Assignment Four: Real or Fake?

These last few exercises have been an exploration of not just technique, but ethical choices. They should have helped to clarify your opinion on the potential for altering content and viewers’ perception in an image, and helped you to define your own stance.

The purpose of this assignment is for you to demonstrate this stance, and the means involve completing a task which lies in the middle ground of the Real-Versus-Fake argument.

The object is to produce a photographic image to illustrate an imaginary book or magazine cover. Covers are sales vehicles for their contents, and so often quite widely interpreted by art directors, illustrators and photographers. The moral ground is therefore potentially ambiguous.

Decide on a topic to be illustrated. You could, if it makes the decision easier, take an existing book that you know and devise an alternative photographic cover illustration that will get the theme or story across to a prospective reader, taking a photograph especially for it.

Explore the areas if adjustment and (possibly) manipulation that would make the image successful as a cover. This might, as just one example, involve shading or extending an area at the top in order to give space for the title. Or you might choose to combine two visual elements (juxtaposition is a frequently used device in this kind of photographic illustration).

Accompany the finished image with a description of the techniques you considered using and finally used, and also your ethical justification.

Before I began this assignment, I decided to do some research first. I began by researching into the first documented, altered photographs. Some believe that photograph manipulation is as old as photography itself. From the 1900’s onwards, we can chart a series of photographic responses that seek to recast the photographic act in the new language of modernism. Such photography sought to manipulate the image: abandoning any commitment to a literal recording of the world, as perceived by the eye. It sought a visual code suggestive of the new awareness implied by abstraction, surrealism, Dadaism and futurism.  In the early days of photography, photograph manipulation was harder to achieve, especially as technology and digital software was unavailable, therefore, people used other interesting, unique techniques in order to retouch, alter or manipulate a photograph. Techniques involved retouching photos with ink or paint, double exposing photos, piecing photos or negatives together in the darkroom and scratching Polaroids. Techniques which we don’t necessarily use today, unless you still process your photographs in a dark room, however, these techniques do produce results that are similar to photographs which have been manipulated digitally.

E. Chambré Hardman was a well known photographer, born in 1898 in Dublin, Ireland. He spent most of his career working in Liverpool, England.

Chambre Hardman Birth of the Ark Royal

The Birth of the Ark Royal 1950 – By E. Chambre Hardman

In 1950, Hardman produced the famous photograph, The Birth of the Ark Royal. The photograph was taken by Hardman from Holt Hill in Birkenhead, Liverpool. The ship had just been painted bright white, in preparation for its launch from the Cammell Laird shipyard by The Queen Mother.

When viewing this photograph for the first time, you are unsure as to whether or not any manipulation has infact taken place. It is obvious that the ship itself is brighter than anything else in the photograph, and when looking at the white tones on the houses, they are significantly darker than the ship. Therefore, photo manipulation must have been used in order to make the white paint of the ship, dominant. My first guess was dark room dodge and burn, however, Hardman used a technique which invloves the application of coccine nouvelle ( Red Dye). The red dye was applied onto certain areas of the negative, in order to darken areas of the image. Highlights in the photograph such as the gable end in the left foreground, would be darkened and reduced tonally, in order to produce a final photograph which would place emphasis on the large white Ark Royal ship.  Hardman quotes, “I was trying to recreate what I had seen, to produce an effect, and anything that goes against the effect I want, I rule out.” E. Chambré Hardman, 1983.  The only true white within the image is now infact the ship, and Hardman has managed to produce a photograph which makes the ship almost jump out of the photograph.

After looking at the technique Hardman used in order to produce the final photograph, I need to establish whether or not it can be classed as a real or a fake photograph. Hardman used a technique on the negative after the photograph was taken. This technique was used in order to produced subtle and discreet alterations to the photograph. He quotes that he wanted to produce a final photograph, recreating what he saw that day. I don’t believe that Hardman manipulated his photograph in order to decieve the viewers, I believe that he wanted to emphasise just how striking and bright the freshly painted ship was, and wanted to produce a photograph which would have the same striking effect on viewers as it did in real life, on him. Therefore, can this be seen as being an innocent manipulation as he never inteneted to decieve any viewer, he just wanted to emphasize part of the image, or is this infact downright photo manipulation and has produced a fake image.

Hardman hasn’t cut and paste his photograph, he has not intentionally used the technique to decieve viewers,he has used a dark room technique which is similar to dark room dodge and burn or lightening or darkening certain areas of our digital photographs today. It is innocent photo manipulation and he has not manipulated the photograph to an extent where it is no longer recognisable to the original, untouched negative. Therefore, even though it is photograph manipulation and is therefore fake (as it is no longer the ‘original’ photograph), I believe that it is innocent manipulation.

In 1913, American photographer Alvin Langdon Coburn quotes “Why should not the camera artist break away from the worn out conventions…. and claim the freedom of expression which any art must have to be alive”Alvin Langdon Coburn 1913

Alvin Langdon Coburn was an Amercian photographer born in Boston, USA in 1882. He was a major figure in the development of American Pictoralism. Pictoralism is the name given to an international style and aesthetic movement that was used in photography during the 19th and 20th century. The ‘Pictorialism’ style was produced by a photographer somehow manipulating an otherwise straightforward photograph, in order to produce a ‘Creative’ final image, rather than simply recording the scene there and then.

A typical pictorial photograph appears to lack a sharp focus, so is therefore completely blurred or just blurred in places, it can be printed in one or more colours other than black and white, such as warm brown to deep blue and it may have visible brush strokes or other photo manipulation of the surface. A photographer who decided to shoot in the style of pictorialism, was similar to an artist. The photographer / pictorialist, was able to use photo manipulation as a way to empahsise or project a certain emotion or view onto the viewer.

Alvin Coburn New york

Fifth Avenue from the St.Regis, Platinum Print – By Alvin Langdon Coburn

Alvin coburn new york 2

Times Square (The Christmas Tree) 1912, Gelatin Silver Print – By Alvin Langdon Colburn

Alvin Coburn new york 3

The Tunnel Brothers 1908, Gum Platinum Print – By Alvin Langdon Colburn

Using his unique perspective and point of view in regards to photography, Colburn produced a pictorialist collection of photographs taken in New York, USA. Using the pictorialsim techniques, Colburn produced beautiful, of NYC, which are either in a ‘Misty’, soft focus, or are reduced to semi abstract patterns. The Times Square photograph reminds me of something you would see around Christmas time, espeically with the lights situated on the dome shaped building. He has managed to create an almost wintery feeling in this image, which I really like.

After researching more into how Colburn manipulates his photographs, I was able to find out that he manipulated his photographs in the dark room. He used different printing processes such as processing his images with Gum Platinum Print process, Gelatin Silver Print process or the Platinum Print process. Colburn used the gum platinum print process for the Tunnel Brothers photograph. When using the gum platinum print process, the first step is to make a platinum print. This will either be in the normal silver – grey colour, or it can be a toned rich brown by adding mercury to the developer. Platinum prints on occasion, contained shadowed areas that were too weak, therefore in order to darken the shadows, the gum platinum process would be applied. After the finished platinum print was ready, it was then coated with a thin layer of gum bichromate which contains a pigment of a desired colour. The bichromated print was inserted behind the original negative and was then re-exposed and developed in the normal way.  The process added a lustre to the platinum base, similar to a varnish, the shadow areas would be darkened yet the highlights would be preserved. On some occasions, in order to achieve the perfect photograph, several applications of pigmented gum was used, although one application was usually sufficient enough. Colburn used the gum method, as somewhat of a glaze to his photographs. He knew that the process would enable him to build up and enrich shadows within his platinum prints. The final photograph would then have the best colour situated to the subject shot at the time.

Similarly to E. Chambré Hardman, I found this difficult to decide whether or not Colburn’s photographs can be classed as real or fake. I remember when I was studying photography in college, I would print my black and white photographs in the dark room. We were taught many techniques which we could use in the dark room when printing our photographs, which could help us create unique, interesting photographs. For example, I would take pieces of thin netting and lay it across the printing paper, I would use cut out pieces of paper on top of the printing paper and use double negatives. I would then expose my photographs and develop them. These created very interesting prints, and were somewhat a learning experience as I had never done this before. However, I technically didn’t ‘Alter’ my original photograph or negative. I kept it 100% original as I never cut or paste anything from the original negative or image, I just added patterns or wording on top of the printing paper. Colburn, like Hardman, altered their photographs in the darkroom. Colburn intensified shadows in the image, by applying a gum, similar to the red dye technique used by Hardman. These processes are similar to digital post processing nowadays in which we lighten or darken certain areas of our photographs. What I find difficult to judge is whether or not by altering shadows and highlights can be a type of manipulation which means your photograph is thereafter fake. Technically, yes it is manipulation and is therefore fake, however, as mentioned beforehand, as the photograph hasn’t been altered to an extent where it is no longer recognisable to the subject or scene at the time and the photographer hasn’t used it do deceive the viewer, can it be classed as fake?

Knowing that photograph manipulation has been around for years, makes you question whether or not every photograph you have seen in your lifetime is in fact the true, unaltered image. When photography was first invented, a photograph was regarded as something which was honest, and depicted reality. The camera was a respected tool which was able to capture a precise reflection of the subject or location, unlike any painting painted at the same time.

‘Pure photography postulated an ideal  image which transcended the everyday world. It questioned the view of photography as a literal act of recording, seeing this as limited, but nethertheless insisted on the photograph being based in the thing seen, not imagined’ Graham Clarke, The Photograph.

However, in the modern-day and age, the saying ” A camera never lies” can be seen to an extent, somewhat false, especially as the final photograph that is produced by that camera, comes out as a true, untouched photograph, however, if it is altered or manipulated in any way, the final photograph is in fact now a lie. If you are to then use this photograph to deceive others, you have therefore tricked viewers into believing that your camera has been able to capture a ‘Perfect’ Photograph.

Photograph manipulation is regularly used to deceive or persuade viewers, it helps improve storytelling and self-expression. Even the most subtle and discreet changes to a photograph, can have profound impacts on how we as viewers, interpret or judge it. It is argued that photo manipulation alters the content of the images in a devious manner, making it more difficult for the viewer to differentiate between a manipulated image and reality. Learning how to spot photograph manipulation is important, and it can help you spot whether or not the photograph has been manipulated in order to help produce a better final image technically, or whether its been manipulated in order to deceive the viewer for controversial purposes, such as news stories or propaganda.

One of thee most famous war photographs, is that of Trang Bang village just outside Saigon, Vietnam in 1972. The photograph was taken by photographer Nick Ut and this particular photograph depicted a young 9 year old female called Kim Phuc, running towards the camera. The US Military had just Napalmed her village, in yet another example of friendly fire. The villagers were allied Southern Vietnamese and not part of the North Viet Cong, therefore, this should never of happened. Nick Ut was photographing this event in order to produce photographs for Associated Press, documenting what was happening.


Vietnam Napalm 1972. By Nick Ut for Associated Press

After taking the photograph of Kim Phuc, Nick Ut rushed the young girl to hospital for treatment. He then delivered his film to Associated Press, whom he worked for, in order for the photographs to be published. Publication of this particular photograph was halted due to the content. Associated Press were in debate as to whether or not they should publish a photograph which contained a young naked female. Nick Ut quotes: ” …an editor at the AP rejected the photo of Kim Phuc running down the road without clothing because it showed frontal nudity. Pictures of nudes of all ages and sexes, and especially frontal views were an absolute no-no at the Associated Press in 1972…Horst argued by telex with the New York head-office that an exception must be made, with the compromise that no close-up of the girl Kim Phuc alone would be transmitted. The New York photo editor, Hal Buell, agreed that the news value of the photograph overrode any reservations about nudity.” Nick Ut

After the photograph had been published, President Richard Nixon was heard on a taped recording, having a conversation with his chief of staff, H.R.Haldeman. The conversation was discussing whether or not this photograph was fake and had been ‘Fixed’ in some way. Nick Ut replied to these accusations surrounding his photograph, quoting “Even though it has become one of the most memorable images of the twentieth century, President Nixon once doubted the authenticity of my photograph when he saw it in the papers on June 12, 1972…. The picture for me and unquestionably for many others could not have been more real. The photo was as authentic as the Vietnam war itself. The horror of the Vietnam war recorded by me did not have to be fixed. That terrified little girl is still alive today and has become an eloquent testimony to the authenticity of that photo. That moment thirty years ago will be one Kim Phuc and I will never forget. It has ultimately changed both our lives.” Nick Ut

Though the photograph itself was not faked and was 100% authentic, this world famous photograph has in fact been altered ever so slightly, in order to’Enhance’ the photograph, making it an even more ‘Striking’ and controversial photograph. There was moving film footage taken at the exact same time this photograph was taken, however, using moving film footage for this would not have had the same impact that this photograph has had. The reason being that a photograph can speak a thousand words. We now know that Nick Ut used a 35mm film to take this photograph, however, when looking at the photograph of Kim Phuc above, you can see that the format of the shot is in fact more of a square shape, something which would not be possible when using a 35mm film. The final photograph should in fact be more of a fuller frame. Knowing that something must have been cropped out of the frame and researching, it was clear that the authentic image had in fact been cropped.


