Jenny Reeder

Design that’s Professional, Worn, and Wicked
March 5, 2007, 1:34 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

I am intrigued with the ability of Photoshop to manipulate images, and yet I continue to question the authenticity of image manipulation on a couple of different levels.  In class Professor Petrik mentioned three reasons for image use: Archival, Illustrative History, and Decorative Design. Each purpose is important–digital preservation, visual historical analysis, and incredible design. In this class we will probably not cover digital preservation. In my MA program, though, I had a preservation class as part of my certificate in archival management. Thought I appreciate the use of images in different ways and I understand and celebrate the strength of visual history, I tend to fear the power of image manipulation. I wonder if images should be manipulated for historical evidence–certainly for design. I think Mark Stevens raises some important questions along this line, to which I have responded.

Our reading for this week illustrates several different ways to manipulate images. I enjoyed reading about Greg Story’s ideas expanding design to include historic shapes–signs, logos, and mastheads. And I thought Dave Rau and Josh Bertrand had valuable input with efforts to mimic the real world–“tasty splotches, drips, folds, splats, stains, rips, and tears.”

Cameron Moll’s blog Wornamental, Thornamental opens up a whole new strategy: instead of cleaning things up in an image, he seems to be encouraging the historical feel by wearing things down. Tools such as grunge brushes, ragged edges, and pixelation all add in this wearing down process.

So where’s the balance between a clean, finished, professional look and an authentic historic ambiance? I have  a feeling that it comes with experience and clean coding, as discussed in Petrik’s essay. And I heartily agree with Laura–that it takes playing around with images and the techniques rather than just reading about them. Any other ideas?


3 Comments so far
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Hey Jenny, I blogged about some of the issues you talked about in my blog entitled Photograph Manipulation. Check it out and leave me a comment!

Comment by sscott4

[…] My Comment on Jenny’s Blog   […]

Pingback by Photograph Manipulation « de-Constructing History 2.0

That’s a similar question I have. I’ve spent quite a bit of time at my job scanning images from our collection for research requests, presentation on the web, or for publications. Obviously, in all those instances I’ve been cleaning them up, removing some blotches, and playing with the color and contrast. If one day I sent in an image with crazy brush strokes and added-in blotches, I don’t think I’d get fired, but Brig. Gen So-and-So wouldn’t be pleased. I guess I’m of the school that clean and polished looks more professional, but maybe that’s changing? Or is professionalism not the issue? Looking professional to one group might be the antithesis of professionalism to another. I.e. graphic designers vs. Brig. Generals. Maybe audience over design/content should be the first consideration then?

Comment by James Garber

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