Photoshop Magic

I am still incredibly excited about the module we’re currently working on, because I’ve always wanted a good excuse to learn a bit about Photoshop. People always say Photoshop is the most powerful tool out there of its kind. Even my PC-bound newsroom has a copy of Photoshop that’s compatible with Windows. I now know a little bit about Photoshop — but that little big is enough to make some impressive-looking stuff.

For example, political cartoons would be a breeze with Photoshop. The ability to cut figures out of a photograph also lends itself to newspaper work. And there are countless other ways I can use these newfound techniques to create photo illustrations suitable for newspapers or magazines.

A problem enters, though, when we get into the realm of ethical visible rhetoric. In the newspaper world, there is a fine line between photo illustrations and photos that are represented as “fact” (although, given some previous class discussions, that’s a farce). It is considered highly unethical to flip a photo, for example. The only real manipulating that’s considered acceptable is lightening or darkening an image — and even that may be criticized, as in the O.J. Simpson case. The real problem lies in the fact that the manipulating of an image will always matter to someone. Even in the case where the artist thinks the result is artistic and nothing more, someone might misinterpret the message.

Grayscale image with color hot-air balloonMy solution to the problem lies in making clear the difference between a “true” photo and a photo that has been manipulated. The designation “photo illustration” is intended to demonstrate this, and, often, photos that are manipulated to represent a certain viewpoint are clearly not “true” photos (meaning a reasonable viewer can discern this.) I would be interested in hearing what others have to say about this, especially others who do not work in the media industry. In the meantime, all I can do is my best to clearly represent truth, even when working with manipulated images.

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