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The best photoshopping deals are always found after the holidays
December 28, 2011 6:09 PM   Subscribe

The New York Times once again shows how not to doctor photographs (previously)
posted by Blazecock Pileon (39 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
Amateurs. A pro would have used the Liquefy tool to make the errant men look younger, thinner, and more sexually attractive.
posted by localroger at 6:19 PM on December 28, 2011 [4 favorites]


I have it on good word that those six men were Trotsky, Kamenev, Zinoviev, Rykov, Bukharin, and Pyatakov.
posted by Jehan at 6:21 PM on December 28, 2011 [16 favorites]


Eh...Stalinists gonna Stalin.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 6:27 PM on December 28, 2011


Instant replay is forbidden in North Korea.
posted by phaedon at 6:37 PM on December 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Those BASTARDS!!
posted by briank at 6:40 PM on December 28, 2011


Seems like kind of a non story.
posted by empath at 6:42 PM on December 28, 2011 [9 favorites]


guyse Im no expert but I think this may be shooped
posted by trunk muffins at 6:48 PM on December 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


So mostly the NK version looks brighter and less dreary, and some guys were shopped out - just a few out of hundreds. I don't understand why, and I don't really know why it matters. There is not enough context in this post.
posted by RustyBrooks at 6:49 PM on December 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


I don't really know why it matters.

Because ideally news photographs would document reality, and not a sanitized, ideal version of reality. (Even if the sanitization is to make the crowd look more uniform and eliminate stragglers, it wasn't actually that way.)
posted by hippybear at 6:52 PM on December 28, 2011 [5 favorites]


The interesting thing--those men, that camera--are gone. You won't even be able to remember this story, before long. Photoshop gods? Photoshop of the gods.
posted by maxwelton at 6:54 PM on December 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Good god, levels AND clone stamp, these maniacs will stop at nothing
posted by nathancaswell at 6:54 PM on December 28, 2011 [8 favorites]


North Korea , your Photoshop skillz are an international laughing stock.
posted by Liquidwolf at 7:02 PM on December 28, 2011


I hear the North Korean government might not specifically be entirely trustworthy.
posted by box at 7:06 PM on December 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Because ideally news photographs would document reality,

Yeah, but that still leaves it at the level of someone noticing that some photo doesn't meet the standard, notifies reuters etc, and news agencies stop using it. It's not something to splash around as The Best Of The Web, omg a photo was shopped! And appropriate steps were taken! All the more shocking because the perpetrator was that bastion of journalistic integrity and critically honest self-examination, North Korea.

Head to Photoshop disasters for the motherlode.
posted by -harlequin- at 7:07 PM on December 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hey, if we can limit NK to photoshop disasters instead of real world disasters, that's just fine by me.
posted by blaneyphoto at 7:09 PM on December 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


For about 2 seconds after clicking the link I thought the NYT was going to turn out to be the one photoshopping photos of North Korean rallies. Then I saw the URL. I am disappointed and bored by this story. I am also hungry. Boo.
posted by howfar at 7:25 PM on December 28, 2011


Because ideally news photographs would document reality, and not a sanitized, ideal version of reality. (Even if the sanitization is to make the crowd look more uniform and eliminate stragglers, it wasn't actually that way.)

It's not that I don't understand your point, but I'm a photographer so this sounds kind of funny to me. The gift of a good photographer is a combination of knowing where to be, where to look, being in the right place and the right time, to an extent, but it's also editing - and a huuuuge degree of editing happens in-camera. You decide when to take the picture, how to frame it, what to include and exclude, what to emphasize or de-emphasize. The idea that un-photoshopped photos somehow document reality is a bit naive.

This doesn't mean we need to slide further down the slippery slope, but it does mean that it's probably not as dramatic of a problem as I think some people imagine.

I've encountered the idea both in photo and sound recording that somehow a camera or microphone is a substitute for seeing yourself, that the camera takes a picture, and then the photo gets made, and what you see is like being present, but I can guarantee this isn't the case - the camera doesn't see the same way the eye does to start, and the photographer can push things very wildly in one direction or another. Same goes for audio, sticking a mic in front of a musician, recording it and playing back the results is very very rarely anything like being there. Reality is not captured.
posted by RustyBrooks at 7:32 PM on December 28, 2011 [8 favorites]


Because ideally news photographs would document reality, and not a sanitized, ideal version of reality.

