A Virtual Day, Place, and Time – Re-examining My Perceptions of Reality

The photograph taken was virtually and digitally enhanced.  Many different pictures were taken and together the different variables were added together to make the ‘perfect’ picture.  Being able to manipulate things to make them how you want them makes you take a second to think about perception and reality- them oftentimes being two different things entirely.I’d like to share with you a photo of my family. It was taken this past June by an excellent photographer by the name of Jim Schoonover at Carroll Studios.

my-family-june-2007.jpg

Clockwise from the left you’ll see my son Andrew, my daughter Adrienne, my wife Vicki, me, and our two black Labradors Kobe and Bear.

To me, it’s a work of art – digital art. Not only was the picture taken on a digital camera, but it was also enhanced and altered on a computer. In the truest sense of the word, this photograph is an original creation.

Am I overstating the obvious? I don’t think so.

What if I told you that this is a virtual photograph – one that is entirely simulated. That is, the image is comprised of things that aren’t really there.

How can this be? Let me tell you what transpired in the making of this photograph.

We all gathered in my back yard for the photo shoot – Vicki, Adrienne, Andrew, Kobe, Bear, and myself. We went through several series of poses – some where you see us in the photo, others where we’ve changed positions, and another succession of placements on our back deck in various positions and postures.

As you can imagine, many variables popped up – the wind might have blown someone’s hair in his/her face, another might have been blinking when the shutter clicked, and/or the dogs might not have had the patience and attention span we were hoping for.

So what transpired to make this photograph look so well staged? The image was digitally enhanced, and I’m not simply referring to simply making the image look better.

This photograph has pieces of each of us in it. My face from a different snap shot was imposed on my body to make this one. My daughter was added (in the place she was originally standing) from another photo. The dogs were each brought in from another shot, making it look like they were attentive at the exact moment the photographer pressed the button on his camera.

Now, I don’t want to start a professional debate about the ethics of photography and digital enhancement vs. digital manipulation, but I must admit that I’m wresting with the fact that this photograph, as we all see it now, never actually occurred.

Whn I look at old photographs, particularly those of relatives, I get special feelings. I say to myself: “Wow. Is that cool that they had the foresight to assemble on this occasion to make this memory. I wonder what things were like in their lives at that period in time.”

When I look at the picture of my family, I know that we all assembled on the same date, at the same time, and in the same place to have this historic record made. But the actual event – that moment in time when were all as you see us – never took place. It’s an amalgamation of what we were all doing for an hour that day in history, but we were never, ever, together as you see us.

It sure makes me think about the world in which we live.

I’m delighted with the photograph and content in the knowledge that we were assembled as a family that day, wearing what we chose, essentially looking as we do in the picture. It’s a memory I will cherish.

But it certainly makes me re-visit my definition and perception of reality. It reminds me very clearly that perception and reality are often two different animals.

What are your thoughts?

Thanks to Mom on Wheels for including this post in the Carnival of Family Life, and to Anja Merret for including this in the Blog Carnival of Observations on Life.

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