Tag Archives: photoshop

How Did He Do That? Revisited

Photoshopped photo

I’ve written about these photos before, but I recently had a chance to put them in front of some students and I learned a couple of things.  First, and most obvious, these photos are very well done.  There is a depth to the paradox of the two photos that is really engaging.

I started by asking students what they saw.  The first answers were mostly along the lines of, “a guy playing basketball.”  When asked about the “guys,” students began to notice these “guys” were all the same guy.  Interesting.

When I asked how the picture was made, many students said, “Photoshop.”  But, when I asked what picture was taken first, several students offered various theories.  Most agreed that the same head was not cut and pasted to different bodies, but that several pictures of the same person were laid one over another.  When I pointed out that some of the figures cast shadows on some of the others, they had to rethink their theories a bit more.  I told them I did not know how this was done — I still don’t — but we enjoyed talking through what steps would need to be taken to create this photo.

During the class discussion, I found it really useful to view the largest sized photos available (original size top and bottom).  I held the control button and clicked the photos (right-click in Windows) and chose View Image to view only the photos in my browser.  In my browser, I went to the View menu and clicked Toolbars and unchecked as many as possible so that my window was as big as possible to view the picture.  Because the original photo was so large, I could also click on the photo to zoom in.  (Your browser may be configured differently, but you should be able to set it up in a similar way.)  By clicking the control and tab keys together (alt-tab in Windows) I could toggle back and forth between these two images.  That combined with zooming allowed me to simulate zooming through layer after layer of this paradox.

If I had had more time, it would have been interesting to try to create some photos like these of our own.  If we had a couple of cameras and tripods, we could got out and snap some pictures and see what challenges they presented while slicing them together.

One student noticed that the top photo has a break between the figures in the right and left halves.  A simpler grouping, like that in either half, would not be too hard to put together.  (In fact, some cameras and at least on iPhone app allow you to stitch together pictures as you take them, allowing you to insert the same person in each of the frames that are stitched together into the final photograph.)

It would be interesting to see what students came up with, what challenges they met along the way, and how they were able to resolve them.

photoshopped photo

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How did he do that?

photoshop paradox

How did he do that?  Is that the first question you asked when you looked at this picture?  Look again.  Notice all of the people in the picture (and in the picture in the picture) are the same person.  Notice, too, that the person in the foreground is holding the picture being taken in the background.  To really blow your mind, scroll down to the bottom of this post to see the picture taken by the photographer in the background.  Click on either picture to link to larger versions for closer examination.

Impressed?  I was.  There are lots of examples of photoshopped dopplegangers on flickr, but few are this intricate.  With most others, it’s easy to see how how multiple images could be merged into one because the different images don’t interact and sometimes don’t even overlap.  When I look at these two pictures, I’m intrigued by how they were made.  Which image was taken first?  How many images were included?  These questions got me to thinking: I bet ESL students would have the same questions.  And it would be linguistically challenging to analyze these two photos (possibly by first priming them with something simpler) in the target language.

Next time you want to generate some discussion in your class, consider showing your students these images.  (They’re licensed under the Creative Commons, which virtually eliminates any copyright concerns.)  The discussion could lead to students planning their own doppleganger photos.  Even if they don’t have the photo editing skills or resources to pull it off, planning out the scene and even taking some of the photos required to make their own composite image could be a very interesting exercise.

photoshop paradox

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Writing 1000 Words

Tell me about your bus ride to school...

So, tell me about your bus ride to school...

Getting your students to write (or speak) can sometimes be a challenge.  They say a picture’s worth a thousand words, which got me to thinking: Where can teachers find interesting pictures that might prompt students to write or talk.  Here are some examples:

Photoshop Contest.com

Photoshop Contest.com

Photoshop Contest.com is a website that posts a picture each week for visitors to edit into other pictures.  The results can be fascinating.  The historical decoder device at right used this picture of typesetter’s letters as a starting point.  In addition to generating interesting pictures, trying to tease out which components of the picture are from the original can be an interesting challenge for students.

Worth100.com

Worth100.com

Worth1000.com is similar to Photoshop Contest with a variety of contests for beginning through advanced photo manipulators.  Although the results range in quality and interest, some of the theme categories could generate some interesting writing or discussion.  For example, the subjects in Sports Literalisms and Bald Celebrities may not be universally recognized by students, but Unsung Vending Machines and Less Than Usual require no explanation.  Some of the Literalisms provide interesting visual examples of idioms and other common English expressions.

Compfight.com

Compfight.com

Flickr is a very popular photosharing website.  And, although the sheer number of photos posted means it takes a little more digging to find them, similarly provocative photos can be found.  I often use Compfight.com to search Flickr because it’s very easy to select search parameters like Creative Commons licensed content and Safe Search.   Try searching for terms like manipulate, photoshop, and trick to find pictures that have been digitally edited.  Some, like the example of the car parked on the street have had no digital manipulation, but there is another trick involved.  Can you spot it?  Can your students?

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Simplification now includes Photoshop

We bought a Wii this weekend.  Yes, I purchased 5 Wiimotes months before actually buying the machine they were designed for.  The Wii is a brilliantly simple device.  So much easier (and more fun) to use than the button-riddled controllers of its chief rivals, which explains why Wiis are still sold out at many retailers.

As the Wii has proven, a simple, usable design is the best design.  Most users of most technologies don’t need every possible feature.  And, increasingly, they are choosing to not pay a premium for them.  Other examples of this trend include netbooks (simple laptops that rely on cloud computing power — see Clive Thompson’s excellent article in Wired 17.03), the XO Laptop (the netbook for the One Laptop Per Child project), Apple’s iPhone (just a touch screen), the Siftables I posted about previously, and now desktop applications themselves.

What gradient map would you choose for your new adjustment layer?

What gradient map would you choose for your new adjustment layer?

Photoshop used to be a big, expensive application that put a professional photography studio on your desktop.  Come to think of it, it still is.  But as features multiplied, it became harder and harder to use for simple operations.  (Should I adjust the CMYK or RBG levels in this mask layer to reduce red eye?)  Enter online photo editors.

cnet recently reviewed 15 of them and I was impressed.  All of the basic features I have turned to Photoshop for (waiting 3-4 minutes each time as it boots up) are available, even including layers, masking, and plenty of effects.  Most are free and work as simply as attaching a photo to your email message.  So, if I need a quick picture for a blog post or my Facebook page, I can turn to one of these sites in a pinch and get some editing done quickly and efficiently.  Simpler is better, and now simpler doesn’t have to be bad.

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