#10 of TCQ’s Allowable Changes

“Light”-related changes

(Tones, colors, contrast, brightness, overexposure, underexposure, hue, saturation, highlight/shadow detail, etc.)

  • A. When set to their automatic modes, most 21st-century cameras and devices produce TCQ-qualified “light”-related results by default

    Most people will not have to make “light”-related adjustments to most of their photographs in order for the photos to meet Q7. The photos will already meet Q7 if they were taken on automatic settings.

    Usually it is only if something is clearly amiss significantly over- or underexposed, a color balance that is so far off that the photo could be deceptive — that the TCQ photographer “has” to make “light”-related changes.

  • B. But sometimes “light”-related changes may be required for a photograph to qualify for the “Guaranteed TCQ” label

    If the photo was recorded in ways that misrespresent the tones and colors that were “seen at the scene,” then “light”-related changes are not only allowed but are actually required in order to meet Q7.

  • C. No type of “light”-related change is disqualified by TCQ as long as the result meets Q7

    There is no limit on the degree of “light”-related changes that is permissible in order to meet Q7.

    For example, if the photograph was recorded on color-negative film, the colors will have to be inverted for the photo to meet Q7!


  • D. Meeting Q7 includes the effect of “light”-related changes on non-light-related aspects

    (Q7 is here)

    Any “light”-related changes must be gauged not only for their effect on “tones and colors” in the scene depicted but also for those changes’ effect on “forms and shapes” (non-light-related aspects).

    If the result does not meet rinairs — for example, if the “tones and colors” in specific areas of the photo are excessively darkened to make “forms and shapes” in those areas disappear — then the photograph will not meet Q7 and cannot qualify for the “Guaranteed TCQ” label.
    (For more on this, see the Key entry on highlight and shadow detail.)

    Similarly, if when converting a color photograph to b&w monochrome the photographer filtered out specific hues to make depictions of that color disappear — spray-painted graffiti on a wall, for example then the result would obviously be disqualified by Q7.

  • E. Lighting effects cannot be changed or added after the exposure is ended.

    A photograph is disqualified from Q7 — and thus from TCQ — if after the exposure a lighting effect is added or depicted that was not present in the scene photographed.

    This includes lighting effects that smartphones now make it easy to instantly add.

    See also the background brief on def|pen.


  • F. Black-and-white/monochrome photographs routinely qualify as TCQ

    Black-and-white (monochrome) photographs have always been a staple of reportage photography.

    Thus black-and-white (monochrome) photographs can meet Q7 — and can be eligible to qualify as TCQ — as long as they do not misrepresent the tonality of the scene (i.e., brighter tones must remain brighter and darker tones must remain darker).


    See also FAQ #801 and the Key entry on monochrome black-and-white.



See also the FAQ questions on “light”-related changes