#30 in a series of background briefs

The problem of extremes

  • 1. Why doesn’t TCQ allow my favorite manipulations, like adding “bokeh” blur after the photo is recorded or reshaping things in the photograph to “correct” the perspective?

    Because other photographers aren’t as reasonable as you are.

    When you think about your favorite non-TCQ manipulations, you probably think about the sensible ways that you apply those manipulations to make seemingly trustworthy photographs.

    But if they were allowed by TCQ, those manipulations would quickly be taken to crazy extremes — because “Why not go wild if the result still qualifies as TCQ?” — and the “Guaranteed TCQ” label on the resulting photos would be a joke.

  • 2. Then why does TCQ allow some kinds of manipulations that could easily be taken to extremes?

    The only manipulations that TCQ allows are allowed by rinairs.

    Thus “extreme” expressions of those manipulations will be disqualified from TCQ by rinairs, as per Q7.

    But the “favorite manipulations” listed in #1 above are not allowed by rinairs.

    Thus Q7’s rinairs test would not apply to the manipulations described in #1 above.

  • 3. But if the goal is limiting extreme expressions of manipulations that TCQ and rinairs don’t allow — like “added bokeh blur” or “reshaped buildings” — why not just put a limit on the effect of those manipulations similar to the role of rinairs in Q7?

    That would be impossible, because there is no worldwide standard comparable to rinairs that allows manipulations that TCQ doesn’t allow.

    In other words, there is no way to set any limit for non-TCQ-allowed manipulations without being arbitrary.

    (See the “Five examples” section below)

  • 4. Since smartphone sliders have limits, why not just limit things like adding blur and reshaping things to what smartphones can do rather than worrying about how to limit what photographers can do with a computer?

    Because TCQ is a universal standard, meaning that it cannot be “device-specific.” The approach described in question #4 would rule out millions of photographers from using TCQ.

    When it comes to making photos that qualify as TCQ, photographers who use smartphones and photographers who use standalone cameras all have the same options and the same limitations.

    (Realistically speaking, to gain a marketing advantage smartphone makers are likely to gradually increase the “extremes” on their cameras to please photographers who push the sliders to extremes — which would then render moot the distinction described in question #4.)

  • Five examples

    Would viewers trust photographs in which these manipulations were carried to extremes?

  • Example 1. Reshaping things in photographs to make it look like the camera was pointed somewhere other than where it was pointed, usually done to accomplish “perspective correction”

    TCQ policy: Photographers can choose any perspective they want when photographing, but (as per Q2) after the exposure they cannot reshape things to alter the apparent perspective.

    Looser policy:
    Either set an arbitrary limit or expect to see all kinds of misrepresentative perspectives — for example implying that a building was photographed across the street from roof-level looking down rather than from street level looking up.

    Would viewers trust the resulting photographs if they knew how the photo had been recorded?


  • Example 2. Rendering as completely invisible things that are moving around in the scene (achieved by using a very long exposure)

    TCQ policy: Limited by the motarri principle, as per Q4 and Q5

    Looser policy: Either set an arbitrary limit or expect to see, for example, city street scenes at midday that are free of cars and pedestrians.

    Would viewers trust the resulting photographs if they knew how the subject had actually appeared while it was being photographed?


  • Example 3. Stitching together successive exposures of different views (e.g., sweep panoramics and 360s)

    TCQ policy: No combining of successive exposures of different views (as per Q3)

    Looser policy:
    Either set an arbitrary limit or expect to see images containing comical/disturbing distortions of things in the scene that moved or changed between exposures.

    Would viewers trust the resulting photographs?

  • Example 4. Post-exposure blurring of undesirable areas of the photograph (as with the bokeh blur added in “Portrait” mode on iPhones)

    TCQ policy: To meet Q3, the photograph must depict as much of the scene as “in focus” as can be based on what the camera recorded, whether the photograph was made with a single exposure or from a combination of exposures.

    Looser policy: Either set an arbitrary limit or expect to see the blurring of any undesirable areas of photographs, in any way and to any degree — for example heavily blurring out all but one face in a head-on group photo.

    Would viewers trust the resulting photographs?

  • Example 5. Post-exposure skin-smoothing to remove the depiction of moles, wrinkles, pimples, and even pores

    TCQ policy: As per Q2, no post-exposure blemish removal or skin-smoothing apart from effects of TCQ’s Allowable Changes.

    Looser policy: Either set an arbitrary limit or expect to see a lot of featureless/waxy “doll-like” skin.

    Would viewers trust the resulting photographs if they knew how the subject had actually appeared while they were being photographed?

 

Why not make a standard that’s like TCQ but less strict?