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IMAGES OF THE DAY: Photoshop Before Photoshop
August 28, 2012
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Starting in October, The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York will display an exhibition of "manipulated photography before Photoshop" - basically, pics from the analogue era of photography that have been altered in some way.

So were things really all that different back in the days of black and white prints and adjusting imagery by hand? Based on these shots, it looks like a lot of the habits of the Photoshop age got their start decades earlier.

Making Women Look Smaller Than They Actually Are

This photo may not have been run through a computer program, but come on: are we expected to believe this woman is really smaller than a table lamp? Just an early example of unrealistic beauty expectations manifesting themselves in photography (we kid, of course: Photoshop manipulation and its effect on the standard of beauty is a serious issue. It's led to recent protests against some magazines).

Weird Stock Photography

Post-Photoshop, creating an image to represent "teambuilding" got pretty easy. But back in 1930, when this shot was created, it was probably a painstaking process. And the result: the kind of strange, anonymously created piece you'd expect to find on a stock photography website.

Celebrity Worship Via The Clone Tool

This picture, from way back in 1892, is of well-known artist Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec working on a portrait of himself. It was 107 years later that Spike Jonze finally got around to making 'Being John Malkovich' (the movie's poster uses a similar approach), but it just goes to show: making copies of a famous guy is a timeless idea.

Removing Unsightly Blemishes

There are examples of bad Photoshop retouching all over the place - smoothing out wrinkles, changing skin tone - but this 1930 pic by Maurice Tabard and Roger Parry shows that people were taking it too far well before Photoshop came along. This woman's face has been smoothed into near-invisibility. At least they left her eye alone.

Turning Wealthy Newspaper Publishers Into Smoke Octopuses

All right, we admit it: this kind of image - it's from 1939, and it depicts newspaper mogul William Randolph Hearst - never became a trend in the Photoshop age. But maybe news stories about Rupert Murdoch would be more enjoyable to read if he was pictured as a floating disembodied head surrounded by tendrils of black smoke.

This one proves that although modern image editing software may make it a little easier to manipulate pictures, there's no substitute for human creativity. Check out this page for more images from the upcoming exhibit.

Related stories on Strombo.com:

IMAGES OF THE DAY (AND BEYOND): Photos From A Ginormous Camera

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