Saturday, May 26, 2007

The joys of air-brushing.

I'll start a signed blog in the first week of June, but until then, I'll keep on posting here and even after I start, a few posts might weave their way onto this blog as well.
One of the books that did the round in my college hostel 'Residence' as we called it, was a title called 'A History of Girlie Magazines'. It was a fairly detailed book, going back to the earliest days when printers managed to put 'picture porno' onto paper. The Rare Erotica blog, totally unsafe for work has some examples. Anyway, by the time we get to Hugh Hefner and Playboy, you get a fairly detailed description of the art of airbrushing. 'Airbrushing' was something a 'negative artist' did to remove blemishes on a body and girlie magazine publishers took it to a high art.
Of course, air-brushing has today been replaced by photo-editing software, but the concept remains the same, altering images significantly so that they bear no resemblance to the original. Everybody in the industry does it, entire covers and lead images are altered to make them look 'more dramatic' or 'more perfect' and most people are none the wiser. The skilled eye can still make out the rough edges (look at the background image through a pair of spectacles for example) but usually that would be nit-picking, and with many photographers in the industry unable to operate their cameras (I once narrated a story here about a photographer who had set his camera on Auto-ISO among other things, that was rather hilarious).
Anyway, this is not a tirade against photographers or photoshop artists, but against a recent ad-campaign by a TV network. The network which has faces of some of its most prominent anchors plastered all over billboards must take the cake for 'airbrushing' excellence. You know the channel, but all I have to say is this, the job they did on the Managing Editor of the channel is mind-boggling. Then again, I guess they had to, otherwise you would not have been able to pick out his face from the background. Nothing against dark-skinned people, but keep things to the realm of plausibility! No amount of lighting, OK, maybe 10,000W of lighting could have made that guy look so wheatish. Talk about misleading advertising!


Renovatio said...

Could've been a mistake, I've seen someone leave gain at auto on their pd. He ended up calling the head cameraman to ask him how to turn it off, something that slowed down an already direly timed shoot. Last time I'd ever take a news-features guy for a features shoot.
Everything has some touching up now, at the post production stage, color correction, luma, you name it. Anchors get a touch up with makeup as you can't do much to picture when it's live.
It isn't necessarily the right thing, but it is unfortunately the accepted thing.

Anonymous said...

hehehe ... i wonder if the ME reads your blog :)

- Bona