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Photoshop Allows Us To Alter Our Memories 358

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the memory-is-what-you-make-of-it dept.
Anti-Globalism writes "In an age of digital manipulation, many people believe that snapshots and family photos need no longer stand as a definitive record of what was, but instead, of what they wish it was. It used to be that photographs provided documentary evidence, and there was something sacrosanct about that, said Chris Johnson, a photography professor at California College of the Arts in the Bay Area. If you wanted to remove an ex from an old snapshot, you had to use a Bic pen or pinking shears. But in the digital age, people treat photos like mash-ups in music, combining various elements to form a more pleasing whole. What were doing, Mr. Johnson said, is fulfilling the wish that all of us have to make reality to our liking. And he is no exception. When he photographed a wedding for his girlfriends family in upstate New York a few years ago, he left a space at the end of a big group shot for one member who was unable to attend. They caught up with him months later, snapped a head shot, and Mr. Johnson used Photoshop to paste him into the wedding photo. Now, he said, everyone knows it is phony, but this faked photograph actually created the assumption people kind of remember him as there."
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Photoshop Allows Us To Alter Our Memories

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  • meh... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Carlos Matesanz (1344447) on Monday August 18, 2008 @11:27AM (#24645785)
    What's the point? PS (or the gimp for that matter) only allows more people to alter photographs, anything you do with software can be done, and has been done many times, in a dark room.
    I've had enough of theese "film-was-way-better" guys already.
    • Re:meh... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by fictionpuss (1136565) on Monday August 18, 2008 @11:34AM (#24645927)

      Sure - but it is precisely the difference between it being a highly skilled task, and it being something anyone with a little experience using a graphics package can do, which is significant.

      In the same light, you could hail email as being over-hyped since you could perform the same function with regular mail.

      Making something a little bit easier can make it a lot more likely to adopted widely, and thus have interesting consequences.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        I didn't mean PS is over-hyped. I love the mere existence of digital photography because that precise reason: it has helped a lot of people approach themselves to photography at levels where you couldn't be twenty years ago not being a pro.
        What i mean is that suddenly many old-time photographers point out to retouching as being the evil which will destroy "the essence of photography" when those techniques had been applied for ages.
        • Re:meh... (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 18, 2008 @12:10PM (#24646547)

          with conventional retouching techniques, if one kne what to look for, one could tell the image was retouched. As one who spent the better portion of 15 years digitally retouching photos, I can honestly say that there was a time when that was true for digital retouching, but no longer. I have seen images that I know were retouched, I sat in the same room as the person doing the retouching, but if I had not known what was being altered, even I, someone who digitally altered photos myself for a living, would never have been able to tell that the image had been altered. That level of alteration is not common, and its a lot harder than you might think, and no, your average Joe with GIMP is not going to pass off an altered photo to a pro, but with digital manipulation, it is possible for one pro to pass of an image to another pro in the field, and that was not possible with conventional retouching techniques.

          • by Digital_Quartz (75366) on Monday August 18, 2008 @03:46PM (#24649627) Homepage

            You might not be able to tell, but a mathematician probably can [slashdot.org].

            Basically the idea is that if you open up a JPG, and then save it, the overall quality of the image deteriorates in a non-linear fashion with repeated saves. So, if you resave the image at 95% quality, and introduce a known error, then compare that against the original, the deterioration in quality should be homogeneous throughout the image. If not, the image is a composition from multiple sources. Check out slides 42 and 43 in the linked PDF file [wired.com].

            You can get around this, but you need to be VERY careful. Ideally you'd want to start out with raw images, and do all your manipulation saves/loads in some lossless format. Any kind of painting or blending in the image would have to be done carefully, as well, as it would be easy to produce a region of superior quality pixels that would show up in this kind of analysis.

            • by pwnies (1034518) * <j@jjcm.org> on Monday August 18, 2008 @04:16PM (#24650055) Homepage Journal
              To be quite honest though, those who are professionals at digital manipulation would never save their work as .jpg before they are finished. From personal experience, if I need to flatten the image and save it, I'll go for a lossless .png format. However if you have any version of photoshop made within the last decade or so, you'll have a handy feature called "snapshots" built right into photoshop - which stores the state of the manipulation you are currently at, and you can revert to at any time. This almost entirely eliminates any need to save the file as a different format save for finishing.

              Also though, to get around the deterioration of the .jpg is quite easy. Simply adding random noise to the image will throw off any algorithm trying to scan it for compression, while being nearly undetectable to the eyes. This is also a pretty common thing to do when doing professional manipulations, as it often will make it more believable if the noise across the photograph is uniform.

              tl;dr - Those are only follies that someone who wasn't a professional would fall prey to. Any digital professional would bypass all of those simply due to how he went about doing his job.
        • Re:meh... (Score:4, Insightful)

          by fictionpuss (1136565) on Monday August 18, 2008 @12:22PM (#24646773)

          Ah - you mean the "What I'm comfortable with, should be the boundary of human progress" thought process?

