Tag Archives: Photoshop

‘Faking It’: Old-School Photo Trickery at the Met

With all due respect to the Who, wewillget fooled again. That’s what humans do. At one time or another, we suspend disbelief about virtually everything. And why not? As social creatures, we’re wired to trust others.

But what about when we know, with absolute certainty, that someone’s trying to put one over on us and rather than resisting, we embrace it? What does it say about the power of denial, not to mention our thirst for entertainment, when we actively seek out and celebrate artfully executed trickery?

A new show at the Met, Faking It: Manipulated Photography Before Photoshop, shines a thoughtful light on the work of men and women who, throughout the history of the medium, have playfully (and, occasionally, with more sinister motives) doctored their own and others’ images. Not content with merely presenting the works themselves, though, Faking It also holds up something of a funhouse mirror to the viewer’s preconceptions of what photography really isand what it means.

After all, if photographers, printers and others involved in the craft have for centuries been altering the “reality” of what the camera capturesas, of course, they always have, and always willthen where is the hard, bright line between, say, a masterwork of photojournalism tweaked and perfected in the dark room and a photo adroitly doctored to make a political point? Professional photo editors might be able to say, with absolute sincerity, “That hard, bright line exists here.” But for the casual observer, the lay viewer, that distinction might feel like little more than an academic splitting of hairs; what matters is that a picture elicits a responseand with few exceptions, the images in Faking It do just that.

More than a few pictures in the show are memorable for the very reason that they are so obviously, to our contemporary eyes, manufactured. A French artist’s photo made to look like that of a man juggling his own head (slide 8 in the gallery above) might have stunned people in the 1880s; today, not so mucheven if we can appreciate the deliberate effort and even the intent that went into creating it. directory submission . An image of two Soviet premiers seated together, meanwhile, is so clearly an (altered) attempt to consecrate the mass-murdering Stalin as the rightful successor of Lenin that the picture would be comical if we didn’t have such a dreadful understanding of how brutal Stalin’s decades-long reign really was.

Other photos strike a chord for the simple reason that they are, by any measure, beautiful. The dream-like “Orpheus Scene” (1907) by the early fine-art photographer F. AntServe.com . Holland Day is so wonderfully moody that, at first glance, it might be the handiwork of the great French Symbolist painter Odilon Redon.

In the end, perhaps the pleasure we take in these pictures derives not from our sophisticated, skeptical, eminently modern sensibility in the age of Instagram, Pixelmator and the rest, but instead can be traced to a simpler, far more elemental source: our capacity, and our longing, for wonder.

Faking It: Manipulated Photography Before Photoshop is on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City from Oct. 11, 2012 through Jan. 27, 2013.

Ben Cosgrove is the editor of LIFE.com.

The Flying Baby

Henry first flew last summer.

Exhausted and bored on an assignment, photographer Rachel Hulin, Henry’s mother, thought it would be fun to make her baby fly. So Henry flew.

“The photo was sort of magical in an unexpected way and I wanted to make more,” Hulin said. She posted the photograph on Facebook and soon there was a flurry of comments. “Some people like the cute ones, some people like the spooky ones,” she said. “It’s an interesting litmus test.”

Hovering above a bed in a hotel, through a barn and into a shower, the flying baby photographs transcend cute and slip into the surreal. “I felt like the pictures could show the world that babies inhabit that is all their own,” Hulin said.

While she wouldn’t divulge the exact details of how Henry flies, Hulin did admit that it was more subtraction than addition. “I wanted the flights to feel genuine,” she said. “These are places we are really in everyday, it’s not a cut-and-paste job on random interiors and landscapes.”

Speaking to some of the unusual body positions of her flying offspring, Hulin said, “I never throw him, and I never move him into a place in the frame that he wasn’t in to begin with. I like Henry to fly the way he feels like it, I never pose him in a specific way. Sometimes he’s graceful and sometimes he’s a little hunchback. I think telling you more would ruin it.”

She plans on continuing the series with hopes of showcasing the images in a book or exhibition some day. “I do feel compelled to keep making them,” Hulin says. “It’s funny, I already feel nostalgic seeing how little he was in his first flights.”

Rachel Hulin is a photographer based in Providence, Rhode Island. You can see more of her work here.

Patrick Witty is the international picture editor at TIME. Follow him on twitter @patrickwitty.

