If you browse people’s photos on any of the online photo-sharing sites, you’ll see a lot of pictures where people have distorted the colours. I did it to one of my photos, as an example: the picture on the right is a shot I took last Sunday of the Empire State Building in New York City (click it to see the original and the altered one side by side).
Some people do the distortion just because they think it looks cool, but some clearly do it to get an “artistic” effect. And that, of course, raises my frequent question:
Is it art?
I certainly do think that fiddling with the colours and contrast of a photo was art in the days of darkrooms and negatives. You needed a feel for the technique in order to get the effect you wanted. You had to try a number of times, perhaps many, to hit what you were looking for. There was skill and patience involved.
There was no “undo” button.
It’s different now, though. To make the effect on the right, I used the Mac Preview program, got the “Adjust Color” pane, and pulled a few sliders around. That one involved shoving the contrast and saturation all the way in one direction, and the tint all the way in the other. Poof.
Maybe you think it looks cool; maybe you think it doesn’t. But is it art?
Update, 12 Oct: This xkcd cartoon seems like a perfect fit here.