Monday, July 22, 2013

Some Call It Cheating

An ongoing controversy since the dawn of digital photography has been "How much manipulation is allowable?" Journalists have lost their jobs over the slightest bit of photo manipulation, while others make a career of rearranging pixels. I'm somewhere in the middle. I still like a photograph to look like a photograph, not like a cartoon or a wild, fantasy painting. On the other hand, while I hesitate to call myself an artist, I'm certainly not a journalist. As a hobbyist, I'm not ethically compelled to stick to the facts. In short, yes, I manipulate.

Below is a photo I made at the Folkmoot festival on Saturday. This man played a drum as part of a group of dancers from Japan. I was struck by his stern expression during the performance in contrast to the big smiles of all the ladies in the group. He looks great, but you can easily see the problem with shooting at a street festival: garbage backgrounds. Signs, food tents, poles, Joe Tourist - everything you don't want in your photo.

Original, "out of the camera" photo
(Click on photo to enlarge.)

"Back in the day", when I was shooting with a film camera and had no means to create a digital file, I would just have to settle for a result like this. Not any more! Now I can create something more visually pleasing. A painter can paint in whatever background he wants for a portrait. Why shouldn't I be able to put in a more suitable background for my portrait?

A quick search on the interwebs found a suitable photo to use as a replacement background. (Yes, there are sites that offer royalty free, no charge, stock photos. I do not condone "borrowing" other photographer's work without their permission.) Once I found a photo that I thought would work with mine as a background, it was just a matter of extracting my subject from the original photo and pasting him onto his new home. There are numerous on-line tutorials available to show you how to do this, so I won't detail the process here. What I ended up with is the photo below. Real? No. Realistic? I think so. Again, I'm not a photo journalist, so I'm allowed to create what suits my eye.

Japanese Drummer, Waynesville, NC  -  2013
(Click on photo to enlarge.)

1 comment:

  1. Well done. The new background is far better than all the excess in the first one.
    The man is original and I love his stern face.