Rannoch Station is one of the most remote railway stations in the UK. Here are two photographs of it. Can you spot the difference? You may need to enlarge the photos.
Did you spot it? There are no prizes (don’t stop reading though) for seeing that in the first shot there are wires leading down to the station building from the top left of frame whereas in the second shot they are absent.
The question is, was this worth about 45 minutes in Photoshop to take the wires out? It’s not so easy to answer and is really a matter of personal opinion.
Leaving the wires in is an honest reproduction of what was actually there and there are people who would argue for that level honesty in photography. The curious thing here is that at the time I took the photograph I really wasn’t aware of them. By the time I got round to processing the photo in Lightroom, I became increasingly aware of them. I felt they were detracting from the scene as I had originally enjoyed it. So there’s another little dimension on this minorly ethical matter. When we view any scene live – by actually being there – we tend to focus rather specifically on what we take in and our brains undertake some live editing and we simply filter out things that we’re not interested in. So, by taking the wires out in Photoshop was I being true to my own memory and perception but untrue to the actual reality?
It was a fiddly and time-consuming process to remove the wires but I felt that the scene was better without them. There was no longer competition to be the leading lines into the photo and I feel much happier without that competition going on. I think the composition is enhanced by removing the wires and therefore the effort was worth it.
In the end, I take the view that Photography, of this type is art. I think the debate becomes more pointed when we get into the realms of photojournalism or documentary genres where there is much more of an overriding need to present things honestly.
So, what do you think? I’d be fascinated to read any comments on this.