Photo Imaging: The Blasphemy of Manipulating Images

With the advent of image editing software, such as Adobe Photoshop®, as with darkroom techniques of the past, it is possible to manipulate images to either correct or enhance them. Photo correction is done to bring an image back to its intended brightness, contrast, and color. Enhancement involves adding, subtracting or changing components of the image to suit the purpose of the "photoshopper".

Examples of Photo Correction and Photo Enhancement

The first is done all the time, unbeknownst to most viewers, so we end up with blue skies, not grey, green grass, not brown, etc. However, image enhancement is another matter entirely. Removing undesirable elements, such as a lamppost growing out of someone's head, or removing the glare from eyeglasses is without controversy for most viewers; but adjustments such as digital liposuction of too chunky thighs, reshaping a large nose, removing wrinkles, or <gasp> putting one person's head on another's body, is where things get dicey.

In terms of photos depicting actual events, such as in the news media or as in evidence in legal proceedings, one can see where going down the slippery slope of digital manipulation changes the whole nature of photography as literal representation of the physical world. So, just as the advent of photography pushed visual art into a different sphere, maybe we are seeing digital imaging pushing photography into a different realm.

There is no doubt that digital manipulation is a powerful tool, and that, in practicing it, I am part and parcel to this distortion of reality. But, I am not without integrity or purpose. As a general rule, I don't replace one person's head with another's ........ unless I have a damn good reason for doing so!

I'd like to give you a good example of just such a scenario. I'd like to preface this with the following: I've taken instruction with photographers, and I know that there is no substitution for a good image. One should not approach photography with the notion that if something doesn't come out right, it can be "photoshopped" later in the computer. However, sometimes it's just not possible (or at least very difficult) to get that perfect shot, especially if one is not a professional photog.

An example of Image Manipulation: Switching Body Parts

My example concerns trying to get two moody adolescents who were sworn enemies to smile in the same photo. (Parents: all those wonderful spontaneous, natural shots your young children give you so willingly will most likely become scarce with the advent of their adolescent hormonal surge. So, enjoy it now if you have it, but be forewarned!)

In the following example, we have the original shot, showing an uneasy truce. In the second, we have #1 son smiling broadly. So, we have the two "before" photos, and the "after" composition.

Original photo, in need of basic correction (color,  composition) and an attitude adjustment!

Much better. Now for some "adjustment".

Can you see all the adjustments, including the decor,

as well as the body parts "switched"?

So, for a good reason, I will do major "photoshopping". If you have photos of "not quite the shot you wanted", for whatever reason, perhaps I can do this for you also. Contact me and let's see what can be done to enhance your reality!

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