Project: Digital Photography and ‘Truth’ – Enhancement

Continuing on our journey of photographic processing and developing the arsenal of possible adjustments, this exercise looked at more localised and acute alterations. It moves us a little further along the continuum, edging closer to the bounds of acceptability, by selecting a part of the image and making local adjustments.

The head and shoulder portrait I chose to work on was this one:

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Firstly I worked up the face as suggested. Levels were used to lighten it and increase the contrast:

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The eyes were difficult to work on. It was tricky selecting the pupils and irises and impossible to deselect the pupil from that. Because of this and with the dark irises, just lightening them made the pupils too light, making him look as though he had cataracts! Consequently, I concentrated on changes that kept the pupils dark. Also changing the saturation had little effect as the irises were also dark. This meant a careful hue and saturation adjustment, which gave this result:

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Then I combined both effects, the skin lightening and the eye adjustment:

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Finally, I gave him a bit more tan, using the skin tone dialogue:

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This is quite a difference from the original image. It is recognisably the same person and the skin adjustments can be considered corrections to the rather dull exposure. In this sense it is similar to the previous exercise. Under normal circumstances, I do not see much wrong with it but with the caveat expressed in that write-up. The eyes are a different matter. Changing the eye colour is changing reality and in my opinion, this is the first exercise when the ethical question really needs to be answered. Whereas with the other exercises the result is probably acceptable but there might be occasions when it is not, this one is the converse; generally it will not be acceptable but there might be contexts when it is.

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