Mike Mihaljevich
Historical Fiction vs Non-Fiction
Mon May 23, 7:53

Thank you for your very warm praise. I didn't mean to take away from the enjoyment of the photographs. When someone reads a book, there's value in understanding if it's historical fiction or non-fiction. Both have merit, but it's important to know what you're reading. The same applies to photographs, and I wanted to create some awareness of that.

You asked some good questions. I enjoy the discussion, so thank you for asking. You have it right when you said the programs "fill in the blanks". The examples you gave include both material photographs and digital files. In material photographs, time can fade tones, impart blemishes through accidents or mishandling, and in the case of popular albumen prints the surface can crack. Very few of these can be fixed in the material prints, but all of the can be fixed digitally. In either case the goal is to restore it to its original state. The modern examples you shared go beyond that by adding in elements that were not there based on the calculations of the programs. The accuracy of the results depends somewhat on the quality of the original. In the case of the Doc Holliday photo you mentioned last, that was the result of the long lost art of "retouching". This is a hand-done process in which alterations are made to the original (usually done to the negative itself) to alter the subject in a humber of ways for a number of reasons. Since it's done by hand, it can be realistic or "cartoony" depending on the skill of the person doing it. One could argue whoever did the "Doc" photo wasn't that convincing.

    • Thanks for the correctionKaren M, Sun May 22 13:37
      Ok initially I was rather deflated by this revelation, but what you're saying makes sense. I love learning (which is why I thoroughly appreciate this message board), and I believe you not only author ... more
      • The errant pencil of Mr. RoseJerry Prather, Mon May 23 13:30
        Karen, I think the photo of Doc you are thinking of is probably the Noah H. Rose attempt to "restore" the photograph that Bat Masterson used in his Human Life article about Holliday. Mr. Rose also aim... more
        • This was an interesting articleKaren M, Fri May 27 22:16
          Thanks for pointing it out. So is the author Robert McCubbin an old west photography specialist? I think I saw an auction of some sort where some of his photo collection was being sold…
          • Old West PhotosJerry Prather, Sat May 28 8:07
            Yes, Mr McCubbin was a major collector of Old West photos and other items. As I understand it, he and BBB bought True West magazine together. The auction took place in 2019. I attended the photo porti... more
      • Historical Fiction vs Non-Fiction — Mike Mihaljevich, Mon May 23 7:53
        • Re: Historical Fiction vs Non-FictionB.J., Wed May 25 10:56
          I have noticed on Facebook and other social media that some women are using a beauty filer app. Apparently it takes an existing picture and upgrades the image to a perfect face, sans any acne, blemish... more
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