No one can complain about the great weather we've been having lately, especially for the air show this past weekend. I guess my only wish would have been for a few clouds in the sky...and with the help of Photoshop here they are. This is a photo of an F15E Strike Eagle taken at Wings Over Houston on Sunday. The original shot was against a flat blue background, and honestly it gets pretty boring looking at a couple hundred flat blue sky airplane photos, so I decided to enhance this one. I used the quick select tool to make a selection of the blue sky (which was very easy since it was such a consistent blue tone), selected inverse to get a selection of the plane, then moved that to a layer by itself. I then created a layer below the isolated plane and used some great brushes from Stephanie Shimerdla over at Obsidian Dawn to underlay some big white fluffy clouds.
Now, this brings up the issue of ethics and photo retouching. Since this isn't photojournalism, I don't feel particulary guilty of anything here. In fact, dropping in a new sky or altering a sky is probably one of the easiest things to do to a photo. I've heard Scott Kelby over at NAPP say he never makes significant alterations to a sky. However, all the while he's doing HDR and using blending modes to enhance images; so I think he is re-shaping reality to some degree. His stance on skies has always puzzled me. I guess it comes down to trust. Does the knowledge that I added a few clouds cause more doubt in the viewer's mind? Were the vapor trails really there? Was this photo taken at Wings Over Houston? Did I take the photo?
Once you start down the path of alteration, does it effect credibility of the photographer? It's a tough line we walk, but one that happens every day as we push pixels around on our computer screens. Like it or not, this is the world of contemporary digital photography.