#19 in a series of background briefs

“The end of the recording process marks an important transition point in the making of a TCQ photograph.”


“TCQ photos are about what the camera saw, not what the photographer wishes the camera had seen.”

def | pen” is one of the most prominent expressions of this principle.

“def | pen” also explains the most common way that TCQ and non-TCQ photographs can look identical to each other.

1. def = “during exposure: fine”

Many visual effects do NOT disqualify a photo from TCQ if they are the result of things that affected the photograph during the exposure . . .

2. pen = “post-exposure: never”

. . . but a photo is disqualified by Q2 if after the exposure it is doctored to simulate those exact same visual effects.

#2 is true even if the photo is doctored instantly after the exposure — as smartphones make it easy to do — and even if the simulated effect looks identical to what the camera “could have” recorded.

It’s clear that “photography isn’t just about how the photo looks anymore”!

What does def|pen
mean in the real world?



def|pen does not mean that ALL “during-exposure” effects are allowed by TCQ

There are some “during-exposure” effects that make photographs ineligible for TCQ.

Examples of these include:

• using contraswing or contratilt to achieve the toy-city effect (see #7 here);

• photographing with a shape-affecting filter (e.g., prism, kaleidoscope, blur, or other) attached to the front of the lens (like the other examples described here, that’s on the list of ineligibles);

• having so much movement of the camera or of the subject during the exposure that everything in the photograph is unrecognizably blurred (the result will not meet Q7); and

• zooming the lens during the exposure (see #5 here).