November 28, 2010
We’ve all seen them — images so Photoshopped that if we thought about how we’re being manipulated, we’d be annoyed — but we don’t think much about the contrivance of our reality and a lot of the time, we don’t even notice.
Looking at a magazine cover, women know that celebrities aren’t that thin, with skin that flawless, waists that small, smiles that white. We accept the fact that their faults will be airbrushed away and we don’t care.
A recent Rolling Stone cover of Katy Perry was so soft, her contours so luscious, it was obvious that a graphic designer had tweaked — heck, more than tweaked — the original photo. I mentally noted the manipulation, but it didn’t matter to me.
Kate Winslet is a beautiful, accomplished actress, and glamorous at every red carpet event. So why make her look as lean and leggy as Gisele Bündchen? I know, it does no harm (other than giving young women self-esteem issues), or does it?
There’s a commercial airing now that shows a mom changing a family photo on her computer so that the final product will be one she’ll be proud of. To me, that’s ok. What a person does with her own husband and kids mug shot doesn’t bother me one bit. What does get me riled is when retouched photos of facts that matter are passed off as truth. Remember, after 9/11 when this photo of a tourist in New York circulated on-line?
As one web site that tracks fakes said: “Although rational assessment of the picture quickly reveals its flaws (how could the tourist not hear the plane? how did the camera survive?), the horror of the scenario and the rawness of America’s wounds gave the image a huge emotional impact.”
This photo of George W Bush holding a picture book upside-down during a visit to a school tickled some of his opponents and reinforced his buffoonish image. But press photos from the 2002 event revealed that Mr. Bush had been holding the book correctly; hoaxers had simply rotated the cover. I wasn’t crazy about Bush, but folks, like me, thought this image was real.
Or how about this Sarah Palin pic? Don’t misunderstand, I cannot stand Palin, but this shot of her bikinied-clad self stuffed e-mail in boxes for weeks, even after it was debunked. It made her seem more crazy than she is.
So with all this fakery bombarding us daily, I am thrilled to say that the photo below is real. No Photoshop, no fooling around. It was recently captured by National Geographic photographer Robert B. Haas while taking hundreds of pictures by helicopter in Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula, along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico.
After about an hour, as he was going to leave, the flamingoes spontaneously formed an incredible shape of a flamingo. Haas got off one shot before the birds began to scatter. He calls the image the “Holy Grail” of wildlife photography.