        • Re:meh... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Applekid (993327) on Monday August 18, 2008 @12:26PM (#24646821)

          What i mean is that suddenly many old-time photographers point out to retouching as being the evil which will destroy "the essence of photography" when those techniques had been applied for ages.

          Retouching IS an evil which destroys the essence of photography. It's about capturing reality, not presenting an ideal.

          Thing is, most people don't care about the essence of photography. They just want to remember events in their lives. I think we're both in agreement that there is nothing wrong with this outlook. It's perfectly OK.

          It's the same with anything that is artistic expression. The average person doesn't really care the type of paints or style, reproduction or original.... they just want a painting that looks nice on their wall. They don't care about vox-boxes and pitch correction and voice-doubling, they just want music to which they can work out or drive to work.

          Let the purists have their purity, and let the pragmatists have their pragmatism. The nice part about technology is that both can coexist peacefully, ignoring a the artistic equivalent of "get off my lawn."

          • by Nerdposeur (910128) on Monday August 18, 2008 @12:36PM (#24646965) Journal

            Let the purists have their purity, and let the pragmatists have their pragmatism. The nice part about technology is that both can coexist peacefully, ignoring a the artistic equivalent of "get off my lawn."

            I agree with you as regards purely artistic photography. Plenty of the techniques there - fish-eye lenses, long or multiple exposures, colored lenses, etc - already distort reality for artistic purposes.

            What I wonder is this: is there a way to take photos as reliable documentary evidence anymore? How can you prove that something has not been altered?

          • Re:meh... (Score:5, Informative)

            by Antibozo (410516) on Monday August 18, 2008 @12:57PM (#24647317) Homepage

            Retouching IS an evil which destroys the essence of photography. It's about capturing reality, not presenting an ideal.

            "Reality" isn't necessarily what is directly recorded by a camera.

            Retouching is only part of the issue. I spent years adjusting color in photographs of fine arts by increments as small as .005 stop, because film doesn't record most colors accurately. One must make decisions about what colors in a painting are important, and balance that with the overall impression in the photograph. Gold may be sacrificed for green, etc. This is necessary to make the image appear as "real" as possible, but much of that is subjective, and a lot of decisions have to be made in consultation with the artist.

            I also spent a lot of time retouching prints to put back edges that disappeared from overexposure, fill in white spots left by grain or dust, etc. Again, this was necessary to restore "reality" to the image.

            There are plenty of other techniques I used in traditional printing that distort the process in order to represent "reality" better—tilting the easel, altering contrast, burning/dodging with cardboard cutouts and colored filters, rubbing the print in the developer solution, et al.

            A photograph is a flat, bandlimited model of something. It only represents a tiny fraction of the information that is there, and which fraction is the purview of the photographer. There is no simple, objective process that makes "real" photographs because reality is subjective. The reality in a photograph always depends on the photographer's intent, and no technique is "evil" if it serves that intent.

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by ewrong (1053160)

              Indeed. Reading your post I was reminded of a conversation I had with a photographer many years ago based around the old saying, "the camera never lies". His responce was that the camera is the biggest darn lier you'll ever meet.

              I guess modern Photoshop techniques which largely reflect age old darkroom techniques, are just adding a little embelishment to the story.

      • Skill and Money (Score:3, Insightful)

        by bugs2squash (1132591)
        I remember my dad and I going to a photography club when I was a kid. We marveled at the color prints that a few other members were creating. The equipment to do so was beyond our financial reach.

        Now you can produce high quality color photos quickly and cheaply, so many more people get to play.

        The lower financial barrier plus the removal of the necessity to make space for all that equipment and chemicals must have at least as much to do with the increase in photo alteration as any skill differences.
    • Re:meh... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Chris Burke (6130) on Monday August 18, 2008 @11:40AM (#24646033) Homepage

      Yeah, myself and an uncle were both added to a family photo taken around fifteen years ago, using those poor ol' analog techniques. I haven't asked any family members if they actually remember me being there, not that I think it matters either way. I highly doubt only digital manipulation is capable of also altering our memories. Our memories have always been a combination of what is remembered and what we're currently experiencing. If there's any difference, it would be that my family would remember not being able to get the family photo until my uncle and I were in town and able to go to the photographer's, then the added development time.

      I think the biggest difference photoshop et. al. make is that they are vastly more accessible than the darkroom. You can do it at home, you don't have to be an expert to do a passable job. Thanks to Photoshop, Moe Szyslak wouldn't have to resort to pasting crude cut-outs of his head onto Homer and Marge's wedding album.

      • Re:meh... (Score:5, Funny)

        by poena.dare (306891) on Monday August 18, 2008 @11:55AM (#24646287)

        "I highly doubt only digital manipulation is capable of also altering our memories."

        As I will be able to recall many years hence, MemoryShop 2.1 CS Xtreme will have been doing this for a long time now... or so my wife, Morgan Fairchild, assures me.

    • The fact is if you look at the altered photograph, you still remember reality. The reality you remember may be dark. Dad not in the photo of your birthday party like he promised, but someone added him? You remember, maybe it's worse for having been photoshopped.

      Pimple on prom night? You remember.

