#11 in a series of background briefs

TCQ and “light”

TCQ couples the behavior of “light” (the root of photography) with the requirement of showing “what the camera saw” (the root of TCQ)

  • Summary
    How TCQ “draws the line” on photo manipulation
    (Click to read)

    It’s all about “light.” In TCQ photographs:

    A. After exposure, “light”-related aspects (tones and colors) must be changed if the way they were recorded misrepresents the scene (as per Q7)...


    B. After exposure, non-“light”-related aspects (forms and shapes) cannot be changed except in a few select ways, as per Q2)

    . . . not even when changing forms and shapes would make the photograph “look more like” the scene depicted.


    Everything that TCQ photographers need to know about “light” is said or linked to above.

    The rest of this page (below) merely explains the “Why,” for those who are interested. Really interested.

(Click on each tab below to see its counterpoint.)

  • 1a. “Light”-related aspects = “tones and colors”

    1b. Non-“light”-related aspects = “forms and shapes”

    More on 1a | More on 1b

  • 2a. Every aspect of everything depicted in photographs is either “light”-related or non-“light”-related.

    2b. But most depictions of things in photographs have both non-“light”-related aspects and “light”-related aspects.

    More on 2b

  • 3a. For “tones and colors,” cameras do NOT always record exactly “what the camera saw”

    3b. But for “forms and shapes,” cameras DO always record exactly “what the camera saw”

    More on 3a | More on 3b

  • 4a. “Tones and colors” do NOT always stay the same when a photograph is reproduced in a new format

    4b. But “forms and shapes” DO always stay the same when a photograph is reproduced in a new format

    More on 4a | More on 4b

  • 5a. Because of 3a and 4a, viewers expect some changes to “tones and colors” (for example, color adjustments, increasing or reducing contrast, and correcting for under- or overexposure)

    5b. But because of 3b and 4b, viewers are suspicious of changes to “forms and shapes” (for example, adding, deleting, replacing, resizing, moving, blurring, or reshaping depictions of things within a photograph)

  • 6a. In light of 5a, TCQ does allow “tones and colors” to be changed in whatever ways necessary to avoid misrepresenting “what the camera saw”

    6b. In light of 5b, TCQ does not allow forms and shapes to be changed at all except in a few select ways

    6a reflects Q7 | 6b reflects Q2

  • 7a. Because of 3a and 4a above, a photograph is still considered “undoctored” when “tones and colors” are changed to avoid misrepresenting “what the camera saw”

    7b. Because of 3b and 4b above, a photograph is considered “doctored” if it undergoes any changes to “forms and shapes” (apart from a select few changes that are allowed by TCQ because those changes are “baked in” to billions of devices)

    The definitions of “undoctored” and doctored used on this website

    Regarding 7a, as per Q7, “misrepresentation” is judged by rinairs


For more, see the FAQ on Light