Photography, Photoshop & Perception

In both my media design and web design classes, I’ve had to fumble my way through the user interface to find the specific photo-editing functions I needed. This past week was my first foray into using Photoshop. Prior to this, I’ve only ever used free photo-editing software and applications, such as PicMonkey.com or Canva.com to edit my photos and design some graphics. It took me some time to familiarize myself with the user interface, such as where to locate certain functions and learning how to properly save the images in the format that makes the most sense for a particular circumstance. However, it was another matter altogether learning about how to make adjustments in the falloffs, the saturation, brightness, hues, etc., let alone how to cut out parts of one image and paste it into another photo to create a composite/collage. But I sat there and figured it out well into the wee hours of the early morning, just so that I could finally get the hang of Photoshop.

I’ll admit that I was a little confused at first, but I eventually grew accustomed to it. Maybe I can become a Photoshop aficionado later down the road, once I’ve explored some more tutorials.

For now, these are the “before and after” images of some of the street art photos I took from my exploration of the Bushwick Collective’s outdoor gallery, once I made some adjustments to the levels, brightness, contrast, and hues.

See TF, street artist, in progress. Before adjustments to levels, hues, saturation, and contrast.
See TF, street artist, in progress. Adjustments were made to create more contrast in the falloff (using levels), as well as adjustments to hues (more blues) and saturation of color (for color intensity) to make the mural the focal point of the image.
The Boy In the Corner, stencil art by Jef Aerosol. Shot in a shady side of the sidewalk, late afternoon. No light adjustments or color adjustments were made here.
After the levels were adjusted for the lighting and shadow, I also played around with hues, choosing a blue hue and increasing the saturation to create a kind of melancholy mood. It also created a kind of photo negative effect, which becomes more apparent once you look at the pavement area and the graffiti scrawled on the right side of the image.
Zimad Says… Quote image. No adjustments made yet.
This Photoshopped version involved adjusting the levels as well as a bit of the brightness and contrast to make the image appear brighter and more vivid in its contrast of colors between the black and the yellow. It’s like adding more sunlight to the scene.


Other Types of Photoshop Manipulations:
Deception, or Artistic Perception?

Now comes the fun/challenging/experimentation part…

This photo is a simple composite image I created by copying the sad boy in the corner using the lasso tool and pasting his image into the other photo, just to add a bit more drama given the context of the quote.

Composite image of Jef Aerosol’s stencil of the boy in the corner and a stencil quote by Zimad.

I then took these two photos (below) and decided to have fun with them, transforming some of the elements through the duplication of layers, as well as rotating or resizing each of the layers to add more visual content to the original Andy Warhol quote photo.

Stencil graffiti (unknown) of an Andy Warhol quote with a red arrow. But what can we do in Photoshop to make the quote stand out more?
Mural on Wyckoff Avenue by the artists Icy & Sot. This photo was not originally published in my previous post, but it remains one of my favorite images which I was able to capture on the DSLR camera during my walk and exploration of the graffiti and murals in Bushwick.

The resulting image (see below) combines elements from both of the above photos — it’s both a doctored image and a composite image. I copied and pasted the original red arrow (the one facing northwest) in the bottom right hand corner several times. I then rotated each of the duplicate arrows and arranged them so that your eyes are directed toward the question mark at the end of the Andy Warhol quote. This is the “doctored” part, since the manipulation of the duplicated arrows directing your eyes to the question mark wasn’t actually part of the original photo.


As for the collage part, I just used the same technique of using the lasso tool in copying the image of the boy with the dizzied eyes from the original photo. I then pasted it into the Andy Warhol quote image and then used the free transform function to resize the layer, while also adjusting the lighting levels to make the layer blend into the wall of the Warhol image. It could be a cool poster or piece of artwork, but of course anyone who has seen these images in real life and knows where the location of these graffiti pieces are would know that the composite/doctored image is not entirely authentic.

I didn’t really have a concept at first, except that I knew that I wanted to make the Andy Warhol quote stand out visually. The only other image in the photo were the bent graffiti line on the left and the small, almost insignificant-looking red arrow on the bottom right corner of the photo. So I decided to play with the words of the quote by duplicating the arrow and rotating them to literally display the “series of images that change as they repeat themselves.” I didn’t know how else to arrange the arrows across the image, except to add some juxtaposition in their rotated placements and make them point to the question mark. The quote, after all, is the question, making us wonder what Warhol might have meant by the surreal quality that we experience in life. The image of the dizzy, hypnotized boy by Icy and Sot is meant to be a funny and whimsical representation of us as the audience reading the quote and pondering its meaning.

Granted, I’m still a newbie to photography and Photoshop, but I’m glad I learned some of the basic skills. I look forward to learning more techniques about lighting and angles when capturing photos, and then editing the images in post-production in the future.

Julianne Day Ignacio

A bonafide bookworm, self-proclaimed nerd, and cat-lover, Julianne is a born-and-raised Brooklynite who loves to listen to a good story and help others cultivate their storytelling skills. Julianne received her Master's degree in Media Studies and Certificate in Media Management from The New School. You can find her crafting new content and updating the social media outlets for Verge of Verse, snapping photos, or chilling out at a cafe or park as she writes about her discoveries and her adventures in the city.

  1. Hi Julianne, so I think I can learn something from the way you touched up and doctored your photos. You did a really good job in revitalizing the photos, definitely made them more vibrant, colorful, and eye catching. But ultimately combining images from each photo was a really good idea. Not only did you play off photos you already took but you placed the images together in a manner that works well. A very interesting concept and something that I may try myself. Great job!

    1. Hi Joe,

      I did reference The Bushwick Collective in this post if you scroll above and read the text, and I also tried to identify some of the work by individual artist if I could find them online. I also gave credit to The Bushwick Collective in my previous post ( http://vergeofverse.com/exploring-concepts-in-photography-street-art-in-bushwick/ ) when I first took the photos. Please note that I’m not trying to take the entire credit for The Bushwick Collective’s work.

      I’m a Media Studies student, and this segment was part of a series of assignments I had to do for a Media Design class when we were learning about photography as part of the course curriculum. I chose to photograph the work done by The Bushwick Collective because the art is so visually compelling. As a student learning photography and storytelling concepts in media production and design, I’ve only used these images for educational purposes under Fair Use.

      Thanks for your understanding, and thanks for all the great artwork that The Bushwick Collective continually contributes to the neighborhood.


What are your thoughts?