      The only thing that's altered are other people's perceptions of you and yours, and that's a game that is as old as time itself.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by slim (1652)

        I keep diaries of my holidays. I'm certain that without the diaries, there's stuff I'd forget that I wanted to remember. I know this because if I write the diary a day late, I already struggle to remember details and have to ask people ("Where was it we had lunch yesterday?").

        So what would happen if I put a minor untruth in there - a distortion perhaps? Maybe I wouldn't read it until 10 years later, when I'll forget that I lied, combine my lie with my hazy real memories, and end up remembering the lie as tr

        • by SQLGuru (980662)

          Your diary is actually contributing to the problem of having to ask people where you had lunch the day before. You've eliminated the need for your short term memory because it's all written down. So now, when you need to actually use your short term memory, it's performance is severely degraded over what it once was. This might even lead to further problems as you age.

          Whether you started the diary for enjoyment or due to brain injury or whatever, if you have the ability, you should probably start working

          • I've found that I tend to remember events and funny anecdotal experiences from restaurants and road trips if I do write them down. Not that being able to read what I've written years later doesn't help, but it sort of goes back to the high school premise of "if you take notes in class, you won't need them to study from later".
            Just the act of writing it down and reliving it that way sort of burns it into memory.
    • I think the point is not that it hasn't been done but that it's now so much easier. It used take a certain amount of skill and equipment to pull off. In the film days, it was also easier to spot fakes. These days all it takes is some software and a little skill. As the software advances, even less skill is required and how would you know that the photograph hasn't been altered.

      Take for example, the red eye problem. To get rid of red eye almost a decade ago took some work. First, you had to scan in the

    • by Trojan35 (910785)

      I think it's more the implications of alterating the past. Check out The Final Cut with Robin Williams. It touches on this subject a bit. Kinda boring movie, but a great premise.
      http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0364343/ [imdb.com]

    • Re:meh... (Score:5, Funny)

      by Hurricane78 (562437) <deleted@s l a s h dot.org> on Monday August 18, 2008 @02:30PM (#24648745)

      Gimp? Naaah, Gimp does not allow anyone (other than the developers) to alter photographs. Or do anything useful.
      It allows you to explode your head by trying to use it, sure. And if you survive, you still have to force it to let you alter photographs.
      But that's about it. :D

  • Unperson (Score:5, Insightful)

    by lobiusmoop (305328) on Monday August 18, 2008 @11:28AM (#24645801) Homepage

    Didn't George Orwell warn us about trying to change our history? I'll keep my photographs as they are, thanks.

    • Re:Unperson (Score:4, Funny)

      by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn@nOspAM.gmail.com> on Monday August 18, 2008 @11:37AM (#24645985) Journal

      Didn't George Orwell warn us about trying to change our history? I'll keep my photographs as they are, thanks.

      World War III? Well, we know very little about it as records from that era are hazy [pbfcomics.com] and photoshopped.

    • Re:Unperson (Score:4, Interesting)

      by WinPimp2K (301497) on Monday August 18, 2008 @11:46AM (#24646145)

      Sure, you will keep your photgraphs as they are, but what happens when you see other photographs - perhaps even altered video later that might clearly show something that did not really happen. On of the points was that even the people who "were there" adapt their own memories to match the photograpic "evidence".

      Sure you know that Spielberg digitally altered the guns in "E.T." to big honking walkie talkies.
      Sure you know that "Han shot first".
      You might even remember when Oprah had Ann-Margaret's body.

      But those were all pretty high profile examples. Do you really remember if cousin Lynette was at cousin Bill's wedding twelve years ago? There she is in the group shot - and again at the reception. Or to borrow from George O. - make up your own much more sinister example. Perhaps someone who consistently shows up in media footage of fires for example.

    • by Moraelin (679338) on Monday August 18, 2008 @12:07PM (#24646491) Journal

      Look up Damnatio Memoriae sometime. They erased people from public records thousands of years ago, for a range of reasons that included:

      - betrayal

      - so others wouldn't be tempted to do something heinous just to get popularity (e.g., Herostratus)

      - being really hated as an Emperor (e.g., Domitian. Though Caligula and Nero came this close to getting one too.)

      - someone not liking the role you've played or the model you'd be for others (E.g., Hatshpsut was almost erased from history as a Pharaoh by her son, but he left her name and images alone where she was depicted/named as anything else than a Pharaoh. E.g., Akhenaten got his name defaced off most monuments after death.)

      - some reasons ranging all the way to outright silly (E.g., the abovementioned Akhenaten, the pharaoh formerly known as Amenhotep IV, managed to almost erase his father Amenhotep III from history for the sole reason that the name contained the name of the God Amen/Amon/Amun/whatever-you-call-him. And Akhenaten had just gone rabidly monotheistic, even renaming himself the Servant Of Aten.)

      Of course, nobody managed to really erase a Roman Emperor from history, because nobody had the resources for such a herculean task. It didn't stop the Senate from at least trying. And IIRC Hatshepsut was pretty much erased until very recently. It took a while to piece together that she's the missing piece in that chronology.

