In the discussions over whether Photoshop is artistry or illegitimate trickery, the extent to which photography itself is a medium that relies on sleight-of-hand is often overlooked. In regard to Photoshop, photography, and the depiction of reality, check out Harold’s Manifesto: Losing the Chains of Reality (a PDF download from The Photoshop Darkroom 2: Creative Digital Transformations).
There is nothing truly new under the sun. I note in my new book Creating HDR Photos: The Complete Guide to High Dynamic Range Photography that Gustave Le Gray created multi-shot HDR imagery in the 1850s. Similarly, there’s a long tradition of using the camera in a tricky way—no matter whether the capture medium is based on chemistry or pixels.
A case in point is this image of mine of floating seeds blowing in the wind. This is a studio confection, lit from beneath and one side, and shot against black velvet. The background was created using a time exposure of a feather held up with white thread and moved by an assistant according to my directions.
The seed pod used in this image can be seen in World Within.