By Tee Schneider
I use this term lightly but a story broke last weekend suggesting that US Weekly had done the unthinkable and enhanced an image of baby Prince George with Photoshop. As a result the internet is now littered with articles shaming US Weekly for their atrocious treatment of this poor, perfect child.
Huffington Post gave us, Prince George May Have Been Photoshopped And Our Faith In Humanity Is Destroyed.
Time.com‘s headline read, Prince George Gets a New Look, the article then going on to admonish:
Is nobody safe?
Oh I’m serious. And the list goes on.
Here’s the cover:
This abominable violation of human code is purported to be the photo on the left by the way. US Weekly denied the allegations telling TODAY that,
The original image used for the Prince George cover was dark and bluish in tone and needed to be given an overall color shift for printing purposes…
Let me just get this out there:
- I’m not a fan of US Weekly or rag mags in general- it’s just not my jam.
- Let me also say that I agree that most of them Photoshop the crap out of stuff to the point of absurdity.
- But now let me say, I gotta go with US Weekly on this one. There is a difference between a crotchless, arm enriched Target model and a what I would call normal amount of post-processing on the US Weekly‘s cover. (Don’t know about the crotchless botch? Check out this Huffington Post article for the gory details).
There’s a clear shift in momentum away from things that feel over-processed these days. I respect that. We’re trying to appreciate things in a more natural state. I feel that. There are so many great social reasons to cultivate this kind of shift not least of which being that we might raise a generation of kids that might not hate every single thing about themselves. I totally believe in that. We’ve evolved, yay for us.
Except for this one little thing: sometimes we have no clue what we’re talking about. Enter Exhibit “A”: #nofilter. Dun, dun, dun.
This is gonna ruffle a feather or two so I’m just going to say it:
#nofilter needs to die, die, die, die.
(And by the way so does this US Weekly story but not until I’ve said my piece).
In case you’re not familiar with the concept, people hashtag a photo #nofilter when they post it to the internet. This particular hashtag suggests that no filters or processing have been applied to the photo. The trend started with Instagram and blossomed from there to include basically any photo taken with any device and shared in it’s “natural” state. When people post a photo to social media with #nofilter they’re basically saying “look at this awesome photo I took, it’s all natural and therefore of superior quality to a photo that has been enhanced with a filter or some other form of cheap post-processing”.
It’s all very noble and well-intention but sadly, simply not true. When you post a photo with #nofilter what you are actually saying is “here is the photo I took and applied to it are the manufacturer’s firmware choices for color, tone, vibrance, exposure, contrast and the like.
The closest thing we might have to an actual #nofilter photo, otherwise known as a RAW image file, is just a bunch of binary information extracted from your camera’s sensor. It’s not technically an image file and requires special software to view it as an image. (If you’re not clear on binary check out my article, Binary, (or) How the Heck does my Computer Actually Work?). Professional photographers shoot in RAW because it gives them the flexibility to apply processing without being bound by the firmware choices of the device’s manufacturer. If you looked at a RAW image you would find it dull, lifeless and devoid of vibrance and contrast because none of those basic elements of processing have been applied yet.
When a photo is recorded in JPEG format, (which applies to most of the photos most of the time), your device will immediately apply all of the processing determined by a combination of the camera’s firmware and whatever selections you personally made. Taking said picture and then uploading it with the #nofilter in no way makes your picture better or cooler or inherently more valuable than someone who makes choices about their photo in post-processing. In fact, one could argue that the photographer who chooses to interpret his or her own photo is merely exercising appropriate creative control over his or her own work of art. Perhaps the goal is to document a moment with exact precision or maybe to infuse the photo with a state of confusion or excitement because that’s what the shooter felt when they laid eyes upon the subject. Is it a Monet? Manet? Dali? It’s really should be up to them.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting the US Weekly cover is art. I’m not even saying I love the processing choice on the left-hand-side photo but I do like it better than the grey/blue toned, black eyed baby on the right. I’ve never seen a baby that color before.
And for the more visual among you:
One final thought on the matter. Shame on you HuffPost for playing into this nonsense. Shame on you.
*no babies were Photoshopped (much) in the creation of this post.
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