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.

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: