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We’ve Made PS Disasters Again!!

Dec 19

In News at 6:30am

This just makes me proud. All of us, actually, in our studio last week, observed a moment of silence, an interlude of quiet pride if you will, when the news arrived that we were once again featured in Photoshop,  that storied pantheon of post production goofs. Cali got a little choked up, truth be told.

Seems the gang over at PS disasters have well, issues with the more sensitive areas of the female anatomy. I’m still trying to figure out what they are. Sara, our absolutely lovely, graceful, athletic Icelandic model is perched on a rock in one of that northern island’s famed thermal lagoons. We helped her out there, and then, because I wanted to keep her out of the fading sunset light, and control the foreground area with flash, I asked her to see if she could comfortably, artfully crouch (We do ask ridiculous things, don’t we?) on this slippery, two foot square boulder poking out of the steaming, mineral laden waters of the lagoon. She popped down there as easily as a songbird arriving on a tree branch. If I had tried to assume this position, they would’ve had to medevac me out of there.

Okay, here’s the red circle image. Now, I’m still trying to figure this out. Do the guys over at disasters think her, as they put it, crotch, is missing? Or badly re-touched and manipulated somehow? Trust me, if the lovely, youthful Sara had arranged herself into a personal predicament, I would have pointed that out, and encouraged her to adjust. And, if she had been wearing, say, colorful, zebra striped underwears, and thus needed some re-touching, I do believe that’s a task the guys back here at the shop would have embraced in diligent fashion. But, we are shaking our heads a bit, because, well, see below.

Here’s a screen cap of our RAW D3x file in Adobe Camera Raw, and below is the untouched JPEG, right out of camera. Outside of a touch of color correction (very subtle) and a hint of saturation, we did….nothing to the picture.

Maybe that’s their issue. We did nothing, and we were supposed to? I’m unsure. One thing remains certain, though. I do suck at Photoshop. Me and the computer have never had a particularly comfortable relationship. So, I resolved this weekend, once again, to go to work on my post production skills, given the ignominy of once again being featured as a disaster, which of course is just a fulfillment of what virtually every nun who taught me said I would ultimately become. Some type of disaster. What do you think of the below? Do you think they’ll put a red circle someplace on this one?

This is the second time we’ve actually graced PS Disasters. The first summons they issued me was about a shot of Olympic gymnast Shawn Johnson astride a tipsy balance beam in an Iowa cornfield, shot for Sports Illustrated. Her dad’s hand is seen, positioned under the beam to catch her if she fell.

It was a great opportunity for me to riff on the helter skelter nature of weekly magazine journalism. It appeared then, and I’m sure still now, that there are folks out there who think that the business of closing a news magazine on deadline is a considered, deliberate process, rife with nuanced debate, and delicately handled decisions. A parallel experience could perhaps be a classical music concert, held out of doors on a summer’s evening, where lovely notes mix with balmy breezes and fading sunset.

It’s nothing like that at all. It’s more like a screaming death metal concert at a beer sloshed mosh pit. It’s a business populated with intelligent, talented people who are stretched so thin, and so over-worked into a state of near delirium by the budgetary demands currently reigning in the world of publications that they might be hard pressed to find their ass with both hands on a good day. It’s a bruising endeavor fraught with frailty, ego, error, miscalculation, nastiness and outright bungling co-mingled freely with intrepidity of effort, dedication to excellence and moments of sheer, informational, story-telling magnificence. Much like, I don’t know, organized religion, for instance. My commentary on the above shot and the process of seeing it grace the pages of Sports Illustrated can be viewed here. It’s a lively read that actually has some interesting info.

Thanks to the gang at PS Disasters for one of what I would regard as our high moments of the year. More tk….:-)

Pat says:

on December 19, 2011 at 6:47 am

OMG … It’s a (PS disaster)’s disaster !

Nick Wenmaekers says:

on December 19, 2011 at 6:55 am

It looks like they already took it off their site, haha!

John Given says:

on December 19, 2011 at 7:15 am

Joe, your PS skills are out of this world. The re-work of the Iceland photo is a masterpiece!!!

Andor says:

on December 19, 2011 at 7:30 am

Well, it looks like there are still many people out there mixing up photography and ‘photoshoppery’
Post process will always be necessary that’s true, but instead of just PS-ing (and criticizing other’s pictures merely on PS-base), what about rather shooting nice photos which require than only such minimal PS than the above shots? :-)

Fedkatheconvict says:

on December 19, 2011 at 7:36 am

The correct site is and NOT; they are two entirely different websites.

Ryan says:

on December 19, 2011 at 7:49 am

as a physician, I bought into the fact that it was a PsD. Her upper thigh must be as big as my upper arm, which gives it that look. Looking at it more closely, it really does look like her upper leg is smaller near where her hip is, than it is near her knee. Very strange!

Simon Lynch says:

on December 19, 2011 at 8:32 am

Thanks Joe for this graceful “in your face” moment.

I just think PSD are synical about commercial photography and see PS retouching everywhere.

Although I must admit, she HAS a weird groin area. She must be very slim…

Irjohn says:

on December 19, 2011 at 8:33 am

I don’t see Sara’s left arm. Did you photomputateshop it?

Ranger 9 says:

on December 19, 2011 at 8:34 am

I can see why PS Disasters thought the photo was suspicious… the model’s left thigh looks unrealistically thin compared to the proportions of her calf or of her other leg. My first assumption would have been that somebody had tried to re-shape it by cloning in some extra water in the area between her foot and the edge of her coat.

Gotta believe the screenshot, though, so I’ll accept that she’s just both unusually thin and unusually flexible in the hip socket. But I still think it was legit to wonder. Double-dog-dare: pose several normally-porportioned people in the same position, photograph them, and compare…

muyiwa says:

on December 19, 2011 at 8:44 am

Well handled! Loved it.

david says:

on December 19, 2011 at 9:04 am

. . . and those who can’t, criticize.

Bill Giles says:

on December 19, 2011 at 9:07 am

It’s good to know that someone is actually looking at the photos, even if they see something that’s not really there.

John A. says:

on December 19, 2011 at 9:19 am

I’m looking forward to seeing this ‘disaster’ in your new book, which I hear tell from a little elf in my family that I will be getting this for Christmas. :)

I wish I could create disasters as good as this one …even Mt. McNally.

Joe McNally says:

on December 19, 2011 at 9:20 am

Geez. There’s actually two of these types of sites? Holy shit.

Joe McNally says:

on December 19, 2011 at 9:21 am

Thanks man. I really worked on it to provide a seamless, exhilirating experience for the viewer! :-)

Joe McNally says:

on December 19, 2011 at 9:25 am

You’re on Ranger Nine! Def. you should do that. Hire an array of models of different body types, use a deep octa from about 10 feet, camera left, and post the results. Lemme know when you’re done and have the stuff up.

Joe McNally says:

on December 19, 2011 at 9:30 am

Yes. We severed it at the shoulder and attached to her back just below the neck.

Morgana says:

on December 19, 2011 at 9:37 am

Personally I couldn’t work out what all the fuss was about – the image looks fine to me. :)

PS Definitely looking forward to your Vancouver workshop :)

Rich Cave says:

on December 19, 2011 at 9:39 am

ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha, look that was the funniest photoshop disasters mistake ever,

look if you need someone to touch up a Beautiful Icelandic Model, heres my number 0***************. Whadda ya mean photoshop!

Happy Xmas Joe,


Vic Peek says:

on December 19, 2011 at 9:41 am


My son has really got into photography recently so I decided to buy him your new book for XMAS. I gave it to him early at a family dinner yesterday. He went out to his car a brought me a early XMAS gift – your new book !!!!!!!!!!!!!! I guess all of us photogs think alike. Thanks.

Chris Nemes says:

on December 19, 2011 at 9:41 am

The pose looks a little unconventional, we can all agree.
But I think the bulky jacket turns the area around the thigh into an optical illusion.

Just out of curiosity, do you have any other shots of that session you might make public? I think we would all like to see more of this eye puzzle. You’ve just made us all curious now. This might just be the best unintentional advertising move for your book. :)

Tony Drumm says:

on December 19, 2011 at 10:14 am

I saw this the other day and thought, “Joe? No, it’s gotta be just the model and the angle.” Sometimes they post photos that you look at and think, no, it’s just how some folks are built. But there are many that have knees flexed backward or 12″ necks.

Frank Taormina says:

on December 19, 2011 at 10:23 am

When you stand head and shoulders above the rest, you become an easy target for a sniper. That doesn’t make the sniper any better than you; just sneakier. I however, do like the addition of Mount Joe. It looks perfectly natural to me.

Nikki says:

on December 19, 2011 at 10:43 am

Funny, I had seen this image posted somewhere else and never thought anything strange with it. It’s just a beautiful shot. Amazing what people find to pick on. However, I think your Photoshop skills need a tad more work, maybe a bit more blending on your head :-).

