Mock Styles, Mock Photograph, Mock Photographer

Johnny Reb

Johnny Reb

Today we can do so much in the digital world . . I mean just look at all the ads which entice you to buy a product, sell you an idea through appealing to your inner self.  Yup even by using sex as a magnet to get you to buy a product.   Today it is hard to believe just exactly what’s real,  the digital age has blurred the lines between fantasy and truth.  I love all that can be done within the realms of ones and zeros . . in my day it was dodge and burn as well as hand painting and blending . . retouch was a fine art in itself, but you could tell the real from the fake . . . not so today with everything that can be done with a few quick flicks of the wrist or command key presses.  Software has come a long way baby!




Everyone has read the latest about the poor poor model who didn’t authorize the big corporation to modify the photo of her in “that” bikini . . . I mean if she really did look like that she might be anorexic or worse “self modification”, “a real corset wearer” . . . to achieve that hourglass figure, or remove that tattoo, or add that tattoo!!!  wait  . . . the answer to that dilemma was simple, she should have read the contract as the big corporation or photographer owned the image and all rights to do whatever with it and use it however or for whatever means . . . including Photoshopping it to suit their needs.  This would exclude willful slanderous usage of course . . .


Ready Front . . . Fire

There it is . . . that word that keeps cropping up, you hear it everywhere . . . “Photoshop it” that is really a misnomer because most of what you see are crude filters applied by one click wonders with some iphone app or some other app or quick photo rendering that in someones mind resembled a photograph they’d seen once long ago and now has created the absolute rendition in an Action or set of rules in some software program to get a flair or scratch or grainy look (oh how we tried to avoid grain, but it came with the territory when using B&W film in low light situations and pushing the speed in processing to get something that was printable.   Ah grain . . . that was the scourge of fine art, grain was to be spurned and Flair . . . well, that to, was NOT any part of fine art, or even photo-journalism . . .

Yes some effects we see over used today, were just part of the norm back then, and some of it was just pure sloppiness which would have gotten you kicked out of the entire field of photography back then . . . but  in today’s photographic camps is part of any hipsters tricks to style and being chic!  like Soft focus, oh there’s an app for that, flair !! no problem there’s an app for that . . . cross processing, bleaching and other disasters . . . yup there’s an app for that as well . . . solarizing, posterizing and a plethora other mistakes can be intentionally applied, and massaged to screw up color, focus or other aspects of the photo.  The subject is no longer the subject, it is now the look, the feel, the style . . . content has no meaning.

Federal Canons

Federal Canons

When asked nowadays about a photo it is not what aperture, camera setting or time of day . . . but . . . wow what app did you use to make that with? What Photoshop Action?  When I say, sorry, I used a software program and manipulated my photo using a technique which required multiple layers and blending and other manipulations to achieve my stylistic look and that hey! I’m not a one click monkey! accepting someones idea of what my photo should look like.

I really hate the following statement . . “No problem just shoot it . . . can’t you just fix it in Photoshop” !!! NO I prefer to at least try and get everything right in camera.  That leaves more room for improvement in post ya know, besides, I really hate sitting for hours in front of a computer swapping heads, removing blinks, tweaking eye, whitening teeth and skin color . . removing all the wrinkles, freckles and smoothing, waxing . . . plasticizing until what once was a photo of a living breathing person now resembles a plastic mannequin with a few of the features of the person in question whom now looks nothing like the real life version.  Shall we revisit the Great OZ and ask for a dose of reality, that way we can keep our feet and creative juices in the real world.



Late 80’s . . . I was sent out to do a piece for the weekend edition of the Newspaper “Pumpkin-Girl” shot on Tri-X, the scratches are from the enlarger carrier that scratched the film, I didn’t know I had grabbed a bad carrier at the time . . . the DOF and grain is the real deal in this photo, contrast was kicked up a bit for the paper, the scan is truer to the actual exposure.   Just sayin, that was then, that was film.  The Grain could have been intensified or lessened in processing, and special contrast grade papers were used.  Nowadays . . just a few flicks of some sliders, or if your a hipster you’d just use an app or action as is and settle for that!  I love to see most of today’s hipsters and the like have to make a living shooting film . . HAH, not to much room for slop shooting when you use film.  AND NO I don’t care if you credit your SLOP !! I mean style to pissing on your film before you send it to a processing lab.

Are we all turning away from the reality of photography? is it nothing more then an iPhone slinging hipster with a bunch of $1.99 apps, is it just about accepting crap shots massaged to look cool with more thought placed on the effects and not the subject/object of the shot …… I’m gonna puke the next time I see a crooked photo just for the sake of it being crooked, admit it we all know the person who posts a zillion photos all the same, all tilted . . . I’m just as guilty of falling in love with an effect/style (Ad nauseam … soft focus … my opus).

Yes I am guilty . . . not as guilty as some but guilty non the less . . . I love post manipulation, my Mea Culpa is layers and manipulating the final photograph to augment the feel and look to the viewer (which is me) as well as soft focus with real lenses (as well as selective focus effects done with layers).  I admit it . . . I shoot for myself, to please only myself  . . . and that is all I do.  What I do in post processing is self pleasing . . . self gratification unto my own end.   So this is me poking fun and complaining about all the app slinging hipsters, twitters, flickerers, G-Plusers, Ellos and all the rest what-ever whoever they wanna be . . . . non-film wannabees who wouldn’t know a true film shot if it bit them.  Apps are fun, but in the end gang.  They are nothing but pure imagined effects that do not come close to what the look was in film, shooting, processing, printing and all the fricking variables that crept in no matter how well one tried for repeatability and control.

final word !!! just be and have fun with it, if it pleases! then it is good.  I used a series of MOCK civil war style photos to illustrate my verbal discourse  . . . all done with layers and nothing with a canned look or action or filter . . . each was manipulated to achieve the final look.

I’ll leave you with a fave MOCK Glamor photo I did a few years ago from a photo shoot.  Sometimes it is good to stage a shoot just for practice . . . yep I used layers and manipulated it to achieve (my signature bleached portrait look)  . . .

Green dress

Green dress

When not out practicing photography each and every day I miss out on what I might create . . .  so what am I eluding to? To what have I poured myself out for? . . . . I guess it is this, don’t rely on just the app or someones canned look to save your ass or make it easy.  Yes the software has come a long way, but it will not the photographer make . . . . after all the saying is “You can’t polish a turd” (the pessimists view), and “Yes! you can polish a turd, if it’s a fossilized one” (the Optimists view) . . . . Film still rules.

with that I say Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year

DigiPainTeR out . . . aka(Tim)


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