Bad Hair Days

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One of my correspondents overseas brought an app to me attention. (Actually I dislike the very word “app” – what was wrong with “application”?) Now I realize that “change” is inevitable, but I have this more than sneaking suspicion that the “apps” surrounding photography are taking away “reality”. The “virtual” world is taking over. Soon there will be nothing that we can actually trust.

I think every computer in the world has Photoshop loaded in it, and is most often used to resize some pictures, followed by changing the Brightness/Contrast ratio, to save some not so well exposed images. But it goes a lot further than that these days.

Monkey BusinessMonkey Business

The more upscale versions of Photoshop can seamlessly alter the image you took. Clearing up skin blemishes and hit the ‘healthy glow’ button and the model just radiates health and vitality.

Let’s get more radical, the facial shape can be changed. It can be done at the touch of a button. Cheekbones can be lifted. Eyes can be widened and the iris enhanced. All skin flaws, from pimples to wrinkles, can be erased. It is a miracle. The cosmetic surgeons just wish it was all that easy in real life.

In fact, there are some basic improvements that can be made to portraits in any image editing software. Most programs include a ‘‘healing brush’’ that can be dabbed over a mole to make it disappear, leaving behind a flawless fill-in created from adjacent areas in the picture. Electronic trickery at its best.

Other programs that can assist in making someone less than perfect into a beauty contestant include Adobe Lightroom which has skin-smoothing functions that are used to brush away imperfections, and teeth-whitening brushes to perk up a smile. That’s no big deal these days.

Now here comes something even more radical. Called PortraitPro, this comes from portraitprofessional. com. Go to http://www. portraitprofessional.com/.

According to the blurb, PortraitPro is new portrait airbrushing software that has been “trained” in human beauty. Exceptionally fast and easy to use, and capable of the highest quality touch up, it lets you improve your photos instantly, just by moving sliders. Their promise is that with this easy photo editing software, it’s incredibly fast for any photographer to enhance the face and hair of the subject.

What Can It Do?

Fix skin blemishes such as spots or pimples

Reduce and/or remove wrinkles

Remove grease, sweat or shine from the skin

Subtly reshape all or any aspect of the face

Enhance the eye and mouth shape color and sharpness

Smooth, recolor and thicken the subject’s hair

Adjust the lighting on the face

Other techy facts: PortraitPro installs as a plug-in filter in Photoshop and some other editing programs. When PortraitPro is run on a portrait image in Photoshop it leaves the main program and starts its own interface. The face is detected and the main features outlined in blue. You nominate the subject as male or female, child or adult, and the program goes to work making the subject beautiful.

One reviewer said that when left to its run in automatic mode, PortraitPro tends to overdo the process and the results can be weird, ending up with plastic skin and werewolf eyes. The face may be reshaped out of recognition, particularly if you apply the process to a person of mature years.

However, the “photographer” or end user does have control over the various aspects of the transforming process. There is an “off” switch to neutralize some of the functions. However, perhaps the “on” switch should have been left alone?

An interesting conundrum

The picture of this monkey was not taken by a wildlife photographer, but by the monkey itself. The world’s first simian selfie. We can use this selfie, as there is no copyright for the image, as it has been uploaded to Wiki Commons. The professional photographer who owned the camera and set up the shot says he owns the copyright, but Wiki says that, since the monkey took the photo, technically the copyright would belong to the monkey. But since copyright law states that copyrights cannot be assigned to non-humans, there is no copyright on it. All very interesting, and in some ways a bit silly, but that is the way the world is heading.