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When It’s Really Not Real

I am fond of saying that photography is not real. At least in an absolute sense. What you read in the newspapers is not an objective account. What you see in an image isn’t either.

One of the benefits of this digital age is the ability to manipulate an image with precision. Since the first image appeared on a plate, the choices a photographer makes have always influenced things. With film, or should I say, with “analog” processing, post-production manipulation was not very precise. Well, now it is.

In fact, to “photoshop” something is a term well understood. This isn’t always bad. The creative possibilities are endless. It still takes buckets of time, skill, and¬†ridiculous¬†amounts of practice, mind you, but practical limitations are often lifted and photography as an art form – rather than a documentary one – can progress.

Take the following image:

I wanted an image to speak to the power and grace of dancers, but, as with many of my images, do so in an unusual way. Actually, I thought of this image after I first photographed the dancer. The tools we now have allow us to do these things – given a couple of days of hard work.

I intentionally went for the burned-out, vintage feel of the image. I went back and shot the street scene after the image popped into my head, and the composite came together from there.

Hopefully the image speaks well enough, with a humorous overtone to it. Even if it is really not real.

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