Digital Manipulation

Written and Photography by Kelsey Neier.

Regular New Orleans PicDigitally Altered New Orleans Pic

I believe the topic of digital manipulation is very controversial. It is something that happens everyday, and we may or may not recognize it. One could go as far as to say that every single photo we see has been manipulated, starting with the lens of a camera or smartphone. It is very rare to see a raw photo. I think that photo manipulation can be a great thing if it is used for the right reasons. For example, I am very passionate about photography. I have heard some of my friends say that they never edit their photos because they want them to look pure and raw in their original form. I used to never edit my photos until I grew older and started to learn about the technical side of photography. I started to really look at nature and portrait photographs and realize that when compared to raw photos, edited pictures almost always look better. An example of this would be manually adjusting a timer on your camera to make water or lights slow down and create a unique image. By manipulating a camera or adjusting a photo’s brightness, contrast or white balance you can make a photo look dramatic and professional.

However, on the other hand we see many models and celebrities in magazines who have clearly been manipulated to look stick thin. This becomes a problem for the viewer, especially young girls looking up to celebrities like Kelly Clarkson. When they see these false representations they may start to think that they have to change their appearance. It’s interesting to see how magazines are digitally manipulating women to have bigger breasts, lips and butts because having a curvy body is very popular now. I seems like girls are trying to do everything they can to have these features in which they may end up harming themselves through surgery or injections. I agree with this quote from “Picture Imperfect-Digital Image Manipulation Ethics”: “When you look at a magazine, 98% of what you see in the fashion industry is unreal,” Apelbaum says. “We have taken the human beauty to an extreme that beauty itself cannot compete with.”

In conclusion I would have to say that digital manipulation can be a beautiful thing when it is used in the right context. I love looking at landscape and naturescape photography that has been altered. I love looking at the sharpness of rocks, slow flowing water and an illuminating sunset. I enjoy taking my own photos and creating something unique and powerful. However, one thing that I will not do is add weight or take away weight to one of my subjects. I like to see people just as they are, with all of their fat rolls, muffin tops, boney arms and messy hair. God created us all in His image and I think we’re perfect the way we are. I think massive manipulation is wrong, but if I wanted to brighten their eyes or change the lighting around them I think small tweaks like that are fine. If I was changing the structure of my model’s limbs, then I personally could not justify that. In the article “What Are The Ethics of Digital Manipulation in Photography?” I agree with this quote: “Only when a photographer presents his or her work with the intent to deceive should we call into question their professional/artistic integrity — their ethics.” I believe that digital manipulation can help to enhance our emotions through photography and have a stronger effect and feeling rather than raw images. Manipulation can be a very useful tool if used for good instead of bad.

Here are some of my pictures that have been altered. See which one your eye is more drawn to:
Regular CatDigitally Altered Cat

I love funny digital manipulation! Check out this video:

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