Retrospectacle: A Neuroscience Blog

You know the old adage “The camera adds 10 pounds?” Well, I’m not sure if thats true or not (I think its bunk), but HP has recently released cameras with a feature to help knock off those extra pounds. I found it rather absurd, as the slimming feature is really only a vertical distortion of the entire picture which gives the subjects a rather pointy-looking head. Um, hasn’t anyone heard of Photoshop if they really want to mess with reality?

But really, this highlights to me a growing (but not new) awareness of products which cater to vanity. Are the days gone when photographs captured the moment *as it was,* rather than what it could have been? Sure its fun and a method of artistic expression to alter photographs creatively, but having it built right into the camera for the sole purpose of making someone appear thinner seems kinda silly.

Comments

  1. #1 RobertC
    October 4, 2006

    I remember a few years ago, there were studies suggesting the male brain (maybe female too?) processed hip-waist ratios as a measure of attractiveness, with .7 being ideal. Since the software just ‘squishes’ the photo, and doesn’t change that ratio, I’d be curious if anyone’s brain actually finds the result more attractive-especially as opposed to scultpting in curves in photoshop…

  2. #2 Scott Belyea
    October 4, 2006

    …the slimming feature is really only a vertical distortion of the entire picture which gives the subjects a rather pointy-looking head.

    Really? I’d find this surprising, since (as you point out) one can do a much better job with Photoshop or other software. I would have thought that HP would have been a bit more sophisticated with their computer-based manipulation.

    Are the days gone when photographs captured the moment *as it was,* …

    Well … I’m not sure that there ever was such a “golden age.” It seems to me that much of this sort of commentary misses the point. It’s not that photos can now be manipulated (they always have been), but rather that reasonably sophisticated types of manipulation are now available to the casual user. Yes, the capabilities certainly can be used badly (in several senses), but the same can be said of just about any powerful tool.

    One example – given the difference in sensitivity between the human eye viewing a scene and photographic film (or digital sensors), I’m not sure that capturing the moment as it was ever really happened anyhow, even leaving aside gross manipulation of reality such as adding or removing people.

    If memory services, Ansel Adams (and we’re talking B&W view camera stuff here) commented that the getting the photo was 10%; the other 90% was darkroom work.

  3. #3 Koray
    October 4, 2006

    This is amazing. I can’t wait till they make a camera that puts a hot sportscar behind me in every picture.

  4. #4 RPM
    October 5, 2006

    The camera doesn’t add 10lbs, people just don’t realize what fat-asses they are.

  5. #5 Alon Levy
    October 5, 2006

    No, I actually saw a comment on Majikthise a while ago that said it was real. The commenter said that it had something to do with how normal human vision is binocular, while looking at a photograph is essentially monocular.

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