Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Upcoming photoshop magic

I'm sure this is a carefully staged demo from Adobe Labs, but wow.


Galspanic said...

Very intriguing, but I can't help feel i was watching the British guy talk to the housewife in one of those late night infomercials.

"We all hate the drudgery of filling in gaps in the back ground, don't we? We all know if you tried to do this manually it would be a pain, and take a really really long time (heheh)"

Fugu said...

Ha, I was just about to post this. That second part is crazy. They've probably hired photoshop wizard-children in some other dimension to do all the dirty work for you. Another dimension because of all the time it would take, you see.

odori said...

In my view, these images no longer qualify as photos after everything this guy has done to them.

I wonder if this makes me a fundamentalist of some sort.

kamapuaa said...

I think the term you're looking for is "Luddite".

(It's all out of love, I swear.)

Galspanic said...

I don't think Odori prays to the Mighty Ludd. I think she's on to something. I wouldn't call this photography. Odori could be called a purist, possibly?

Litcube said...

I was going to post purist yesterday, but then ma browser crashed.

Mr. Pony said...

I'm going to buy this when it comes out, make a very large image, and type these words at the top:

"Once I was walking down the street and something so awesome happened to me and it totally changed my life forever."

I will select the white space with the magic wand tool, do a content-aware delete, and then I will buy an island with all the money I make from the resulting young-adult novel.

Galspanic said...

Dude, I'll be on the island next to it with all the drawings I make from thumbnail sketches.

Fugu said...


odori said...

Yes, I think purist is the word. Once you do that much to a photo it becomes a graphic design - just like a memoir becomes creative fiction if you change too many key details in your life story.

Which makes me love Fugu's update very much!
The guy's line sums it up pretty well - "proving everything you see is probably a lie."

Galspanic said...

That update was so win.

Odori, i imagine you're familiar with the book "The Commissar vanishes; The falsification of photographs in Stalin's Russia"?
If not, I can lend you a copy. Fascinating stuff.

Mr. Pony said...

This may be a pretty ancient point, but I think the editorialization/breakdown of reality happens long before you load your image into Photoshop CS5--or even CS4. A photo is already a decontextualized representation taken from a single, fixed point of view. Angle, framing, inclusion and exclusion have already happened; redirecting and altering the reality of the captured event.

I realize that this is a matter of degree, and that a line must be drawn somewhere; in order for us to make useful judgments about media, but drawing it at Photoshop CS5 seems a little late. Everything is already a lie.

Mr. Pony said...

I am a lie.

Heeero said...

But a good happy fun lie!

odori said...

Panic - no, I haven't heard of "The Commissar Vanishes." I'd love to have a look! Maybe next time I visit you and Mrs. Panic?

Mr. Pony - I sense you are being deliberately outrageous and over- the-top... Regardless, but I have to say I would draw the line way before you would! And I humbly argue it's important to do so...

Perhaps I'm thinking too much in terms of news photos. Even so, I the same basic rules apply to news photos as to any photo taken to capture a moment.

I understand the photographer shoots from a particular angle with certain lighting to capture a particular scene, thought, or mood. He or she is making choices along the way. So yes, the photographer's point of view is reflected in the photo.

I'd argue it's the photographer's job to do just that - to use their technical skills taking photos and knowledge of the story to capture and convey what's happening.

But I also know, or very much expect, that the photographer or his or her editor has not inserted another person, animal, tree, whatever into the photo to tell the story.

Doing so adds an interpretive element that forever changes what's being conveyed.

The image is no longer a depiction of what was in the camera frame at the moment the shot was taken.

It's art, maybe, or a design. But it's no longer a photo.

kamapuaa said...

@odori - So what do you think about the adjustments that you can do to RAW photos? Since what you have is not an image, but the raw data from a camera's CCD, you can adjust a lot of stuff in post (color saturation, white balance, black point, etc) without, strictly speaking, altering the image. Is this too far?

Mr. Pony said...

Oh. It's entirely possible that I was being deliberately outrageous. I just wanted to bring up the point (which I still believe is valid, on some levels). I think about this in terms of news photos, too. While I think "art photos" or "photo illustration" can be beautiful, I'm far more interested in photos whose primary purpose is the documentation of an event.

So I agree, once you add things that weren't there to a photo, or remove things that were, you're crossing a much more important line than the disruption of reality that occurs when you just take a picture of something.

odori said...

I think adjusting white balance and the like is fair game for a photo that's documenting an event.
As I understand it, the photographer should make such adjustments to make sure he/she captures the best picture as natural light etc. changes.

I'll share an anecdote that I think illustrates some of the problems with after the fact manipulation.

When I was working in Tokyo, an activist group (I think it was the Sea Shepherd people) sent my news organization a photo of villagers in Taiji slaughtering dolphins in a bloody bay. (A cove...Yes, Taiji, the same town made famous by "The Cove" movie.)

Our company sometimes runs what we call "handout photos" like this _ photos that government agencies or activist groups take of events or people or animals etc. While we prefer to use our own photos we use handouts sometimes when aren't able to shoot an event ourselves.

When we put out the dolphin slaughter handout photo, we got a call from a newspaper in Toronto asking us if the red color of the water had been enhanced in Photoshop. The water was such a surreal, bright red they thought it looked fake.

Our photo editors believed that it hadn't been doctored. But then again, these guys could be the kind of activists who would make the bay appear to be more red that it really was to make the slaughter seem more dramatic.

You can never know.

If the activists added red to the photo, they would be effectively lying about what was happening in the cove. That's not fair to readers trying to understand a complex issue, nor is it fair to the Taiji villagers.

I still don't know if they doctored the photo. Blood from lots of dolphins may well turn water that color. I have no reason to suspect they manipulated the photo other than the question raised by a skeptical newspaper editor.

But I still think the situation illustrates how problematic manipulation can be.

Mr. Pony said...


Galspanic said...

So many horrible, horrible pictures will be coming out soon. I can taste it in the air.