Should Photoshop be illegal?

In recent years there has been a lot of controversy around the use of digital enhancement software: The main issue of debate tends to focus on the fashion industry, as it is argued that magazines and editorial shoots gives young people an unrealistic and, in many cases, dangerous expectation of how their bodies should look. But it does raise an important question, as to when – and if ever – digital enhancement is necessary.

Why use it?

For most people in the creative industries, photo-manipulation is a basic tool in every trade. You can use it to make photos stand out more by making certain colours pop while other colours are muted; It allows you to ‘revamp’ images over the years to keep up with the changing industries; it also allows you to perfect every image that you take by allowing you to remove blemishes, straighten out lines, level the contrast and so on. The possibilities really are rather limitless as you can essentially make any image you have into a completely new and maybe even completely different picture. Furthermore, photo-manipulation is not an easy task: Besides from needing a very steady hand and a keen eye for detail, you also need heaps of patience to be able to sit and stare at the same pixel images for many hours at a time while you work on a particular project. This means that the more you practice, the better you get, and if you are someone who wants to work in a creative industry, these skills are invaluable.

Does it really show skill?

On one hand, it does take a certain level of skill to manipulate a photo: Even if you are simply adjusting the colour ratios of a photo, you must still have at least a basic understanding of the software as well as an understanding of photo composition. However to some extent, it almost doesn’t matter if the photo you have taken is completely pants if you have the knowledge to manipulate the original into something artistic. On the other hand, can you still deem yourself an ‘artist’ or a ‘photographer’ if you need to rely on software to make your photo great?

Does it create false expectations?

One of the universal truths of modern day society is that when you compare yourself to other people, you are undoubtedly going to become sad and disappointed with what you have in life. This is made worse when the pictures you are looking at are not the entire truth of that person’s life, nor is it an accurate representation of society as a whole: As beautiful as celebrities can be and as flawless as the Victoria Secret models are, the majority of photos taken of them are then manipulated to look more appealing than they are. The time old story of ‘sex sells’ means that we are more likely to pay attention to a beautiful body than we are to the sight of your average person, even though the average person is an attainable role model to have. In recent years, fashion companies such as Dior have even banned super skinny models in their cat walks, so why are we not banning them in photographs?

The dangers?

To begin with, super skinny models only add to the stereotype that in order to be considered ‘beautiful’ you have to weigh as little as possible. This is not only bad for society, where the percentage of people with eating disorders is gradually rising every year, but it is also bad for the industries that condone them, as it almost suggest that they care about making money more than they care about the people who sell their clothes for them. It also portrays an image that the people in modelling campaigns are the ‘normal’ people of society, and it is everyone else who looks bizarre, when it reality it is the opposite way around. But not only do these people already have incredible bodies (simply because they work out, eat healthy and, mostly, because it is literally their job to look stunning) but then editors set to work to exaggerate the images more: legs get longer, skin gets smoother, lips become fuller, muscles get more defined, until we see an image that is not only a poor representation of society, but a bad representation of that model as a person, as though the hours they have spent in the gym and all that clean eating was pointless because a piece of software s what makes them look flawless in the end.

The upside?

Photo manipulation can be hours upon hours of fun and since the software is still surprisingly new, it is very hard to become a master of it. The software is constantly developing and improving and as such so are the skills that come along with it. It also is now becoming a sought after skill in the creative industry, with more and more employers wanting at least a basic understanding of photo manipulation software. It stands to reason that there is a clear need for it in society otherwise why such a high demand for the skill within the workforce? It could even be argued that photo manipulation is an art form in its own right, as it combines many different disciplines, while still requiring an in-depth knowledge of them all in order to create an image that is new and striking.

So what do you think? Is it really necessary in an artistic world, or is it doing more damage then it’s worth? Let me know 🙂

T xx

 

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Until Dawn: Review

PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: This game is currently free to download of the PSNetwork!