Vietnam Napalm 1972, By Nick Ut for Associated Press






After looking at both images side by side, you can now see that the original image has in fact been cropped. A soldier who was loading a film into his camera, has been cropped out of the right hand side of the frame in order to add impact to the final image, for controversial purposes. By doing so, Nick Ut has now framed young Kim Phuc in the center of the image, in order to make her the focal point. He has been able to create a striking, heart breaking final image which has now been seen around the world and even after all the years since he first shot this photograph, it has not lost it’s impact.

Similarly to Hardman’s The Birth of the Ark Royal, I am in two minds as to whether or not this can be categorized as being a ‘Fake’ photograph. Yes, Nick Ut has cropped it, or in other words, manipulated it ever so slightly, however, he has not actually altered the photograph itself. He has not retouched the image, it is in fact 100% authentic. He has not manipulated it to an extent where it no longer looks like the untouched, original photograph, he has cropped the image in order to remove surplus people in the outer frame, and to position Kim Phuc in the center of the frame, in order to make it a better photograph for publishing.  Some may argue that this makes it 100% manipulated and fake as it is not the ‘100% Real’ original image and has only been cropped in order to produce a controversial final image, however, if the photograph itself has not been altered to an extent that it is not recognizable to the original, can it be classed as fake?

A similar debate was raised in regards to a second world famous photograph, Migrant Mother taken by Dorothea Lange in February or March of 1936 in Nipomo. Lange was employed by the FSA in the 1930’s. She was employed to produce documentary photographs of the great depression, farming and migrant crisis occurring in the USA at the time. Lange took the famous photograph of Florence Owens Thompson during the Great Depression. Florence Owens Thompson had set up a temporary camp after  her car broke down whilst travelling with her family. Her husband and two sons went into town to get the car fixed, whilst she made herself at home in the temporary camp with the other children.


Florence Owens Thompson, ‘Migrant Mother’, Nipomo, March 1936. By Dorothea Lange for the FSA.

Dorothea Lange quotes ” I saw and approached the hungry and desperate mother, as if drawn by a magnet. I do not remember how I explained my presence or my camera to her, but I do remember she asked me no questions. I made five exposures, working closer and closer from the same direction. I did not ask her name or her history. She told me her age, that she was thirty-two. She said that they had been living on frozen vegetables from the surrounding fields, and birds that the children killed. She had just sold the tires from her car to buy food. There she sat in that lean-to tent with her children huddled around her, and seemed to know that my pictures might help her, and so she helped me. There was a sort of equality about it.” Dorothea Lange,  Popular Photography, February 1960

We are lead to believe that Dorothea Lange stumbled upon Florence Owens Thompson and her family, and shot five photographs in 10 minutes. However, when looking closer at thee most famous Migrant Mother photograph, you can see that something has been manipulated. It may not be obvious at first, but once you see it, you can immediately see that this wasn’t just a quick point and shoot set of photographs.


Migrant Mother 1936 Nipomo, By Dorothea Lange

In the lower right hand side of the image, you can see a faint outline of a thumb and index  finger, thus suggesting somebody was ‘revealing’ the family from behind the side of the tent and therefore staging the shot. The index finger has not been removed at all, yet thumb has been faded in attempt to remove it or to distract our attention from it. The faintness of the thumb in fact makes it look worse than if she would have left it in the photograph. It is as though when removing the thumb, she gave up half way and forgot to remove it entirely and forgot to remove the index finger. Perhaps she thought that we as viewers wouldn’t notice that much as we should realistically be more drawn to the Migrant Mother’s eyes and facial expression which shows ‘Depression’, and by only faintly removing the thumb, it wouldn’t been too obvious. I believe it has done the opposite, and we as viewers are now wondering why the hand was there and whether or not this whole scene was staged.

In her account of photographing the Migrant Mother, Lange refers to taking five photographs, ‘I made five exposures, working closer and closer from the same direction’. However, she infact took six photographs. She withheld one photograph and only submitted the five to Stryker. Perhaps she withheld it for aesthetic reasons. James C. Curtis suggests that it was a ‘trial shot, made soon after she got her equipment out of the car, a means of easing her subjects into posing for their portrait session’. Considering these photographs in terms of a series, we get the sense both of careful arrangement of the mother and her children and the progressive editing out of distracting and seemingly irrelevant background details. With the progressive removal of distractions and details behind, we are then focused upon the mother and children, thus achieving a more universal representation of poverty.

However, Lange admitted that she didn’t realise the thumb was visible in the foreground of the photograph above. Upon developing, she realised that the thumb was intruding and spoilt the image. She decided to retouch the negative in order to erase the thumb, much to Roy Stryker’s disapproval. For Stryker, her employer at the FSA, removal of the thumb was tantamount to tampering with the truth, something the FSA did not want happening. Lange’s insistence on the erasure of the distracting detail confirms to an extent that documentary photography was very much composed and determined by the photographer.

As mentioned previously, even the most subtle and discreet changes to a photograph, can have profound impacts on how we as viewers, interpret or judge it. It is unfortunate that these very faint outlines of fingers were left in the final image, as it is a brilliant, striking photograph, however, with the visible fingers showing, it gives the image an impression of being somewhat fake and staged. However, I do completely understand that when photographing something, you do need to make sure your positioning is correct, that you are framing something is a certain way, which may lead to things being in the frame which you may not have realized were in the frame at the time, or that you don’t want so you may crop the image during post processing. I completely understand that Lange made a mistake and the intrusion of a thumb in the foreground can not be helped, however, it was her job at the time, to produce ‘Real and True’ photographs for the FSA, in order to show the migrant crisis and great depression. Surely she should have just left the thumb in the foreground? Would it have made a difference if she had kept it in the frame or not? I suppose it is down to us a viewers and her employer the FSA at the time, to decide whether or not the thumb causes a problem or not.

The one thing I do have to try and decide, is whether or not this is classed as photograph manipulation. Similarly to Nick Ut, Lange has not technically altered the photograph. She has removed some of the thumb by dodge and burn, which is manipulation and can be seen as being fake and altered, however it is only a small part of the photograph. It is in the bottom corner of the frame. If she had altered Florence Owens Thompson’s face in order to make her look more depressed, then yes, that is 100% photograph manipulation in order to produce a controversial photograph for propaganda purposes. In my opinion, faintly removing a thumb, is not extreme. We have all removed dust particles or scratches and things that you didn’t realise were in the frame until you view in on screen, so you crop your image.

Some may argue that yes, due to Lange withholding at least one photograph out of the six submitted, that perhaps she was concerned with the aesthetics and couldn’t justify completely manipulating a photograph that was completely ‘wrong’, and therefore withholding it was the best option. If so, then perhaps manipulating this photograph above ever so slightly, wasn’t such a bad idea. After all, it wasn’t until looking at the negative that she noticed the thumb. You could say that this image has been staged and manipulated so is therefore fake and has been produced with publishing in mind, however, we all stage our photographs, that is what composition is for, you compose your photograph so that everything you want is framed. I personally think that this is hard to judge, although I think comparing it to Nick Ut who has cropped people from the frame, removing a thumb is a small adjustment. Even her employer at the FSA, Roy Stryker thought it was tampering with the truth, yet he still accepted the photograph and it was published, therefore, he must have accepted the faint manipulation to remove the thumb. So can we accept it?

However, similarly to Nick Ut, Dorothea Lange did infact manipulate a photograph in order to produce a ‘Better’ one. Ditched, Stalled and Stranded, San Joaquin Valley, California, 1935.


Ditched, Stalled and Stranded, San Joaquin Valley, California, 1935. By Dorothea Lange

In this photograph, Lange is able to capture a striking look of anxiety on the face of her subject. Stranded in his car, the man’s plight suggests the larger problems that society faced during the Great Depression.

Lange would occasionally crop her photographs for greater dramatic effect. For this image, she decided to add the feeling of claustrophobia.


Ditched, Stalled and Stranded, San Joaquin Valley, California, 1935. By Dorothea Lange

She purposely cropped the photograph into a tighter composition, completely removing the woman sitting in the passenger’s seat. Rather than suggesting he pose, Lange has caught him as if unaware. Fear and anxiety are visible in this man’s gaunt, lined face. Catching him unaware had produced an effect which persuades us all the more of the truth of the image.

However, this is completely untrue. She knowingly manipulated this photograph, in order to achieve a more ‘Emotional’ final photograph. Like Nick Ut, she cropped something out of the frame, and has therefore altered and manipulated reality as it was. Thus meaning, that this photograph is a false representation of the truth.

Rather than manipulating a photograph by simply cropping the frame or enhancing one section of the image by adjusting tones or colours of the other parts of the image in order for it to stand out, can be seen as small adjustments compared to manipulating a photograph by simply cutting and pasting. When you cut something or someone out of a photograph, you are 100% altering the original image. You are removing something which was there at that moment in time and are now producing an untruthful final photograph. As mentioned before, this type of photo manipulation alters the content of the image in a devious manner, making it more difficult for the viewer to differentiate between a manipulated image and reality.

The iconic image of President Abraham Lincoln, taken in 1860, has been reported to be manipulated in order to make President Lincoln somewhat heroic. President Lincoln’s head was in fact cut from another photograph and pasted onto politician John Calhoun’s heroically posed portrait. This has been altered in a devious manner, in order to deceive viewers into believing that their President was a strong powerful man, and therefore has been altered for propaganda purposes.

Article By Lee Moran, 28th February 2012

Russian dictator Josef Stalin routinely manipulated his photographs, especially if he fell out with any person or persons who were in his photographs. In the photograph below, Stalin removed a commissar after falling out with him. Again, this has been deviously manipulated in order to produce a controversial image showing that Stalin can and will completely remove you from his life.


Article By Lee Moran, 28th February 2012

Italian dictator Benito Mussolini manipulated the portrait of himself on top of a horse in order to make himself look more heroic, he removed the horse handler. By doing so, Mussolini has portrayed himself as being a strong powerful leader, who does not need help nor assistance from any man. Thus showing that this photograph has been manipulated to deceive viewers and followers, and is therefore a controversial photograph.


Article By Lee Moran, 28th February 2012

Photograph manipulation in the past, was not deemed to be a controversial problem, however, with the arrival of modern processing software such as Photoshop, being readily available and used to alter every photograph, problems and questions began to arise in regards to manipulated photographs being used in journalism, news coverage and in advertising  for devious purposes.

In today’s modern advertising, sales for the product whether it is make up, clothing, perfume or cars, are based on how well that specific product was advertised, promoted or branded. As stated above, Magazine covers are sales vehicles for their contents, and so often quite widely interpreted by art directors, illustrators and photographers, in order to produce a prominent photograph which will draw in the desired audience and the viewer’s attention, later leading to them purchasing the magazine and reading through the numerous amount of fake articles and false advertising inside, of products which they don’t necessarily need, but may end up purchasing because of the hypnotic effect that the manipulated photograph has on them.

An example of manipulated photographs being used on a magazines front cover is the Self Magazine Cover which featured singer Kelly Clarkson in September 2009. The September’s issue of the magazine was the ‘Body Confidence Issue’ which contained articles about body confidence, slimming down, eating healthily and much more. They photographed Kelly Clarkson for the front cover, however, when she appeared on Good Morning America, just days after the magazine had been released, viewers were concerned that Kelly Clarkson on the show looked nothing like the Kelly Clarkson of the front cover of the magazine.


Kelly Clarkson, Self Magazine, September 2009.

 Self magazine editor Lucy Danziger never apologised for the extreme manipulation of Miss Clarkson’s photograph, she did however decided to try to defend her actions and decisions regarding printing the photograph. Danziger quotes ” Yes, of course we do post-production corrections on our images. Photoshopping is an industry standard,” she stated. “Kelly Clarkson exudes confidence, and is a great role model for women of all sizes and stages of their life. She works out and is strong and healthy, and our picture shows her confidence and beauty. She literally glows from within. That is the feeling we’d all want to have. We love this cover and we love Kelly Clarkson ……… Did we alter her appearance? Only to make her look her personal best…But in the sense that Kelly is the picture of confidence, and she truly is, then I think this photo is the truest we have ever put out there on the newsstand.”

