Manipulating The Image

The other day I was having a quick scan through my email junk folder. It’s always interesting what can be found there even if it’s just scammers pretending to be a pretty girl who is in love with me. Oh well, poor girls, can’t blame them really.

One email that caught my eye before hitting the permanently delete button was one asking me to follow a girl called Olivia Casta. Looking at her picture she seemed to be a very pretty girl but even so, I wasn’t going to click the link on the email, after all, that’s what the scammers want you to do; click on a phony link. I did a search for her on google and she came up as a popular model and influencer on Instagram.

I am on Instagram although not knowing that much about it I rarely post anything there apart from the occasional graphic trying as usual to bring in more readers to my blog. Come to think of it, I don’t even look at Instagram that much at all.

Olivia Casta

I did a quick search for Olivia on Instagram and there were various people associated with that name, most of whom seemed to be posting pretty much the same pictures of the same pretty girl dressed in various skimpy outfits.

Going back to Google I was about to search for something else but looking down the list there was another hit on Olivia. This one at a site called caveman.com claimed that Olivia Casta really wasn’t Olivia Casta.

That looked kind of interesting so I clicked on it and it claimed that Olivia Casta was really another lady called Maria Tretjakova. There was even a picture of this other lady in the same pose as a picture of Olivia. Whoa, this was really odd! It seemed that this author claimed that Maria was using a face app teen filter to make herself look younger, the giveaway was apparently that each picture of Olivia Casta has the same sweet smile, in fact exactly the same sweet smile.

Well I decided to take a look and see if I could find the Face app. I looked on my iPad and the app was available in my app list. I tried to download it but like a lot of apps I try to download these days, a message came up asking me to upgrade my software to version 14.0. Now that is a problem because my iPad says I’m on 12.5 but it also says that I am fully updated. In order to update my iPad I would actually need to go out and buy a newer model which is really just not acceptable because I spent a lot of money on my current iPad only a few years ago. Oh well, I won’t be exchanging my blog profile photo for a faceapped one of me looking considerably younger any time soon.

After this little excursion into face imaging it got me thinking about Lee Harvey Oswald. I’m sure you will probably know that Lee Oswald is the man accused of the assassination of President Kennedy in 1963. Lee worked in the Texas School Book Depository and three shots from the 6th floor were fired at the President on the 22nd November 1963. One shot hit Kennedy in the head causing a wound from which he could not possibly have survived.

A rifle was found at the scene, a rifle that had been ordered by a man called Alex Hidell and Lee Oswald, when later arrested at the Texas theatre was carrying an identity card in that exact name.

image courtesy wikipedia

Oswald turned to the TV cameras and asked for ‘someone to come forward’ presumably to help him but no one ever did. Oswald himself was in turn later murdered by Jack Ruby, a Dallas nightclub owner right in the underground car park of the police headquarters and people have been asking ever since, was Oswald guilty? Did he shoot the President? Did Ruby shoot Oswald to silence him?

Well one of the things that looked pretty bad for Oswald was a photo of him holding a Mannlicher Carcarno rifle, the same rifle apparently that fired the fatal shot. The thing is, Oswald said that the photo was a fake, a manipulated photo designed to frame him. So was it?

There is quite a nice scene in the film JFK where Kevin Costner as Jim Garrison is explaining things to his team, that they have to look at things like the CIA and that black is white and white is black. As he does so, on the screen is a montage of someone manipulating an image, taking a picture of Oswald and fixing it to a picture of someone holding the rifle.

Now despite all this controversy over the photo and Lee Oswald claiming it was a fake, Lee’s Russian wife Marina, actually said that she took the picture. It was taken at 214 West Neely street in Dallas, a rooming house where Lee was living at the time of the assassination. Was Oswald lying or was it Marina? Marina was taken into protective custody by the FBI after the assassination so was she telling the truth or just going along with what the FBI had told her to say?

These days, images are so easy to manipulate. Somewhere on my hard drive, I’ve got a version of this picture with my face in place of Lee’s but for the life of me, I couldn’t find it.

Changing your image digitally is one thing but there are those that want to change themselves physically. One way of doing that is to get plastic surgery but there can be pitfalls if you go down that road. Marilyn Monroe was rumoured to have had some surgery done to the tip of her nose and her chin but clearly if the rumours are true, the surgery was minimal and turned out pretty well. Others have not been so lucky.

Leslie Ash was one of stars of the TV comedy Men Behaving Badly. I’ve always thought she was rather pretty but it looks like she wasn’t happy with her looks and had filler injected into her lips giving her what the newspapers called a ‘trout pout’. I don’t think I’ve seen her on TV since.

Meg Ryan was another pretty lady who perhaps was worried about her advancing years, she was born in November 1961 making her 61 later this year. Searching through the internet there are claims Meg has had her cheeks filled, some work on her nose, botox on her forehead and volume in her lips. She claims she left Hollywood for personal reasons but perhaps Hollywood didn’t want her anymore when she started to look a bit odd.

Of course, the way we look is important to all of us in some way, however small. Even someone like me, I’m not immune to wanting to look my best. The profile picture of me that accompanies this blog was one taken by Liz back in 2006, 16 years ago. I could argue that I keep it for the sake of continuity rather than wanting to look younger but if I’m honest, I’d have to admit I just like the way I look as my slightly younger self.

