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There are two physical different steps on creating the photo:

  1. Actual shooting (including preparing to shooting)
  2. Post processing on PC (all what starts after downloading the photo to PC)

On the current technical level, there are almost no borders in the image editing using all kinds of the Image Manipulation programs. So, the difference between actually shot picture and the post processing result can be a really significant.

So my question is where finishes the image correcting and starts image creating?

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3 Answers 3

up vote 8 down vote accepted

It is all image creation.

Please, let me explain. When you take a photo, regardless of the medium used to record it, what you are recording is a virtual image projected by a lens onto a focal plane. The nature, intensity, and direction of the light illuminating your subject, the design of the lens and the focus and aperture settings, the amount of time the shutter is left open: all of these affect the properties of the image you record. Two identical cameras pointed at the same subject can produce incredibly different results by altering one, several, or all of those variables.

The digital age just moved the manipulation of transforming the recorded image to a print from the darkroom to the desktop. It is true that it has also expanded the possibilities of the degree to which an image may be manipulated, but perhaps not as much as some might think. What it has really done is made that manipulation much less time consuming and allowed us to do it much more efficiently. In the film era we could have shot the same scene with dozens of different types of film. Now we can take a single RAW image and retroactively apply the characteristics of each of those films. What would have taken weeks or months to meticulously combine several varying exposures into a single image of a high dynamic range scene we can now do in a matter of minutes.

From the moment we select what to leave in the frame and what to leave out, we are creating something that is different from the reality it represents. Susan Sontag once said, "...to photograph is to frame, and to frame is to exclude."

A photograph is always an expression of the photographer's vision. Sometimes it may closely resemble what others see when they look at what has been photographed. Sometimes it can be totally transformational. On rare occasions it can be both. "Some photographers take reality... and impose the domination of their own thought and spirit. Others come before reality more tenderly and a photograph to them is an instrument of love and revelation." - Ansel Adams

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So true. I have never understood how anyone can draw a distinction. Creativity begins with the decision to create an image and continues through the process of exploiting the capabilities of a medium you are familiar with. The final image is by definition the product of the entire creative process. –  Triskelion Apr 12 '13 at 15:35
    
An indication of how the answer might be improved would be appreciated if you feel it necessary to down vote an answer. Thanks! –  Michael Clark Apr 13 '13 at 1:44

In my view image creation starts when you remove or add things to the recorded scene, things that were not there when you recorded them or things you don't like afterwards. When the process becomes more like painting.

I'd like to make an exception for manipulation such as dust removal since that was not part of the scene but merely a shortcoming of the recording device. This is image correction.

Edit: Interesting case is the coloring in of old black and white pictures.

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This is really a pretty subjective distinction, but for me, as long as the photograph is the starting point and inspiration for the artist's (photographer) work, then it is post processing. I think in general the terms image correction would be agreed to mean minor details, but there isn't really a clean cut dividing line. A particularly beat up photo may require far more work to correct than another image might take to invent something new with the content of the image.

I think it is more about artist's intent. If the intent of the artist is to enhance what is there, then it is image correction. If it is the intent of the artist to alter the image to induce some altered meaning, then it starts to push over in to something more than correction, though I'd hesitate to say that either option isn't image creation. Perhaps manipulation is a better term.

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