Saturday, July 11, 2015

Digital Story Critique: Photoshopping at

For this week's digital story critique I have selected two images from articles on

Beneath each picture I will list the title of the article along with the abstract:


How to Use The 5 "Moments of Need" Model In Corporate eLearning

In this article, I'll share how you can use the 5 “moments of need” to your advantage when designing eLearning courses and training events. Capitalizing on these “moments of need” when designing and developing your eLearning courses will help you to create deliverables that improve knowledge absorption and retention, which is the ultimate goal of any learning experience.


Augmented Learning 102: Voice Activated eLearning - Listen Up!

You’ve probably heard that the only silly question is the one that you didn’t ask. Well, technology has now taken that saying one step further. Voice recognition allows us to talk to, rather than through, our mobile devices. One of the best things about our mobile devices... they don’t judge. No question is too silly.

The website is an online community of eLearning professionals which includes articles, research, resources, software, collaboration, and other useful tools related to eLearning. Professionals can post articles to the website for publication. Each article comes with a visual (which follows the title and abstract) that helps portray the message of the article. I've chosen two photoshopped images that I will evaluate based on the following dimensions:

- Knowing how to import an image into an image editor 
- Understanding how perspective, shadows and shading etc. work
- Understanding how to create a recognizably meaningful juxtaposition of images

Knowing how to import an image into an image editor 

This is a fairly simple dimension but its important to point at that both images (for the purposes of this critique I will call them the stairs image and desert image) show real people. Placing real people in a photoshopped image helps the viewer create a somewhat personal connection. "If there are real people doing that then it must be possible for me to do it". I think it was important for the author or editor to specifically use live images in order to drive the reader to internalizing the message of the article. Therefore, to use real people, importing images into Photoshop or any other photo editor is a key function. In the case of these two pictures where the people are placed against a different background, it is also important to be able to crop and alter those images to make them look like they belong in the new background.

The editor here does a good job of accomplishing this. At first glance, it appears the images are part of one snapshot.

Understanding how perspective, shadows and shading etc. work
Perspective, shadows, and shading are important attributes to photoshopping in order to create a believable remix. This is actually how I know that the images were done with a photo editor. In the "stairs" image notice where the shadows are and then look at the man on the middle set of shadow. Likewise, the female in the "desert" picture is also missing a shadow where the others have them. The presence of shadowing on the correct perspective line help the image be believable. I really had to look closely at the "desert" picture to make sure it was edited. I was ultimately able to find small clues (such as the lack of a shadow and the feet of the man on the right) but at first gland it appeared to be a snapshot.

Realistic images are important because it draws the view into the picture. Upon looking at both of these images, I was immediately engaged and found my eyes wanting to explore the image further. Exploring the image further turned into telling a story in my mind.

Understanding how to create a recognizably meaningful juxtaposition of images

Yes, I did have to go to to look up the word "juxtaposition". But now that I know what it means, I can see the relevance and importance of this dimension to photoshopping. This is the component that is not immediately noticeable but is what makes the image appealing to the eye. Notice the balance of the people in each of the images. For the "stairs" image, each man is spaced apart equally creating a balance to the picture. However, the man at the top of the latter is all the way to the right. For most languages, reading takes place from left to right. This translates into visuals as well. By seeing the first two men with bigger stairs come to an obstacle, we understand more of the meaning of the third man and how he overcame the obstacle. We, as viewers, then once again tell our own story of how and why this image came to be.

The pictures are great examples of photoshopping especially within the context of digital storytelling. Picture books help children keep attention by providing some visuals to guide them during the story. These pictures follow the same principles. They are an invitation to read the article and understand the message the author is trying to convey. I feel these images appropriately represent the articles. A few photoshop touch-ups could be made to suspend disbelief completely but they certainly serve their purpose.


  1. Hi Mike,

    These images are a great example of Photoshopping. I have a feeling, in the desert image at least, they did employ the use of a green screen which would make creating the image much more easy than just using Photoshop alone.

    The images send a powerful message, and can be applied outside the realm of eLearning and Instructional Design.

    I agree with your analysis of the literacy dimensions. I just have one suggestion for you. Since the background of your blog is dark, I would advise against using dark colors for a font. I found the text beneath the images and your introductory paragraph extremely hard to read. I actually highlighted it with my cursor so I could see the text better.

  2. Hello Mike,

    Thank you for sharing your critique. I think that using video, images, and/or audio for an unexpected message can be a powerful strategy. I used some examples in my critique this week (The Scarecrow Vs. Honest Scarecrow) and last week (The Real Bears).

    I took the tip Lisa to highlight the text that I had difficulty reading the dark text as well.

  3. Hi Mike,
    I love that you describe looking at a photo as constructing a story - that's exactly what your eyes do to make sense of an image (have you ever seen high-speed video of what the eyes do when looking at an image?)
    Photoshop practically screams "remix," doesn't it?
    You're a pretty good detective to spot those subtle "tells." Now I'm wondering just how much of each image was Photoshopped. Maybe as Lisa points out a green screen was used - but wouldn't that have preserved the shadows?
    Though it was appropriate for these images to be literal, sometimes a Photoshop remix works by cleverly exposing that it has been Photoshopped. Then that becomes part of the story.