Therefore, Lucy Danziger feels that altering and manipulating a photograph to this extent, to then put on your magazine cover, to sell to women who are suffering from body confidence issues, is ok. This is false advertising, and is in no way ok. Using processing software to manipulate a photograph for these purposes, is not ok, and should be stopped. I raised this issue at the beginning of this set of exercises and assignment.

In regards to book covers, do we really judge a book by its cover? Book covers are similar to magazine covers, as they too are sales vehicles for the contents which is written inside of them. I myself un-knowingly, have been drawn into a bookstore simply because of the window displays which contain colourful, interesting book covers. Before technology was invented, books were extremely popular. Front covers were used to draw in the desired audience, for example ‘Funky, Colourful, Drawings’ were used for children’s novels, whereas novels for adults were plain and simple in design, depending on the era and time.

Below are some examples of how the same novels front cover has changed throughout the years.





As you can see from the comparison photographs above, book covers are designed to draw the reader in. Depending on the desired audience, colour is used mainly to grab the attention quickly. We all know that children love colourful things, therefore, with Roald Dahl’s novels, the front cover is bright and bold with strong colours. Moving towards the modern-day and age, photographs have become popular to use on the front of book covers, whether it is a cook book, fantasy novel, fiction or non-fiction, photographs can now be used on front covers. With the help of processing software, photographs can be altered, manipulated and re-touched, in order to make the ‘Perfect’ front cover for a book. For example, a cook book will undoubtedly use a colourful photograph of some delicious food. This photograph would have been manipulated using processing software, in order to make the food look more ‘Delicious’. The more ‘Delicious’ the front cover, the more sales the book will have. Another example would be of fantasy novels with vampires for example, a photograph would have to be manipulated in order to make a person look like a vampire. However, just because these manipulated photographs are on the front cover of a book, rather than the front cover of a magazine or on a television advert, does not make them ok. It is still technically false advertising. We are being sold a book with a manipulated, fake photograph on the front cover. However, we seems to ignore the fact that this is the same as if it was a magazine cover, and we accept these books as being ok. We don’t really take notice of the fake photographs on book covers, similar to how we have become oblivious to the fake photographs that adorn magazine covers. We still end up buying both items.

As stated above, magazine and book covers both have moral grounds that’s are potentially ambiguous.

Assignment Four: Real or Fake? (Magazine or Book Cover)

After I carried out my research into how photograph manipulation has been used throughout the years, I then had to decided whether or not I wanted to create a magazine cover or a book cover. I knew that someway or the other, I would have to produce a photograph that would need to be manipulated either a small amount, or an extreme amount, in order to adorn the magazine or book front cover.

I decided to make a thought bubble for magazine cover and book cover. I then wrote down any thoughts I had regarding topics that I could base this assignment on. Below are photographs of my two thought bubbles.


After looking through my two thought bubbles, I decided to choose to create a magazine cover. I decided to choose the ‘Animal Hunting, Culling, Poaching’ Option, simply because there has been a lot of media coverage recently regarding these subjects. This is something close to my heart as I am completely against animal hunting, poaching and culling. I knew that I would be able to research into the recent media coverage and gain some inspiration from the media in order to create a great front cover for my magazine.

After decided on what topic I would be focusing my assignment on, I know had to decide what animal I would focus my front cover on. In the recent media coverage, badger culling has been in the forefront of many discussions. Therefore, I wanted to focus this assignment around the badger cull. Which meant that I would have to photograph badgers…

Before I set out to photograph badgers, I decided to do some research first into badgers, the badger culling in the UK and look at any media coverage, flyers, protests, in order to pull in some ideas for my front cover.



Badgers are nocturnal, powerful, social animals. They live much of their lives below ground in family groups. If you are lucky enough to be able to watch one of these beautiful animals, then you will begin to appreciate just how remarkable they really are. Unfortunately however, many of us only see badgers either deceased at the side of the road, victims of road traffic collisions or savage attacks from dogs. If a badger is lucky enough to survive in the wild without any harm, then it can live until 12-13 years of age, sometimes even older. Female badgers are called Sows, Male badgers are called Boars and the young badgers are called Cubs.

In some parts of the UK, Badgers are an endangered species, even though there are approximately 288,000 badgers in the United Kingdom, however large this may seem, we must take into account that an estimated 45,000 are killed in road accidents every year, this also includes savage attacks from people who believe that badger baiting is a ‘Sport’ and suitable badger habitat being taken through land developers.

They are supreme diggers, and live in badger setts. Setts are usually found in areas which provide shelter, security and an adequate food supply. Badgers live in a social group which following long-established pathways. Even though they live in a social group, they usually tend to feed alone, and only come together as a family in order to search for food in the best areas. They usually tend to eat earthworms, fruit, insects, cereals and grubs. The body weight of a badger varies with the seasons, where they live, amount of food available and their age.

Badgers have been persecuted for years in regards to them carrying the Bovine TB virus and passing it onto cattle, leading to the unnecessary slaughter of thousands of cattle, not just in the UK. However, these accusations have become quite controversial, and they have led to arguments, discussions and protests in regards to whether or not badgers are in fact the culprits for spreading Bovine TB, whether the cattle testing for Bovine TB was adequate enough, and whether or not other sources could be to blame for the spread of the Bovine TB. I did some research into badgers and Bovine TB, and found and interesting question and answers page on

I will include some question and answers in regards to badgers and Bovine TB, which have been taken from the Badger Trust website.

What is Bovine TV and what does it do to cattle?

Bovine TB in cattle is a debilitating, highly infections and progressive respiratory infection, caused by the organism Mycobacterium Bovis (M. Bovis), which forms lesions or “Tubercules”, most often in the lungs.
Grossly infected animals become emaciated, weak and lethargic and eventually die. But in countries with established test-and-slaughter eradication policies this doesn’t happen because the disease is detected in its relatively early stages. TB in warm-blooded mammals is a world-wide problem. Cattle are the main hosts-hence the name, bovine TB-but the disease affects many other mammals, from bison in Canada, to brush-tailed possum in New Zealand, buffalo in southern Africa and white-tailed deer in the United States.

How do cattle catch TB?
The exact route of transmission is not known, the principal route is from other cattle by breathing in bacilli expelled by infected animals as tiny aerosol droplets. It may also be caught through contamination of feeding and watering sites and from infected wildlife, including badgers and deer and possibly from other farmed animals such as deer and camelids (llamas, alpacas etc). The risk of disease spread is greatest in enclosed, poorly ventilated areas-notably over-wintering barns and sheds where cattle spend months confined together-but any contact between cattle, at shows and markets, for example, in livestock lorries or at single-fence farm boundaries where they can come into contact with other cattle are other obvious transmission points. It is not clear how much badgers are involved in the transmission of TB to cattle.
That said it’s worth adding that despite years of research, transmission routes (for example cattle to badger and badger to cattle) are still not properly understood.

How do badgers catch TB?
From each other, from cattle (probably through infected urine and faeces) and possibly from other infected farm animals and wildlife. Badgers spend most of their life below ground sharing the same air space, tunnels and chambers with other badgers, but decades of research at Woodchester Park (by what was the Central Science Laboratory, now part of Fera, the Food and Environment Research Agency) has shown that infected badgers and TB-free badgers often share the same setts. This might be explained by acquired immunity in a proportion of badgers or simply that badgers do not easily infect each other.

Not all badgers carry TB, and most are healthy. The randomized Badger Culling Trials (RBCT) which form the basis of the ISG’s final report and recommendations showed that even in Bovine TB hotspots, less than one in seven badgers were infected.

What does TB do to badgers?

The disease mainly affects the lungs and kidneys. Infected animals lose weight and body condition and experience breathing problems. Though debilitating, bovine TB in badgers is rarely fatal. Generally, infected badgers do not show any signs of illness. Badgers suffering from the advanced stages of bovine TB become severely emaciated and as disease carriers are then described as excretors – this means they can potentially shed live bacilli. Levels of bovine TB in badgers in hotspot areas jumped sharply immediately following the foot and mouth outbreak in 2001-2002 when the routine bovine TB test and slaughter programme for cattle was stopped. So there’s good evidence to suggest controlling bovine TB in cattle will reduce bovine TB levels in badgers.

Why do so many farmers want to cull badgers?

They argue that bovine TB won’t be beaten until all significant sources of the disease are tackled and to them that means killing wildlife, notably badgers. The National Farmers’ Union, a key source of information for many farmers, has been especially aggressive in calling for a cull of badgers. Everyone involved in the bovine TB debate, which has raged for decades, accepts that the disease can have a devastating impact on farmers. That’s not the issue. The debate is about the part played by badgers in spreading or maintaining TB in cattle, and whether slaughtering badgers –“culling”, is necessary to beat the disease.

The Badger Trust has always argued that decisions must be based not on anecdotal evidence, certainly not on prejudice and rumour, but on science. The country invested the best part of £50 million in the culling trials conducted and analysed by the ISG. Its final report recommended a series of cattle-based measures which it said were likely to reverse the increasing trend in cattle disease incidence…and which in addition might also reduce disease in badgers. Yes, the ISG did say that “…badgers do contribute significantly to the disease in cattle” but it went on to say: “…it is unfortunate that agricultural and veterinary leaders continue to believe, in spite of overwhelming scientific evidence to the contrary, that the main approach to cattle TB control must involve some form of badger population control.” Crucially in its summary findings and recommendations the ISG said: “Given its high costs and low benefits we therefore conclude that badger culling is unlikely to contribute usefully to the control of cattle TB in Britain, and recommend that TB control efforts focus on measures other than badger culling.”

An injectable vaccine for badgers has been licensed for use and development works is continuing to produce an oral bait vaccine.
Badger Trust now strongly believes that an injectable vaccine, and ultimately an oral vaccine, provides a very positive way forward in the long-term control of this disease. The “silver bullet” remains a cattle vaccine which will not only protect cattle from the disease but will also allow the UK farming industry to export cattle to EU countries. A test is being developed which will differentiate between a vaccinated cow and an infected cow. This will require acceptance within the EU.

After reading through these questions and answers, it is pretty clear that no one is 100% sure that badgers are to blame for the spread of Bovine TB through cattle. There are several organisations which are against the badger cull, including the RSPCA, Badger Trust, Team Badger, Save me Trust and Defra. These campaigns have gained media coverage through the help and support of celebrities, including Queen rocker Brian May. Brian May’s has been part of several protests regarding the stopping of the badger cull. He established the Save me Trust, which helps many animals, and he also collaborated on a badger cull protest song with Brian Blessed.


I decided to research into protest posters and flyers, in order to gain some ideas and thoughts about how I can design my front cover of the magazine. I have included below, some of the protest posters I found whilst researching online.


Photograph of a poster used in at a Taunton protest


Team Badger anti cull poster


Care for the Wild poster


Badger Trust poster

After looking at the posters above, they contain very similar things, for example, they all have bold red writing, which suggests to me it has been used to represent blood. It may sound odd, but they all contain a drawing or a photograph of a badger, yes it may be silly for me to think that they wouldn’t, but sometimes posters are mainly words. Using an image or a photograph of a badger can be seen to appeal to a wide variety of audience, from young to old, seeing a cute badgers face on a poster, will make us feel somewhat sorry for what is happening to them and thus meaning that we take a closer look at the poster or the advert, to see what it is about.

The posters contain the logo of the company or companies which are supporting the anti-badger cull. They contain website details, dates of protests, and information regarding what the government is planning to do with the badger cull. They are very informative, bold and striking. Something which a magazine front cover needs to be.

My Magazine Front Cover:

Taking the above posters into consideration, I then had to decide what I wanted on my front cover. I decided that I would produce an anti-cull front cover for my magazine. One thing for certain is that I would need to photograph a badger. The second thing I had to decide, is whether or not I wanted to produce a 100% real photograph or a 100% fake photograph. If I wanted to produce a real photograph, I would have to find badgers in their natural sett and attempt to photograph them closely. I knew that this would be extremely hard as badgers are nocturnal animals, thus meaning, I would have to find a secluded area at night where a badger sett was located, in order to set up my equipment in order to shoot. Badger locations are secret, due to illegal hunting and culling, so attempting to find them would be difficult and there was no way to guarantee that if I did find a badger sett, that they would actually come out. Therefore, after thinking through my options, I decided that I would produce a 100% fake photograph for my magazine cover.

