Tutor’s Feedback for OCA Learning Log: Part Four; Reality or Intevention and Assignment Four-Real or Fake

Overall Comments

Many thanks for submitting this assignment Chantelle, the imagery and contextualization for which worked well in my opinion.

Key issues mentioned in my last report are as follows:

* Look at the work of Evans / Joshua Cooper / Davis

* Try to dig deeper into the Monochrome v’s Colour debate

* Try to use the full Harvard Reference and avoid Wikipedia

* Look at the Mark Klett 3rd View Project

* Consider the Establishing / Portrait / Detail / Action shots

Within the broader photographic consideration of the terms ‘real’ and ‘fake’, I normally suggest to my students to take a look at this image taken by Nick Ut in Trang Bang village just outside Saigon, Vietnam in 1972 [see below].  It is a very famous image that has been seen all around the world and has been used on various front covers of magazines etc [Time 1972].  It depicts the young nine year old girl Kim Phuc, running towards the camera after a Napalm attack on her village by the US forces … another example of friendly fire as the villagers were allied Southern Vietnamese and not part of the North Viet Cong fighters.  The image is full of all the harrowing impact expected to be found in war imagery and has lost none of its initial impact over the past 40 years since it was taken.  There was also some moving image footage taken of exactly the same event at the same time, but this fails to have the impact of the stills shot which has literally caught the moment in time.  The reason I bring this image to your attention is that the original image was cropped slighted on the right hand side.  We now know that this was shot on 35mm monochrome film and therefore the format of the shot is slightly more square than it should be for a full frame 35mm image.  What was excluded from the shot was a soldier at the side of the road loading a film into a camera – which when included completely reduces the overall impact of the image as the question is asked why he was not in assistance etc.  He was removed to add impact.

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Nick Ut – 1972

There is also a similar debate raised with an image taken by a photographer called Dorothea Lange, who took photographs for the American Farm Security Administration [FSA] in the 1930’s.  This image has been called ‘Migrant Mother’ and is also pictured below – the debate was about a ‘thumb’ that had been printed out of the bottom right hand corner, suggesting somebody was ‘revealing’ the family from behind the side of the tent and therefore staging the shot. You have actually touched upon this within your contextualization of the assignment on your blog …. “Even the most subtle and discreet changes to a photograph, can have profound impacts on how we as viewers, interpret or judge it.”

It might also be worth reading about Robert Capa’s ‘Death of a Spanish Militiaman’ taken in 1936.  These are all healthy arguments still raging within photographic debate in relation to image manipulation and could be elaborated upon within your blog.

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Dorothea Lange – 1936

Feedback on assignment

Reading the written component of your assignment from the outset, I really liked your stance on various issues, which I felt you got across very well. (Kelly Clarkson Cover etc ).  I also liked the fact that you have chosen to work with a subject that you actually feel passionate about and have a personal standpoint on (Hunting, Poaching & Culling). Half the problem with working on these assignments is being able to engage with your topic or theme … so if you choose something that you are actually interested in, then your enthusiasm for the subject matter will come through into the work.

I also liked the research you conducted into your Badger theme, especially the protest posters.  Your approach to this assignment was really well thought out and well organized, often not taking the easy option and actually locating and photographing real badgers … as opposed to just sourcing from elsewhere.  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 !

With regards to the interesting research you have conducted into photographic manipulation, I’d like you to take a look at the work of Mishka Henner.  One of the projects Henner created was entitled ‘Less Amercains’, which was a play on words in relation to the famous 1950 works by Robert Frank entitled ‘The Americans’ … which when it first came out was published in France with the title ‘Les Americains’.  Have a read into what Henner was trying to do here and especially about the controversy surrounding what is called his ‘re-appropriation’ of Frank’s images. (see below for an example)

As mentioned previously, I thought the research you conducted into historic manipulation was of interest to the assignment.  It might also be worth thinking about how photographers have used manipulation historically to place emphasis upon particular compositional components … rather than more brutally just cutting and pasting.  Look at these two images by Chambre Hardman below.  This is a famous photograph he took in Liverpool in the early 1950’s called ‘The Birth of the Ark Royal’.  His manipulation here has been with the use of Coccin Rouge on the negative, which has resulted in the off putting highlights (such as the gable end in the left foreground) being reduced tonally, in order to place emphasis on the large white Ark Royal in the background. …. Thus almost making it leap out of the photograph. The only true white in the image becomes the ship.

Learning Logs/Critical essays

I had a good look at your blog again and feel this is proving to be a good vehicle for evidencing the development of ideas and generation of research and testing.  There is plenty of practitioner research being conducted and reviews of books / exhibitions etc.

As mentioned above, you’ll also need to include books / literature / journals / magazines as source of research prior to submission for assessment.

Suggested reading/viewing

These would be project specific for Assignment 5

Conclusions and targets for next assignment

Try to take a look at what I have suggested above and drop me an email, when you have an idea about what you intend to do for Assignment 5.

My Thoughts:

After reading through my tutors feedback, I can see that changes need to be made to this assignment. I will update the assignment itself, and write notes from this feedback next to any updated photograph.

 

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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

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

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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.

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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.

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Vietnam Napalm 1972, By Nick Ut for Associated Press

 

Original 

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Cropped

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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http://badger.org.uk/

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 http://www.badgertrust.org.uk

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.

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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.

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Photograph of a poster used in at a Taunton protest

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Team Badger anti cull poster

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Care for the Wild poster

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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.

One

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Two

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Three

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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.

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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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Conclusion:

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:

IMG_5495 - Copy copyIMG_5493 copyIMG_5498 - Copy copy

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.

References:

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.

http://www.apimages.com/metadata/Index/Watchf-AP-I-VNM-APHS021000-Vietnam-Napalm-1972/e674e44489a54fbca89b41a7d821b89e/1/1

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

http://petapixel.com/2011/08/01/iconic-photo-exposed-migrant-mother/

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

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2107109/Iconic-Abraham-Lincoln-portrait-revealed-TWO-pictures-stitched-together.html

Self Magazine and Kelly Clarkson Article

Beauty Redefined Blog, By BR Admin 03 December 2014

http://www.beautyredefined.net/photoshopping-altering-images-and-our-minds/

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:

http://badger.org.uk/

http://badger.org.uk/badgers/badger-portrait.aspx

http://www.binfieldbadgers.org.uk/about_badgers.htm

http://www.badgertrust.org.uk

http://www.badgertrust.org.uk/threats/bovine-tb.aspx

http://www.rspca.org.uk/getinvolved/campaign/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 – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-somerset-33946471
  2. Team Badger Anti Cull protest poster – Google Images
  3. Care for the Wild poster –  Google Images
  4. Badger Trust poster – Google Images