I love to spend time on Facebook and I have a friend who makes a point of finding some of the very worst examples of Photoshop that she possibly can and then posting them on her timeline. While there are some times when I cannot tell what is "wrong" in an image until she points it out (can you believe I didn't notice someone missing a hand!), there are some that are so blatant, and so painful as to be laughable.
Let's take some time to discuss the five worst examples that I have ever seen in order to teach you some cautionary lessons about the powers and temptations of Photoshop. You see, that is why those errors occur...people get over confident in the ways that the program functions, and they overlook the deplorable things that they have done to their digital photography because of it.
So, that means that our first word of very sincere warning is to "avoid going overboard" with Photoshop. It can't do everything, and yet people consistently try to make this happen.
- Two Left Hands: At first I thought there was someone hiding behind the figure in the center of the photograph, but then I realized that someone had Photoshopped the wrong hand into the image. The guy in the center was "everybody's friend" and the people around him had put their arms around his back. Apparently, the editor thought it would look best if the guy had the hands of his buddies up on his shoulders rather than at his waist. Problem was that he put the same hand on both shoulders...creepy and painfully bad!
- Found: One shin and dapper shoe: It was a photograph of a famous world leader and his wife leaving a building. Apparently the guy who had been walking behind the leader had either requested anonymity or looked wrong in the image. They used Photoshop to cut him out of the scene, but had one problem remaining...they left behind his left shin and shoe. Ouch!
- Missing shadow: There he was...the winner of a massive lottery prize, holding that oversized check that they always seem to have waiting in the wings. Unfortunately for the guy in the photograph, his check was a phantom. How did I know? When you looked at the shadow he was casting along the ground, all you saw was him with his empty arms outstretched to hold the check, but no shadow from the check itself!
- "Busting" out the wall: Someone my friend actually knew was trying to get a lot more attention on social networks. She used one of the oldest digital photography tricks around - she enhanced herself with Photoshop. The problem was that she had no idea how to manage it without making the wall next to her...ah...appendage, bend outward too. Bust or busted?
- Wrong side: the model's legs were flawless. The swimsuit was like a second skin. The accessories worked wonders for what little garment there was, and yet something wasn't quite right...ah, yes...her thumb was missing. Was it really? Nope, it was simply that a copy of a left hand had been added to her right arm. While the bracelet was gorgeous, the girl had the look of a very sexy, but broken Barbie doll!
- We couldn't have a post about Photoshop mistakes and not mention selective coloring. Selective color is where most of the photo is black and white and only a portion of it is in color. On a very rare occasion it can be used with a good effect, but for the most part it comes off as cheesy and for no reason. Best bet is to stay away from the selective color temptation.
Digital photography has never been "rocket science" and Photoshop is actually pretty user friendly too. It is when you stop paying attention to the tricks you are attempting to pull off that you run into trouble. By all means, use the software to erase people, improve the look or message of the image, and to make someone look better, sexier, leaner, or longer, but be aware of the consequences. Don't allow your dedicated digital photography work to become a "mistake", and double check all of those changes!