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My cheatin’ heart

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An inadvertent error meant I’d have to do one of two things: start a project over, or cheat. I opted for the later. Not a big cheat, but I definitely stepped over the what-you-see-isn’t-what-you-get line.

I just put the final coat of finish on a project, and the last step would be to shoot the “beauty” photo. That’s the image that leads the project chapter and will probably end up, with others, on the book cover. With a cool spell in our area I did the work on my dining table so it could be in the warmer house overnight. No problem there; I do this all the time.

But at some point when the finish was still fresh a waft of air that was just right blew the corner of the newspaper I’d been working on up against the project. Where it stuck. All night.

I got most of the paper off the next morning but there was till some left, plus ink had bled into the cured finish in several spots. Worse, this was on the most visible presentation face of the project, so no tricky angling to hide it in the photo was possible. My only course of action would be to strip it and refinish.

And while I’ll certainly do that later, I just don’t have the time right now. So I went ahead and took the photos, and then spent an hour or so with Photoshop to make the bad stuff disappear. I use Photoshop a lot for book and project photography, but mostly for lighting/color correction or to make distracting things disappear from images – errant electrical cords, an empty soda can, or even a little cut on my thumb can all draw attention so I simply make them go away.

But this is the first time I’ve ever changed a project photo so drastically to hide an error, and it feels like cheating. Sure, the project really did turn out fine and it was the accidental ruining of the finish that I was hiding. Still, it makes me feel a little dishonest.

I suppose that once I’ve turned the book in and have the time to refinish that project – making it match its own photo after the fact – I’ll feel better about it.



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