Photoshopping For Convenience

When I use the term "Photoshopping", I mean the process (some would say "art") of manipulating digital images  - somewhat analogous to the term "airbrushing". It's named for the Photoshop software program sold by Adobe. While airbrushing is/was a technique usually reserved for "touching up" images - often of celebrities - to mask imperfections or to correct errors, the digital version can do some astonishing things in capable hands. The are many websites dedicated to digital image manipulation and creation, and to browse them can be wondrous.

However there is also a potential to "fake" images (and videos too, for that matter), and at a time when we derive so much of our news and information in a visual manner, it raises some question as to what is appropriate and what would be considered going too far (in the sense that the image deliberately misleads).

A recent example is a photograph taken last week on the Capitol steps, to celebrate all 61 women member of the 113th Congress. The photo was put out on House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi's (D - CA) Flickr page - except that when the photo was taken, only 57 members were present; the other 4 were Photoshopped in after the fact. It was explained later that it was a cold day, and when  4 members did not make it to the group shot in a reasonable time, they took the photo anyway and scurried back inside.

[caption id="attachment_6071" align="aligncenter" width="284"]photoshopped Photo: Nancy Pelosi/Flickr ... The four women in the top row were "added" later[/caption]

Now in this case, while the photo is "fake", it is factually accurate in the sense that there are 61 members and all were represented in the final image. One could readily come up with other scenarios in which something like this would be far from "okay" - but how many of us even look for things like that? Don't we just accept what is presented to us, unless it's something outlandish, where we approach it skeptically from the start.

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