Friday, December 3, 2010


I recently was asked to work an event as a photographer.  The event was an evening party between HP (my employer) and the German software company SAP.  I have discussed this in the "People and Place" blog:

However there was one activity as a result of the party that is very relevant to Digital Photographic Practice and that stemmed from the following photograph:

A fairly innocuous image (totally uncorrected) of the team that looks after the HP SAP relationship in Germany.  The reason they asked me to take it was that they needed a team photo for an upcoming newsletter and they wanted all 7 team members in a photo. 7?  Well this began the challenge, they forgot one of the team and by the time they realized that, he had left the party and headed to his hotel.  A quick look through the photos I had taken so far threw up the following image, he is the guy on the left.

So the request, well you must be good at photoshop????  Hmm, I have never attempted such a thing, never been really interested in manipulating photographs to the extent of adding or removing people.  Well time to learn.  Luckily the two photographs were fairly similar in tonal properties and the background was unfussy in both.

  1.  I started by removing the missing guy from the second photograph by cutting away everything in the photo but him, setting the background to transparent.  
  2. I then did the same to the left side of the group photo, from the strong black line to the left.
  3. I extended the canvas of the group photo.
  4. To this I added a rectangular panel which I had shaded to the same tone as the wall on the right of the image, using a gradient fill.
  5. All that was then required was to drop the missing guy into the group image.  I adjusted his size and height in the image, based upon what I could recall of his stature.
He looks as if he is not terribly interested in the group photo and I do not think it is a very convincing image, but better than nothing and an interesting exercise. 

What I find scary about this, is that with very little knowledge of Photoshop I have been able to include a person in a photograph they were not present for and produce an image that fooled a couple of people that I showed it to.  What can an expert do? And what does this mean for the veracity of photography - well the answer to that is clear, digital photography has no veracity.

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