Project: Digital Photography and ‘Truth’ – Alteration

This is the final exercise in this series of image manipulation and asks us to make some wholesale changes to an image, such as removing an element of the composition.

As a starting point I used this image of a pair of ducks:


This is a nice picture, well lit and the duck is looking coyly toward the camera. It’s a shame about the one disappearing out of the left hand edge of the frame. I could crop it but that would defeat the object of the exercise so I used the clone stamp tool, set with a fairly small brush and sampled on a bit of grass in the same focus field as the bit of duck being removed:


That was fairly straightforward and can’t really be thought of as tampering with reality. If I had waited a couple of minutes or framed the shot with more care I would not have had to make the intervention.

What about this picture?


A pleasant rural landscape, a tourist enjoying the sunshine and photographing the view, a timeless scene; except the large house in the background looks too modern, too large and doesn’t really fit in. It’s got to go!


This was achieved through a combination of Clone Stamp, Healing Brush set to “replace” mode and “normal” mode, copy and paste. It was painstaking work and by no means is it executed perfectly, it would not pass close scrutiny.

I had to invent the tree line, it came from my imagination not reality, and the distant road disappeared behind it at a point of my choosing. It might or might not be considered an improvement on the original, that is a matter of opinion, it might look better on someone’s wall, that is a matter of taste but if I attempted to pass this off as a true depiction of the scene I would be guilty of deception.

Here is a photo taken in a wine cellar producing champagne:


The girl in the foreground is blurred and can be removed:


This was also achieved also using a combination of Clone Stamp, cut and paste and Healing Brush.

Then, what every dark cellar needs is a mysterious, ghost like figure:


I copied this from another picture, pasted onto a new layer, and then adjusted the opacity until it looked right.

The final experiment was a simple addition, from this:


to this:


We have reached the end of the journey along the image manipulation continuum. Along the way we have explored ever increasing levels of intervention and considered the ethical judgements involved. I think without a doubt we have reached the heart of the ethical minefield. Rather than discuss this here, I have prepared a separate entry “The Photography of Truth”

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