The Magic of Photoshop, Facebook and Copyrights

There are many tools at an artists disposal these days.  One is the Wonderful World of Photoshop when it is done correctly.  Seriously, a bad Photoshopping job can be spotted a mile away.  I spend hours sometimes even days on Photoshopping items, primarily because I don’t want people to know I Photoshopped it.  A sign of a good Photoshopper is to have them show you a picture (like the one below) wait for their reaction and then you say, “Oh that is Photoshopped.”  Ninety-five percent of the time they will say, “NO WAY!”  
Photoshopping is a tricky business especially when it comes to merging photos and when it comes to copyright violations.  For example:  You see a photo on a friend’s Facebook wall (you have no idea who took the photo – them or a professional or how old it is) but you take the photo and then manipulate it in Photoshop or another program and claim it as your own creation, that is illegal.  It doesn’t matter if the photo is 2 minutes old or 20 years old it is still a copyright violation.  In order to claim a picture as your own you need to take the picture or have permission from the original photographer.  I guess my other thing with Facebook is people, myself included, go through great lengths to protect their children and other friends identity.  I have all of my photos where only my friends can see them.  If a photo is posted on someone else’s Wall you have no control over who sees that photo because you can’t see their security settings and as a mother that scares the crap out of me.  I hate the fact that anyone of my friends can download a photo from Facebook but that is how it now.  Why a friend would take one of my personal photo and manipulate it without my permission is beyond me.  
I am very cautious what I post on my Fan Page because everyone has access to the photos.  I have friends who are professionals and they have problems with copyright infringements all the time.  I guess my point is, if you don’t take the picture you do not have the right to do what you please with it.  With that being said, there are websites that you can legally download stock photos without a fee but you need to give credit where credit is do.  I would highly recommend using your own photos that you took opposed to “borrowing them from a friend’s gallery.”  I can not claim that I took the photo but I can say I digitally created the photo from photographs taken by Person A and Person B.
I guess with working in Photoshop the past couple of weeks has really got me thinking about how Photoshop has changed photography and art.  I can’t remember the last time I saw a photo that had not been touched in some sort of digital editing program.  Editing photos is nothing new, photographers have been doing it in the dark room for years, a little dodging here and burning here.  Now it is easier and more people can do it I mean all you need is a photo, a computer and a photo editing program.  The higher end programs such as Adobe give you more options – I mean CS5 offers different types of paintbrushes (fan, flat, deer foot, round, etc) with different transparencies that can be used with the eraser and smudge tools – one of my favorite features.  I guess working in Photoshop has made me more aware of what has been Photoshopped and what has not been Photoshopped.  I came to realize with the photo I have been working on.  I will never know if the photo was taken (true to life) or made up on a computer screen.  I truly think REAL photography is a dying art form.  I mean how many photographers do you know who still use film?  How long will it be before 1 Hour Photo is no longer?  I guess I see now why people are so up in arms over the digital age because the lines between reality and fiction have been blurred.  I can take a sky from Hawaii or where ever and then take a photo of Forsyth Park and merge the photos together.  This photo will NEVER be recreated in real life but it is a beautiful photograph or is it art?  Is this photo or a digital painting from my mind made from stock photos?  Ask yourself those questions the next time you see a photo.  Start asking questions is this real or is it fake.  An artist who uses a program like Photoshop to its full advantage will give you an insight into their mind and soul much like a painter painting on a canvas.  They will create amazing beautiful photos on a computer by compiling several mediocre photos.  The time it takes to make a imaginary photo look like a REAL photo is amazing – I am currently logged close to 20 hours on the following photo and will probably go back in and work on it some more.
The sky background is from a public domain site (there was no digital watermark on this photo).  The picture of Forsyth Park is © by James Caskey (I have permission to modify this photo.)  The combined image is mine hence my watermark is on it.
Photo taken by James Caskey © 2011 (Note:  I have permission to use this photo – YOU DO NOT!!!)
The lower left hand corner says americ@acapulco but there is no © symbol or digital watermark.  The photo was found on a public domain site.

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