I knew that I would have to either find captive badgers in a zoo type enclosure, in which I could photograph them, or I would have to be creative and use my own drawings of badgers similar to the ‘Care for the wild’ poster, and paste my drawings into a photograph. However, A relative of mine is fortunate enough to be visited by a family of badgers, in the garden at night. Food is put out for them on a large patio in the garden, and they sit eating the food merrily until it’s all gone. I decided that these would be the badgers I would photograph for my magazine front cover, as I would be able to get somewhat close to them, as they would be sat in front of glass doors, whilst they ate. I decided to stay at the relatives house most of the night, into the early hours of the morning photographing these badgers. I positioned myself behind one of the curtains which cover part of the large glass doors. I set up my camera with the correct exposure, as there was a garden light which would turn on depending on whether or not movement had triggered it. I then sat and waited for them to arrive. The family of badgers arrived, only two decided to venture closer to the glass doors for their food, the rest decided to take food and run, or were searching around the garden for other insects to eat. Perhaps they knew I was waiting there for them. I managed to capture several photographs of them. Some better than others, as badgers do run away quite fast at the sight of any movement or noise from a neighbours cat wanting to steal food from them.

I began looking at the photographs of the badgers I had taken the previous evening and I knew that I would have to choose a suitable photograph of a location, similar to where a badger sett would be, as the surrounding patio area in the image would not make a great or appealing magazine front cover. I knew that I would have to find a suitable location to cut and paste these badgers into. I looked through old photographs I had taken, of my local forest. These would be perfect for me to cut and paste badgers into, as it is similar to a badger sett which is situated in secluded, wooded, forest areas.

Therefore, this means that for this assignment, I would be producing a 100% ‘FAKE, FALSE’ photograph for my magazine front cover. I would be using several photographs, cutting and pasting them onto another photograph, in order to produce one final photograph. This is something which I was entirely against at the beginning of this assignment and set of exercises previously. However, I knew that without doing so, my front cover would not be how I wanted it to look. I knew that I would be unable to photograph badgers at night in their natural setting, nor out in the daylight in a forest, so this was the only way I would be able to re-create my desired final photograph. This would be going against everything I believed in with regards to pure photography and using fake photographs, however, if I was going to do this, then I wanted to produce a photograph which would be realistic, nothing overly Photoshoped or manipulated. I wanted a final photograph which when viewed upon the front cover of a magazine, readers would question whether or not it was real or fake, or a manipulated photograph.

I began by looking through the photographs I had previously taken of my local forest. I decided upon three as my final choice, but I would have to narrow it down to just one.


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I decided to choose photograph one as the one I would use for the front cover, as it looked more realistic. I could imagine looking down into the wooded area, and seeing badgers rummaging around for food. It would look almost as though you were watching them secretly, hidden by the leaves of the trees.

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Once I had chosen the background image and location, I then had to decide whether or not I would produce a colour photograph for the front cover or a monochrome photograph for the cover. When I think of a magazine front cover, I think of bold colours which are used to draw your attention to looking over at that certain magazine. After taking advice from friends and family, I decided to use a colour photograph for the magazine front cover, as I wanted the bold green colour from the leaves, to draw the viewers attention in.

Now that I had decided on using a colour photograph, I then had to manipulate it slightly. I used Photoshop Elements 9 as my processing software. I opened the photograph and began with the adjustments. I adjusted the contrast, brightness, levels, hue and saturation and details. I saturated the colour of the trees and leaves to make the green stand out, drawing the viewer’s attention to the photograph. I used the detail smart brush to darken the ground areas, bringing out the details at the same time.

After the background photograph had been processed, I then chose a selection of photographs of the badgers.






I opened these photographs in Photoshop and adjusted the details, colour hue and contrast. Once that was completed, I then cut each badger out, using the quick selection tool, and paste them into the forest scene. I adjusted the size, colour, brightness, detail and added a blur filter to each badger, in order to make them ‘Blend’ into the forest area. I used a Vignetting tool, to darken the edges of the photograph to add more effect.

Once the badgers were pasted into the location, I then had to think about writing on the photograph, in order to make it a front cover. I tried several types of font, wording, colours and logos, on Word, Paint and Photoshop. I made up a magazine name called Animal Rights Magazine. I focused on putting the name towards the top of the photograph, as this would be the main focal point. I decided to stick to see through writing, rather than a box with writing in it, as that would cut out too much of the photograph and the background. I then decided to come up with a slogan to add to the bottom of the photograph. I chose ‘End the Badger Cull’, I didn’t want to steal the ‘Stop the Cull’ from the actual protest posters above.

I then chose an image of a bar code from google image, which I saved, cut and paste into the photograph, to make it look like a real magazine front cover. After that, I decided that the front cover would need headlines of articles inside. Most magazines have sneak peek headlines on their front covers, which relate to the relevant articles inside, in order to draw the viewer’s attention. Taking inspiration from the questions asked on the Badger Trust website, I decided on ‘ The Truth Behind Badger Culling ‘, ‘ Are Badgers Really to Blame ‘, ‘ Will Protests Help Stop The Culling ( Details of Local Protests Available Inside ) ‘Readers Views on the Cull’. I then played around with colouring of the wording, I decided to use red, bold writing for the headlines of articles, similar to the bold red writing which adorn the protest posters, symbolizing badger blood. I then decided to make the magazine name white, the same with the slogan at the bottom. Choosing white made the writing stand out from the background, which also meant that it framed the photograph so that your attention was drawn into the space in the middle of the photograph, where I had situated the badgers. Below is my final magazine front cover: ( Please note, I have realised that there is a spelling mistake with the word Available )

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This was a very hard assignment to complete. It took a lot of thinking about whether or not I would choose a book cover or a magazine cover, what topic I would choose to display on either, what I could photograph for the cover and how I would display it. Would I produce an only slightly manipulated photograph, or would I go all the way and produce a straight out fake, manipulated photograph. My mind was constantly thinking about possibilities.

With recent media coverage of animal hunting, culling and poaching, I decided that I would follow this route, and would therefore produce a magazine cover. I was extremely fortunate to have a relative with badgers in the garden, otherwise my photograph may have gone down another route, and I could have been exploring poaching and hunting of endangered animals such as big cats, rhino etc, which would have meant a trip to the local zoo or safari park. The possibilities were endless. Knowing that I would be photographing badgers meant that I had to take a risk on firstly whether or not they would actually arrive at the house, or whether the one night I was waiting with camera in hand, they would not show. Thankfully they did show. I’m not used to photographing wildlife, and it would be something that I wouldn’t mind trying again in the future, however, I didn’t expect them to be as fast-moving and skittish as they were. Many of my photographs were blurred or weren’t exactly the best. I was very lucky with the few I did manage to salvage which were in focus and were clear shots.

With the badger photographs taken, I then had to decide whether or not the surroundings would be suitable for a magazine front cover. After looking at the photographs, I decided that they weren’t thee best, and would need to be manipulated. At the beginning of this set of exercises and this final assignment, I was fully against fake photographs. Photographs which were 100% fake and manipulated in my eyes were false advertising and were ‘tricking’ readers and viewers. However, I knew that these badger photographs wouldn’t make a striking anti-cull magazine front cover as they were. Which therefore meant that I was going to have to produce a 100% fake final photograph for this magazine front cover. Once that decision had been made, I decided to go for it. I set myself limits in which I still wanted to produce a photograph which was real looking, not over Photoshoped or manipulated. I wanted the badgers to look as though they were in their natural environment and to blend into the background photograph. I wanted viewers to question whether or not the photograph was real or fake.

Using Photoshop to completely cut and paste several photographs together was quite tricky. I ended up using self-help guides on YouTube, in order to help me learn techniques and which tools to use. It took me several attempts with locating the badgers, background colouring, positioning of the writing and the colour of the writing, however, I am pleased with the final photograph and the magazine cover. There are areas which I would change if I had the chance, and that would be the outlines of the badgers. Because they were photographed at night, and some of their feet weren’t in clear detail, you can see on a few that they are manipulated into the photograph. However, from a distance, they do blend in quite well. It’s only if you zoom in close enough, you can tell that they are not ‘From’ that particular photograph. This is my fault, and it is because I wasn’t 100% secure using the tools on Photoshop. Perhaps with more experience, I will be better at using these tools, and I would be able to blend items into other photographs better.

Even though I was against fake photographs being used on advertising and in media, I must admit that I like my final magazine front cover. It is bold and bright, Not only have I included a family of badgers in the photograph which ‘Pull at out heart strings’ and make the viewer feel ‘Sorry’ for them, but I have included them in their natural environment, showing that they are not purposely causing thousands of cattle deaths, they aren’t purposely walking through cattle fields to spread the virus, they are timid animals which are only interested in searching for food to survive. I’ve also used the bold red writing which we subconsciously think of as the badgers blood, similar to the protest posters.

Will I be using photograph manipulation like this again? My honest opinion is that I don’t know. After researching photographers such as Nick Ut, E. Chambré Hardman and Alvin Langdon Colburn, I can honestly say that I have used alterations similar to theirs, when processing my digital photographs and black and white prints whilst in college. I have manipulated brightness or darkness, I have cropped images or removed blemishes, so therefore I have somewhat produced false photographs. However, as mentioned previously, I believe there is a fine line as to whether or not small innocent manipulations to a photograph such as the ones just mentioned, can be seen as deceitful and fake, as I have not altered those photographs to deceive anyone, nor have I altered them to an extent that they no longer look like the original photograph. I have only manipulated them in order to enhance the original photograph, not to alter or change it.

My views are still the same, and haven’t changed in regards to false advertising, fake photographs etc, however, I admit that for this assignment, I have produced a 100% fake photograph for this magazine front cover. I wanted to step out of my comfort zone and my beliefs, and to challenge myself to produce a fake photograph. I haven’t used manipulations to an image like this before, so this assignment was the best to attempt something as drastic as this. Perhaps in the future, if the opportunity arises and I am forced to manipulate several photographs in order to produce a striking final photograph, then I may do it, however, I will not be using such techniques or methods again in the near future. I will however, still use the basic editing tools to adjust my digital photographs such as highlights and shadows, contrast, dust removal, brightness, but there will be no more cutting and pasting, does this mean I am knowingly producing false photographs? I suppose you could argue that I am, and that any alterations to an image means that you are producing a false photograph. It is a hard decision to make, and I think manipulations to photographs cross very fine lines.

Assignment Updated:

After submitting this assignment, I received my Tutor’s feedback.

“Your choice of background scene I did find curious though …. As for a magazine the format of most is normally portrait as opposed to landscape … therefore I think I might have been more inclined to use image 3 rather than image 1 in that respect.

It took me a while to pinpoint why this magazine cover looked a little odd though … but I think it might be down to the fact that we are viewing badgers here in broad daylight … when you would normally only expect to see them in photographs that have been taken at night with the use of artificial lighting … seeing as they are nocturnal animals.  Surely, this point in itself renders the image somewhat ‘fake’ in that respect ? From a technical perspective …. Some of the badgers do look a little ‘stuck’ on to be fair … which was always going to be a challenge for you given that both images have been lit using different light sources (IE: Ambient / Artificial) So with regards to this … it might be worth looking at trying to perhaps colour balance the badgers to the background independently before dropping them in.  This can be a very tricky exercise in colour and will test your Photoshop skills … so it might also be worth trying the same exercise in monochrome … which makes things much easier as you are only really dealing with contrast then.  A monochrome cover would also be easy to argue given that it leans towards the badgers natural colorings !” Keith Roberts (Tutor)

After reading through my Tutor’s feedback, I can agree with what he says and advises me to change. Magazine front covers are usually portrait format, which therefore means that my landscape cover would be out of place and would look odd amongst the magazines on supermarket shelves. Therefore, I will be using Image 3 for the new updated magazine cover.

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In regards to converting the image to Monochrome, I think would be a good idea. When I first started this assignment, I did wonder whether or not to have a colour or monochrome front cover. I took into consideration that Badgers were nocturnal animals, and by using a monochrome image, I would be able to produce a more realistic final image, however, with advice from friends and family, I decided to choose a colour image for my final magazine cover, as colour would stand out more when sitting on a shelf.

Taking my tutor’s advice into consideration, a monochrome image would not only work better for producing a more realistic front cover, but it will also help me to Photoshop the Badgers into the image. When ‘Cutting and Pasting’ the badgers into my first front cover, I did find it awkward as the colours were completely different with it being two or more photographs with different lighting sources, therefore, I had to try my best to alter any colour sliders etc to try and blend the badgers into the image. I did mention in my conclusion above, that I was somewhat unhappy with the cut and paste results. By converting the image to monochrome, I should be able to focus more on the contrast and lighting when blending the badgers into the image, rather than focusing on colour.

