Taking the amount of manipulation to the next level, this exercise ramps up the ethical questions subtly from the previous exercises by changing the hues of the subject amongst other things. This time the manipulation would focus on the face and eyes. As the eyes are very important visually in portraits of people, this would force the attention of the viewer on that area. I took a photograph of my subject in the shade with no direct light. This would avoid me having to deal with tricky high dynamic range in the editing process.
The image below is straight from camera and so can be used as a comparison for the manipulation in the following images.
The first manipulated image involves a similar process to the previous exercise. I masked the face with quick mask and then inverted it to get the face area to work on.
I have intentionally overdone the dodging here to bring attention to the face. All I have done is changed the brightness and also the contrast.
Given the minimal amount of work done on this image, the result is quite pronounced. The face looks natural on its own but, in comparison to the rest of the photograph, it looks quite unnatural. This is due to the viewer’s eye trying reconcile the difference between the quite flat main image and the comparatively high contrasting face. This dodging technique is widespread and quite normal in photography and hails from the earliest days of optical enlargers when photographers would use pieces of paper, cardboard and their hands to ‘dodge’ the light from certain areas of the image during the print process. Now this is done in Photoshop and similar software packages where local areas can be isolated. One would argue that there is nothing wrong with this and although my version is over (or under) done, all I am doing is bringing out the natural features which were already present.
The second part of the manipulation concentrates solely on the eyes.
Here, I have selected the eyes in a very localised manipulation. I have increased the brightness and the saturation which now suddenly appear much more clear and sit quite well with the previously brightened face, albeit pushed slightly too far, again to make it obvious for the viewer. Again this is a technique used very widely. It gives a sense of light and freshness to the face. The slight shadow that was around the whites of the eyes has gone. It also starts to look slightly unnatural to my eye as the saturation levels are a little too high and the eyes have become a little ‘too’ brown. Again, the argument could be made that all I have done is to enhance what was already there. The eyes are naturally brown and all I have done is lighten them a little for impact and to guide the viewer towards them.
This time I have used the same isolation of the eyes but chosen to use the ‘hue’ slider to control the colour of the eyes. Here, I don’t think there could much argument that I have taken the manipulation to far (assuming I am trying to keep some sort of natural curve to the image). The eyes are completely unnatural and the subject looks like she is wearing outlandish contact lenses. However, my manipulation process has only changed marginally, yet the results are very different.
At what point in the manipulation process does it become ‘too much’? As I have said previously, this section of the module is more about the ethics of the image manipulation than the technique. What has been covered so far is technically very basic but is leading me towards having to decide how much is too much.