Only the Photographer Knows for Sure
I have frustratingly discovered when surfing the web and finding interesting photographic images with places for comment that more and more frequently someone will make the comment, "It’s Photoshop!!!". They will do so showing conviction as if no more need be said and that by only saying so few words what they say will carry great weight.
There are a great many masterfully modified images on the world wide web. I know, I am versed in doing photo editing and modifications or "faking" as it is known in some circles. It can be as little as fixing the contrast and brightness on a photo to make up for bad exposure and lighting in the original. It can be as much as removing an offending telephone pole from an otherwise perfect picnic picture... or ex-boyfriend from a family photo. If you do it properly, nobody should know you did anything.
But, when people cry "It's Photoshop!!!" at the drop of a hat, it insults some great or very lucky photographers who have managed to catch something unusual enough that it is hard to believe or that someone doesn't want to believe... or that it isn't politcally appropriate to believe.
The image is a composition apparently from Beijing during the current 2008 Summer Olympic Games. The title of the image is "Beijing Olympics, One World, One Dream... This Is Sad [PIC]". There are a number of comments to the photo and I think perhaps I have seen it elsewhere. It was posted Saturday, August 9th 2008 -- a week ago.
Personally I do not think it is "Photoshopped". I could be wrong of course, but I think that it is just a good piece of photographic composition. I also think there is some sadness to it, but not necessarily the great sadness or travesty that some see -- at least not directly from the picture.
I watched some documentaries on Canadian News -- I believe on the CBC -- about preparations for the Olympics and the future. One of the things being done for the Olympics was the preparation of the routes to be taken by the long distance races -- the Marathons and Cycling events including Triathlon and the like. Businesses which were deemed unseemly were hidden behind screens which would hide them from view of cameras. In some places houses have been taken down and I recall that a buffer zone of freshly laid sod and shrubbery was laid down their on the now vacant lots with screening fencing behind to hide the now being renovated districts behind. I am assuming that this image was taken in one of those later districts. the grass on the left being some of that fresh turf and the bricks on the right left over from some of the demolition.
Part of the issues involved had to do with how fair the settlements were with the people being evicted. They were paid for their property -- or were supposed to. According to the news report there were some issues of corruption which made it difficult for some of the people to protest to low a settlement. The people were being relocated to apartments on the other side of the city. Often they felt they were being spread too far from their friends and extended families.
The image though is one that could be taken in very many cities in very many countries where older neighbourhoods are being demolished to put up higher density housing -- which is worth more and probably costs more to live in. East or West; First World or Third World -- facades are put up to hide what is deemed unseemly. How many scrapyards do you know without a 2 - 4 metre tall white fence surrounding it. True it is for security, but it is also a facade that hides the mess. It is done in other places too. I know that often for construction they put peepholes in for people to have a peep into the site to see what is going up... but the fencing around a major construction site also hides the mess.
Cities also put fences like this around things when there are major events... it isn't just some place like Beijing.
But that photo... it is just the words on the sign and the worlds apart it seems between the Olympic ideal clean road and the messy slightly run down look of the poor neighbourhood right beside.
Is the image "Photoshopped"? Click on it to go to 8in.org to see the original and decide for yourself. I think that if it was "Photoshopped" it was only to perhaps brighten the colours or something of that nature and adjust the size. I think it is just an example of a good photographer capturing the moment.