FAQ 8 - Specific effects

  • 801. Why aren’t black-and-white (monochrome) photographs disqualified by the Trust Checklist for misrepresenting the appearance of the scene depicted?

    Because “misrepresentation” is judged by the standards of respected international news agencies (as per Q7), and black-and-white photographs have been a trusted staple of news photography for more than 100 years.


  • 802. But if TCQ doesn’t disqualify photos that are “fully” desaturated (black-and-white/monochrome), why are “strongly-desaturated but-not-fully desaturated” photographs disqualified from TCQ? And why are “extremely saturated” photos also disqualified from TCQ?

    Those questions are answered in section “3” on the Key page on saturation.

  • 803. Besides monochrome/black-and-white, are there any other TCQ-allowed effects that keep photos from perfectly representing the appearance of the scene?

    Yes, photography is filled with things that keep images from perfectly portraying the real-world scenes they depict.


  • 804. Is it true that a dreadfully color-balanced photo can be made TCQ-eligible by converting it to monochrome/black-and-white?

    Yes, that is true.

    When the photographer thinks the colors are so far off that they cannot be corrected enough to meet Q7, converting the photograph to monochrome is usually an option.

    Note that tonal values cannot be reversed when converting color photos to monochrome / black-and-white.

    Contrary to popular belief, there is nothing “elitist” or “exclusive” about monochrome photos. Anyone in the world including smartphone users can easily make and put online TCQ-eligible monochrome photographs, even if the image was originally recorded in color.

    Monochrome photographs are as old as photography itself, and one-color images have been valued for all of human history, from ancient cave paintings to Asian calligraphy and ink-and-brush paintings to various cultures’ pencil and pen-and-ink drawings.

  • 805. Why does motarri use “automatic settings” to determine what’s normal?

    (Explanation of motarri is here)

    Because those settings are normal.

    Billions of photos every day are taken with “automatic settings,” and the results of those settings comprise the basis of every modern culture’s photographic literacy.

  • 806. What should viewers think if the photographer says he or she only made “minor” changes to the photograph?

    Viewers should be skeptical unless the photographer spells out exactly what “minor” includes.

    See the Key entry for more

  • 807. Why do photographers often want to add blur in order to obscure undesirable areas of their pictures?

    That is usually done so that viewers don’t give their attention to areas of the photograph the photographer doesn’t want them to look at.

    Over the course of photographic history, the available depth-of-field was often less than the photographer wanted, especially when using larger film formats (countless photographers over the years craved more depth of field, not less).

    But in recent years, when using small-sensor devices (such as smartphones) that have much greater depth-of-field, photographers have often coveted the shallow depth-of-field look that larger-sensor (and larger film-format) devices inherently offer thus explaining the popularity of adding blur/bokeh to a photo after it is recorded.

  • 808. Why does TCQ prohibit post-exposure addition of blur/bokeh (as with “portrait” modes on smartphones)?

    Post-exposure bokeh blur is addressed in questions #1208-1213.

  • 809. What if I want a photo to qualify as TCQ but it was recorded on a smartphone in a “portrait” mode so that the phone added bokeh blur?

    It is usually a simple matter to use the blur-adjustment slider to “undo” on smartphones any software-generated blurring and “revert” to the version of the photograph that shows as much of the photograph in focus as the lens(es) recorded.

    Undoing” is category #4 in the Allowable Changes list

  • 810. Why does TCQ disqualify the resulting images when photographers reshape things in photographs (e.g., for post-exposure “perspective correction”) so that it looks like the camera was pointed somewhere other than where it was?

    Because the result misrepresents where the camera was pointed.

    As the Trust page explains, TCQ is about what the camera saw, not what the photographer wishes the camera had seen.

  • 811. How do TCQ photographers make “perspective-corrected” photographs if they can’t reshape things after the photo is recorded?

    The same way perspective correction has been done since photography was invented:

    by keeping the sensor/film plane parallel to the subject* and using only a portion of the camera’s image circle.


  • 812. I would never “add” something to a photograph in post-exposure processing, but I sometimes “delete” things. Why doesn’t TCQ distinguish between the two actions?

    Because except when cropping, it is impossible to delete something from a photograph without adding something in its place.

    When it comes to photo manipulation, “adding” and “deleting” are the same thing.

  • 813. Couldn’t the Trust Checklist make at least limited allowance for reshaping things to accomplish post-exposure “perspective correction”?

    No, because any attempt at such a policy would run into “The Problem of Arbitrariness.”

    (See also “Why isn’t my favorite manipulation allowed?”)

  • 814. Couldn’t a photographer just doctor a photo any way they want and then take a photograph of the doctored photo — leaving the new photo undoctored so that they can label it “Guaranteed TCQ”?

    No, this is specifically prohibited by the last paragraph of Q8.

    For obvious reasons, any photograph in which a non-TCQ photograph is “a primary subject” is considered TCQ-ineligible and cannot qualify as TCQ, no matter how it is explained, presented, or labeled.

  • 815. What about other kinds of trick photos? What about optical illusions?

    They are eligible to qualify as TCQ if they meet all 9 qualifications, but they will not qualify unless viewers are made aware of the potentially deceptive aspects of the photograph, as per Q8.

    Photographers may be tempted to propose various far-fetched and clever photographic scenarios to “game the system.”

    Unfortunately for would-be tricksters, with TCQ there are no loopholes to exploit (see #1802).

    Q7 is clear: a TCQ photograph cannot misrepresent the appearance of the scene (see #1705).

    And Q8 is equally clear: the TCQ photographer cannot deceive viewers about the circumstances of the photograph.


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