Exercise 4: Digital Manipulation

Updated: May 19

This exercise calls for the creation of a manipulated image. personally I don’t find myself drawn to composite or collaged images for my own work. I do appreciate the work of others utilising this approach to communicate. there ideas and concepts and I am not averse to the use in the future as my own ideas develop.

Generally I find that the use of compositing is used purely for easy kudos. Another technique which lends itself to the aesthetic above the content and process of creating. Even simple effects are now being replaced with compositing which much like in cinema tends to remove the suspension of disbelief and distracts from the overall image. the use of compositing to create crowd pleasing images, raise models to un-natural beauty and falsely communicate a message has pushed me away from these techniques. That being said, there are creators and artists who use compositing to great effect, with clarity and caution or with justification to the choices made.

Collaging is just something that I have never been able to get my creative head around. I tend to think singularly and more recently in series, perhaps a time will come when I start to envision collages when planning images. I enjoy when the process comes to gather in way to build internal dialogue, expand the image, show the passing of time or juxtapose contradictory accounts.

I decided to replicate a recently popular composite which I found attracted attention in social media and even in news outlets on those platforms. With the recent Super Moon a myriad of photos followed showing an un-naturally large moon in the sky. Often a common fine art style landscape image with the composited Moon embedded, obviously overtly large yet published without the context of manipulation, I suppose the journalists involved felt that the manipulation was so obvious it wouldn’t need explaining. I would agree, but some of the images were so subtle in their changes, enlarging the Moon just to the point of being believable but yet still beyond normalcy.

Anyway, despite my reservation about the manipulated image I chose to treat the image below to a supermoon, albeit one so ridiculously large it would have landed in a nearby town as it sunk below the horizon.

Achieving this look was relatively straight forward, using the magic selection tool to pick the moon and the silhouette of the buildings I created two additional layers, one for each selected element. I then resized the Moon to suit and moved the layer priority to replace the silhouette in from of the moon. During the selection process I cut around the moon to ensure there was no hard edge to the moon and went over with a layer eraser to tidy up the mismatch gradient of the sky. I also used the white balance tool to remove the pink tint to the moon. The fine detail of the buildings was retained be using the refine selection tool in Affinity Photo which does an excellent job of defining the correct detail selection.

Overall the effect is what I was looking for but if I was to creat this image to the highest quality I would rather shoot a second dedicated image of the moon with a longer lens on crop mode to get a much sharper, detailed and refined moon to composite, the fuzzy softness of the current composite is mainly due to pulling the image from within the original frame meaning I was enlarging a maybe 0.5mp crop unto fill a 10mp space.

I chose the simple back garden photo with terrace buildings as it seems apt in making the image seem more off the cuff and ‘legitimate’ reiterating my issues with manipulated images and context.

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