Is film better for the truth?

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by Jim Chinn, Feb 16, 2004.

  1. Jim Chinn

    Jim Chinn Member

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    This is not intended to be a us vs. them thread. But I was thinking after reading up on the various uses of photoshop to embellish (a nice way of putting it) older images.

    If someone scans a negative into a computer and then destroys the negative, is there any way to disprove that the image from the negative later manipulated by software is not the original image on a negative?

    If I produce an image or images in my digital camera, manipulate, combine, edit out details etc and then destroy the files leaving only a printed copy, can anyone prove this was not an orignal scene?


    As a journalist, it seems that it would be improtant to have a record that could be examined by experts and determined to be ture. A negative would provide that level of credibility.

    Then i realized that the manipulated image could be transferred to film, giving the impression that it originated there.

    My question is: do you think that as people become more and more aware of how easy it is to manipulate images and alter their content, they will eventually quit believing anything they see.

    For many years people have looked on print and TV journalists as rating lower then used car salesman.
    It always seemed that photographers were seen as better communicators of the truth. Are we at the end of that era?
     
  2. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

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    yes.
     
  3. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser

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    i see what you are saying jim68134 ... but even 100 + years ago photographers manipulated images and altered scenes. take post cards for example - if you look at post cards from the turn of the last century even into the 1920-30s, you will see evidence this - people walking on a boardwalk or down a street -people walking a baby stroller &c. they were "dropped into the scene" - smoke in smokestacks (= progress) and that was painted in as well, and then there were the photographers and retouchers who 'swapped heads' in portraits. if you haven't seen the movie "photographing fairies" .. ( i know it is fiction but ... ) you get to see an edwardian era portait photographer doing things like that ...

    the expression " believe none of what you hear and none of what you see " has been around for a long long time :smile:
     
  4. Robert Kennedy

    Robert Kennedy Member

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    I think it is more relevant today though because manipulating photos has never been easier. And with a 24 hour news cycle demanding constant feeding, the temptation to "sex up" something is pretty great.

    That said, in the end this is nothing new. The Soviets mastered this decades ago.

    To me, the real issue is this -

    Why do we automatically believe what we see?
     
  5. Jim Chinn

    Jim Chinn Member

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    Yes I understand that manipulation of images has been going on since basically the beginning of photography. However, upon close examination it is pretty apparrent that these images were faked. But today with digital, how do you know if it has been faked or not?

    If I take a picture of someone holding a gun outside of a bank that got robbed with a digtial camera and delete the file leaving only the printed photo, would this be admissable as evidence? Could the defense attorney argue that there is nothing to prove the image was not manipulated, that the man had something else in his hand and I added the gun later?

    On the other hand, if I make an image of a politician walking out of the back door of a motel with a 12 year old girl in here underwear on film, would not the film be proof enough that it really happened? Would the existence of film, that could be examined by experts, protect me from a lawsuit if nothing else?

    So, does it not make sense to use a camera that provides physical proof of the truth that could be scientifically examined? With a dgital camera, unless you have the actual flash card the image was first on, how do you ever prove the image was "real"?
     
  6. veriwide

    veriwide Member

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    I have worked in digital prepress for 7 years now. In that time I have been quickly released from two jury pools for that very reason. It seems to me that my having experience in image manipulation is not desirable in the forum of American bilnd justice.
     
  7. Robert Kennedy

    Robert Kennedy Member

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    Plus, those "Kill 'em all and let God sort them out!" T-shirts you wear to jury duty don't help... :smile: :smile: :smile:


    All kidding aside, it is is a big issue LEGALLY. Many areas still use film as "proof". And the way I hear it, chain of custody/tampering issues are big with PDs and DAs now.

    Of course the standard of proof for your average media outlet is MUCH lower....
     
  8. Jorge Oliveira

    Jorge Oliveira Member

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    I posted in another thread about a fake photo made in France that went through police and army analysis and was considered real - some 20yrs ago, fully analog processing.

    For police and alike, they will have to resort to digital signatures of the digital archives.

    Jorge O
     
  9. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member

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    The logic of this belief about the relation of digital manipulation to traditional manipulation I think is a bit circular. With the development of Photoshop it became easier to manipulate images and manual retouching skills have declined, but when manual retouching was in wide use, there were lots of people around with the skill to change images in a substantial way that would be difficult for laypersons to detect. Perhaps the decline of traditional retouching techniques increases the "truth effect" of the traditional photograph, but at the same time, makes traditional photographs all the more subject to manipulation, since people are more likely to trust them.
     
  10. dr bob

    dr bob Member

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    I believe David is "right on".

    Truly. dr bob.