As a novice just getting into photography, I have been trying to figure out not just which cameras and lenses to try to get, but also which monitors to view my shots through, as well as which software programs to process my shots with. Well, a girlfriend of mine sent me a link to her personal favorite nature photographer, Thomas Mangelsen, who apparently does not digitally-manipulate his images at all. In fact, it even says so on his website:
"A purist to the end, Tom does not digitally-manipulate his images, and is vehemently opposed to photographing animal models in game farms. Instead, he focuses on three main elements to capture the ideal photograph: Patience, light, and behavior."
I'm familiar with Mangelsen's work, and have visited his gallery in Jackson a number of times. I enjoy his products, although I own nothing of his that is significant. For quite some time my mouse has run around a pad illustrated with Thomas' "His Majesty" image.
This quote is from the Popular Photography
article "King of the Beasts" Thomas publishes on his Web site.
[blockquote]His most successful photo ever -- he says it's earned more than $2.5 million -- is the startling shot of an Alaskan
brown bear nabbing a spawning salmon that serves as this article's opener. This shot is so dead-on that
Mangelsen has been accused of digital fakery. But it was hard-won by previsualization and much waiting. He says
he never manipulates his photos digitally beyond standard darkroom-type controls.[/blockquote]
One of the people in his Jackson, Wyoming, gallery once told me he tried for that shot for 4 months before he got it.
I believe the above is a more accurate description of his process. As others contributing to this thread have pointed out, all photography involves creative choices. Some choices, such as altering an image by inserting or removing an object, seem more significant than selection of a film emulsion, a color balance, or the texture of the paper on which the image is printed.
Then there's the often quoted Ansel Adams position on manipulation.
[blockquote]"The negative is the score, and the print is the performance."[/blockquote]
I understand that of Ansel's famous church prints required huge darkroom effort because he miss guessed the exposure (the light was disappering very quickly) and as a result the negative was very difficult to print.
These days an updated version might be phrased, "The raw image file is the score, and the print is the performance." Is the photographer the composer, the conductor, the performer, or all of these? Playing any or all of these roles is perfectly legitimate.
Another nature photographer with strong views similar to Mangelsen's is Stephen Johnson
. Stephen shoots with a variety of digital cameras, including scanning backs that produce files of 144 megapixels. On his Web site he says
the following is one of the attributes that makes his images unique.
[blockquote]Stunningly real color with the restrained pallette of what he saw, rather than what film might have done to the light, or what an image editor might have done to "enhance" the photograph.[/blockquote]
One of the entertaining activities on the recent Antarctica cruise was watching the bank and forth exchanges between Stephen and some of the other workshop leaders on this very point. Always amicable (to my ear, at least), the discussions served to highlight the differing methods and goals of these successful photographic artists.
Integrity as a photographer, to me, centers on being honest about the images you produce. That's equally true for the photographer as artist, as journalist, or as family archivist.