Digital Media: Play: Process

Photo manipulation – Post Process – Playing with images – Playing with Truth – Play

Taking the ideas of Fred Ritchin about truth and the work of Paul M Smith and Joan Fontcuberta, I’ve created a set of images that challenge the truth and complexities of photography in the digital age.

My idea was to tamper with famous photographs in photoshop; to play around with them, changing them into digital mashups (hence the relation to play)

I appropriated famous photographs taken in the 20th century. Then they were more difficult to own, now people can download those images on the internet after a google search.

Screen Shot 2015-02-18 at 23.16.56

The first photograph was of John Lennon, I wanted to make him unrecognisable by only using the image as a tool, I didn’t what to add any features from an external source.

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I used the smudge tool primarily to obscure his features. I made his mouth smirk, his nose smaller and his eyes bigger etc. I also used to spot healing tool to get rid of some of his hair and his glasses, I could then refine those areas using the smudge tool to make the signs of the edit less visible. I also used the lighting effects filter to change the light in the portrait, to make the technical aspect of the image different.

Screen Shot 2015-02-18 at 23.13.56

I then added photo filters to give the sepia look, and refined the hair and facial features.

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When all the features were tweaked, I added a tintype overlay, to give the aesthetic of an old photograph.

Lennon 2

When you compare the two images against each other, you notice differences, but they don’t seem significant because you can see what the original was and what changes were made. But if the original wasn’t shown, then the face would be difficult to recognise.

I repeated the process from images of Audrey Hepburn and Woody Allen…

Photo Credit: Courtesy of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences Photo Credit: Courtesy of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences

Actress Actress

Alone, the set of images are interesting, but they don’t comment enough on digital media, and they are only a shadow of other photoshop projects.

Taking inspiration from Joan Fontcuberta, I wanted to author the images as archival prints from early 20th / late 19th century. I intend to create stories for each character to create a set that challenges photographic truth and creates a fictional reality. I also wanted to remix both analogue and digital to comment on remix culture, and combine the a seemly credible function of printing in the darkroom to aid my artistic license of manipulation. It is similar to the work task because it is an inversion of digital.

I printed of the characters inverted onto acetate to create a negative. I then went into the darkroom and exposed the image onto photo-paper to create a photogram of the image. Once the prints were fixed and washed, I then put them into a bleach solution to fade the tones…

photo 1 (2)


photo 2 (1) photo 3 (2) photo 4 (1)

after 2minutes in the solution in then put the prints into the toning bath for another 1minute to create a sepia tone on the print to recreate the look of an other photograph.

photo 5

Once that process was over I burnt the edges of each print and scarred the surface with a knife. The process has made the images look more authentic and perhaps more believable,

I then wrote stories based on the characters based around police reports of the 19th century, using one found online as inspiration.



I made my own story based on a murder of Mr Alexander Peters, but the writing has been faded on purpose so that it isn’t clear what it refers to, so the audience would imagine it themselves. I printed out the police report on paper, coated it with tea and coffee,  ripped the edges and smeared it with the coffee beans, then put the paper in the oven for a few minutes, and then burnt the edges.

This gave the document an old look, and made it more believable to be an old document.

I then scanned in the images and documents…


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