  • Dangerous precedent (Score:5, Informative)

    by pzs (857406) on Monday August 18, 2008 @11:32AM (#24645877)

    This is from the same school of "reality" as those cosmetics commercials where the model has had 6 hours of makeup and artificial eyelashes in order to look like that.

    The more we force life to look perfect, the more we'll be disappointed by what we actually get. There is a great Charlie Brooker skit on aspirational television and how believing that we should be as beautiful and stylish as the cast of Friends and Sex and the City is actually making everybody miserable.

    I would also say that the bumps of imperfection are an important part of our humanity. Examples:

    - Over produced music sounds rubbish because if we can't hear the strumming it doesn't sound like a human being was playing it.

    - If you cook Chilli from a recipe it may come out "perfect every time" but it will also get pretty dull.

    - A sunny day is a much greater joy in Scotland, where it's a rarity.

    Bah, humbug.

    • by vertinox (846076) on Monday August 18, 2008 @11:45AM (#24646113)

      Well, the religion of Buddhism is based around the idea that reality is simply a delusion on the grandest scale and once you come to understand that you'll be at peace.

      On the same subject, our economy is really based on illusion/delusions at the core of it. Money itself is inteself of non-intrisnic value. Well, to be fair... Even gold isn't really useful at the basic levels by itself. (Warren Buffet once joked why do value something that just gets dug up from a hole only to be buried in another somewhere in a bank.)

      It is simply only valuable because everyone agrees it to be so. If no one agreed that your money or gold was valuable then you just have unusable matter sitting there.

      In the same aspect, all our social interactions and business dealings are based around perception. TV commercials are the best example of why this works the way it does. If you can make people believe in something, to them it is true.

      If you have control of this perception then you can make people do as you please... Which I think 1984 was trying to point out to us. Its not about just rewriting history but the perception of people on reality.

      • by 4D6963 (933028)

        Well, the religion of Buddhism is based around the idea that reality is simply a delusion on the grandest scale and once you come to understand that you'll be at peace.

        Mmmh.. interesting. But I think I'll remain under the delusion that the idea that reality is a delusion is itself a delusion, thank you.

      • by Comboman (895500)

        On the same subject, our economy is really based on illusion/delusions at the core of it. Money itself is inteself of non-intrisnic value. Well, to be fair... Even gold isn't really useful at the basic levels by itself. (Warren Buffet once joked why do value something that just gets dug up from a hole only to be buried in another somewhere in a bank.)

        I agree on the money but not the gold. Due to it's unique properties (malleability, ductility, conductivity, etc) gold has utility value, in other words you c

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by vertinox (846076)

          I agree on the money but not the gold. Due to it's unique properties (malleability, ductility, conductivity, etc) gold has utility value, in other words you can use it for things (it's also shiny and pretty). Additionally, it's relatively rare, which increases it's value.

          Well this might be off topic, but I agree with Warren Buffet personal views. For industrial and manufacturing uses, silver is a better commodity.

          Secondly, gold itself doesn't do anything useful. It doesn't earn you interest and it doesn't e

    • This is from the same school of "reality" as those cosmetics commercials where the model has had 6 hours of makeup and artificial eyelashes in order to look like that.

      The more we force life to look perfect, the more we'll be disappointed by what we actually get. There is a great Charlie Brooker skit on aspirational television and how believing that we should be as beautiful and stylish as the cast of Friends and Sex and the City is actually making everybody miserable.

      I would also say that the bumps of imperfection are an important part of our humanity. Examples:

      - Over produced music sounds rubbish because if we can't hear the strumming it doesn't sound like a human being was playing it.

      - If you cook Chilli from a recipe it may come out "perfect every time" but it will also get pretty dull.

      - A sunny day is a much greater joy in Scotland, where it's a rarity.

      Bah, humbug.

      6 hours of makeup? Sure, but Photoshop is the main tool used to make models look like they do. I just watched a documentary on the subject a few nights ago.

    • by 4D6963 (933028)

      There is a great Charlie Brooker skit on aspirational television and how believing that we should be as beautiful and stylish as the cast of Friends and Sex and the City is actually making everybody miserable.

      The cast of Sex and the City is beautiful?? Are you kidding?!?

    • You have to love cosmetic companies. They have managed to convince a hundreds of millions of women that they are ugly without their products! (I personally hate makeup on women). That is some great marketing over the last few generations!

      • by pzs (857406)

        You have to love cosmetic companies.

        Grudgingly respect? Perhaps. Love? No.

        It's absolutely shameless how they play on people's ignorance of science to make the claims they do in their adverts. In particular, Nivea DNAge [nivea.com] which implies that it repairs your DNA to stop you aging.

        The tinfoil hat in me wonders whether these people are funding disruptive education legislators to make sure the new generation are ignorant, fearful, insecure and therefore ready to become Nivea consumers.

    • by xaxa (988988)

      This is from the same school of "reality" as those cosmetics commercials where the model has had 6 hours of makeup and artificial eyelashes in order to look like that.