With the conversion to monochrome, I would have to remember that the coloured writing may not work against the monochrome background. Therefore, when re-doing my magazine cover, I would have to alter the colouring to make sure that the writing was readable and clear, and to make sure that it still stood out.

I began by selecting my new image. I opened it in Lightroom and converted it to black and white. I used the adjustment sliders to alter the tone, contrast, brightness, darkness, tone curve in order to produce a monochrome image I was happy with. I saved this copy and then opened it in Photoshop Elements 9. I used the Smart Detail Brush, and selected the detail brush to bring out details in the trees towards the top of the image and the foliage. Afterwards, I decided to focus on placement of the text as I didn’t want to paste any badgers into the image first, only to find that the text wouldn’t fit correctly afterwards. I began with the header. As mentioned above, if I decided to stick to the colouring I used on my first colour front cover, it may not work so well on this monochrome image. I tried white colouring first, however, it blended into the white area towards the top of the image too much and couldn’t be seen that clearly. Therefore, I decided to use a deep red colour as this stood out a lot more and could be seen better. For the rest of the writing, I decided to keep it all white as it stood out against the monochrome floor in the image.

After finishing the text placement, I moved onto cut and paste. I cut and pasted the barcode using the quick selection tool, into the bottom right-hand corner of the image with the surrounding text, similar to how magazine covers position theirs. I then took each badger image, and opened them individually in Lightroom. I converted all of them to black and white, then used the same adjustments and techniques as used on the background image, in order to produce monochrome images I was happy with. Below are a few examples:

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I saved all of them, then opened them individually in Photoshop. Using the quick selection tool, I cut each badger out of their image and pasted them into the front cover image. I adjusted them to fit accordingly and then adjusted them in order to make them blend into their surroundings.

Below is my updated final magazine front cover:

Final Magazine Cover - Monochrome

Final Magazine Cover – Monochrome

I am much happier with this magazine cover than my first. I think the monochrome works better than colour and I was able to blend the badgers in easier than with the colour version. I wanted the image to have an infrared feeling to it, as though I had shot this image using an infrared filter due to badgers being nocturnal.

I did still have trouble trying to blend them into the background completely as I am still working on how to cut and paste properly whilst adjusting the surroundings and making them blend in. Perhaps if the images of the badgers were not taken under artificial lighting, then I could have converted them to monochrome better, helping them to blend in easier.

However, I do think that this second version is better than the first and looks more realistic. I hope to learn how to cut and paste better as time goes on. I will read techniques online and watch videos to help me.

Any research my tutor has suggested for me to look at will be added to the assignment above.


The Photograph – By Graham Clarke – Published by Oxford University Press 1997. ISBN: 978-0-19-284200-8 –

Pages 187-207  The Photograph Manipulated.

Chambré Hardman, E.

The Birth of the Ark Royal 1950 – By E. Chambré Hardman
Langdon Coburn, Alvin.
Fifth Avenue from the St. Regis, Platinum Print – By Alvin Langdon Coburn
Times Square (The Christmas Tree) 1912, Gelatin Silver Print – By Alvin Langdon Colburn
The Tunnel Brothers 1908, Gum Platinum Print – By Alvin Langdon Colburn
Ut, Nick.
Vietnam Napalm 1972 Photograph – Trang Bang Village – By Nick Ut for Associated Press.

Lange, Dorothea.

Migrant Mother Photograph.Florence Owens Thompson, ‘Migrant Mother’, Nipomo, March 1936. By Dorothea Lange for the FSA. Published in

Dorothea Lange. Phaidon 55. Phaidon Press Limited, London 2001. Pages 38-39.

ISBN: 071484053x

Ditched, Stalled and Stranded Photograph, San Joaquin Valley, California, 1935.  By Dorothea Lange for the FSA. Published in

Dorothea Lange. Phaidon 55. Phaidon Press Limited, London 2001. Pages 30-31.

ISBN: 071484053x

  • President Abraham Lincoln Photograph
  • Josef Stalin Photograph
  • Benito Mussolini Photograph

Article By Lee Moran, 28th February 2012

Self Magazine and Kelly Clarkson Article

Beauty Redefined Blog, By BR Admin 03 December 2014

Photographs of book front covers:

  • Roald Dhal; James and the giant peach, Charlie and the chocolate factory – Google Images
  • Charlotte Bronte; Jayne Eyre – Google Images
  • F. Scott Fitzgerald; The Great Gatsby – Google Images

Research into Badgers:

Brian May Photograph:

‘May leads protest against badger cull

Article by Brian Whelan, 01 June 2013
Badger Posters:
  1. Poster used at a Taunton Protest –
  2. Team Badger Anti Cull protest poster – Google Images
  3. Care for the Wild poster –  Google Images
  4. Badger Trust poster – Google Images

Exercise: Alteration

The final exercise in this part of the course is deliberate, out-and-out alteration of the content of the image, and requires Photoshop, for its clone stamp tool and its cut and paste abilities. There are many possibilities, limited only by imagination and skill, but to keep this exercise simple in concept (if not necessary in execution), we will concentrate on removing a major element of an image.

Take a photograph which contains one distinct subject occupying an area between about one eighth and one sixth of the total image (this is very approximate). It could be a person in a garden, for example perhaps one of two or three people.

The aim is to successfully remove this one element, replacing it with elements from the background or foreground, ‘successfully’ means that a viewer coming fresh to the picture would not be able to tell that there had been any retouching.

Relevant techniques are:
1: The Clone Stamp Tool – used to replace areas with adjacent areas.
2: Making a selection of a background area, copying, pasting and moving over the area to be retouched.
3:The Patch Tool – used to replace areas with adjacent areas.

For this exercise, I decided to use an image I took whilst in Milan. I was in the castle and spotted these interesting bird figurines that had been placed all around the castle. It was empty when I decided to snap a photograph, however, out of no where, a small boy decided to run right into the frame, and stood right in front of the bird figurines. I waited a while to see if he would run off, but unfortunately he didn’t, therefore I left. I was then left with an image containing this boy which I didn’t want. I knew that this image would be great for this exercise, as I could try to salvage the image, by removing the child, and the woman walking in the background.

Before I began the exercise, I found an interesting article in one of my Practical Photography Magazine, regarding the clone stamp tool. In February 2015’s issue of the magazine, there is an article written by Matthew Higgs.

He writes ” Removing distractions from images is a key skill for all photographers, and the clone stamp tool is often the go to tool for the majority of situations. However, for highly detailed images, the clone stamp tool can prove a little too crude, resulting in cloned areas that stand out….The healing brush tool however, samples pixels from a selected area just like the clone stamp tool, but instead, it matches the texture, lighting, transparency and shading of the area”.

For this exercise, I will be using a mixture of the Clone Stamp Tool and the Healing Brush Tool, to try and remove the people.

Original Image:

I took a copy of this image, and opened it in Photoshop Elements 9. I made a duplicate background layer for the image. I zoomed into the bottom right hand side corner, I selected the Clone stamp tool, and began removing the young boy.

Clone stamp tool

I swapped between the healing brush tool and the clone stamp tool for this image.


I made two final images, one with the door removed and one without.

Altered Image:

Overall Opinion:

This exercise took a very long time to complete. I have never removed anything like this from an image before. It took several hours, and multiple attempts. I am happy with the results somewhat, I must say that I am not happy with the right hand side foot of the pink statue, the one that was hidden by the young boy. I found this area extremely hard to try to clone, as there was so much detail, and I had to try and build a new foot for the statue, and also the wing area. This is noticeable, but if you just look at the image quite fast, you may not notice it. This is the only thing that does give away the fact that something has been removed from the image.

For my first attempt, I am pleased. I do think that over time, and with some more practice, and learning how to master other tools, I may become better at using them.

In regards to whether or not this is a legitimate adjustment, I think it depends on the situation. I think I have a good reason why the young boy and the woman walking in the back should be removed, as they walked into my frame by accident, and the image would have looked better if they had not walked into the frame, therefore meaning that I should remove them. In a way I have altered reality, as I have removed something, however, there was a valid reason behind this, and I would argue that this is an innocent removal.


  • Practical Photography Magazine. February 2015. Pages 96-97.

Article Retouch detailed images with the healing brush, By Matthew Higgs.

Exercise: Addition

For this exercise, you’ll add one element from a different image. However, in order to make this less obviously full intervention, the exercise will be in two stages.

The aim is to take a conventional landscape view and render the sky do that it appears ideally exposed, with every detail of every cloud visible and textured. With a cloudy or partly cloudy sky this is frequently a problem, as you may already have experienced.

You’ll do this in two ways, the first being more ‘legitimate’ than the second, and for this you should find a location that allows you to make a landscape composition with a significant area of sky (at least a third of the image area). As you will later be making major changes to the sky, you will find it easier if the horizon line is clear, clean and obvious, without such fine details as branches and leaves. A clear blue sky will not do for this shot, as we need for the purposes of the exercise, a scene with a high dynamic range. You will have to wait for a cloudy day or partly cloudy sky, so that the ideal exposure for the sky alone would be significantly less than for the landscape.

Set up the camera on a tripod, so that you can make more than one exposure in perfect register. Make two different exposures, with the camera on either manual settings or using its exposure compensation system if it has obe.
One exposure should be perfect for the landscape (the sky will be over-exposed)
The second exposure should be perfect for the sky, with no highlight clipping (the landscape will be under-exposed).
The difference between these two exposures is likely to be in the region of two F-stops, possibly more.

Process these two images normally, without trying to make significant compensation- without using whatever highlight recovery of fill light controls your processing software offers. The next step is to combine these two images. If you use Photoshop or another image-editing program that allows you to make layers, so much the better. If so, do the following procedure. If not, skip to the paragraph after the next.

Copy the lighter image onto the darker image. Then, erase the over-exposed sky from the upper layer to reveal the darker sky beneath. Flatten the image and save as a copy. Then return to the original state of two layers before using the eraser brush. Now make a selection of the sky in the upper layer, using whatever selection tools you find convenient. Take care to refine the edge of the horizon. Save the selection. Now delete the upper layer’s sky, flatten and save as a copy. Making and saving a selection like this takes more time, but gives you more control over the erasure.

Alternatively, use an exposure blending program such as Photomatix to load and blend two images. Use the exposure blending procedure rather than the HDR tonemapping, as the latter involves advanced image processing beyond what we are disgussing here.
Exposure blending offers several choices of methods. The highlights and shadows- adjust option, is the default and normally the most useful, as it will give a natural-looking result and a choice of bias towards the darker or lighter image. Save the result.

Now, you have created a new image from two separate ones, but while this is clearly intervention, there is also a strong argument that this is perfectly legitimate, and that the procedure of taking more than one exposure within seconds is simply a way of overcoming the camera’s limitations of capturing a full range of brightness. Indeed, as technology progresses, specific software tools are appearing that make use of this’multi-shot’ approach. One such is photomerge scene cleaner in Photoshop elements, another is photomerge group shot.

Now use Photoshop, take this same image (the version exposed for landscape) or any other photograph with a sky. Then choose a different sky from an existing or new photograph.

In the first image, select the area of the sky and save the selection. Then paste into this area, the sky from the second photograph. The aim is to create a realistic effect, as if the new sky could really have been a part of the original image. You will need to consider such things as the direction of the sunlight if this is visible, the overall brightness and the contrast, in order to make the match look good.

One example of ‘doctoring’ an images, was in my work book. The writer included a situation in which he writes “A while ago, I was commissioned to take photographs of a bike workshop for a cycling charity. Unfortunately, my main model had just broken an ankle, and had a fresh cast on his left foot. A photograph of a bike instructor with a broken foot doesn’t inspire confidence to prospective learners, so I had to doctor the shot and clond his right foot. I took the photograph and ‘faked’ it myself using the following tools and techniques:”

1: Copying and pasting selected areas of the image
2: Cloning and Deleting
3: Refining Edges of Selectiobs
4: Transform command – Changing the shape and size of selections

The above case study, is a real example of a situation in which ‘doctoring’ a photograph is a useful solution to a particular situation. However, there are some issues with working in this way. Is it entirely ethical to do this? What sort of ethical issues do you think this raises?


Exercise: Enhancement

This exercise explores the next level of intervention and allows you to make changes that many would say go beyond reality.  At the end of the exercise,  you’ll be asked to make up your own mind.

