Photoshopping and Image Manipulation

Manipulated photography

Faking It Exhibition: Manipulated Photography before Photoshop

In our digital communication age, everyone knows Photoshop. Even the Oxford and Mirriam-Webster dictionaries have come to define Photoshop as a verb:

transitive verb, often capitalized\?f?-(?)t?-?shäp\
Definition of PHOTOSHOP
: to alter (a digital image) with Photoshop software or other image-editing software especially in a way that distorts reality (as for deliberately deceptive purposes)

In this age digital wonderment we believe that photo manipulation began with Photoshop. However, this is not the case at all. Ever since the inception of photography in 1839, artists have used the public’s belief that photographs are “real” and always tell the truth.

At the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC there has been an exhibition called,Faking It: Manipulated Photography before Photoshop. This exhibition started in New York City at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and will end at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, Texas. In Faking It, the curator, Mia Fineman, Assistant Curator in the Department of Photographs at the Met, has divided the exhibit into seven parts that start in the 1840’s up through the late 20th century.

Manipulated photography

In the first section, Picture Perfect, we witness how photography was manipulated because of its technical limitations. For example, all photographic processes were mono-chrome or black & white. So to add tan element of realism, daguerreotype plates and photographic prints were hand colored. Also, because of the exposure limitations due to the plates light sensitivity of those early times, photographic artists would make muptiple exposures on several plates and then with masking in the darkroom, blend all of these exposures together. A technique much like the modern equvilant of HDR (High Dynamic Range).

In another section, Artifice in the Name of Art , photographers begin to use this ability to manipulate photographs with their psychological power of “realism and truth” to tell unique or sereal stories. Other sections also show how photographs manipulated to distort the “truth” for purposes of policital propaganda.

For me, the most exciting element of this exhibition was seeing the actual prints of so many images I’ve only known from images in books. Seeing the actual print of Henry Peach Robinson’s, Fading Away was a real joy. Also learning that Edward Steichen‘s portrait of Rodin, was actually a composite was fascinating. Even Mathew Brady got into the act with his group portrait of Sherman and his Officers. Now, we know the artist Man Ray manipulated images, but so did the documentary photographer Lewis Hines. In the mid 20th century you may be aware of Duane MichalsJerry Uelsmann creating dream-like images, but portrait photographer Richard Avedon created interpretive photographs for Vogue.

“Faking It: Manipulated Photography before Photoshop” closes at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC this weekend, May 5th, 2013. If you can make a moment to visit, check it out. If you miss it, check out the exhibions web site at both the NGA and the Met Museum of Art. You can also get the catalog on

Source: Jarvis Grant,


Dove Canada Uses Photoshop Trojan Horse to Shame Potential Body-Shamers

In the latest round of Dove’s long-running “Real Beauty” campaign, the company leaves a Photoshop Action where photography creatives might find it, in order to sabotage the unrealistic beauty standards they may be supporting.

Battles can’t always be fought like a football game, with the offense and defense meeting each other head-on. Sometimes it’s most advantageous to infiltrate the enemy for a sneak attack–which is exactly what Dove is doing in its ongoing war against unrealistically svelte depictions of women in advertising.

The decade-running “Real Beauty” campaign, which won a Grand Prix at Cannes in 2007, continues its assault on Photoshop by fighting fire with fire. Created by Ogilvy Toronto, Dove Canada’s latest endeavor is a sneaky way to hit the perpetrators of such ads right at the source–their computers.

The team at Ogilvy created the Photoshop action “Beautify”, a downloadable file that makes a change with a single click, in this case aimed at photography creatives who might be shaving the curves off of a not-even-curvy model right this very second. The company hopes to spread “Beautify” by leaving it on sites like Reddit which art directors and the like are known to frequent–presenting it as an aid for retouching.
At first blush, it appears that “Beautify” adds a healthy-looking skin glow effect to the photo. What it actually does, however, is revert photoshopped images back to their original state. Although it occurs to me that some innocent Photoshoppers (though, are any of them truly innocent?) might get caught in the crosshairs of this sneak attack, a Photoshop action can be easily undone, and so any casualties will only be mildly inconvenienced–and probably not ashamed of their bodies.

By Joe Berkowitz on Fast Company’s Co.Create

pin up before and after

1950?s Photoshoped Pin-Up Girls: Before And After

Maybe the older of us saw those Pin-Up Girls images in noses of bombers and the walls of soldiers barracks in the 1940?s and 50?s… Youngsters may have seen them at garage sales, family memory boxes or maybe at a museum exhibition. They feature the photographer’s artwork depicting idealized versions of what some thought a particularly beautiful or attractive woman should look like.
Manipulating images from removing clothing, thinning a model’s frame, or giving her bigger hair or more makeup, is a practice that’s been around much longer than Photoshop. These before and afters of classic pin up illustrations from the 40s and 50s shows the original photographs next to the artist’s rendering of the “idealized” woman. Proving that certain things never change…

pin up before and after

pin up before and after
pin up before and after


Many famous actresses in early 20th century film were both drawn and photographed and put on posters to be sold for personal entertainment. Among the celebrities who were considered sex symbols, one of the most popular early pin-up girls was Betty Grable, whose poster was ubiquitous in the lockers of G.I.s during World War II.

Click here for a more before and after images. (via F-Stoppers)

Fotoshop by Adobe

Fotoshop by Adobé

It’s no secret that Photoshopping images of models and celebrities is a regular and controversial part of the way that the advertising industry works. And while some companies, like Dove, are working to debunk the damaging and physically-impossible standards for the human body that the industry perpetuates, filmmaker Jesse Rosten has a different idea.

Why not just turn that Photoshop brand into a spinoff line of cosmetics and prey on women’s insecurities that way?

Fotoshop by Adobe

The video, shot by Jesse Rosten, features three models in before and after shots while a voiceover lists the benefits of Photoshop as if it were a beauty product and slimming aid.

It is accompanied by the tagline ‘This commercial isn’t real, neither are society’s standards of beauty.’

I use PS to retouch my professional beauty images, but I have to admit, too many of the published images I see look ridiculous. Plastic skin, no pores, no nothing. There’s way too much PS out there… don’t you think?