      I expect you've seen it, but this is a good illustration of that: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uT4dpFpiTgk [youtube.com]

  • huh??? (Score:5, Funny)

    by nomadic (141991) <nomadicworldNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Monday August 18, 2008 @11:34AM (#24645913) Homepage
    You mean I WASN'T Scarlett Johansson's date to last year's Oscars??? Despite the picture I have of it??
    • by conner_bw (120497)

      Haha, exactly.

      Not so much altering memories, more like story telling which has been around since humans could communicate.

  • Flamewar! (Score:3, Funny)

    by ColdWetDog (752185) * on Monday August 18, 2008 @11:35AM (#24645953) Homepage
    OK, let's try and get organized:

    Photoshop vs. GIMP here --->

    EMACS vs. Vi there ---->
  • http://abcnews.go.com/technology/story?id=98195&page=1 [go.com]

    I love to cite this study whenever a decision is being made on the 'memory' of, say, a result - rather than an actual record.

    There is another study, which I can't promply locate, in which subjects were shown several colors and then a day or two later, when asked to recall which colors they saw, they picked colors brighter and more saturated than those they had been shown.

    This, to me, shows why the 'golden age' phenomenon is so prevalent.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by ConceptJunkie (24823)

      This, to me, shows why the 'golden age' phenomenon is so prevalent.

      I don't care what you say. Music was objectively better in the 70's... even taking disco into account.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        hmm -that is a pretty good argument actually.

        After all, I find grape juice to be genuinely better after a couple years of sitting around, maybe some similar method of action is taking place here ;)

        Then again, there is the Rick Astley counter-argument to take into account, let us not forget.

  • by Dekortage (697532) on Monday August 18, 2008 @11:37AM (#24645983) Homepage

    It's unlikely that you take photographs of every mundane aspect of your life. Some people do it, sure, but those aren't the pictures they want to put into photo albums, flash on their iPods, or hang on their walls. Selective history already plays a role in how we take and keep pictures, so this is just a natural progression of that: keep that photograph, but make it happier.

    The Soviet Communists [famouspictures.org] were experts at this. But in Soviet Russia, photos erase you!

  • Wow! Thanks CmdrTaco. I'd never heard of this "Photoshop" thing before. Who knew that you could alter photographs?!?
  • by kabocox (199019) on Monday August 18, 2008 @11:40AM (#24646037)

    You know all those ancient statues and such and sculptures made or those paintings by artists? Do you honestly think that everyone generally looked as good as the painting/statues? We've always done this. If anything because, I as the king/rich person would lop off some artist/sculpture's head if they didn't make me look good.

    Move forward a few centuries and you've got household publishing with the internet/office apps. I wouldn't lop off the wife's or the kids' heads if they didn't make me look good in the family website or photo album, but we'd all pick the shots and photoshop what we can get away with to look our best. (The wife and kids have been taught what we think is decent taste in picking out photos and better pictures from a set so they should know better than posting poor pics.)

    It's sort of like the concept of dressing up for photos. No one ever actually wears that sort of crap. It's only used to make you look as what the current culture set thinks presentable for art/photos/pictures is and that's it. (It's all rented or thrown away after that single use because you'd never wear it again.)

    • You know all those ancient statues and such and sculptures made or those paintings by artists? Do you honestly think that everyone generally looked as good as the painting/statues? We've always done this. If anything because, I as the king/rich person would lop off some artist/sculpture's head if they didn't make me look good.

      Move forward a few centuries and you've got household publishing with the internet/office apps. I wouldn't lop off the wife's or the kids' heads if they didn't make me look good in the family website or photo album, but we'd all pick the shots and photoshop what we can get away with to look our best. (The wife and kids have been taught what we think is decent taste in picking out photos and better pictures from a set so they should know better than posting poor pics.)

      It's sort of like the concept of dressing up for photos. No one ever actually wears that sort of crap. It's only used to make you look as what the current culture set thinks presentable for art/photos/pictures is and that's it. (It's all rented or thrown away after that single use because you'd never wear it again.)

      Okay...you say that your taught your wife what decent taste is, and you refer to yourself in that sentence as "we." I'm thinking that your reference to kings must be because you are one.

    • Do you honestly think that everyone generally looked as good as the painting/statues?
      Man, I'm scared to think just how ugly Mona Lisa must have actually been in real life!

    • by Moraelin (679338) on Monday August 18, 2008 @12:33PM (#24646925) Journal

      Well, true, but sometimes it wasn't even just a desire to look good. E.g., in ancient Egypt the paintings and sculptures were

      1. invariably religious in nature. A painting or sculpture could actually house the Ka (part of the soul that actually has a shape) of the deceased, in case his mummy gets damaged or he's too poor to get one. (Seriously, a reward you could bestow upon your poorer servants would be to paint them on your tomb walls, or be buried with some little statues of them.)

      They didn't even paint and sculpt the person, they painted and sculpted his/her Ka. So the Pharaoh was always painted or sculpted bigger than life and perfectly proportioned, because his Ka was that of a God.The Pharaoh being the living incarnation of Horus. Lower class people were painted smaller than they were. With nobles and officials being the middle ground. This rule took precedence, for example, over perspective. Even if the Pharaoh was in the back and the peasants in the front, the Pharaoh's image would nevertheless be larger than any of them.