Lesli says:

on December 19, 2011 at 10:44 am

I’m sorry but, are they actually using a magnifying glass to try and see this girls crotch? Sicko’s with nothing better to do! Great photo head job…hahaha

Hibryd says:

on December 19, 2011 at 10:47 am

Honestly, I can’t blame PSD for including this one. I just can not figure out how her body’s positioned. I can see where her ribcage is, but if she’s crouching her pelvis would have to be a foot behind her, but then how do her legs come so far out in front? It honestly looks like she’s missing half her torso.. Her left leg also looks like a bar which comes out of nowhere – no thigh or distortion of clothes going on.

I’ll take your word that this is a real, untouched photo, but you gotta admit, it LOOKS fake.

stanchung says:

on December 19, 2011 at 11:25 am

The parallel line to the back of her boot is the coat IMO but it looks like her ‘derrier’ hence the mistake by PSD.
Joe if you could please lighten up the shadows then we’d know for sure.
Love your blog Joe and funniest photog I know other than your sardonic fellow busmate. keke You guys makes learning fun. Some rollercoaster emo moments but it’s all great.

Nelson says:

on December 19, 2011 at 11:43 am

Many are focusing on the left leg, but it seems none of them has realized the optical illusion is because the blouse. She’s leaning over her left tight, the texture of the blouse make it to bend over the leg in at least 3 points which make a line pointing in a different line than the tight line. It’s not the leg is alien slim, it’s because the blouse is covering the leg, that’s all.
Removing the blouse would show the real tight line.
With Poser or DAZ3D any of you critics can recreate this shot and get the same results with NO Photoshop need. Think outside the box you @#$%!

Art says:

on December 19, 2011 at 11:46 am

You need to start a site:

Cheryl says:

on December 19, 2011 at 12:14 pm

I can see where they are coming from though. If you look at her thigh and the thigh of the gymnast in the lower photo – the model looks like an escapee from Auschwitz. Not that her crotch is missing but half her thigh. This says more about society’s view that models need to be anorexic to be beautiful than anything else.

Lorri E says:

on December 19, 2011 at 12:21 pm

Joe, you could probably make a fortune photographing women if you can make them all look this slender. I’d be first in line! Seriously, looking closely at the photo you can see why her thigh looks so slender. It is not that the lower thigh has been photoshopped out, it is that her upper thigh is covered by part of her loose fitting top draping over the thigh.

sandman says:

on December 19, 2011 at 12:40 pm

Todd says:

on December 19, 2011 at 12:42 pm

Think PSD will rag on your updated image? “The lighting on Mount McNally is opposite from the model!” lol

Seriously though, I really enjoy how you can find the humor in just about everything you do. That’s what makes learning photography from you so much fun.

pete tsai says:

on December 19, 2011 at 2:07 pm

Ha, if anyone has ever been behind your Mac after you shoot tethered they would know how very very little you retouch! I should post up one of my production shots from the long exposure Maria Arcé shoot. Looks like I photochopped a D3 lcd into the back of your head!

Tim L says:

on December 19, 2011 at 2:07 pm

I don’t doubt that the image is real but the model does look odd in that pose—at least to me.

Shannon Wimberly says:

on December 19, 2011 at 3:12 pm

uuuhhhhh…… actually the image is incredible….. the first thing i noticed was the beauty and balance of the entire image, if the PS Disaster bozos hadn’t of pointed it out, it wouldn’t have been an issue…. and frankly, its still not an issue….. a very sophomoric critique in my opinion…. oh, and btw Joe…. the nuns were dead wrong.

Scott says:

on December 19, 2011 at 4:35 pm

Guys, as anyone who has shot in a COLD country knows, if you shoot a thin person (which most models are) and put a blood great big jacket on them, of course things are going to look out of proportion!

I’ve been trying to take a self portrait like this for years to make my waist look smaller….

Libby says:

on December 19, 2011 at 6:16 pm

Maybe you could photoshop in a hand coming out of the water under her LOL.

Hey your book comes tomorrow and I’ll be outside waiting for the UPS man!

Holiday Best Wishes to you and your crew 😉

Ranger 9 says:

on December 19, 2011 at 6:44 pm

Nelson, thanks for the explanation about the blousy top; THAT I can believe. Geek that I am, I did enlarge the area in PSD and draw a smoothly approximated anatomic curve from the knee on up; it does correspond with a normally-tapered thigh under the fabric.

So I’ll admit I owe universally-beloved photo icon McNally an apology for doubting him on this one.

Lou says:

on December 19, 2011 at 8:39 pm

Although I appreciate the humourous side of pointing out badly photoshopped pictures… I find it really disturbing that people focus on what has been done wrong. Not only this, but that we focus on it to the point that there is a whole department/website/forum… and people hired, to pinpoint the negative in something.

I hate to be that person that says “Why can’t we just all get along?!?!?” but wouldn’t those people’s talents be better served doing something productive as oppose to just picking at the negative? How is that making the world a better place?

Call me a hippie and an idealist, but that’s why I like to read your blog Mr. Joe. Because you see possibility and have a joy of life. These other ones just get people scared of experimenting and seeing the possibilities.

So peace on earth and in photoshop for the New Year… :)

Mark B says:

on December 19, 2011 at 9:06 pm

My copy of sketching w light and my first sb910 arrived on the same day. I will take this a good omen somehow :)

Joe McNally says:

on December 19, 2011 at 9:19 pm

Ranger Nine! oh ye of little faith! You were even grudging in your trust of my screen capture! That’s okay. If I ever get over the top, I know you’re around to keep me in check and tell my stuff sucks…..:-)

Rich Cave says:

on December 20, 2011 at 5:24 am

I see a Mcnally sb900s at dawn duel with ranger9, can I volunteer to be your second Joe?

I have asked that PSD apologise to you publicly, however I will probably get a date with Mandy Moore before that happens. Heres hoping!

All from a site that is a website disaster in itself, navigation, font selection, design and zero originality pretty awful. I agree with Lou above why cant we all get along?

PS Mandy if you are reading this, love Italian BTW

all the best


Laura says:

on December 20, 2011 at 6:00 am

Joe I love your head atop the mountain in the background. It made me laugh out loud….thanks!

Linnea says:

on December 20, 2011 at 6:20 am

😀 Very strange reaction from the “disaster-team”

stanchung says:

on December 20, 2011 at 9:44 am

That Jeff guy at PSD is kinda sad, tsk tsk. but hey- we’re not going to please everybody and we’re not going to try unless it makes sense & $. [sorry for bad pun]

Gary K Froehlich says:

on December 20, 2011 at 12:06 pm

As many have said, if you look closely, it appears soemthing (PS?) has in fact dis-assed her. But I’ve seen this ‘illusion’ before many times, so no biggee.

Photoshop Disasters says:

on December 20, 2011 at 12:25 pm

Thanks Joe for clearing up this disaster. I have updated the post and you can see it below.

We apologize for missing the mark on this one.



Paul says:

on December 20, 2011 at 10:57 pm

I think what is causing the confusion is the way her body is twisted. She is leaning on her left hand and has her left knee pressed tight to her abdomen/chest. This pose is hiding most of her bottom. It just completely distorts what we would normally perceive her body structure to be. What is thought to be her crotch is actually her hip. The dark shadows on the bottom from the light high in the air could make someone assume the picture is manipulated to hide something, but if you look closely and analyze it, you can rule that out.

James says:

on December 21, 2011 at 1:11 pm

I actually laughed out loud when I saw your head over the lighthouse. Brilliant. Nice attitude to the criticism too :)

Ian says:

on December 22, 2011 at 10:54 am

Picture looked fine to me, she is leaning forward to hug her left knee, naturally her white top falls over part of the top of her left thigh. The coat makes it look like her body is vertical and the white top falling over the top of the thigh makes it look like the leg is thinner. Without the coat and the white top she would look just fine anatomically..

Charlie says:

on December 23, 2011 at 7:41 am

If the photography industry is like organized religion, I’m pretty sure that makes you the mad prophet – unwashed, wearing sack cloth, hair in all directions, alternatingly scorned and listened to. Joe McNalley, the Mad Prophet of the Unholy Church of the True Image!

Ryan K says:

on December 23, 2011 at 7:53 pm

Joe, is thre anyway you can post a version of the pic with fill light in ACR turned up to a ludicrously high value. This should show if the diagonal going from se to nw is leg or back of the coat. The JPEG doesn’t have the bit depth to do this. If its the back of the coat the thing makes sense (and shows where the confusion is coming from) if it’s leg then I’ll admit it looks pretty strange.

Matt says:

on January 2, 2012 at 12:50 pm

Seems to have been removed from the site.

Matt says:

on January 2, 2012 at 12:52 pm

d’oh, never mind on my last comment. I was looking at, not…

Dafydd Hughes says:

on February 5, 2012 at 2:29 am

It’s Sunday morning and I am thoroughly enjoying reading Joe’s blogs. This entry in particular has put a big smile on my face.



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