Many thanks to Shmuel Thaler, Nhat Meyer, Paul Sakuma and Norbert von der Groeben for making it out to our discussion on ethics in the digital darkroom. The talk seemed to bring up some key points that are either subjective in nature or have yet to be answered. Differences in opinion seemed to sprout up when comparing those who work at a large publication or for a newswire with those who work in smaller market papers.
When working for a large paper or a newswire, the staff exists to post-process images for you and/or little post processing is done because the photographer does not know where the photograph will end up. In the case of a photographer working at a smaller paper, that photographer is aware of any subtleties that may exist in printing for that particular paper. He/she can adjust tones to compensate for uncalibrated monitors, poor presses, cheap paper, etc.
A few interesting suggestions came up, including a system to either track changes made to an image throughout its “life,” the embedding of a thumbnail of the raw file within the photograph’s data, and a scaled back version of photoshop that would limit the ease in which photographs can be manipulated and more closely simulate wet darkroom characteristics.
In the end, it seemed like both sides were striving for the same goal; to present to their viewers an honest a truthful view of reality. Whether that reality is what is seen by the eye of the photographer or what can be captured by a digital sensor remains a question.