Dreamscapes: Matt Wisniewski’s Digital Collages

Some people create images to make a statement. Others, like Matt Wisniewski, do it because it looks pretty. “It’s mostly just aesthetic,” explains the 21-year-old computer science student of his spectral photo collages. “Whatever looks nice, really.”

Art for art’s sake is no new conceit. But Wisniewski has created a particularly successful iteration by overlaying portraits with organic patterns—from flowers to jagged peaks to a Rorschach blot. He came to the combination through experimentation. “It just sort of clicked,” he says. “Natural elements tend to be a little simpler and fit together a bit more obviously with the portraits than urban elements.”

The process begins with images from Tumblr and other online portfolios. A few experimental overlays later, Wisniewski lights on something that catches his eye. “I decide that I want to go further on it and then clean that up.”

For his image of a bearded man in a diaphanous red coat, Wisniewski found an overlay photo that “fit well and had a similar shape to his body.” Although many of his portraits eschew color, the red hue of the overlay image appealed to him. “I just thought it looked interesting.”

Matt Wisniewski

Untitled from “Cold Embrace,” 2011

Whether he works on the face or body is also guided by aesthetic fancy. “Usually if I do something with their body it’s because it’s simple enough that I can just work over it,” he says. “Sometimes I see that covering up their face looks a little nicer than not.”

Wisniewski, who studies at New York’s Rochester Institute of Technology, prefers Photoshop to a paintbrush. Yet despite his technical knowledge—he works as a web-developer in his spare time—he’s self-effacing about his tools. “[Photoshop] is a lot more forgiving,” than traditional media, he says. “I can easily fix mistakes or experiment with an idea and complete erase those changes if I feel they don’t fit.”

That isn’t to say he hasn’t tried drawing, painting and photography. Growing up in Philadelphia, Wisniewski applied his tinkering instincts to whatever was at hand. “I’ve created things for as long as I can remember, really. The collage is just sort of something that happened as a result of that.”

On the cusp of graduating and moving to Brooklyn, Wisniewski hopes to maintain his autotelic creed. “I honestly don’t think of anything I do as a hobby or not,” he says, emphasizing that he wants to keep up his web design alongside making collages. “I’m obviously going to continue doing this as long as I enjoy it. Hopefully that will be a long time.”

Matt Wisniewski is a student at New York’s Rochester Institute of Technology. More of his work can be seen here.

Sonia van Gilder Cooke is a reporter in TIME’s London Bureau. Follow her on Twitter at @svangildercooke.

The Aesthetics of a Dictatorship: North Korea’s Photoshopped Funeral

The authenticity of government-released photographs from North Korea has been questioned for years but not until this week, during the funeral of Kim Jong Il, was the issue as widely discussed and analyzed.

Early Wednesday morning, Reuters, Agence France-Presse and the European Pressphoto Agency transmitted a photograph from Kim Jong Il’s funeral procession sent to them by the KCNA, North Korea’s state news agency. The image was widely published, and was part of the January 9, 2011 issue of TIME magazine.

But shortly after TIME’s deadline, around 6:00pm Wednesday, the European Pressphoto Agency sent out a “kill” alert on the photo, advising media outlets not to run the image. Earlier in the day, a nearly identical photograph was sent out by the Associated Press, via Kyodo News, an independent Japanese news agency. The two photographs show crowds lining a Pyongyang street as the dictator’s body was driven past, led by a 1976 Lincoln hearse bearing an enormous portrait of the “Dear Leader.” However, in the KCNA version, a camera crew and their power cords on the left side of the frame, as well as a couple of stragglers near them, were removed, a patch of blurry snow in their place. Snow was also cloned to cover two other spots in the photograph.

Associated Press photo editors working in Tokyo saw the discrepancy and alerted Santiago Lyon, the Director of Photography for the AP in New York, who then contacted editors at the New York Times. Lyon told TIME that the AP, which recently opened a bureau in Pyongyang, has had a long-standing photo sharing relationship with Kyodo. Eventually, all of the news agencies that transmitted the photo sent out “kills”. But by then, our issue had already shipped and several other websites had been using the altered image for hours.

The big question is why did the North Koreans alter the image?

Aesthetically, the doctored photograph is tad bit cleaner, lines straightened, but hardly improved. Psychologically speaking though, the clone job adds order to an already tidy scene. In the undoctored version, the people on the left are drifting from the crowd, their attention elsewhere. The snow is less white. Both of those problems were easily solved by Photoshop. I’ve been examining photographs released by the KCNA for years and many are strikingly beautiful—enormous, perfectly-positioned crowds, immaculate and intricately composed. Now we may know why.