Note that an increasing number of image-processing programs offer local correction at the stage of raw conversion, often by means of an adjustable paintbrush. Where this is available, the size and the feathering (softening the edges) of the brush is adjustable.

Photograph a close up, head and shoulders portrait, in available or natural lighting, without using flash or any other photographic lighting. The face should be in shade, not receiving direct light, should be towards the camera and with both eyes clearly visible.

Prepare to make two selections, one at a time, each with its own adjustment. The first should be of the entire face, which you should adjust by increasing the brightness and increasing the contrast. The effect will to draw attention to the face. This is absolutely standard dodging, and your aim should be for it to appear natural.

The second selection and adjustment should be of the eyes only (limit this to the iris and pupil, not the eyelids or surrounding skin).
First, exaggerate the colour of the iris by increasing saturation and brightness. You may have noticed an increasing frequency in magazines and poster advertising, especially for make-up and other beauty products, for eyes to be brighter and more colourful.
Digital enhancement like this is one way of achieving the effect. Next, try changing the hue. Save both versions.

At what point between lightening the face for visibility and altering the eye colour do you consider that you have tampered with reality? Or, are you satisfied that all of this is legitimate?

For this exercise, I managed to get a quick photograph of my cousin, as he reluctantly allows me to take his photograph. It was approximately 19:00hr which meant that the sun was just setting, allowing me to snap a few photographs without any direct sunlight in the image. I asked him to stand against the garden fence, as this would stop any sunlight from behind causing any lens flare, however, he was taller than the fence, which meant that he had to bend down slightly.

Before I started this exercise, I decided  to have a read through my Practical Photography Magazines, as they have techniques and step by step guides on how to use processing software. I was unsure of how to change eye colour, and needed help to learn what tools I would need to use.

In July 2014 issue of Practical Photography, Tim Berry wrote an article and step by step guide to help brighten eyes. He writes ” Shooting a genuinely engaging portrait is no easy task. How do you convey personality, emotion or a whole story in one image? Well, as the saying goes, its the eyes that are the window to the soul…The eyes serve as main focal point of a portrait…They are the most important element”

I couldn’t agree more with this statement. The one thing I look at in a portrait is the models eyes. Its usually the first thing that draws my attention to the photograph or painting. I believe that the eyes are the key to a portrait, as they grab the viewers attention, which then holds you and makes you study the photograph even more, and you then begin to wonder what the story is behind the image. Making sure that you have clear, bright eyes is the main thing, as without these, sometimes the portrait may not have the same effect on the viewer.

I used two articles in two Practical Photography magazines, to help me learn how to alter eye colour, however, because my processing software was different to that it the magazines, I decided to research my Photoshop Elements 9 on google for more help.

I will include the magazine articles at the bottom.

Part One: (Adjust the Brightness and Contrast Only)

Original Image:

IMG_5378 - original copy

With a copy of this image, I opened it in Photoshop Elements 9. I made a duplicate background layer. I cropped the image as there was a slight line of light above the top of the image, where he was taller than the fence, even though he was bending down. I cropped it so the light was taken out, and cropped it so the image was in proportion (Cropped some of the right hand side out).

I then opened an adjustment layer with the brightness and contrast option. I adjusted the brightness and contrast of the image ever so slightly, just enough to lighten his face, but I didn’t want to cause any highlight clipping.


Adjusted Image:

IMG_5378 - Brightness only

Part Two: (Increase the colour of the iris only)

First, exaggerate the colour of the iris by increasing saturation and brightness. You may have noticed an increasing frequency in magazines and poster advertising, especially for make-up and other beauty products, for eyes to be brighter and more colourful.
Digital enhancement like this is one way of achieving the effect. Next, try changing the hue. Save both versions.

I decided to take the image above which I adjusted to be lighter, as his eyes were dark, and I would have trouble selecting the iris area on the original image.

Original Image:

IMG_5378 - Brightness only

For the first part of this, I began by opening this image in Photoshop. I made a duplicate background copy. I zoomed into the left eye first, I then selected the quick selection brush tool. I used the brush tool to select the iris area, I then used the same tool to de-select the pupil section. This took me a while to use as it was so sensitive, and trying to select the iris was harder then it looked. Once I had selected the iris and de-selected the pupil, I then opened a new adjustment layer, and chose the brightness and contrast option. I adjusted the sliders until I was happy with the result. Once the left eye was done, I opened a duplicate background copy, then proceeded to do the same as above for the right eye.

eyes brightened

brightened before

brightened after

Adjusted Image:

IMG_5378 - Bright eyes

When looking at the results, you can definitely notice a difference. I prefer this version of the photograph. When I look at a portrait, the first thing I am drawn to as a viewer, is the models eyes. The adjustments made to the eyes were ever so slight, yet it has made a huge difference, and has made the photograph better.

In regards to whether or not this is a legitimate adjustment to the photograph, many may argue that because I have altered the original eye colour, it is not legitimate, and is infact wrong. However, the adjustments made to this image have only lightened the pupil area. They have not altered the colour of the pupil as such, as it is infact the same eye colour, only just a bit lighter. It has helped this image and I would argue that this is a innocent legitimate adjustment.

Second part of this exercise: Adjusting the Hue of the pupil

I took a copy of the brightened eyes photograph ( Image above ) and opened it in Photoshop.

IMG_5378 - Bright eyes

I began by making a duplicate background copy. I then used the same techniques as before. I zoomed into the left eye first, and used the Brush tool and selected the pupil whilst de-selecting the iris. I opened a new adjustment layer and chose the Hue and Saturation option. I then made sure the option of colorize was selected. I then began adjusting the colour, lightness and contrast. Once the left eye was done, I made a duplicate background layer and proceeded to do the same with the right eye.

I started with Green.

One green eye

Two green eyes

I have only altered the colour saturation slightly, as I wanted the pupils to look as realistic as possible, but I still wanted to make sure that the colour could be seen without having to zoom into the image. When it came to the lightness slider, I noticed that the left eye needed to be lighter than the right eye, as it was just a fraction in the shade.

IMG_5378 - Bright eyes - Green Eyes

I then chose Blue

One blue eye

Two blue eyes

IMG_5378 - Bright eyes - Blue Eye Colour

Final choice was Purple

One purple eye

Two purple eyes

IMG_5378 - Bright eyes - Purple Eyes

I only decided on three colours, as the possibilities are endless, and I could alter the pupils for every colour possible. I do enjoy doing this, even though it took me a while to get used to how the tools and layers worked. I have learned some new skills with this exercise, and I will definitely be using them again in the future.

At what point between lightening the face for visibility and altering the eye colour do you consider that you have tampered with reality? Or, are you satisfied that all of this is legitimate?

In regards to lightening the face for visibility purposes, I have written my opinion above. With regards to changing the eye colour, I am not convinced that this is a legitimate adjustment. I believe that it is innocent if you are altering your image for your own personal use, or for family or friends. However, I believe that if you intentionally alter the colour of the eyes, in order to market your image, sell your image, or promote a brand or product, then this is false advertising, and is infact fake. You have infact tampered with reality and it is not an innocent adjustment.

Overall Opinion:

I have enjoyed this exercise. I have learned a new skill that I was previously unaware of how to do. I am pleased with the results of the images. If there is one thing I could change however, is I would like to become better at using the brush tool to select the pupils, as I found this quite difficult as the tool was very sensitive to use, which meant that I have included some of the eyelid in the selection, leading to areas of the eyelid, slightly altered.

I did have trouble choosing whether or not to use the Lasso tool or the Brush tool. I found the lasso tool to be quite difficult, especially the magnetic lasso. It is something that I will try to use more of in order to gain more experience, as I believe that it could be a good tool to use in the future.


  • Practical Photography Magazine. July 2014. Page 96-97

(Editing Suite-Basic Skills) Basic Eye Brightening Article By Tim Berry

  • Practical Photography Magazine. August 2013. Page 88-89.

Dramatic Portraits Article, By Tim Berry.

  • Photoshop Elements Changing Eye Colour. By David Peterson.

Exercise: Improvement or Interpretation

Start by photographing a similar situation to the one just described, a portrait in a setting , and then use a manual selection method to select just the area of the person. The tools available to you will depend on which software you normally use, but the two most usual methods would be either a kind of lasso tool, with which you can draw an outline, or mask painting with a brush,.

Having done this, including refining the edge by retouching it if necessary, save the selection if your software allows this. Then make any kind of adjustment to this area that makes it stand out more clearly from the surroundings, while still looking realistic.
For example, You might choose a curves adjustment to increase the contrast, or alter the colour balance.

What you have just done is the direct equivalent of traditional dodging and burning under a darkroom enlarger. Few people in the days of film considered this anything but legitimate processing, and yet… the selection is in a sense arbitrary, based not on the objective qualities of the image, but on the subjective photographer’s eye.
The effect, of course, depends on how extreme an adjustment you make to that selection, and what kind of adjustment. Consider the limits that you would accept for this to remain an innocent, legitimate adjustment

For this exercise, I decided to use an image I took last year whilst in Newquay, of my Cousin. I took the image around 19:00-20:00pm. The original image is quite dark, especially in the shadows, meaning that the facial area was too dark to see the details on his face. I knew that I would have to use tools to lighten not only his facial area, but also the rest of his body, as that too was dark.

Original Image:


With this image, I made a copy. I then opened the copy in Photoshop Elements 9. When opened in Photoshop, I then made a duplicate background layer. I used the Smart Brush Tool, and chose the setting Bright Eyes. I made a lasso around the facial area, and brightened the face. I saved this image, then re-opened it again. I then made a new duplicate background layer. I used the same smart brush tool and chose the Brighter option. I zoomed into the body, and began using the brush to lighten just the body area. Afterwards, I sharpened the detail.

I made very little changes, however, when looking at the before and after image, you can notice a difference. No changes were made to the background.




DSCF8440 - Copy copy

After comparing both of these images, I believe that this is a justifiable, innocent alteration. My image was dark and the body/facial area needed correcting, in order to make a better final image. I was unable to sharpen the edges of the person, as when I zoomed in, I found that this image contained a lot of noise, and by sharpening the image too much, would only make the noise worse.

After I had processed this image, I decided that I wanted to try and convert the background to black and white, in order to see whether or not it would make the person stand out even more.

I took a copy of the original image, (The image without any alterations)

I opened that image in Photoshop. I then made a background layer, and converted that layer to black and white, and chose the Vivid Landscape option, as this was brighter than the rest. After converting the image to black and white, I zoomed into the image, and selected the Eraser tool. I erased the black and white area of the body, in order to make the colour re-appear, only in the body area. I had to make sure that I took time around the edges, as I didn’t want to re-colour any of the water area.

Once I had re-added the colour, I then saved the image. I opened that image in Lightroom. Once in Lightroom, I then adjusted the tone, contrast, highlights, shadows, whites, blacks, clarity, vibrance, detail and noise. It took me a while to play around with these adjustments until I was satisfied that I had the desired effect I was looking for. When I looked at the image, I thought that there was something missing, I used the Vignetting Tool which I found by mistake, in order to create a dark, shadow area around the sides of the image. I only adjusted it slightly, so it framed the person, making the person more prominent.

I saved this image, then re-opened it in Photoshop. I used the Magic Brush tool, and did the same thing to the facial and body area, that I did to the image previous. I lightened the face with the Bright Eyes option and the body with the Brighten option. This made the details on the face clearer and the body stand out more against the black and white background. I then saved this image.

Final Image:

DSCF8440 - Copy copy - Copy copy

This image contains extreme adjustments, and is no way the true image that I shot first. I have altered this image to the extent that it no longer contains ‘Innocent Adjustments’. Every one of my adjustments have been used in order to make a striking final image.


DSCF8440DSCF8440 - Copy copyDSCF8440 - Copy copy - Copy copy

With the first image I adjusted, I used only two adjustments in order to lighten the face and body area, as these areas were hindering the image, as the face was too dark and the person was almost blending into the background. It needed adjusting in order to bring the person out from the background. Therefore, I believe this is an innocent image.

With the second image, I used a variety of adjustments for this image. I took the original image and adjusted as much as possible in order to make a interesting final image. These adjustments didn’t need to happen, and were not necessary, however, I do like the final result. Therefore, this is not an innocent image.

I am happy with how both of these images have come out. As this exercise says ‘Improvement or Interpretation’, the first image was an improvement, whereas the second image was my interpretation, and my own vision of how I wanted to adjust the image.

Exercise: Correction

For this exercise, look through your image collection. Try to find one photograph that contains dust shadows. Find a second which contains a polygon flare.

