“Is this the real life?
Is this just fantasy?”
(“Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen)
This is my photograph of the Episcopal Church in Island Pond, Vermont, after removing electrical wires and poles and adding a watercolor filter in Photoshop. Click on the photo to see it in a larger size.
On a recent trip to Vermont, my fantasy was to find a quintessential New England church that was surrounded by trees glowing with brilliant Autumn colors. I found the tree in the Northern Kingdom of Vermont, but it was also surrounded by more than a dozen strings of electrical wires and one large utility pole.
As a long-time journalist, I hesitate to change reality in a photograph, even though the camera does lie somewhat with lens distortion, not capturing true color and other defects, but as an artist I didn’t hesitate one second to remove all of the electrical debris. Easier said than done, though. When you remove an element from a photograph, the deleted spots must be replaced by pixels that look natural. I used the clone brush to make the changes. I didn’t do it all at once, but in about half-hour increments over a series of weeks, because the work was incredibly tedious. I also straightened the photo a little to fix lens distortion.
After many hours, I’m happy with the result. Hope my fantasy looks real! And thanks to my husband Mike and friend Phil who were very patient while I wandered around Island Pond with my camera. There was a gorgeous shot everywhere I looked! I posted these photographs on a couple of websites.
Be sure to click on my post “Fauxtography” Altering reality in a photograph, linked below.
This is my original photograph of the Episcopal Church in Island Pond, Vermont, before I did any editing. Note all of the wires and the guardrail of the street in front of the church. I removed all of that with Photoshop.
“Fauxtography” Altering reality in a photograph.
My friend unveiled her family portrait at a neighborhood party. In the photograph, she, her husband and their five beautiful children — teenagers and young adults — were bathed in a glow of filtered sunlight as they casually stood in a courtyard. They looked so happy to be there together.
There were oohs and ahs all around, but this is what we were thinking. What did she have to promise — or threaten — to get everyone together at the same time — and smiling, too! Before any of us was bold enough or rude enough to ask her, my friend confessed. The daughter on the left had thrown a snit about the photo appointment and had shown up too late. She was later photo-shopped seamlessly into the photo.
No kidding? So this family had warts, too. Then we marveled at the photograph. The tardy daughter blended in so well with the rest of the family. The same lighting, the same shadows, the same stance, the same size — everything in the same proportion. I’ll never trust a family portrait again, although I should have been wise to this long ago. A recent New York Times article discusses this phenomenon in this article. Here’s the link: I Was There. Just Ask Photoshop.
This is a flat wall! There is no gallery here. This is an example of "trompe-l'oeil," which means trick the eye.
Humans have been doctoring reality since the days when Cro Magnon man drew out-sized bison on the cave wall to brag about his hunting prowess. Artists throughout history have been fooling the eye in “trompe-l’oeil,” making you think something is real when it isn’t. One of the first movies was of men rocketing to the moon, not that anyone was fooled.
Equally difficult is photographing things as they are. The camera lens distorts. Neither film nor digital can capture reality the way the eye can. The eye is more sensitive to color and can see more hues than the camera can capture. I’ll write more about this later. In the meantime, don’t be fooled