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This could be the shortest blog post ever because the short and simple answer to that question is “yes”.
Case closed - move along, there is nothing else to see here.
It is a little more complex though. I do hear this question from time to time not only for me but for other photographer too and it usually comes with the idea of something isn't quite right here. There is a strong connotation of cheating in the subtext of this question, the idea is that “ this isn't what it is really like”.
But isn't that the point of creating art to look beyond what you “see”? And why is it that photographers have to answer this and have their integrity questioned on a regular basis?
A good portion is a misunderstanding of what photography is and the assumption that there is only one type. But a camera can be used for many styles, news, nature documentaries, art and many more. Each type requires a different understanding of what type of editing is acceptable and what not. Changing people or items in a news photo is a very bad idea, fashion photography has gone too far too often and the resulting discussions together with ever improving technological capabilities give the concept of editing a notion of falsity. And while it is true that documentary work must not be altered the same is not true for art.
I have to admit though that other artists get similar questions too – a while ago I heard a story of a painter who was commissioned to create a painting that would be used as a gift for an official state visit. The artist is famous for her work with the color blue, so she painted a blue horse. And of course there were people saying that “there are no blue horses” and what was she thinking in creating such an unrealistic piece.
I suppose it is not just photographers then.
So, the image below, is it photoshopped? Of course, amongst other things I darkened the background (and a bit more) and brought back a hint of light to the tips of the fern. None of that I could have achieved without the help of some complicated software. But isn't it much more now than just some green leaves? I'd say yes.
I showed a print of this to a friend a few days ago, she accidentally looked at it upside down and wondered about the mystery and subtle elegance of my underwater photography. Actually this is very much above water and for a while I wasn't sure what to think but then it dawned on me, if my picture can be more than the original subject it is an artistic success.
If you want to check, now is the time to turn your screen upside down and see for yourself.
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