This weekend I spent most of my Friday night doing what any respectable 24 year old should be doing…playing a horror video game. I would like to say that I only did the game in sporadic play-throughs but no…I finished the game in maybe two nights. The first night, I had only just started, the story hadn’t begun to ramp up yet and I was tired. But the second night, I could NOT put the controller down. I needed to see how it ended and how I did overall.

General synopsis

Until Dawn is a 2014 horror game that tells the story of a group of teenagers. The story begins with them all playing a prank on one of the girls, who in her humiliation runs out onto the mountain, in the middle of winter and ends up getting lost. Her sister goes looking for her, only for them to fall down the mountain to their deaths. Fast forward a year, and the same group of friends are back at the mountain to pay their respects and honouring their friends’ memories. The characters are all varying degrees of generic teenagers: there’s a lot of angst, lots of unrequited love, lots of love triangles and therefore lots of drama BESIDES impending death and destruction. This game gives you the chance to play as every character, each taking their turn to play out the story as it is happening.

The Butterfly Affect aspect

The Butterfly Effect is the idea that one little decision or action can drastically alter the future: A flutter of a butterfly’s wings could cause a horrific storm 300 miles away. While it is far-fetched to think about it is still a really interesting idea, that all of our actions and our choices shape how our life turns out: One little chance meeting with someone on a train could mean you meet the love of your life, or being a few minutes late in the morning meant you never met that person to begin with. Until Dawn made it a bit more serious than that, making it very much a life or death situation, and the fact that the choices are timed forces you to make split second decisions that can alter the course of events following it. In the case of Until Dawn, this can determine whether or not the character you are playing as lives or dies.

Image result for until dawn gifs

Game play itself

The game is similar to a telltale series game: Lots of cut scenes, lots of time to investigate places, quick time events and of course, timed choices. I am absolutely not a good person when it comes to shooting games, because try a I might I can not aim to save my life. These types of games suit me better: They feel like I’m watching a movie that I get to interact with, rather than having to try and beat countless enemies and complete quests. The story is awesome, as it keeps you really invested in what is happening: The only reason I stayed up for so long was because I needed to find out what would happen next.

The horror

This game is indeed a horror game though. It has jump scares galore, monsters that are scary as all hell and some genuinely tense moments: One of the scariest tasks is having to remain absolutely still (The PS4 controller has a motion sensor in it!) when a huge, screaming monster is circling you. The scares are also relatively clever, and are only used when really needed to progress the story forward. While some scares are very early on and are usually anti-climactic, it all helps to create that feeling of ‘horror’ within this game: What the characters go through, you go through as the player.

Image result for until dawn gifsJust one of the horrible deaths that can occur through bad decision making

The characters

Most importantly though, the characters are multi-dimensional: One of my favourite characters actually came across as the biggest jerk in the beginning, but as the game progresses and you start to see the consequences of your actions, the characters become far more important to you…some can even become LESS important to you when you see how they react to little choices you make. This game gets you invested from the get-go and I think that is what’s so enjoyable about it. Each character has their own set of personality traits, and you can also keep track on how every character views each other: Who is mad at who, who is fond of who, and who is most likely to leave you for dead just because you chose a seemingly small option. The characters are also surprisingly vast in personalities and it is nice to see them change throughout the course of the game.

Image result for until dawn gifsSam (played by Hayden Panettiere) and Josh (played by Rami Malek)

Overall?

Well worth a play! The game itself may not be an overly long game, but with the amount of stress you go through you’ll probably be thankful for it! It is a very fun game either way, and the fact that every decision leads to a different series of events, the ending can be different each time you play it. It’s fun just to see how each decision can change things and, more importantly, which decisions ultimately do nothing even though it seems like a super hard choice.

Have any of you guys played it? Let me know below your views on the game 🙂

T xx

 

Best horror games

If you love a puzzle…

Limbo is actually a pretty simple game design, and yet somehow it just works. You play as a little boy, wondering through different areas trying to find his sister. It is almost all in black and white (or at least super muted tones) and works mostly based on shadows. Now while this game isn’t the traditional ‘horror’ game, it is definitely a game that puts you on edge and makes you feel uneasy: At one point, you hack off a giant spider’s legs with a bear trap, and at another point you lure murderous children (or at least slightly older than you teenagers) to death-by-stomping-machine…All while very little is explained to you and there is no more story than what you piece together as you go.