Quite, and this really speaks to the soul of Totalitarianism: the administration of reality itself from a central government office. The approach seen above is a technological mode of an old trick, which is the external subjection of constructed and prescribed information. With the advent of onboard nanotechnology and bio-electronics, perception will begin to filter through computerized augmentation, inverting the paradigm. This is a new mode of real-time control, tapping individual dispositions and behaviors at the source; senses, emotions, pain, pleasure--all will be strung to the joystick of a government minion who resides deep in the basement of a black monolith.

I make my tinfoil hat look good.
posted by troll at 7:39 PM on December 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Here's the obligatory link to MeFi's own (tm) The Last Psychiatrist: Which Is Worse: An Altered Photo of Reality, Or A Photo That Alters Reality?.
posted by gd779 at 7:45 PM on December 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


This Last Psychiatrist site is amazing and good but also makes me feel bad about myself. Am I doing it right?
posted by RustyBrooks at 8:00 PM on December 28, 2011


The gift of a good photographer is a combination of knowing where to be, where to look, being in the right place and the right time, to an extent, but it's also editing - and a huuuuge degree of editing happens in-camera.

Right. I don't disagree with anything you've said in your comment. Simply the fact that a photographer has his back to something while he's taking the picture means you're only seeing one tiny bit of what is actually going on.

And the gift and magic of good photographic journalism (which is what we're talking about here) is that the photographer manages to find the important (to him, or whatever) parts of what is going on and captures that, often to the exclusion of anything else.

The point where the line is crossed, to me, is when journalistic photographs are then altered in order to create a "better" picture of the reality which was captured rather than actually allowing the image to speak for itself, regardless of what was there. Like the Civil War photographers who would pull many corpses on the battlefield together before taking the shot, photoshopping a journalism image is a staging, an altering, a creation of a falsehood which perhaps may have more truthiness about the situation but contains less truth.

In this specific case, people who weren't part of the columns of mourners were removed in order to improve the composition which says that everyone present was part of the onlookers. Even worse for that false narrative, at least two of those in the picture are facing AWAY from the passing motorcade, truly a trespass against the desired "history" that everyone who saw the passing procession was immersed in their grief at the loss of their Dear Leader.

For the sake of creating a false history, those people obviously had to be removed from the photograph. But for the sake of real photographic journalism, they should have remained because they tell another story, one of a camera crew which was there to capture the grief of the nation, and of another man who was walking along the length of the procession. But those stories detract from the official line, and therefore must go.

A skilled photographic journalist who wanted to tell that other story, the one which the DPRK wants remembered as history, would have found a way to take pictures which didn't require such fakery. As you say above, a lot of editing happens in camera. That probably could have happened here, but didn't. At that point, the photograph needs to remain with the reality it captured, and not creating a lie through manipulation. Let the lie happen in camera, as it so often does, and you have the hallmark of real genius.
posted by hippybear at 8:43 PM on December 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


The truly amazing thing about the The Last Psychiatrist site is the ad for the photo-editing software in the middle of the post about manipulation of photographs and memory.

And that it automatically downloads a file called meld.js to my computer. That's cute too.
posted by maryr at 9:01 PM on December 28, 2011


Thus far there are no snowclone jokes? But they totally cloned the snow, like with snow innit?
posted by Cold Lurkey at 9:25 PM on December 28, 2011


I zoomed in on the crowd and spotted Zelig.
posted by davebush at 9:47 PM on December 28, 2011


I'd be more concerned about this sort of thing if, in my heart, I didn't believe that every man-hour the North Korean government devotes to photoshopping footprints out of the snow was a man-hour not devoted to oppressing the hell out of the people there in a more immediate and personal way.

In my head I realize they can multi-task.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 10:12 PM on December 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


If its all about photoshop, I think The North Koreans could provide a more cutting critique of our society, based on any magazine ad.
posted by iotic at 11:29 PM on December 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


I saw the pixels! I saw them. And the fnord.
posted by Splunge at 1:37 AM on December 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


And you know they pirated their copy of Photoshop.
posted by elwoodwiles at 1:49 AM on December 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


I wonder if NK torrented their version of photoshop, 'cause Adobe certainly would be allowed to sell it to them.
posted by the noob at 4:17 AM on December 29, 2011


I expect NK uses Beloved Gimp.
posted by halfbuckaroo at 4:57 AM on December 29, 2011


So mostly the NK version looks brighter and less dreary, and some guys were shopped out - just a few out of hundreds. I don't understand why, and I don't really know why it matters. There is not enough context in this post.

