Scrapbookers around the world have embraced digital in some form or another. Most scrapbookers have been wooed over to digital cameras, if for no other reason than the scope to take hundreds of pictures at a time without running out of film. For traditional photographers there’s the option of scanning their photographs into their computer. And from there, the sky’s the limit!
Graphics editing software has opened up a universe of possibilities for how we present our photographs. I am a really poor photographer and rely heavily on improving and enhancing my photos in my graphic editing software (Photoshop Elements is my weapon of choice). I can adjust the lighting, improve the contrast and sharpen up a slightly out of focus picture. And I can also change the whole look of the photo.
Turning a coloured photo into a black and white one is a matter of seconds. Or maybe tinting it in a monochrome of green, or blue, or sepia. If the subject in the photo is facing the ‘wrong’ way for my scrapbook layout, I can easily flip the photo to change its directional focus. If I want to keep a photo in colour, but the shirt that someone is wearing clashes with the overall colour scheme of my scrapbook layouts, I can easily change the colour of the shirt.
And the other thing I can do is enhance the way someone looks in a photo.
Now this one’s an interesting topic I think. If you scrapbook to record it ‘like it was’ should you enhance the appearance of people in the photos? Should you be erasing those wrinkles and improving their smile? Is it right to erase that ugly zit on your nose that sprang up over night, just before your photo shoot? Are you creating a false picture for future generations?
Well before I throw it open to you guys to share your views on this topic, I’ll let you know what I think.
Human beings have never recorded it ‘like it was’ throughout history. Sorry, but it’s true. If you go to a portrait gallery and view the pictures there, are they an accurate representation of the visual image of the person? In the main I would say no. In the past, portrait painters were paid by their patron or client to paint their picture. If the client didn’t like it they wouldn’t pay for it (artists were very low on the social hierarchy). Well if you were an artist needing to keep a roof over your head and food on the table what would you do? You’d apply a level of ‘generosity’ to your painting. You’d be ‘gentle’ with some of the uglier characteristics, wouldn’t you? Have you ever wondered why none of those old portraits have scars, wrinkles or zits?
In fact King Henry VIII of England married Anne of Cleves on the strength of a portrait which he sent the court artist, Holbein, over to paint before he’d agree to the marriage. He got a nasty shock when he discovered that the beautiful woman in the painting and the lady who stepped off the ship weren’t quite the same. I must admit, I do feel comforted at the thought that his gout, ulcers and other ill health gave him other things to be grumpy about.
But whilst that is an extreme example of artistic licence, is it such a bad thing to ‘be a little gentle’ on ourselves when we enhance our photos? I’m of the opinion that, although doing an ‘Anne of Cleves’ is not the way to go (unless you’re deliberately making a joke photo), it’s OK to do some light cosmetic surgery on your photos.
I usually apply a touch of healing brush or a light strength clone stamp to soften some of those wrinkles. Not to remove them entirely, because then you look like a doll, but just to take the harshness out of them. And I see no reason in the world why I would leave a zit on my face when I can easily remove it with the clone stamp. A careful application of the dodge tool to whiten the teeth and the eyes and my cosmetic surgery is complete. It still looks like me, but it’s a slightly enhanced me. A bit like the difference between how you look with your ‘glamour’ face on and your every day face.
So what about you? Do you ‘enhance’ the way you look in your photos through some digital ‘cosmetic surgery’, or do you ‘tell it like it is’? And if you do touch up your photos, what techniques do you use?
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