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Phil Douglis | all galleries >> Gallery Fifty Eight: Man and nature -- expressing our relationship with the environment > Under the rainbow, Fairfield, California, 2008
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Under the rainbow, Fairfield, California, 2008

Under the rainbow, Fairfield, California, 2008

It is seldom we see a horizontal rainbow embedded in a layer of clouds. Yet when we took a driving break in Fairfield on the way back to the San Francisco Bay Area from California’s Gold Country, this was the sight that greeted us. The rainbow by itself would be a marvelous image, rich both in color and symbolism. Yet Fairfield also lies in the flight path of nearby Travis Air Force Base, and so we waited for one of its huge transport planes to approach the rainbow, allowing us a chance to link the plane, a work of man, to the rainbow, a work of nature. A plane soon approached and we made an image of it, but its flight path carried it well below the rainbow. Later, using Photoshop, I adjusted the position of the plane, placing it just underneath the rainbow. Normally, I do not like to shift subject position digitally. Yet in this case, the essential facts were already there – the rainbow and the plane were both in my picture. Just as I would freely crop an image to shift a subject within the frame if need be, I felt this situation justified using Photoshop’s clone tool to modify the position of the plane within the frame in order to link it more closely to the rainbow. However, I would always make sure to let my viewers know that the image has been digitally adjusted in this manner. To fail to do so in a work of travel photography, nature photography or photojournalism would be, in my own view, unethical.

Leica V-Lux 1
1/1000s f/8.0 at 19.2mm iso100 full exif

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Phil Douglis27-May-2008 00:17
Glad you like it, Alina. I agree -- Photoshop is a critically important tool. I enhance all of my images with Photoshop, cropping and leveling the picture, correcting exposure, adjusting and intensifying contrast, color and sharpness, burning and dodging to stress one aspect of the image over another, changing some color images to black and white or sepia photographs. I am actually doing the same things we used to do in the chemical darkroom with film. However when it comes to digital manipulation, I am very careful about significantly altering the facts in a travel or nature image. And if I do, I will always say so, and also say why. I owe that to my viewers and students.
Alina27-May-2008 00:09
Great idea and perfect move Phile. Photoshop can be a very useful tool. The plain is flying under the rainbow and it is really beautiful picture.
Phil Douglis27-May-2008 00:03
Thanks, Cyndy, for these thoughts. I don't think it is as much a matter of honesty as it is a matter of respect for our viewers. If we are producing a personal work of art, or an advertisement, there is no reason to disclose digital manipulation. But if we are dealing with nature photography, travel photography, or photojournalism, where factual information is involved, I think it is important that we disclose any significant rearrangement of such factual information. It is only fair to the viewers who are looking at our images. In this case, the facts were already there in the image -- both the plane and rainbow were actually present in my frame. I simply used PS to bring them more closely together, and since this is an example of travel photography, such disclosure is the ethical thing to do as far as I am concerned.
Cyndy Largarticha26-May-2008 23:50
Lovely image and interpretation. You are one of the few "honest" photographers left. I'm afraid many of us (including me) use PS to artistically enhance the stories we tell with our images.
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