, provide more value and find out what’s valuable to them. An annual membership makes it more organic.” Some of the benefits of membership include the Kai’s Power Tools collection (KPT, for those of you who remember this amazing batch of effects plug-ins), a scripting guide and members-only webinars, among other options.

Mac users are out of luck, though. PaintShop Pro is a Windows-only program but it’s compatible with Windows XP (32-bit and 64-bit), Vista, 7 and 8. Be sure to visit the Corel website on September 4th for more details.

Price:

PaintShop Pro X6: $80 (new); $60 (upgrade)

PaintShop Pro X6 Ultimate: $100 (new); $80 (upgrade)

PSP Photo & Video Suite: $129

–Theano Nikitas

 

 

May 20th, 2013

NY Times Public Editor Questions T Magazine Photoshopping Policy

In an editorial published yesterday in The New York Times, the newspaper’s public editor, Margaret Sullivan, questioned the rules regarding Photoshopping at T, the monthly style magazine published by the Times, and suggested that readers should be notified when fashion images have been digitally manipulated. She also pointed out that editors shouldn’t assume that readers understand the difference between the standards for a news photograph and a fashion photograph.

Responding to comments last week from readers that a T cover model was too skinny, T editor Deborah Needleman told Sullivan that T editors had considered “adding fat” to the model using Photoshop.

Another Times reporter called the comment “jaw-dropping” because journalistic standards would never allow for photography manipulation.

Drawing on comments from other Times picture editors including Michelle McNally of The Times and Kathy Ryan of The New York Times Magazine, Sullivan affirmed the Times’ photography standards: “The Times does not stage news photographs, or alter them digitally.” Except, Sullivan noted, in T‘s case, where it’s deemed acceptable to alter fashion and glamour photography. The assumption being that readers are aware that fashion and glamour is a “different genre of photography,” and therefore the Times’ obligation to those readers is different.

“It would be best if all the photography produced by the Times newsroom could be held to the same standard,” Sullivan wrote. But, she said, if fashion photography must exist as its own world of assumed fantasy, there should be a disclaimer for readers.

Is it realistic to expect that the Times could hold fashion photography to the same standards as news photography? Do readers need to be told that fashion images aren’t “real?”

May 15th, 2013

No Sense of Irony In Hansen “Fake” Journalism Accusation

Let’s review: On Monday Paul Hansen, a veteran photojournalist and two-time newspaper photographer of the year award winner was accused of “faking” his World Press Photo award winning image. An analysis by independent experts recruited by the World Press Photo organization has since cleared Hansen of the charge.

The accusation was leveled by a tech blogger over at ExtremeTech, citing a single source: a computer scientist, Dr. Neal Krawetz, who wrote about the photograph on the blog for his company The Hacker Factor, a computer security consultancy.  Talking about Hansen’s photo, which shows a group of mourners in Gaza City carrying children killed in an Israeli air strike, Krawetz stated that in his “opinion, [Hansen's photo] has been significantly altered.” Krawetz provided his analysis and concluded that the image was “a digital composite.”

The ExtremeTech blogger got hold of Krawetz’s post, rehashed it, and tacked on this headline: “How the 2013 World Press Photo of the Year was faked with Photoshop.”

As of this morning the blog post had been shared on various social media platforms by roughly 25,000 people, and had received 271 comments. (Which, by the way, is about 24,450 more shares than a typical ExtremeTech blog post gets, so mission accomplished, right?). Sadly, many of the people sharing the accusation were members of the professional photography community. (more…)