The photograph as document – Project 5: The manipulated image – Exercise 1


Instead of using double exposures or printing from double negatives we now have the technology available to us to make these changes in post-production, allowing for quite astonishing results.

Use digital software such as Photoshop to create a composite image which visually appears to be a documentary photograph but which could never actually be.

To make a composite image you need to consider your idea and make the required amount of images to join together.

Upload the images and decide which image you’ll use as your main image and background. Use the magic wand to select sections of image from the others you wish to move into your background image. Copy via layer and drag into the background. Do this repeatedly until you have all the pieces of your puzzle in place. In order to make it more convincing, use the erase tool on each layer to keep the edges soft and to create a better illusion. Be aware of perspective and light and shadows for the most effective results.

Search YouTube for Photoshop tutorials; there will probably be a suitable upload. If not, ask your tutor or your fellow students for advice or find a digital technique book in your library for more specific instructions.

Have a look at Peter Kennard’s Photo Op series for inspiration: [accessed 24/02/14]

The images by Peter Kennard, referenced above, are very well made, humorous, cynical and thought provoking. Photo manipulation is an art of it own, requiring an in-depth knowledge of the software in use, and the skills to use it well in order to create a realistic looking image.

I’ve experimented with image manipulation in the past, and have submitted images during my last course that were composites. For this exercise, I wanted to have a play with a fledgling idea. The images that I’ve created are pretty rudimentary, and at best are sketches in the development of an idea.

After my last tour of Afghanistan, my wife and I went on a holiday of a lifetime, driving Route 66 in the USA. I took an awful lot of snapshots of both the operational tour and the holiday (long before my education in photography started). I thought it would be interesting to mix and match elements of both sets of photos, to create a series of Afghanistan holiday snaps, or Route 66 war snaps. As I sad, its a fledgling idea, and these are the results of some experimentation:

1. The view from the aircraft window.


Consisting of:


Flying over Helmand Province in an RAF Chinook helicopter.


The Grand Canyon

2. Afghanistan’s own Route 66.


Consisting of:


Members of a Royal Engineer Search Team looking for IED’s during a Route Search.


Yours truly.

3. Sharon and I at the Holiday Camp (Bastion)

1I’m conscious that the lighting is off here, and the subjects need to be darkened. But its just an experiment. Consisting of:


Camp 406 – Home of the Counter-IED task force within Camp Bastion.


Me and Sharon at the Grand Canyon.

To be honest, I wasn’t too enthused about this exercise because photo manipulation is nothing new to me. But that said, I’m not exactly great at it so appreciated the chance to practice. It has also been the catalyst for this idea, and it will be interesting to see where I can take it.


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