Saturday, October 24, 2009

Photo Manipulation

I receive a monthly email newsletter from the New York Institute of Photography.  This month's issue, along with tips on taking Halloween and fall photos, has an interesting article on the acceptability of digital photo manipulation.  Within that article is a link to an article by a professor at Cambridge University on photo tampering throughout history, in which we discover that the practice of altering photographs has been with us almost as long as photography itself.

Three of the photos date from the Civil War.  One is an iconic photo of Abraham Lincoln -- with Lincoln's head pasted on the body of John C. Calhoun.   Another photo is supposed to show Ulysses S. Grant in front of his troops, but was actually made from three photos -- Grant's head on Alexander McCook's body using a background shot of Confederate prisoners of war.  The third, a photo by Matthew Brady showing William T. Sherman with his subordinates, has a general that was added to the photo later.

There's a lot of interesting stuff here, including some dictators who had subordinates airbrushed out of existence, some political shenanigans, and plenty of minor manipulations that were done for editorial or artistic purposes.  One of those is the famous photo from Kent State that shows Mary Ann Vecchio screaming over the body of Jeremy Miller.  That photo was altered to remove a fence post in the background that appeared to be growing out of Ms. Vecchio's head.  The webpage even includes the latest kerfuffle, the Ralph Lauren ad that has been manipulated to the point where the model's head is bigger than her waist.

I consider myself more of a photographer than a photo editor, but I'm not a snob about it.  I usually give my photos a little touch up with a simple editing program, usually Picasa.  For example, the latest photo I posted, "Looking West," was touched up a little.  I took the photo at the Lookout Mountain Flight Park.  After an hour or two of taking shots of hang gliders, I was heading back to the car, camera in hand, when I saw the man on the launch ramp.  I raised the camera, made a quick adjustment, took a quick shot and continued walking.  I posted it to flickr, then used flickr's editing program, Picnic, to straighten the horizon a bit and play around with the color.

I've never owned or used Photoshop, but I love some of the artistic things you can do with it.  It's more of a monetary issue with me; that's a damned expensive program.  I downloaded Gimp and played around with it a bit, but couldn't figure out how to do too much with it.  If there was some sort of step-by-step guide around, I might play around with it a little more.  At this point though, I think I'd be better served to spend more time learning how to use my camera than learning how to edit.  I would welcome other view on the matter though.

So where's the line?  I'm sure there's a line there somewhere.  I believe that any manipulation, except correcting for exposure and color, is unacceptable in the field of photo journalism.  Even if your subject has a fence post growing out of her head.  Manipulation seems quite acceptable in most other photo fields.  It just drives me crazy when they get too carried away with it.

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Saturday, October 17, 2009

Ellipsis Photo Shoot: One Subject, Four Perspectives

Carly's photo shoot at Ellipsis this week is to take four shots at capturing the same subject...
EMPS #59: 1 Subject 4 Perspectives.
Just as the above photograph illustrates, choose 1 SUBJECT out in the world, any subject, and show me 4 DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVES. Use lighting, or time of day, or color, or anything you can think of to help us see your subject in 4 distinctly different ways. Archived photos are fine for this one, but brand new is even better!
Here's a collage of four shots of my favorite subject, my grandson Isaiah.  The photos (going clockwise) include the very first shot I took with my new camera back in January, a jaunt up to Point Park, a photo with my wife, and dressed as the Cat in the Hat.

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Sunday, October 11, 2009

Ellipsis Photo Shoot: Bridges

At Ellipsis, Carly wants to see photos of bridges and walkways...
EMPS #58: Bridges and Walkways.
Let's go for a walk... shall we? Ok photographers, you know what to do, go out and find me some BRIDGES and WALKWAYS. Autumn, for most of us, is in full swing, so show me something like that, or feel free to dip into your archives and wow me with something you haven't displayed before. Lets cross the BRIDGE together... shall we?
On a little walk through Coolidge Park in Chattanooga back during the heat of the summer, I snapped a few pictures of a couple of the bridges that span the Tennessee River.  Here's a sample...

The Walnut Street Bridge

This is a view of the Walnut Street Bridge. It was built in 1890 and closed in 1978. After sitting idle for more than a decade, it was refurbished and opened as a pedestrian bridge/walkway.

Under the Bridge

The bridge comes off of a high bluff on the south side of the Tennessee River.  To reach land at a comparable elevation on the north side, the bridge has to pass over a bit of flat land.  This is a view from underneath.

The John Ross Bridge

This is another Chattanooga bridge.  Everyone calls it the Market Street Bridge, but its official name is the John Ross Bridge.  It is a bascule bridge, meaning that it has a section that opens up to allow river traffic to pass underneath.  Those are big counterweights on either side of the section that opens.  The Tennessee Aquarium can be seen across the river.  The Walnut Street Bridge can be seen in the background, underneath the bridge.
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Saturday, October 03, 2009

Round Robin Photo Challenge: In Motion

This is my first Round Robin Photo Challenge in quite a while.  The topic this time around is motion...
Let's capture objects in motion, whether it means moving the camera to keep up, or capturing the blur of movement against a static background.
This wasn't too hard.  Just go out by a nearby highway and practice panning until you get the shot(s).  I set the shutter speed fairly low (about 1/30 of a second) and got these two shots.  Because it was getting late in the evening, I had to do some basic fixes to the photos, mainly adding a little more fill light...

A Motorcycle in Motion

F-150 in Motion

A complete linking list for all the participants is at the Round Robin Photo Challenge blog. Check out the other entrants and play along, if you'd like.

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