Today, we will are going to talk about a practice which we see around us but no one really cares to talk about it. There are tutorials, round ups and other examples of it however, there is no genuine text or discussion available on the subject and this is what made me write about it. Photo manipulation is something all of us often notice on all design sites which is not bad however, someone should explain it. The questions I have in my mind are the same like everyone else but to streamline this piece of writing, I will try to cover all aspects of the topic with the help of one W (What) question and by the end I hope we will be able to conclude.
In this post, I am going to try to address all the areas surround photo manipulation. However, I will be careful enough in providing only required information. The post mainly will revolve around my discretion and opinion which means you have the freedom to contradict. Let’s just begin with our exploration.
What does Photo Manipulation means?
The word manipulation has negative connotation. The dictionary associates manipulation with words like, exploitation, devious influence etc. I assume that this misrepresentation leads many of us think negative about manipulation however, if we dig further into this then the results from our investigation reveals the word’s association with positive words like treatment, management, handling etc.
In today’s era of digitalization, photo manipulation has become an unavoidable phenomenon and, yet it is a commonly misunderstood and misrepresented topic. Photo manipulation simply means the creative but digital treatment of a photo.
What is difference the between Editing and Manipulation?
The definition above caters the meaning of manipulation in very fancy way however, it does lead to another question of difference between editing and manipulation. If treatment or changing is manipulation, then someone needs to explain editing as well.
In order to remove the ambiguity between both terms, I take the responsibility of clearing the doubt. The basic differentiation between editing and manipulation is that photo editing generally consists of smaller changes. It means that by editing in a photo, an editor does not intend to change the image fundamentally. Editing can be done for correction or enhancement of certain features of the photograph.
Taking the advantage of freedom of expression, I now like to assume that all digital photographers contribute in this sort of photo manipulation to some extent. It may be just playing with color balances or sometimes, the photographer made a mistake composing the shot and the manipulation is just to fix it, to straighten a crooked horizon or to lighten an underexposed photograph. In this case, the photographer treats the image so he did manipulate didn’t he? Now the difference is clear because by increasing the aesthetic qualities of a photo or to remove a distraction from a photo with the no intention to deceive but please falls under the editing.
Manipulation however, does not intend to deceive but the fine line diminishes when collection of multiple photos or the photo has been changed beyond reasonable recognition. This kind of task requires creativity, imagination beyond certain level and artistic skills of operating digital tools.
What are the purposes of Photo Manipulation?
There is more than one reason for graphic designers to perform photo manipulations. However, the common but infamous reasons are political and sensationalism. The examples of this kind of manipulation are numerous and it leads us back to history when Abraham Lincoln’s photo was manipulated and made to look him more trim.
Looking at the bright side, photo manipulation is also an art form in its own way. The examples are literally countless and graphic design blogs are full of such wonderful and creative photo manipulation pictures all around the internet. It includes everything and anything a mind can imagine like fire spirits, literal lion fish, a little boy fishing on a crescent moon, all are examples of high amounts of photo manipulation as fine art.
Don’t forget the big industry advertisement here, much of advertising revolves around photo manipulation. The creative ads definitely need to handle the image in their own style in order to get attention of masses and they have been successful because manipulated photograph in an ad does get significant attraction.
What format is required for Photo Manipulation?
Thanks to our computer geek friends who have made everything possible for creative people. Today, if you intend to manipulate a photo then it is possible in the glorious virtual world. The boundaries for image format does not exist which means any format is suitable for treatment, though some image formats are certainly more popular for purposes of photo manipulation.
The most commonly used format in almost all digital cameras is JPG, making it probably the most used format for the subsequent photo manipulation. However, some photographers prefer to shoot in RAW format because it gives higher quality and more room for image treatment.
The technology of today’s world allows us to apply the image treatment techniques to old film negatives, if appropriately scanned.
What are the tools for Manipulation?
We are almost at the end of our questioning spree. In this part of my post, I would like to give you a word about the available tools for the job. There is a list of them and I will just provide a brief overview for your consumption.
Going back in history and considering older film-based photos had many dark room techniques for their manipulation. Our folks used everything ranging from acids to pins which of course consumed a lot of their time. The interesting thing is that even the availability of sophisticated technology, there are people who swear by this process, relishing in the intimacy with the image that the dark room provides.
Let’s get out from dark room because for manipulation, digital gadgets are all lined up for you. Today’s a small digital camera gives you substantial amount of manipulation that happens even as the shutter whirs, from automatic red eye removal to contrast adjustments to color filters. In order to make the best use of your camera, you need to nose dive into its features booklet to see how many such characteristics are available on your camera and how many are default without you even knowing it.
After you have the image on your camera, you move it to computer where you again have abundance of softwares for desired task. The software varies from professional options such as the famous Photoshop, photo editing programs such as GIMP and Adobe Illustrator etc. The fact is that the possibilities are endless, and the sophistication and ease of image manipulation increases day by day for average user.
What can we conclude?
A photographer is an artist but the art of photography is different from many other arts. It may sound exaggeration but you know it when you start learning about it. It is mainly because the idea originates from imagination but its execution has to be done in real life. When you take a photo, you have to take an image from real life and immortalize it however the problem is that the real life isn’t exactly known for perfection. From this point the manipulation of an image begins and it ends with the final copy of reality depicting your imagination. The photo manipulation is an art today and it will grow further because with more technological advancement the room for limning imagination into reality will grow.