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How Much Is Too Much?

| November 29, 2011

 How Much Is Too Much?

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m addicted to retouching photos (see below). Not enough to actually alter the image, but always looking to improve on the original. My camera is a basic point and shoot digital camera and the photos it produces can definitely benefit from adjustments- levels, color balance, contrast, and the occasional spot removal. And hey, if someone had a pimple when the picture was taken (never me!) why should they be remembered that way forever?

It’s very easy to lose track and go overboard when retouching, but over the years I’ve perfected my method- a few basic steps to make the image look naturally better.

Photo retouching is apparently a controversial issue. Magazines are known for using drastically altered images to sell more copies, and sometimes when they go too far the backlash is harsh.

Personally, I prefer retouched photos. Obviously not the ones that skew a person’s features so much as to make it unbelievable, but I appreciate retouching as an art form. Think of a magazine cover as an illustration. The photos are used to convey a story or make a point. Unless it is deliberately misleading, there is no harm in presenting something in the best possible light, whether it be a person or scenery. We know what things look like in real life, the point of a photo is to glamorize reality. (Yes, I know there are exceptions. But I’m not getting into that now.)

The New York Times recently published an article addressing this issue. Professor Hany Farid and Eric Kee, a Ph.D. student at Dartmouth are working on a software that will rate how much a photo has been altered. They pulled before and after images from websites of professional photo-retouchers, and recruited hundreds of people to compare the pictures and rate the changes on a scale of 1-5.

His tool, Dr. Farid said, would ideally be a vehicle for self-regulation. Information and disclosure, he said, should create incentives that reduce retouching. “Models, for example, might well say, ‘I don’t want to be a 5. I want to be a 1,’ ” he said.

Marketing executive Seth Matlins and his wife Eva have proposed the Self-Esteem Act, which would put required labels on any photo that has been “meaningfully changed”.

“We’re just after truth in advertising and transparency,” Mr. Matlins said. “We’re not trying to demonize Photoshop or prevent creative people from using it.”

Read the full article: Photoshopped or Not? A Tool to Tell

Before and after of mini cheesecakes I baked last week.

cheesecake BandA How Much Is Too Much?

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

YTR November 29, 2011 at 4:40 pm

I never knew you were addicted to photoshop, thanks for sharing!! You’re awesome at it. I still think the table thing is cool. You know what would be really cool if you can start making my lips pink with no brown spots… keep up the good work!!

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