Nowadays, few people do without photo editors, and before publishing a picture on social networks, they will certainly process it in Photoshop or in some other similar program. You might think. that the custom of “improving” the photo was given to us by the era of Instagram and Facebook, but this is not so. The first experiments in editing photographs took place shortly after the invention of photography, and at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, the masters of retouching were already working miracles.
The need to improve the quality of images and add all kinds of objects to them appeared soon after Joseph Niepce invented heliography in 1825 and presented the first photographic image to the world. The first photographs were processed as needed, as their quality left much to be desired.
In the 19th century, they often painted additional eyes, lips, jewelry, hairstyle elements and other details that were not too sharp and expressive when shooting. It was then that such a profession as a retoucher appeared. These were artists whose task was to add various details to the photographs, as well as to correct defects and even give color to photographs.
"Fairies from Cottingley" who deceived Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
By the end of the 19th century, the masters of retouching were so dispersed that they began to amaze the world with their unimaginable, sometimes fantastic works. It must be said that only 100 years ago people were much easier to deceive with photomontages than they are now. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, bachelor of medicine and writer who brought Sherlock Holmes to the world, was fooled by pictures taken in 1917-1921 by two teenage girls, Elsie Wright and Frances Griffiths.
Young ladies added images of winged fairies to their photos, so skillfully that the venerable writer believed in their existence and remained unconvinced until his death! Meanwhile, "Fairies from Cottingley", as these pictures began to be called, are far from the highest quality fake images of the early 20th century.
Take a look at these pictures from the collection of photographer and artist Rick Soloway and imagine that they were all made using the simplest photomontage techniques - blending and retouching using ink, paint, airbrushing, or simply scratching out on the surface of a glass photographic plate.
The caption on this photograph reads: "Pumpkins grown in Iowa are profitable."
And this photo is signed like this: "If we go to Colorado, then we know exactly why."
"New hands on the farm" - The author made a huge locust drive a tractor.
And this is Bobby Leach, who conquered Niagara Falls in a specially designed barrel. The skill of the retoucher made it possible to place the hero and his apparatus against the background of the conquered stream.
And this is Corn at the County Farmer's Fair. Not a bad harvest, isn't it?
Once upon a time such pineapples ripened on the Hawaiian Islands. Don't believe me? But in vain!
There used to be lobsters - not like today's! Not a very convincing illusion, but in the 20s of the last century it went with a bang.
Fish with human teeth. In those days, it was easier and faster to insert the teeth of a fish for a picture, but, nevertheless, here we see a skillful photomontage.
"The best wins." It seems that in the last century in the United States, the giant locust in the pictures was in trend, almost like "duckfaces" are now.
"Train robbery". It is difficult to find a situation in which virtuoso photographers could not use these insects.
So this is what you are, "mountain hare"!
"Two wise old birds." Everything is so simple here that you even get a little disappointed.
"Rabbit from West Texas". As we can see, the masters of photomontage loved rabbits no less than locusts.
Well, this is a classic - the usual fishing lies, visualized using the technical capabilities of the early 20th century.
Finally, it should be said that some of these pictures are not at all useless mischief. Photos with pumpkins, corn, fish and pineapples were created specifically to attract expats to not the most popular regions of the United States. Yes, that's right - once upon a time people had to be lured to the Hawaiian Islands with fake giant pineapples. They also used the art of retouching for political purposes.
Photos with giant vegetables even received a separate name - "Tall Tale Postcards" or "Postcards-fables". Of course, most of the viewers saw a catch, but there were those who actually bought into a primitive trick. Does it work any differently today?
See also - When old black and white photographs suddenly turn color
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