Cut, Color, and Curl: The Makeover of Media Images and Me

Jasmine Duran
Photographs used to represent the evidence and progression of time. Today the use of filters and Photoshop prove to remix, edit, and create a whole new prospective of evidence and its worth. Media images specifically have been forced to evolve in this new media format. What worth can we place on an image taken from the media and what worth can we then give to the article that accompanies it? Can we assume the photograph has been cropped or framed for quality—hasn’t it always? 
This assignment was an attempt to understand the ethics of photojournalism and the capturing of humanity in its truest form. A media evaluation was necessary to begin the search for answers and to insist an image is still worth a thousand words.
The photograph I chose for evaluation is from the Detroit Institute of Arts. The photograph represents a bronze donkey near an audience of listeners with their attention elsewhere. The sculpture titled “Donkey” by Renee Sintenis dated from 1927, represents a foolish yet very sad Detroit in the midst of the blight. The sculpture exudes a sense of power and hierarchy from the Detroit Institute of Arts. The image signifies an accumulation of power, wealth, and conflict held by the Detroit Institute of Arts, the museum of the city. This piece was purchased by the City of Detroit and undergoes a verdict of private ownership.
At first glance the reader might imagine this piece is made of gold—a large sum at that. What great features this sculpture provides, obviously a well talked about piece in the collection, its admirers circled around it. The floating hand that seems to belong to no one reaches from behind another visitor. This is of course the most humorous feature of the picture, because little does he understand that everyone in Detroit is trying to get their hands on it.
The article is about Christie’s auction house accused of under estimating the value of the Detroit Institute of Arts collection to be considered for auction to pay creditors, pensioners, and debt. Creditors believe the entire collection is worth billions and the Institute is being asked to forward documents that record similar actions to sell art in the past or any related information about the non-profit agreement between the museum and the city.

I believe this photograph must have been cropped to anonymize faces and give emphasis to the bronze piece. I don’t believe there could have been any filters, but settings must have been changed on the camera to frame the piece. In most museums, flash photograph is not permitted. The only light available is what is being offered throughout the exhibition space. Settings to open the lens are used with an ISO increase. If photography was not allowed at all, this might have been a sneaky shot with ample light on the subject. 

Practicing in Pixels

What do I know about photography, you ask? Nothing. I sent myself out to practice taking photos to tell a story. Here’s what I found:

Each of these photographs tells a story in a unique way. I imagined myself as a photojournalist and attempted to frame photographs in what I thought best for the reader.

Doors illustrate the passage into another realm, a reminder of our transfer of rooms at the Penn Museum.
It was important for me to capture light in this image. The open space is warm with light, yet empty of anything else. Symmetry and hard lines are a favorite of mine and I attempted to align everything about this photograph. These doors are the only ones unopened at the top of the staircase, leading me to become very curious to what might be behind them. The design of the doors is enchanting and superior against the bare, white walls. A cool filter was used to project the blue and purplish hue enriching the mahogany. This photo has not been edited and it does not contain any visitors, which might have required consent forms. This reading and practice has helped me understand the contemplation behind snapping a photograph; placement, lighting, and camera settings. Taken with Samsung SGH-T999/ ISO 125/ Resolution 3264×2448/Focal Length 3.7mm/ White Balance: Auto/ Exposure: 1/20.


A fighter and a fox. This subway sweetheart attempts to reconcile with her cheating boyfriend.
Friday evening after work, the train from Doylestown to Market East was full of eager weekenders. A young lady sat silent on the phone while I read. She began to angrily whisper she couldn’t talk at the moment. Her voice rose, and then failed. She hung up. He called back. He broke the news of his adultery. Again and again she begged him to tell her everything, assuring him she would remain calm; and she did.
The reason I chose to capture this moment was because of the embarrassment we all face at some point or another when in a fight in public. Her hair covered her face most of the time and she didn’t dare face me throughout the thirty-minute ride. She attempted to whisper, but her anger demanded to be heard. She tried to reason, yet he was as sly as a fox. The picture was taken quickly as to avoid being caught. I unintentionally caught the poster in the back that reads, “No one outsmarts a Fox.” A situational fluke that was hard to resist a second attempt to capture the picture. This is the first of two shots I snapped in the moment.  Taken with a Samsung SGH-T999/ ISO 100/ Resolution: 3264×2448/ Focal Length: 3.7mm/ White Balance: Auto/ Orientation: 180 degrees/ Exposure Time: 1/30.
                       City lights guide strangers on a foggy Friday night on Avenue of the Arts.
The streets are always full on Friday nights. This scene was captured on N. Broad Street, or Avenue of the Arts, between Locust and Walnut Street.  I was walking to have drinks and I noticed the bright lights across the school buildings. I first intended to capture City Hall engulfed in haze, then settled on the movement. Couples were whizzing by me hand-in-hand, scarves on, jackets zipped and an umbrella in hand. The night was looking extremely uneventful when I noticed the oncoming traffic that was just beginning to reach N. Broad Street. I wanted to capture the lights, the speed, and the people. Unfortunately I could not catch them all in the same shot. I pointed and shot, unable to adjust the settings on my phone camera. Camera: Samsung SGH-T99/ Orientation 0 degrees/ Resolution: 3264×2448/ Flash: Off/ Focal Length: 3.7mm/ Aperture 2.6/ ISO: 640/ Exposure: 1/15.
Bankruptcy flaunts its beauty on Walnut and 2ndStreet in Philadelphia. 
On Walnut Street sits a beautiful old building with dirty windows and a quite personality. I have rarely seen people walking around this place and I was told it went bankrupt a while back. I have always admired the beauty of this building and must say, it was not the first time I took a picture of its architecture. This afternoon I was walking back from work and noticed all the shadows and darkness inside like I’ve never seen it before. The colors were rich and there was little to give it away as a closed restaurant. The settings I used while capturing this picture was a warm setting that brings out the darker colors. It was a very sunny day and enhanced the name and dramatized the front entrance. 
Guardian and child watch over the city of Philadelphia in the newest naval war ship, the USS Somerset.

This picture was taken aboard the USS Somerset the last week of February. It was the only day in February that teased a fair 60-degree weather and I explored the new ship with a fair wait. What I was most concerned about in this shot was the life ring. I wanted the orange color to stand out more than the sky. I could have made this possible through Photoshop, yet allowed myself to be humbled by the scene of the skyline looking onto Market Street. Another feature of color that bothers me is her shoes being so bright. I was hoping to dim those a bit too. I did not crop the top of the picture even though the large smokestack is showing.There is an unintentional glow around the life ring and the guardian’s legs. This looks like an HDR effect, but might have just come from the cool effect from my phone setting. Camera: Samsung SGH-T99/ Orientation: 90 degrees/ Focal Length: 3.7mm/ ISO: 80/ Exposure: 1/948/ Filter: Cool Effect.

Where do I stand now? I have to say, this assignment has encouraged capturing my love for Philadelphia and simple beauty with thoughtfulness. I have never thought of becoming a photojournalist or professional photographer, but I love to tell stories. It turns out, a photograph might still be worth a thousand words after all.