Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Sky Replacement: a 150 year old problem

This post is triggered by a recent George Eastman Museum talk, given by Mark Osterman, on "A Photographic Truth", which I thoroughly recommend: https://youtu.be/LbOlsqJpGaE

The talk has real resonance for today's photographer.

For example, with the recent addition of sky replacement in Photoshop, together with similar functionality in other post processing software, photographers can literally 'do what they like', as they create their art.

If you replace the sky: is it a photograph or is it art or is it both? Even if you replace the sky with one of your skies?

Some see this ability to alter 'reality' a problem; however, as Mark discusses, photographers have been doing sky replacement, and other 'alterations of the truth', from day one.

My own perspective is clear, all photography is a lie, as our cameras and, whatever capture process we use, can never truly capture the reality of the scene. Even our eyes, and brain, distort reality.

Let the debate continue :-)


  1. The camera doesn't lie, the photographer lies.

    1. Unfortunately I have to disagree :-)

      The camera starts telling ‘lies’ when it starts filtering out UV and IR wavelengths that it can see ;-)

      It then tells more fibs when it tries to estimate the true colour at each pixel, ie via the Bayer CFA.

      We then tell more lies in Photoshop, say.

      All photography is an illusion :-):-)

  2. I would prefer the term approximation.