Not only do we aspire to look our best and present ourselves at our best to the public at large, whether we are going for a night out or going to the shops (or pinning a profile picture to our blog posts) but we also look up to others who look good and who we find attractive.

When I was a teenager up on my bedroom wall alongside pictures of various racing drivers was a poster of my first crush, Olivia Newton John. In fact, the very first vinyl singles I ever bought were records by Olivia; The banks of the Ohio and What is life? A chart single at the time in 1973 cost about 48p and as those two singles had dropped out of the charts they were half price. To this day one of the few songs I can correctly recite the lyrics to is one of her other songs, Country Roads. I bought many of her albums and followed her career with interest. It was sad to hear of her death last week.

A few years ago, I did a blog post about my own internet presence. I googled myself and talked about what I found. I didn’t feature on Google until page 3 of the results but now in 2022 I come up on page 1. Steve Higgins an American TV personality came up number one just as he did a few years back, then there was Professor Steve Higgins of Durham university and various other Steve Higgins’ until I slotted in at number 7 with my YouTube page which is apparently more popular than this blog which was down there at number 10. I was pretty pleased with 7 but I’m still not happy that my YouTube page rated higher than my blog. After all, I do put the effort in here, writing a new post every week. I don’t post regular videos, just the odd one every now and then.

Not only that, how did Professor Steve Higgins of Durham University get ranked ahead of me?

Update: When this post appeared on Facebook, one of my readers told me in the comments that she had the Face App Teen Filter and sent me a photo of herself using it. The result was really amazing and later she sent me a picture of myself, suitably Faceapped. Actually I kind of like it. Should I start using it as my profile picture? Well, I like it but I’m probably better sticking to reality.


Sources: Instagram, caveman.com and Wikipedia


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Adventures with a Camera

Instamatic

My old Kodak Instamatic

I have always been a photographer. My first camera was either a birthday or Christmas present and it was a Kodak Instamatic 126. I still have the camera somewhere. From my point of view that was a wonderful present; from my parents perspective, perhaps not, because back then in the late sixties cameras needed film and film had to be developed and printed which was fairly costly, especially if you had a child that liked taking pictures and also, whose first attempts were not so good. These days if you take some dud pictures with a digital camera- delete them! It’s no big deal. Back then it was expensive!

I remember getting a major verbal lashing from my Mum when we had gone to Boots to collect my photographs. I was using colour film and Mum had to shell out for my pictures of my action man in various poses in the back garden! (Action man? Hey, I was 12!)

Bob the Dog.

Bob the Dog.

Here’s one of my favourite pictures, it’s our old dog Bob. You can read more about Bob in this previous post but he was a lovely dog, part Manchester terrier and part something else. My brother and I, well the whole family really, had a lot of fun with him and one day I caught him sitting in the sun in the back garden, slipped a pair of sunglasses on him and there he is, saved for as long as that black and white snap will last.

imageZenith TTL

I was in my twenties before I got my next camera. I bought it from a work colleague who was upgrading and the camera came with a huge 200mm lens, some filters and other bits and pieces. As you can see by this next picture I became really hooked on photography and starting buying camera magazines and books and really learning how to use a camera. I enjoyed taking special effects shots such as double exposures and hand firing the flash in darkened rooms with the camera shutter open. Also I used to take a lot of still life shots such as this one of my camera kit and books.

Olympus OM10Olympus OM10

As I gained more confidence I naturally wanted to upgrade. The camera I chose was an Olympus OM10. As time went on I gradually accrued quite a collection of lenses and filters. In the 1980s I was really keen on motor sport and I spent a lot of Sunday afternoons at Oulton Park racing circuit in Cheshire. Silverstone, the home of the British Grand Prix is not so photographer friendly with high fences and the spectators kept back from the track in the interests of safety. Hockenheim, the venue for this weekends German Grand Prix was a circuit I visited in 1988 and I took some great pictures there.

Prost

Alain Prost, McLaren Honda 1988

I had a motorwind and a zoom lens and I took some great shots of cars out on the circuit as well as some with my wide-angle lens in the paddock. (Not the paddock at Hockenheim I might add, even in 1988 it was far too expensive for me but Oulton Park’s paddock used to be pretty easily accessible, and fairly cheap.) Later, I bought an Olympus OM2SP, a little more sophisticated than the OM10 but still pretty easy to use.

Nikon DSLRDigital

I started the digital era with a canon powershot camera and then a Fuji that I picked up second-hand. My first and so far only digital DSLR is a Nikon D100. It’s still a fairly old-fashioned camera; it has the old style flashcard. I bought it on e-bay and I’m really happy with it. I do so love the digital camera age. With digital you can shoot like a professional, bracket your shots and take those extra frames to make sure you have captured your shot perfectly. No need to hold back or worry about running out of film, no need to worry about developing and printing costs. Cover yourself by taking shot after shot and just delete the unwanted ones. Even if they are not quite right, once the image is on your laptop or pc you can re-size, brighten, sharpen, add or take away colour. I’m so glad I have kept all my older, slightly poorer shots because now I can scan them and sort them out with my ten-year old version of photoshop or even with free editing sites like picmonkey. You can even take some of your pictures and convert them to a gif at sites like http://gifmaker.me/

As a blogger, photographs brighten up my blog posts and pull the reader in. On Twitter and Facebook, posts with images pull in 94% more views than posts without a relevant image. That’s a pretty staggering statistic so get out your camera today, even if it’s just your smartphone camera, and get snapping!


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