They presumably did it because they want the world to believe that every last person was focused on the procession. The guys they removed appear to have been fiddling about otherwise, not standing respectfully at attention, face forward, as the procession went by. North Korea is not the kind of place that allows for or admits to any hint of dissent.

So it's interesting from that point of view. It's also just interesting to see a news agency try to get away with clumsy digital trickery.
posted by pracowity at 5:48 AM on December 29, 2011


hippybear writes:
The point where the line is crossed, to me, is when journalistic photographs are then altered in order to create a "better" picture of the reality which was captured rather than actually allowing the image to speak for itself

Thing is, that "line" is not always (or perhaps ever) a bright, sharp, well-defined thing; in fact I would argue that the line is generally a fuzzy, diffuse thing whose crossing often begins well before the shutter even opens. Even if you exclude adding light in the form of flash, reflectors or whatever, then in-camera cropping, framing, point of view, perspective, depth of field, exposure and even the moment of shutter release itself can all alter the narrative of an image so dramatically that you realize that the "line" is simultaneously everywhere and nowhere.

That said, I think that when pixels are moved (whether it's within or between images), that's a pretty unmistakably crossed line, but at that point you're so far from an objective record of reality that, as a standard of journalistic integrity, "not moving pixels" is pretty weak sauce.

I'm not sure what else we can do though.
posted by kcds at 6:02 AM on December 29, 2011


I'm not that interested in the photojournalism side of things myself - I prefer the fields of photography where manipulating the image is part of the point. But I remember a long discussion years ago, I think it must have been in or about glossy magazines like National Geographic, where there's a point of view being presented, and a beautiful picture is part of that point of view. Can you allow a little bit of manipulation to make the picture prettier, if it doesn't change what's really happening? I can't find it now but I seem to recall the subject was a picture of a guy walking or riding a bike, and they retouched out a guy walking behind him, because it was sort of distracting. I don't really feel that was necessarily over the line.

I remember when I first got access to a film printer - something that would take a digital image, and print it onto film, which you could then develop and make prints with. I told my friend about this, as I showed him some "photographs" and negatives that were made from a Lightwave scene I'd rendered. He looked shocked and said he could never trust a photograph again. I'd had a camera and studio long enough at that point to already know you couldn't trust photographs.

You know how McDonald's food looks so great in photos and shitty in person? Everyone knows that there's a huge degree of food styling and preparation and blah blah to make that happen. I think what not everyone knows is, that perfect burger was physically made in the studio and then a picture was taken of it, and the physical burger did not even look as good as the photo. I know - I was there (not McDonalds, but other food photo shoots). There was no photoshop involved. I don't know exactly how this happens, and it's hard to explain to people. Obviously I can't take a video or photographs to prove it very easily, but I have given personal demos to people, to show how easy it is with nothing but a camera to take a picture of something right in front of them and make it looks very different.

The guys who were removed actually look like maybe some kind of film crew. There's sort of a camera or something on a stand, they're a bit removed from the "audience". It seems possible that this was just a visual tidying.

I'm not really saying I'm FOR altering reality like this, just that... I see this as like a 1% altering of reality or less, not like 10%.
posted by RustyBrooks at 6:11 AM on December 29, 2011


halfbuckaroo: "I expect NK uses Beloved Gimp."

Quite possible! Red Star OS, the DPRK's homegrown Linux distro, definitely features renamed open source apps - their modified version of Firefox is called 'Naenara' (which means 'My Country', also the name of the North Korean web portal, which is the only thing the browser will connect to!).

You can grab a copy here (registration with possibly dodgy Russian forum required) to see if they've included the Gimp and given it a cool Juche-style honorific.
posted by jack_mo at 9:14 AM on December 29, 2011


...wonders why nobody mentions the brightening of Dear Leader's photo on the car...
posted by djrock3k at 9:16 AM on December 29, 2011


...wonders why nobody mentions the brightening of Dear Leader's photo on the car...

Probably because the whole NK photo was brightened, which was already mentioned? It doesn't look like the photo was more brightened than the rest. And fwiw I think that kind of thing is totally kosher, and you can take my (physical) dodge and burn tools out of my cold dead hands.
posted by RustyBrooks at 4:51 PM on December 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Why Is There a Giant At Kim Jong-Il’s Funeral?
posted by homunculus at 5:19 PM on December 29, 2011


2 kids in an overcoat, duh
posted by RustyBrooks at 5:51 PM on December 29, 2011


Report: six months in labor camp for N. Koreans who didn't cry at despot's funeral
posted by troll at 9:39 PM on January 16, 2012


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