Assignment 4- Real or Fake?

Produce a photographic image to illustrate an imaginary book or magazine cover. Decide on a topic to be illustrated. You could, if it makes this decision easier, take an existing book that you know and devise an alternative photographic cover illustration that will get the theme or story across to the prospective reader, taking a photograph especially for it.

Accompany the finished image with a description of the techniques you used, and also your ethical justification. I agree with all the editing I did on my image in accordance with it being used as a book cover. However I do not agree with this much editing in any other circumstances other than book and magazine covers. Prior to this assignment I did a bit of research into digital manipulation and enhancement, therefore you can find my full ethical justification and opinion here.

Original Image (1/100, f10, ISO 100) I captured the following image in Ireland about a week ago. I spotted this magnificent, yet slightly spooky castle on a hill, and knew that it would make the perfect haunted house for this assignment! The book I chose to use is entitled; “The Haunted House” by Charles Dickens. Below is the original image, captured in raw at a prime aperture of f10 to get a large depth of field, bringing every detail into focus. The only aspect of this image I was not happy with was the slight slant that the castle appears to sit at. When composing this image, I ensured I set the castle so that there was the same distance at each side of the bottom of the frame. However, I did not take into account the angle I was standing at- which has resulted in the castle looking a little slanted, this isn’t too major, but it is something I would like to have fixed.I used an ISO of 100 for best image quality, and used spot metering in order to calculate the best exposure possible. I edited the image in Photoshop, enhancing the image by simply adjusting contrast and clarity. (NB, For better quality images, click on each image)


I then began merging this image with a moonlit sky image (1) in order to create a spooky effect. Below are the steps I took in order to achieve this;

  • Save castle image and close window
  • Open the moonlit sky image in Photoshop
  • Paste castle image on top of the moonlit sky image, and adjust the castle lower down in the frame in order to create enough room for the book title at the top of the page.
  • Make a selection of the castle, wall and grass area using the lasso tool.
  • Begin erasing the blue sky in the castle shot using the eraser tool at opacity 100% to reveal the moonlit sky below.
  • Zoom in and reduce the brush size for tricky edges
  • Save image as a copy.

2. Background added

My next step was to darken the castle and foreground in order to make this tie in with the background. Below are the steps I followed;

  • Convert the entire image to black and white
  • Create a new layer, and select the castle, stone wall, and grass using the lasso tool
  • Decrease brightness of these areas to blend the two images effectively

3. Brightness contrast, black and white

I felt that the castle was possibly a little dark and flat at this point, so I then reselected the image, and increased the brightness and contrast to boost the impact of the castle. After this, I decided to add a spooky face into the sky to create a further haunted and spooky theme to the image (2). Below are the steps I followed in order to achieve this;

  • Paste the spooky face image into the clouds of the sky
  • Begin erasing the black background of the face with the eraser brush opacity set to 30% in order to blend the black background surrounding the face with the clouds, and thus make it appear like the face was a formation of the clouds.
  • Select the face, and adjust the contrast in order to make it stand out more

4. Ghost face added, brightness adjusted

I was happy enough with my image at this point, but felt that it just needed a little finishing touch. Therefore I decided to add a couple of bats to the image (3) and (4). To do this I used the following steps;

  • Paste two different bat images into the sky
  • Again use the eraser tool (set to 100% opacity), and erase the black background of the bat images to reveal the cloudy sky below- leaving just the bats remaining. Zoom in and reduce brush size for edges of each bat.

I then added in the book title using the text tool in Photoshop, and added in a 3D effect- adjusting accordingly. I used white writing to tie in with the overall theme of the image. Below is my finished book cover; The Haunted House, by Charles Dickens. I am very happy with my finished image. The spooky effects added to my original castle image really make for a very effective haunted house cover photo. I highlight again that I do not agree with this much editing in normal circumstances, however in clearly fake images such as book covers, that illustrate an untrue story, I think it is acceptable. However, I have explained my views further on my blog (as found on link at beginning of this assignment).


Below is a gallery of all the images from start to finish of editing, for easy viewing purposes.

(1) WORDPRESS, Fullmoon, Available from: [Attained 08/03/13]

(2) DREAM SCENE, Mystic and Fantasy, Available from: [Attained 08/03/13]

(3) WIKIPEDIA, Bat, Available from: [Attained 08/03/13]

(4) HOW TO BUILD A HOUSE BLOG, How to get rid of bats, Available from: [Attained 08/03/13]


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