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on October 17, 2012
When I saw a write-up on the exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art for which this book serves as catalog, I immediately ordered the book sight-unseen. Smart move. This is another in a long series of outstanding books on photographic history associated with Yale University Press (here, as distributor), as usual beautifully printed and bound using high-quality materials.

The text here is outstanding, laying out a history of photographic manipulations from the 1840s through the late twentieth century. Done for exaggeration, distortion, or to yield an image "more true than truth", with techniques including hand-coloring, drawing on negatives, compositing, chromolitho and half-tone printing and others, this is probably the most exhaustive study of the subject. There are other books on specific kinds of images -- exaggeration postcards. for example, and surrealist photography -- but I know no others that cover the full range so effectively. The text is also clear and accessible, and there's a section at the end that discusses each cataloged image in more detail. There's also a very good glossary at the end. Several images are shown with their component images, or detail showing negative alterations, or multiple images using a repeated component (like a cloudy sky composited into a scenic view) in order to help understand the processes.

The photographs are beautifully reproduced at good size. Relatively few are at full-page, but since many were originally produced as smaller images (e.g., CDVs, postcards) that doesn't feel inappropriate. The cover alone would make it suitable for a coffee table; the contents would enthrall anyone who casually picked it up from there.

My one quibble would be that there are insufficient examples drawn from parts of the world outside the US and Europe. There is a single Japanese image with hand coloring and added rain, and unsurprisingly there are several Russian and Soviet images -- the latter notorious for political editing -- and a scattered few others. To name just one example, Mexican journalistic photography is well known for its manipulations, and there are other global traditions both artistic and journalistic that could have been drawn on more fully.

As noted in the text, Newhall's History of Photography from 1839 to the Present Day remains a widely read classic work in the history of photography, but is specifically slanted towards "straight" photography. This volume would make an excellent companion to that work, fleshing out the history significantly.
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on April 17, 2013
I saw this show at the Met with my wife and daughter and we thought it was one of the smartest and most engaging exhibitions of any medium we'd ever seen. I bought the book because I wanted to be able to remember what we saw and was more than pleasantly surprised by what an incredibly beautiful object the book is. Everything about it is great. The writing is mind-percolating smart and super accessible (as I knew it would be from the wall text at the show). The overall design is lovely. The photo reproductions are crisp and rich. The paper stock is heavy. I can't say enough great things about the book and the exhibition it accompanied. Anyone who loves photography should read this book. It is a total eye-opener.
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VINE VOICEon April 10, 2013
I was lucky enough to be able to visit the Met's exhibition for which this book was prepared more than once. Some of the items on display were striking, especially the most technically accomplished ones (Camile Silvy's 1958 "River Scene" and Yves Klein's fabulous 1960 "Leap Into The Void" in particular). The same works stand out in the book, but the greater depth of analysis afforded by the printed version made certain other works even more interesting.

In particular, the book makes the interesting and important case that in the early years of photography, techniques that would subsequently be viewed as "cheating," including combination of negatives, were necessary to create images that were pictorially accurate but otherwise impossible to capture with the lenses or film of the time. Examples include clouds dubbed in from one image to another, to compensate for the inability of early emulsions to properly expose blue skies, and multiple photos of a single scene shot with different focal planes to compensate for the camera's narrow depth of field.

This portion of the book was, for me, by far the most interesting. The novelty photos (farmers with giant chickens) and surreal images (Audrey Hepburn with a long neck) and political images (the erasing of discredited Komisars from photos with Joseph Stalin) were worth seeing, but have all been collected elsewhere.
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on February 9, 2013
I thoroughly enjoyed the exhibit at the Met when I was in New York last fall and the only reason I did not buy the book when I was there was because it would have added too much weight to my luggage. While those who did see the exhibit will be able to relive some of their experiences with this accompanying book it is also a wonderful addition to the shelves of the photography, art and history enthusiast who was not able to make it all the way to NYC.

My grandmother worked as a photographer's assistant and professional retouch artist so I knew before I saw the exhibit that manipulation of photographs did not begin with Photoshop it was only made less messy with it. I studied both photography (including history, film development and printing) and world history at university so I am aware that photographs, like paintings before them, have been used to manipulate the masses.

Through the use of examples from the past and present, both famous and not, Fineman shows the reader that manipulation of photographs is as old as the photographic medium itself. Whether it is the Cottingly Fairy pictures in the 1920's or Cold War propaganda or even the latest issue of a fashion magazine people's blind belief in photography is largely a result of photographers "faking it".
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on April 29, 2013
This is a wonderful book filled with great illustrations and informative text. It's the catalog for an exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Anyone with an interest in the history of photography should buy this book. I only wish that the seller had mentioned that it was a second printing.
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on December 12, 2012
Almost as good as seeing the exhibit all over again, image quality is excellent and you get even more background explanation.
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on June 11, 2013
"It succeeds most in those moments that expose glimpses of the working process, uncovering a meeting place between human longing and technology, the desire to fix memory and the impulse (along with the means) to manipulate it."

--Anthony Lepore on "Faking it: Manipulated Photography before Photoshop" from the Metropolitan Museum of Art

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on April 28, 2013
Very interesting comparison of all the different techniques for manipulating images and the importance of altering historical
photographs for political purposes, specially during dictatorial regimes.
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on December 15, 2012
I have manipulated photographs in the darkroom and in Photoshop. It is easier in Photoshop, and one is forced to admire some of the feats that were pre-digital. It is an excellent rebuttal to those who say that the photograph does not lie.
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on May 14, 2013
I love this book. As a teacher, it's now added to my 'pass around' list for my digital photo students. A great way to describe what existed before photoshop
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