      2. a matter of sacred rules and traditions, some of them even handed down by the Gods themselves on sacred papirus scrolls.

      E.g., everyone would be painted looking to the side, even if otherwise their body is facing the "camera". Always. It doesn't matter if you think you'd look better from the front, your head will be painted from the side anyway. E.g., the tone of the skin was a function of nationality and gender, rather than offering any insight into what they actually looked like. (They were painting the Ka, not the mortal body anyway.) So we have the Egyptian males painted a reddish brown tan, but women are painted with a rather unnatural yellow skin. Other nationalities they knew about were, pretty much, colour coded with their own hues.

      And for a bit of final fun, it's worth noting though that some people seem to have been honest with their appearance, though. Akhenaten for example always appears not with the Pharaoh proportions, but as a guy as big as anyone else, pear-shaped, with man-boobs and some thin legs and arms :P

  • by QuietLagoon (813062) on Monday August 18, 2008 @11:40AM (#24646039)
    this faked photograph actually created the assumption people kind of remember him as there."
    .

    That sentence kind of creates the assumption of making sense.

  • by JustKidding (591117) on Monday August 18, 2008 @11:41AM (#24646051)

    in a way, digital photography has taken things away from us.

    Photo's used to be precious, they carried a real cost (film, development and printing), and because of that, you used to think about what was worth taking a picture of. Today, a cheap memory card will hold hundreds of photo's, and digital cameras are cheaper than decent quality analog camera's have ever been. It's nearly impossible to find a new cellphone without a (crappy) digital camera in it.

    Because a digital photo carries practically no cost, people tend to be less thoughtful about what they take pictures of.

    Already, I've found myself frustrated and drowning in thousands of mediocre pictures.

    These pictures reside everywhere and nowhere; some are uploaded to various websites, others are emailed, yet others exist only on a hard drive and maybe a backup somewhere. The ease and low cost of copying should mean that shouldn't ever get lost, but in reality, they do get lost, hard drives crash, optical disks go bad, or they are just forgotten in a swamp of old files never to be found again.

    There is something about a box full of old, fading photographs that digital photo's just can't offer.

    And that's just assuming the photo's haven't been altered. With analog photo's, you could be reasonably sure they weren't faked, because it was fairly difficult and time consuming to fake an analog picture. With the digital ones, it gets easier all the time. What's the point of having a photo of something that didn't happen? You might as well watch a movie, that's not real either.

    Ofcourse, I understand why a professional photographer would want to change a picture, for artistic reasons, or to remove something ugly from a picture, like a piece of trash in the background of your best wedding photo.

    • by dave420 (699308) on Monday August 18, 2008 @12:06PM (#24646483)
      It's a shame apostrophes don't cost money.
    • by cowscows (103644)

      Yeah, but you gotta take the good with the bad. Digital provides so many advantages over analog film that I wouldn't go back for a million dollars.

      At the end of the day, a good photographer will take the time to compose a good photo, regardless of what technology is in their hands. For an hack like me who mostly takes pictures less for artistic purposes and more for straight up documentation, digital cameras have made my life about a zillion times easier.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Jerf (17166)

      Technology always "takes stuff away", but the entire reason we pursue it is that it gives more stuff back.

      Yes, I am "deprived" from my connection with Mother Earth because I am not a subsistence farmer, but I am happy that I don't have to spend a lot of time hungry or worrying about food, and it's my responsibility to plow the resulting freed time into something useful.

      Yes, I am socially deprived because I am no longer economically forced to live with my extended family, but in turn, I get to form social li

    • by CastrTroy (595695) on Monday August 18, 2008 @12:39PM (#24647023) Homepage
      Personally I find that the ability to take a lot of pictures at absolutely no cost has actually done a lot for photography. People aren't worried anymore that they are wasting film, or developing costs, so they just take a bunch of pictures. I know that I have a lot of the really nice pictures I have, simply because I could take 20 pictures without having to worry about the 19 that didn't turn out well. When I look back at my old family albums, there aren't a lot of pictures, and of the pictures that are there, a good number of them are somewhat bad quality. When I look back at the albums I have for my kids, there's a lot of really great photos.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by pla (258480)
      Photo's used to be precious, they carried a real cost (film, development and printing), and because of that, you used to think about what was worth taking a picture of.

      Although somewhat true, I have literally dozens of boxes of old photos and slides from my grandparents, mostly of the most mundane-looking scenes. Clearly the expense (my grandparents in no way counted as wealthy) and time didn't keep them from clicking away furiously while on vacation.

      I do, however, have to agree with you, in part... T
  • They promised us moonbases and flying cars, and instead we've got Lolbush's "Mars Tomorrow" scheme and $4.00 a gallon gas. People are living online and in VR, already, because that's the only place you can get a reliable jetpack... and some of the coolest stories on the net are about things like steampunk laptops... so who cares about something as mundane as a reverse-dorian-gray fetish?

