Two words: Photoshopped images. They’re like Where’s Waldo for adults or a Web version of One of These Things Is Not Like The Other. It’s amazing how much photo manipulation can be done to an image to achieve a desired effect. You can make people fatter, thinner, taller, shorter, prettier, uglier… you get the idea. Guess what: there’s an easy and fun way to use these shenanigans to regularly work on your power of observation.
Powerful observational skills help you see the reality of a situation. They are also very important in doing creative and problem solving work. You need to be able to detect differences, find patterns and see what most people don’t see.
Seth Godin displayed an image in a recent blog post that helps to show (literally) this point. The image, a side-by-side comparison of two photos of a model, originated at the Ann Taylor website. Seth linked to it from the PhotoshopDisasters website. I’m going to show it below as a means of talking about the value of clear seeing.
When I first looked at the two photos, I really couldn’t tell much difference between the two of them. The model’s face and arms look about the same in both photos.
After looking some more, I found two major differences between the two photos:
- The natural wrinkles and creases in the model’s top and pants have been deemphasized and smoothed out in the photo on the right. Which leads to the next observation…
- The model’s waist has been reduced to unnatural proportions. Check the space between the arms and torso of the model and you’ll see the difference. Also, there’s some additional shading around the model’s right hip to help intensify the illusion.
This example is not a terribly serious one and it may not have concrete value in its own right. And it’s mild compared to some of the photo editing that happens.
But, if for fun you decide to look around for Photoshopped images and try to get better at spotting the manipulation, you’ll be exercising your clear seeing muscles. There’s plenty of ways to do it, too.
The next time you have five minutes to spare and you want to practice one of those skills, find a magazine that features lots of models and see if you too can spot the Photoshopping.
For that matter, Where’s Waldo is still a viable option.
Over to you: do you have any killer tips for improving your observational skills?
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