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Definition of Unmanipulated

by Philip Greenspun, February 2007

Your photos in our database here at photo.net are intended to help other readers learn how to become better photographers. It is helpful for them to know whether the photo is more or less as it came out of the camera ("unmanipulated") or whether the photo has been significantly altered ("manipulated"). In other words, to produce a image like yours, do they need to work on their camera technique or their Photoshop technique?


  • a single uninterrupted exposure
  • cropping to taste
  • common adjustments to the entire image, e.g., color temperature, curves, sharpening, desaturation to black and white
  • dust spots on sensor cloned out


  • double-exposure or fragments from several exposures
  • geometric distortion, e.g., to correct perspective
  • adjustments to just a part of the image, e.g., dodging and burning

For those readers old enough to remember film, "unmanipulated" is a slide processed through standard chemistry; "manipulated" would be a black and white print that had been heavily dodged and burned.

This definition was collaboratively produced by the photo.net forum moderators.

Article created February 2007