If you can’t find any in your own photographs, used the images provided in the key resources section of the student website.

Before I began this exercise, I decided to research dust shadows and polygon flares.

Dust Shadows/Dust Spots:

When you look back at the images you have taken, on the computer, you will sometimes encounter small dark spots in some areas of your image. Sizes and darkness can vary depending on the aperture of your camera at the time of shooting. These dark spots are small dust particles on your camera lens or camera’s sensor.

The key to dust reduction is to try to avoid it altogether. This is one of the big advantages of using cameras with fixed lenses. If you use a Dslr camera, dust is part of life, even with cameras incorporating sensor cleaning systems. Dust does not lie directly on the sensor, but on the protective plate, so specks are not sharp edged, but usually appear as blurred dots. As a result, they may not be immediately visible when you open an image. The best strategy is always to assume that there is more dust on the image than you are able to see. The smallest specks remain invisible until you apply sharpening or increase image contrast. You can pre-empt the problem by increasing image contrast using an adjustment layer in your processing software, to reveal the dust specks as dark spots.

Dust particles on your camera’s lens show differently to dust particles on your camera’s sensor.

Below is an example I have found online, showing the differences between both.

Dust or dirt particles on the front of your lens, will not make much of a difference to your image. They are hardly visible, and sometimes only cause a slight haze or blur to an image.

Dust particles on the camera’s sensor will however, cause prominent dark spots. There are several ways in which you can tell whether or not you have dust on your camera’s sensor.

  1. The first being that dust particles on your sensor will always stay in the same place within an image.
  2. They will never show up through the viewfinder. You can only see them on your image. Depending on how large the particles are, you may see them straight away on an image, or in some cases, you may have to zoom in 100%.
  3. Depending on what aperture you use, you may not be able to see them. If you use a maximum aperture eg. F/1.4, you may not notice anything, but that does not mean that dust particles are not there. If you use a small aperture eg. F/4.0 and higher, the dust particles may appear darker and the size of them will become smaller, but more pronounced.

Below is an example of sensor dust.

 There are ways of cleaning dust particles from your camera’s sensor, I have provided a link below to a website that has a step by step guide. However, dust particles inside your camera’s lens, are slightly more difficult to clean, and it is suggested to either pay professionals to clean the insides or, to not worry about it.

Sensor dust particles:

Inside lens dust particles:

Polygon Flare/Camera Lens Flare:

“Lens flare is created when non-image forming light enters the lens and subsequently hits the camera’s film or digital sensor. This often appears as a characteristic polygonal shape, with sides which depend on the shape of the lens diaphragm. It can lower the overall contrast of a photograph significantly and is often an undesired artefact, however some types of flare may actually enhance the artistic meaning of a photo”  CambridgeInColour Article

Lens flare can take many forms within a photograph. The most common being the polygonal shape, it can be seen as large streaks from the light source in your image and rainbow circles or arcs. Lens flare may also cause bright spots within the image which can appear to be ‘Ghostly’.

Below is an example of a polygon lens flare.


Rays in Sunlight, By Bernd

There are things you can use or do, in order to stop or limit the amount of lens flare your image receives. Lens hoods are advised to be used when wanting to stop or limit lens flare. A good lens hood should stop the majority of stray light from outside the angle of view, which then causes lens flare. If you are planning on using a lens hood, it is advised that you choose a lens hood that does not contain a reflective inner surface. A lens hood which contains felt on the inner surface is a good idea, just make sure that there are no bald patches, which may have been rubbed off.

There are different types of lens hoods. Some may already come with your lens when purchased, or you can purchase them separately. The two most common lens hoods are the Petal Lens Hood, and the Round Lens Hood. Many argue that the Petal lens hood protects your image from lens flare better, as they are shaped to match the aspect ratio of a sensor, and the field of view of a lens. Below are the examples of a Petal lens hood and a Round lens hood.

Lens Hoods

Lens hoods can be made from tough plastic, metal or flexible rubber. I have a selection of the plastic and flexible rubber. Lens hoods are not used by every photographer. Some reasons may be because they are too bulky to pack into your camera bag ( Even though the flexible rubber hoods can now fold away), or simply because with lenses now, they are protected in order to stop lens flare and glare, in which case, people don’t worry about having a lens hood. Depending on the photographer, and what type of image you are trying to create, using a lens hood is a personal choice.

Dust Particle Correction:

Beginning with the dust correction, there are now specific tools in all processing software, be it in Photoshop, Lightroom, Aperture or any other. The standard tool for removing dust particles from an image is the Clone Stamp Tool. However, copying an adjacent part of the image onto the dot easily produces artefacts. Tools have been developed in modern software which sample the contiguous area, immediately around the dot, and fill it with the contiguous pixels. This produces invisible mends but it creates artefacts if the speck lies on a patter such as netting or near a hard edge. For these type of dust specks, the Clone Stamp Tool is best as you can set its blend mode to lighten, instead of the usual Normal blend, when removing dots lying on light areas.

Scroll through the image at 100% magnification, identifying any dust specks and removing them. All of these tools, whatever the software, work by attempting to replace the area of the dust speck with the texture, tone and colour of its immediate surroundings. This is, therefore, actually altering the content of the image, although on such as small and trivial scale that few people would argue against it.

For this part of the exercise, I was unable to find a photograph of mine which contained any dust particle spots, as I take special care when cleaning my cameras on a regular basis. I usually try to clean them after every use, in order to keep them clean, tidy and protected. Therefore I was unable to find a suitable image, however, when looking through photographs I had taken last year of the snowfall that we received, I found an image which contained snow particles which were landing on the lens and falling snow. The final image contained specks which would need removing, similar to dust particles, only in my case, it was snow particles.

Original Image:

IMG_1132 - Copy

I opened this image with Photoshop Element 9. I zoomed in 100% on this image and focused on the top left hand corner. When I zoomed in, I could see a lot more white snow specks which were obviously falling snow. The larger circles in the image were caused by snow droplets which had landed on my camera lens, whilst I was photographing the tree.

Where the dust speck is in an area without nearby sharp detail, the tool works well. But if the dust speck is only a few pixels away from detail, or even sits on top of detail, you may find the result less satisfactory.

More effective in this situation, is the clone stamp tool, but you will now find that you have to make more of a conscious decision to replace the small area with something specific. Is this as ‘Innocent’ a correction as using the dust removal tool?

Also, if you work over an area of the image that includes random specks of similar size to dust, as in the example, you will have difficulty deciding whether a mark is dust or content. This raises another valuable consideration – is this particular speck real from the scene, or an artefact caused by dust on the sensor? Should you remove it? Does this bother you?

100% Zoom (Top Left hand Corner):

zoom 100

For this image, I decided to use the Clone Stamp Tool.

clone stamp tool

With the clone stamp, I went through the image section at a time, removing any specks. Below is the same left hand corner, with the specks removed.

zoom 100 after processing

Final Image, Specks Removed:


I agree with using the clone stamp tool for removing any dust specks within an image. I believe that it is entirely a personal choice whether or not you use it. With my image, some may disagree, and say that I should keep the snow particles in the image, as it shows that it is snowing and shows movement, however, with this image, I personally think that it has benefited with me removing the specks, as now, the viewers eyes aren’t focused on the specks, but are now focused on the tree. Perhaps if there was more snow falling, rather than small blobs, it may have looked better.

‘But if the dust speck is only a few pixels away from detail, or even sits on top of detail, you may find the result less satisfactory’. I completely agree with this. In the centre of my image, I had a large circular shape which was caused by a snow droplet on my lens. I used the clone stamp throughout this image, and zoomed in to 200% at this middle section, in order to try and remove this circular area. I was happy that I managed to remove most of it, however, when zoomed out, I can still notice some of the circular shape, which means that I was less pleased with removing this speck as it was sat on top of several detailed areas.

sat ontop of detail

Overall, I do agree with the use of tools in order to remove dust specks, as it really is down to personal choice. If by removing this dust speck, you have a better looking image, then why not remove the speck. I believe it is innocent, as you are not altering the entire image, you are only assisting the image, in order to make a better final image. It is similar to doge and burn with film images.

Lens Flare Correction:

Lens flare correction takes more skill and more intervention, as there are no tools specifically for the job. There are various possibilities, including attempting to make a precise selection of the flare polygons before applying, say, a curve adjustment. This is very difficult to achieve naturally, and I recommend a different, less invasive approach, as follows.

  • Use a clone tool, set to Colour to integrate the flare polygons to their immediate surroundings.
  • Use a clone tools set to darken, also set with a close neighbourhood source.

These two actions, performed carefully, should remove most of the apparent blemish, and possibly sufficient for the image.

For this part of the exercise, I decided to process two of my images. I unfortunately couldn’t find any images that contained the polygonal shape. However, I did have an image that contained a large circular shape, which was caused by shooting directly into the light when photographing a sunset. It caused a double effect of the sun as it was setting. This circular shape is directly in the view line and the final image would be better if the shape was removed.

Original Image:

2011_0424barbra0135 - Copy

For this image, I used the clone stamp tool. I set the tool to ‘colour’ and proceeded to clone the area. Unfortunately, it wasn’t having the desired effect for me, as it looked almost black and grey, rather than red. I altered the tool to ‘darken’ and that too didn’t work how I wanted it to. Therefore, I set the tool to ‘normal’ and proceeded to clone the area. This worked better, and it began to cover the area.

Circular Shape Removed:

spot removed

Final Processed Image:


I am pleased with the results for this image. I believe that removing the circular spot was justifiable, as this spot was a mistake, which unfortunately happened whilst shooting the sunset. I do however, think that the image is interesting with the circular spot left in, however, if you are looking for a more conventional sunset image, then removing something like this would probably be the best option. I prefer both images.

I have a second image which contains a rainbow circle and some streaks.

Original Image:


When I zoomed into this image, it was clear that there was a rainbow streak in the top right hand sky area, and a streak through the bottom of the image, on the sand.

top spot beach before

before bottom spot removed

I decided to use the clone stamp tool for this. I began with the rainbow streak in the top right hand corner of the image. I decided to use the ‘Normal’ Mode for this as it worked well on the previous image. Once the rainbow streak was cloned and removed, I then moved onto the sand area, where there was a visible circular shape and a streak. I used the same cloning methods.

sky spot removed

after bottom spot removed

middle spot removed

Final Image:


How justifiable do you think this exercise was? If the flare is considered a mistake (This is not always the case, flare can be used creatively in composition), is there an argument that it should be left as it is?

I am pleased with the final result of this image. The clone stamp tool worked well on this image, and removed all of the rainbow streak and circular spots. Yes, the flares were mistakes, as I didn’t realised I had any until I viewed the image on the computer. I believe that it is entirely up to the photographer, whether or not they remove the streaks or flares, as in some cases, they may help enhance an image, or in some, they may hinder it. In this image, I think it hindered the image, perhaps if the rainbow streak was closer to the sun, and fell more towards the sand, it may have created an interesting image. However, because it was in the far corner, it had no point or need to be in the image. Therefore removing it, and the streaks on the sand, have helped the final image overall.

Overall Opinion:

I have enjoyed this exercise. I haven’t used the clone stamp tool on my photographs before, so for me it was a interesting tool to use. Now that I know how it works and the different uses it can do, I will most probably be using it in the future.

I do agree with the use of tools like this on image processing software. As mentioned before, I think it is personal choice whether or not you use them. I don’t agree with complete alteration of an image to where it looks nothing like the starting image. I don’t see how altering and removing dust spots or flares, can be classed as completely altering an image so that it is classed as a fake image. I believe that using these tools helps images to achieve a better final image, and is innocent.

Now move up a level of intervention to perform actions designed to make the image look better in your eyes, in effect , interpretation. The next exercise concentrates particularly on local adjustment and the techniques of making a selection in order to alter a specific area of the image.

The idea of making local adjustments to an image is straightforward and widely used, most common for shadows and highlights. If you are familiar with the techniques of darkroom printing of film negatives, dodging and burning are classic local adjustments. We made use of the digital equivalents and in digital processing it is normal to distinguish between global and local adjustments.

There are many ways of making automatic selections, differing according to the software, some of them so automated that you are not made aware of the area selected. One such is the shadow/highlights tool, in Photoshop, and there are equivalents in other programs. This selects areas based on brightness, and also based on their position in the image, and then allows them to be lightened or darkened according to taste. A more obvious way of making a selection in Photoshop is to use the quick selection tool or the magic wand too, which chooses values similar to whatever point you click on.