  • creepy... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by inerlogic (695302) on Monday August 18, 2008 @11:42AM (#24646069) Homepage
    I'm a photographer and i had a bride ask me if i could photoshop her father into one of the shots.... only problem.... he died 3 weeks before the wedding. i did it, and it looks good... but it's creepy as hell.
  • Does it matter? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by digitalhermit (113459) on Monday August 18, 2008 @11:43AM (#24646085) Homepage

    I once believed that history can never be changed. We could make changes in the future, but the past was set in stone. The last person I thought would disagree with this was a history professor. But sure enough, my college history professor explains to the class that history is always changing. Whoever interprets the "records" makes the history.

    Ask most 30- and 40-something guys what their high school or college was like and it's almost certain to be different from the reality. We remember what we want. We interpret how we want. The story of the three blind men and the elephant is an old take on this.

  • Already being done. In fact, there is a commercial (for Dell, I think) where this guy takes a bunch of photos with his girlfriend, then cuts her out of all of the shots, and inserts another girl.
    • Does he insert another girl into the pictures? I thought the idea was that he cropped his old girlfriend out, and then it's showing pictures he really did take with his new girlfriend.

      If he's just cropping his old girlfriend out, then it's the same thing people have been doing for a hundred years with a pair of scissors.

  • ... in 30 years they'll be passing the photo around asking "Who are these people? When was this taken? Why do I have this?"

  • by MosesJones (55544) on Monday August 18, 2008 @11:46AM (#24646139) Homepage

    Last year one of the grandparents wanted to get all of the grand kids and the pets into a single photo. This is 7 kids under the age of 7, 4 cats and 3 dogs (combined weight of the dogs is around 300lbs, big dogs). They didn't want the adults in the photo just the pets and kids.

    Without photoshop that picture wouldn't exist. First of all the cats don't like being held for more than 20 seconds and the kids won't stop falling on the dogs and cuddling them, secondly there is a boy in the mix who appears to be a source of near infinite energy. The video of the photoshoot is hilarious as we try and get them all in one place. In the end after over 300 pictures with around 20 nearly there shots I hit photoshop and created a composite image that looked superb in around 20 minutes.

    That doesn't change my memory of the event (people are weird if they start creating a fantasy world) but it does mean there is now a decent picture on the wall. There is a line here between doctoring to create a potential reality and doctoring to create a fantasy. People in the later camp are looking over the wall at the looney bin.

  • by JustinOpinion (1246824) on Monday August 18, 2008 @11:47AM (#24646147)
    I think it's actually interesting to note that this trend of altering photographs actually has deeper roots.

    Think about portrait paintings that were all the rage for many hundreds of years before cameras were invented. The portraits were not usually exact recreations of what the painter saw. Usually, the subject was altered slightly to make them look 'better' (more conforming to the beauty ideals of the time period). The person was usually given clothes, jewelery, and surroundings that were prettier than reality (possibly more extravagant than they could really afford). These portraits were not really meant to capture reality: they were meant as a statement (usually "look how important I am", but perhaps also "this is what's meaningful/important to us").

    Old photographs were mostly "staged" (especially really old ones where people had to hold still for them), so it's not like they were faithful reflections of reality, either.

    Digitally altered images are similar. People are altering the photos to capture something. Not reality. But rather a statement they want to make, like "look how much fun that day was" or "look how beautiful I am" or "look how much I love you" or whatever.

    I'm not going to pass a value judgment on whether this trend is "good" or "bad". Rather I will note a few things:
    1. As computer power increases, automated "adjustment" of photos is likely to become more common. (Everything from relatively benign red-eye-removal and HDR [wikipedia.org] tweaking, to more drastic things like automatically making people look prettier [slashdot.org].)
    2. It may be that only for a thin slice of history were the majority of photos "real"--in the time period where photography was fast and cheap enough to snap "candid shots" but before photo-manipulation was fast and cheap enough to alter them.
    3. Despite all this modification, I'm sure plenty of "real" photos will remain--journalists, historians, and even normal folk will still be inclined to archive unmodified pictures. Especially with storage costs dropping, keeping the raw image files (before manipulation) will likely continue. In fact I would hope that future image formats would maintain an internal undo history, where the original photo-data remains.
    • by Tim C (15259)

      relatively benign red-eye-removal

      Relatively benign? The red-eye is only there because of the camera flash; I'd say that removing it is making the photograph closer to reality, in that it more accurately reflects the scene as it actually was.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 18, 2008 @11:48AM (#24646177)

    Personal "photographic records" have always told a more perfect story.

    For one, how many of us photograph our dreary work lives? From looking at my photo album, one would think I do nothing but roam the exotic corners of the Earth. (Which is not the case, I assure you).

    Furthermore, I personally toss out the photos in which I'm looking stupid, drooling, spilling my beer on myself or caught ogling cleavage. So the "photographic record" of myself has always been some shiny, respectable version of reality.

    We humans love to represent reality with a positive spin. It's what we do. It's the same reason we wear clothes.

    Move along. Nothing new here.

  • It's a lie ! A lie !
    Those pictures of me and Salma Hayek REALLY HAPPENED !!!!