Image result for limbo gameSimple, yet effective

The puzzles are just challenging enough to make you think, while still being hard enough that it may test your patience attempting them four or five times. The art work is both calming and unsettling, and it’s simplicity is probably what makes it so enjoyable. It is definitely worth a play if you fancy something that’s scary while still being charming.

For the survivalist…

Outlast (1+2…so this may be a cop out…) is a survival horror game. In both games you play as some poor man who just ended up in the wrong place at the very worst time possible. In Outlast 1, you are trying to escape a mental asylum, and in Outlast 2, you are trying to rescue your wife from a mental religious cult: Po-tay-to po-tar-to. In both games however you are armed with nothing but relatively good stamina and a video camera to document your journey…and help you navigate the very dark crawl spaces. You have no weapons to fight back with and so you can either run or hide from the vast array of scary characters who want nothing more than to harm you.

Image result for outlastA little visit in Outlast

Both games are terrifying, and not only because you can’t fight back. Both games are really quite graphic with the blood, violence and mutilation that you are bound to encounter (so I suppose parental guidance should be stated!) and so is not a game for the fainthearted for that reason more than anything. The stories may be relatively flimsy – in many cases you aren’t sure why or how you even got into this situation in the first place – but the overall pace of the game is so well structured that you rarely get time to think about anything other than escaping…preferably with as many limbs as possible still attached to you. Jump scares galore, graphic violence and some truly terrifying moments, this game will definitely keep you up at night.

For the nostalgia….

Resident Evil VII was largely a success…while it may have varied a lot from the original games of the 90s, the game had a lot of nods to them for the fans. The game itself, was actually a lot of fun. While it may have been a relatively short game (roughly 8-9 hours) it was packed with everything you would expect from a horror: jump scares, abandoned houses, viruses, plagues, bugs, demon possessed families and even creepier non-possessed adults. The best thing about this game was also the high tech aspect of it all: Playing the high-resolution, wonderfully life-like animated game was bad enough without playing it in virtual reality. This game had everything you would want; decent story line, lots of monsters, lots of levels and, most importantly, lots of weapons to defeat them all with. If you don’t feel like sleeping for a long time, then have a go at this!

Image result for resident evil 7Meet the Bakers

Just because you like the scares…

Slenderman (again, a slight cop out) is not necessarily a ‘game’ in the same way the above mentioned are: There isn’t really a story passed the point of ‘Slenderman wants you dead’ and ‘find the papers’. The game, despite it’s simplicity, really is quite fun and is actually a bit of a cult classic these days. It’s surprising how scary a little bit of static on your screen can make you and I promise you, no matter how many times you play the game, it will still make you nervous when it happens. There isn’t much else to say on this game because there really isn’t much to it apart from jump scares, but if you just want a little game to play with people or because you’re bored one night, then this is the game for it.

Image result for slender manSlenderman awaits….

Similarly to the above is Five Nights at Freddy’s…because…well this one is pretty self explanatory!

For the nightmares…

While this demo is pretty hard to come across now (the game itself was scrapped before full release) it was truly scary. It was a demo released to raise interest for a new horror game made by Kojima Productions and featured the acting talent of The Walking Dead’s Norman Reedus. It was pretty basic in theory: You walk a long a corridor of a house, walk through a door in the basement, which then brings you out at the start of the corridor again while all the while changing to become more horrific each cycle. I think almost everyone is aware of the fetus in the bathroom sink….yeah…that’s somehow not the most unnerving of things you will see in this game. If you are looking for nightmares then just watch the game play of this because it is genuinely unsettling…and if you’re brave/stupid enough to actually play the game then be prepared for a psychological trip.

Image result for PT gameOh hey…

What about you guys? What are some of your favourite horror games?

T xx