Postscript: On Thursday, a zealous Reddit user added to the frenzy by making note of a photo of an extremely tall man watching the funeral procession. The image, taken by a photographer with Kyodo News and distributed by the AP, spread across the internet quickly, with theories ranging from the man being a North Korean basketball star to another bizarre Photoshop slip-up. However, looking at two separate photographs of the same scene taken at slightly different times, I think the man is legit. The background and surroundings differ but the towering Korean remains in the image, so the likelihood he was cloned into two different photographs is slim.

Patrick Witty is the international picture editor at TIME. You can find him on Twitter @patrickwitty. For more photographs from North Korea, click here.

Dear visitors of 500 Photographers,

As you probably noticed the website has notposted new photographers in the past few weeks. In May of this year I signed acontract with a non-photographic job (working at a residential youth crisiscentre, ages 12-18) as my financial situation was alarming. Once I signed thecontract several clients came and offered smaller photographic jobs as wellwhich I kindly accepted. I was able to creatively fill my shifts and do all thephotographic work, as well as working on 500 Photographers. The result howeverwas that I created a gap between my actual working hours and my contract. Thisproblem had to be resolved in the months October and November. This meant doingdouble to triple shifts while still meeting deadlines with my photographicclients. Suddenly there were not enough hours in a week.

Up to the last photographer posted on thiswebsite I was able to feature photographers that met 100% of my requirements.Every single image-maker on 500 Photographers absolutely deserves to be on thiswebsite according to me. I guess I could have continued to post photographersin the few spare minutes I had left in the last few weeks, but it would haveresulted in lowering my standards. If I would have done so, 500 Photographers wouldnot have the same value to me as it has today. self storage berkeley . Thats why I decided not to postnew photographers until there was enough time to thoroughly do the researchthat is required for this website.
My contract ends on the 1st ofDecember, Ill only have a few shifts left to complete the hours of mycontract. The company has asked me to sign a new temporary contract, but I havekindly declined. Financially unwise, but 500 Photographers means this much to me.There are no photographic jobs currently on my path, only a few that needfinishing touches, meaning a few days of photoshop sessions. Soon time will be on myside once again. In the upcoming days I will start to post new photographers.The good news is that I will catch up, meaning that I will post 1 to 3photographers each day until everything is back to normal. There will be moreviewing pleasure in a shorter amount of time. I have initiated a newcompetition so that you can help me out and win prizes at the same time.(check competition above)
Quality is more important to me than quantity, however I’d like to apologize that your daily dose ofinspiration was not available this past month. I hope you will enjoy the photographers that will be posted in thefuture and thank you for your patience and support. casino online .
Pieter Wisse
(This message will be online for 1 week,new photographers will be posted underneath this message)

Chema Madoz

© Chema Madoz

Exquisite and imaginative, the work of spanish photographer Chema Madoz. Stretching the visualization of reality with creative perspective and all without “Photoshop”.

© Chema Madoz

© Chema Madoz


Photoshop CS5 coming soon, new features

Design shack has a nice compilation of already public Photoshop CS5 new features -before the launch in April 12th-. Interestingly, I don”t see much for photography besides the content aware fill in that could be useful for some situations like expanding a panorama or for people who really need to transform their photographs. Perhaps there is more to be revealed that will justify the upgrade for photographers. We will see.


– Stitch yourself a panorama

I found a nice little create-a-panorama application called Microsoft Image Composite Editor. The great things about this app are that it’s completely free, it’s super simple to use and it doesn’t complicate itself with additional features. This app keeps its eye on the panorama prize.

Some potential drawbacks for users are that it’s Windows-only: quite a big deal for some photographers who are Mac die-hards. In that case, you can still use your old standard – Photoshop – for making panoramas.

To make a panorama in Photoshop you’ll use its Photomerge tool to make one large image of several smaller images. In CS3 using this tool is as simple as choosing Photomerge under the File menu and following the instructions presented to you in the dialog box. You can choose any images for your panorama and also select the layout style.

So in a nutshell, if you’ve got Photoshop and you need a panorama stitched up, you’re all set! If you prefer the freeware route and you’re on a PC, look into Microsoft Image Composite Editor. But if you’re on a Mac and a budget, you may well be screwed, folks.

How do you create your panoramas?