    *sob*

  • Photoshop allows you to digitally take all your exes out of your photos and never have to see them again, unless you run into them on the street. My luck I would too, and have!
  • I'm sure he'll be fascinated by this discovery.
  • It's a bold move to photoshop yourself into a picture with your girlfriend and her kids on a ski trip with their real father. But then again, Michael is a bold guy. Is bold the right word? --Jim Halpert
  • there is an assumption in the story synopsis that photo manipulation is somehow new

    read this engrossing blog by errol morris at the nyt [nytimes.com], it's an extremely anal retentive take on photo manipulation throughout the ages

    his investigation of manipulation of the placement of cannon balls in a photo from the crimean war- yes, the crimean war, that far back, is thoroughly engrossing if you are mentally predisposed to highly detailed anal retentive visual forensics

    for everyone else, the shocking historically manipul

  • how is this news? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by owlnation (858981) on Monday August 18, 2008 @11:56AM (#24646309)
    People have been doing this since the beginning of photography. In fact people have probably been doing it since the beginning of the concept of the recorded image. I wouldn't be surprised if Uncle Ugg was edited out of cave paintings.

    The technology is different sure, but Photoshop has had the ability to do this for years.

    THIS IS NOT, IN ANY WAY, NEWS.

    Slashdot gets more and more like Digg every day. Please, please stop this trend.
  • I'm starting to wonder. I was one of the last holdouts for buying a digital camera, and what finally pushed me over the edge was needing to take pictures of products I sell on the Web. I picked a mid-range "point and shoot" and have had trouble with the color fidelity from the outset. The only salvation has been to use Photoshop's "white point" or sometimes "gray point" to alter each shot. All this despite careful color and lighting setups both on the computer (a Mac) and in the actual shots.

    This summer, I

  • Two friends who were at the wedding will bicker over the photographs, as to whether JimBob was Photochopped IN or OUT! And the problem is that their memory will not help them.

    On the other hand, JimBob will be able to take the blame for 'that one incident' with the Bridesmaid.
  • Even before Photoshop there was ways of taking pictures that distorted our perceptions of what happened. Even down to the simplest part of Photography when taking a picture you ask everyone to smile... All the people could be in a miserable mood however they don't want to remember that so they all smile for the picture and when they look at in in a few years they will look happy and remember the event as happy. Also for other pictures they just zoom and angle the shot to give the impression they want. I co

  • Not New Science (Score:3, Insightful)

    by penguin_dance (536599) on Monday August 18, 2008 @12:17PM (#24646687)

    Actually this isn't new. Doctors have found that it's fairly easy to manipulate memories with photos [findcounseling.com] and there is the development of drugs [go.com] used to treat PTSD and other victims to erase or lessen traumatic memories.

    What was scary was, a few years back, I saw on TV where they took a classroom of kids, made up a scenario--soon the kids believed that scenario happened to them personally.

    I have a big problem with this science. While I understand wanting to help victims that might become suicidal, I have a problem with manipulating someone's memory just as I would shooting them up with mind-numbing drugs so they don't feel anything. I think working through the incident would make you far more stronger than taking a pill to blank it out.

  • Like those of us on Slashdot haven't figured out that Photoshop might be able to ***gasp*** alter history,. . . Then again, the Chinese and Russian Communists figured out how to alter photographs before Photoshop came along. And now, even the Iranians are getting into the game [nytimes.com],. . .

    When did Ric Romero start submitting Slashdot stores?

  • by rkaa (162066) on Monday August 18, 2008 @12:45PM (#24647103)

    I've worked with old school reproduction work and retouching, as well as photo retouching and digital restoration of antique photos. Analogue manipulations just went digital, that's all there's to it.

    Vanity always ruled. Even in real life we try to improve ourselves in order to please the senses: We wear makeup, fake "body" smells, garnments, footwear.. all to make a visual statement. *That's* the naked truth: We all cheat on reality. There's mankind for you.

    Scan in an old sepia photo of your great-great-great grandmother, and study it in detail. Very often you'll find lines added: Eyelashes, "eyeliner", sometimes contours of nose and nails were enhanced in the darkroom, engraved modifications right onto the plate. Partly done to improve a poor shot, partly to enhance the subject. Coloring was also done, long before the first experiments with photographic color techniques were launched.

    If "photoshopping" is somehow morally questionable, is black-and-white photography also questionable? It certainly doesn't reflect reality. But who ever said reflecting reality is the perogative of photography? All means of portrayal is artificial. Enter: Art.

    Even a photo right out of the camera was and is tainted. Parameters are set for sharpness, contrast, hue and colors - be it by choise of analogue film and development etc. - or by digital options - basically mimicking the features of analogue cameras and traditional darkroom processes.

    http://www.cs.dartmouth.edu/farid/research/digitaltampering/

  • Tutorials (Score:3, Informative)

    by PPH (736903) on Monday August 18, 2008 @01:46PM (#24648081)

    There is a series of tutorials dealing with this very topic. Start with:

    You Suck at PhotoShop [youtube.com].

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