But there is another selection method that relies, not on the tone or colour of the area, but on your perception. Imagine a scene containing a person who is wearing clothes that include both bright and dark areas. It would be obvious to our eyes that it was a person, and we would be able to draw an outline around it. But this would be impossible for an automated process, which has only the values of brightness and colour to go on.


Digital Photography Masterclass, Dorling Kindersley Limited, London, 2008. Pages 167-168.

ISBN: 9781856131315

Dust Particles Article, July 27, 2010 By Nasim Mansurov

(Dust Specks Image) By Vit Kovalcik, 26 November, 2014

Polygon Flares:

  • Understanding Lens Flare & Ghosting Article. By Todd Owyoung, 13 July 2011
  • 25 Artistic Lens Flare Effects in Digital Photography Article, By Alex 5 March 2011. Image Rays in Sunlight, By Bernd

Project: Digital Photography and ‘Truth’

As we saw at the beginning of this course, one of the revolutions wrought by digital photography has been that you, the photographer, are fully responsible for everything to do with the image, from capture ( as you frame the shot and release the shutter) right up to producing the finished image. In particular, the recording of images as digital files means that you have full access to every pixel. It is hard to over-emphasise the importance of this. Unlike film photography, in which at some point the image becomes physically locked into the emulsion, a digital image is at all times available for adjustment.

This raises an issue that was never before particularly significant – the alteration of meaning and content. When digital photography began to be used professionally for publication, many people voiced concerns about the threat to what was perceived to be the inherent ‘Truth’ of a photograph. How were we to know any more that a photograph was truly taken from life, and not in some way manipulated unscrupulously?

There have indeed been a number of publicised instances of deliberate and effective fakery. Most of these have been in the form of additions and deletions, painstakingly retouched, in order to make the picture more effective, more as the photographer wanted it to be. Usually these were commercial in motive, to make the picture more saleable, more likely to be used by a magazine or newspaper. And for every instance uncovered become of someone else’s investigation, it is fair to assume that more go undetected.

My personal opinion of retouching images, and using post processing software, is somewhat undecided. When I first began taking photographs, I used to think that people who used Photoshop on every image of theirs, clearly shouldn’t take all of the limelight, especially when my non processed images were just as good, and unlike them, I haven’t altered any of mine. Part of me unfortunately still agrees with this. I believe that you should try as best as you can to use your photography skills in order to produce a unique photograph, and not rely on using processing soft wear, as by doing so, you are less focused on the object or location you are photographing or producing well composed images, but you are more concerned about how it may look when it has been processed. Using software to completely change or alter your image, in order to produce an image that you ‘wish’ you could have taken, but you have infact completely altered and changed your original so much so, that it’s unrecognisable, in my opinion is a lie, and is not the ‘Truth’. However, after completing the previous assignment (Assignment Three: Monochrome) and the exercises to go with it, I can understand why people alter their images, and I can see both sides to the argument.

After using Photoshop myself for my images for the previous exercises and assignments, I can honestly say that I prefer them after the retouches have been made. But I do still like them before the retouches, I think it depends on what the images are being used for. Some images may need colour alterations, contrast alterations or you may want to convert images you black and white, as the colour in the image, is not having the desired effect you want. I can completely understand why these post processing retouches or alterations are made, I can also understand that there is only so much photographic technique you can use whilst shooting an image, but it may not be enough to produce that image you want, and therefore you may alter it slightly. As you can see, my opinion is still undecided.

I know for sure that I do disagree on Photoshop or other processing software being used for false advertising in magazines, adverts, brochures etc. We are exposed to false advertising on a daily basis, whether it is in the form of magazines, television adverts, branding on items, brouchers and much more. This false advertising has been created by using an extremely retouched, photoshoped image, in order to draw the attention of the viewer, consumer, clients etc, to make us buy things that in most cases are not always what they seem or make out to be. For example, make up adverts use well known celebrities to model their product, as they assume that the viewer will be drawn in by the recognisable face, they then produce images which have been retouched in order to make their product look better than it actually is, and that their product will achieve amazing results, that we ‘Can’t Live Without’.

Taken from my book, Photography: The Key Concepts, by David Bate, Adverting relies heavily on photographs of commodity objects designed to show off the basic product. One indicator of the overwhelming importance of still life in advertising is that it even has its own language to describe them: The commercial ‘Pack Shot’. If terms like pack shot lacks any grace, it is precisely because they refer to the function of these photographs within the advertising industry: A ‘Pack’ or ‘Product Shot’, is just that, the shot of a product. Choose any glossy magazine or shopping catalogue, and you will find it populated by still life photographs showing objects in advertising. Whether it is glamorous, object based fashion magazines that show shoes, handbags, cosmetics, jewellery, watches etc, or photography magazines that show, cameras, lenses, flash guns etc, shopping catalogues that show, home equipment, kitchenware, computers, lamps etc, the still life photograph will be steadily at work there…. The photograph is used to ‘Qualify’ the product, to give it its ‘Exchange value’ by specifying what makes this one product more attractive for consumption to the designated audience.

Modern advertising agencies are a product of the twentieth century, a phenomenon that developed when it became clear that there was a need to orchestrate the growth in industry of the production, distribution and display of advertising images. The advertising industry is dedicated to making images, primarily photographic, now heavily dependant on digital post production work, where creativity is the means to persuade an audience about the meaning and values of a product. One the one hand, it is seen as a ‘Creative Industry’, likened to the famous Renaissance schools run by artists like Michelangelo, an inspiring industry full of creative innovation, whereas, on the other hand, it is seen by critics as a waste of space, time and money.

From supermarket signs, shop windows, online catalogues or high end cosmetics, objects are given a ‘Look’ in an ideal scene. Whatever the product or the domain in which it is valued, in these scenes, we can see the product pictured. Hamburgers for example, are mostly represented on abstract backgrounds with nothing else in the scene. Trademark fast food brand franchises pride themselves on having large illuminated photographs of the food you can purchase above the serving counters. You can therefore See what you can Buy. Visually, these photographs show food against a clean background and usually isolated from any specific cultural context. The viewer sees only the object, the product. This abstraction from any social context or background gives the food an anonymous quality: It does not belong to anyone. The picture generalizes the product for the audience: ‘It can be yours!’ ‘Buy It!’.

McDonalds Burger Advert.

This type of ‘pack shot’, still life picture in advertising is extremely common and regularly encountered. These stylized photographs of a commercial product are seen as creative and hard to achieve for the uninitiated, but they are nonetheless often seen as boring pictures for an accomplished studio photographer to do.


Below are adverts which contain make up products. They are being advertised by Julia Roberts (in 2011), a famous celebrity whom we all recognise. These adverts contain images of Roberts, which have clearly been retouched and manipulated, and are therefore not the ‘true’ original image. They have been manipulated to achieve an image which would appear to show a make up product which achieves amazing results, therefore making it more saleable. However, this is false advertising, and post processing software has been used here to deceive the viewer and in this case, the ‘next buyer or consumer’ for this product.


Another example is of Beyoncé. L’Oréal used Beyoncé for one of their infallible make up campaigns in 2013. Un-Used and Un-touched photographs of her were released, which showed her before any post processing occurred.


As you can see, they aren’t the same image, as they clearly discarded photographs which they thought were not ‘up to standard’, however, these photographs were taken for the same ad campaign, and therefore show just how much post processing has been used in this instance, to achieve the companies ‘Desired Look’. Her skin is much smoother and her eyes are more wider and brighter.

In 2011, an article was written regarding the USA, banning photoshoped cosmetic commercials.

The decision came after Procter & Gamble ran an advert for Cover Girl Mascara, which featured a woman with long thick lashes. The company put a small footnote at the bottom of the ad, which was believed to have said that the image was enhanced and the model may have worn extra lashes. Therefore saying that this mascara advertised will not achieve what you see in the photograph, but at least it’s a good photograph and we are running the advert anyway… In other words, post processing had been used to deceive again and the ‘real photograph’ has not been used, therefore this is not the ‘true’ photograph.

ann ward cover girl

NAD (National Advertising Division) director Andrea Levine told Business Insider,

“You can’t use a photograph to demonstrate how a cosmetic will look after it is applied to a woman’s face and then – in the mice type – have a disclosure that says ‘okay, not really.’” Andrea Levine

Cosmetic adverts are not the only ones to use false advertising, and false, post processed images. Food companies, Celebrities, Weight Loss, Clothing etc, all use un-truthful, manipulated photographs. I have included an example of a handbag advertising campaign by the brand Versace below. They too used a well known celebrity, Lady Gaga, for their campaign. By doing so, they draw us the audience in, as we recognise her. By doing so, we take notice of their advertising campaign and look at their products being shown.

With this photograph however, you can see a major difference between the ‘Real’ un-touched photograph, and the ‘Fake’ manipulated photograph. They have softened the colour tones of her blonde hair, in order to make it less yellow in colour. Her skin appears softer, smoother and paler, the handbags also appear to be a slightly darker colour and the details within the photograph have been sharpened.

Lady Gaga, Versace Advert 2013

As you can see, false advertising is all around us, and as previously mentioned, it will continue to be used and will be un-noticed for many more years. I personally believe that we have become so used to the un-real photographs and false post processed photographs that bombard us everyday, that we barley even notice the fact that they are infact ‘FAKE’, anymore, which is sad, as I believe that photography that has been used to deceive people like this, and which deceive people into giving up money for products etc, gives photography a some what band name, as we don’t know what to believe and what not to believe anymore, as so many photographs are super enhanced.

This does not, of course, suddenly invalidate documentary photography with a sweep. But it does make all of us that bit more aware of what might happen. And while concocting a false photograph is clearly dishonest, and something that almost all photographers would claim never to do themselves, the reality of digital processing means that there are no clear dividing lines between what is acceptable and what is not. This may come as a surprise to many people who have not considered the practical details of digital processing, and who believe that the matter is exclusively ethical.

In this part of the course I want to demonstrate that there is a continuum of image adjustment in digital photography, from the basic necessities of preparing a digital camera file so that it can be view optimally, to the extreme of alteration and fake.

Bob Gilka, former director of photography and the National Geographic magazine, expressed the professionals’ view of the extreme when he said the manipulating image is ” Like limited nuclear warfare. There ain’t none.”

Yet the series of projects here will enable you to work through the continuum in order to experience the shades of intervention and to decide for yourself which aspects of image work on the computer are acceptable or unacceptable according to the situation. An ethical position is certainly called for, but given that you are responsible for processing the images, simple positions of outright dismissal or blanket acceptance are untenable.

At the lowest level of intervention, digital files fresh from the camera need to be processed in order to prepare them for display on a website or for printing. At its most basic, this is largely a technical matter, with no significant interpretation. The fundamental images qualities are;

  • Overall Brightness
  • Overall Contrast
  • Density or ‘Blackness’ of the darkest tone
  • Density or ‘Whiteness’ of the lightest tone
  • Overall Colour Cast – White Balance

The principle of optimising these, of getting them ‘Right’, implies that there are common standards, that there are norms for reproducing images. This may seem too obvious to be worth mentioning, but I stress it here because at the end of the continuum of digital adjustment no-one would seriously argue otherwise. The raw file is, as some people like to call it, a kind of digital negative, in the way that in film photography a negative is an intermediate stage between capture and display.

This concept of correctness, of generally accepted standards for tone and colour, is worth reflecting on. The reason for this is that at some point in processing, interpretation is called for, and the result begins to depart from ‘standard’.

In Part Three, you worked through the basic techniques of optimising an image and saw the reasons for making such adjustments, as closing up the black and white points. Shooting Raw, in order to capture the maximum information, inevitably means optimising later, on the computer. This is the most basic and uncontentious form of correction, but because you have already worked through these exercises it’s necessary only to review these now.

In the next exercise, you’ll address another widely-accepted reason for correction – blemishes., If you use a digital SLR, an inevitable form of blemish is dust in the sensor, and you will almost certainly be familiar with this irritation. Changing lenses allows dust and other particles into the camera’s mirror box, and they usually end up on the surface of the sensor. Another kind of blemish that suggests correction is lens flare, particularly the kind that shows as a string of bright polygons. These might be slightly more controversial to correct, but in the exercise you’ll undertake this kind of correction as well.


Photography: The Key Concepts, David Bate. Bloomsbury, London 2009. Pages 112-120.

ISBN: 9781845206673


Julia Roberts Photographs; Lancôme Advertising Campaign 2011.

Beyoncé Photographs: L’Oreal Infallible Advertising Campaign 2013

Procter & Gable Cover Girl Mascara Advert 2011:

Lady Gaga Versace Advertising Campaign 2013

McDonalds Burger Advert: