Photoshop has a magical attraction to me. I enjoy tweaking and searching for options to stretch the boundaries of photographic possibility; to balance on the edge between ‘real’ and ‘fake’.

Study after study has shown that seeing manipulated photos of others can lead to anxiety and low self-esteem. It really bothers me, that even though I am fully aware of this fact, I still contribute to these fake world creations.

In ‘Why do I continue to manipulate my personal photos’ I try to explain what it is that keeps me going. In this post I will discuss all my considerations when I exchange and swap backgrounds using Photoshop.


This is a trick that does the magic every time. Have a photo that looks a bit boring? Swap the sky for a more colorful one and you have a much more interesting image. It’s not a lot of work at all. I mask the surroundings to detach the sky, place another sky layer underneath and then try to match the overall color tones to each other. 

Goes, November 2017


To me, this is a difficult one. You could say that I am using my creative freedom to create a dream vision. Just like a painter that is expressing himself freely by mixing different hues into his art.

But although the subject hasn’t changed, the sky is far from reality. And I do have to admit that posting the above photo of Goes felt bad. This is where I am balancing my own line of right and wrong.

London Eye, November 2017

My first thought while creating this unrealistic London Eye photo was that there is nothing wrong with making a boring picture more interesting. The sky COULD have looked like this, isn’t it?

But.. it didn’t. In fact, the chance of coming across the same grey outlook of the London Eye as I did is much bigger than walking into a purple colored dreamscape.

Pretending to have seen this colorful view could lead to disappointment for other visitors.

Imagine someone seeing this photo and becoming so excited about this destination, that he or she books a ticket to England right away. The expectations about this place would be too high for reality to meet. That would be on me if I had sent this photo out into the digital world.

Which I didn’t by the way. At least not without the before photo attached.


Recently I found an article about an Instagram influencer who didn’t even bother to find a fitting sky for each of her photos. She just uses an app to make the same background appear in numerous photos on her wall. They co-exist right next to eachother so I wonder if she didn’t care about the fakes or just thought nobody would notice.

Same clouds by Tupi Saravia

The multiplied clouds went viral which caused Tupi to explain herself:

Its an app called QUICKSHOT that I’ve always been opened about with my followers, actually there is a highlighted story on my feed where you can see how I edit my followers pics changing the sky.

No big deal, I use it for better composition in my pictures when the actual pic has a burt or overexposed sky can’t believe how far my clouds went, if you need some I can do a giveaway.

To Unilad she further explains that she didn’t change the subject of the photo and that she was really right there on the location. It was an artistic vision and adding some clouds won’t harm anyone.

I give this girl credit for being open about editing in her stories. She didn’t pretend the fake sky was real and even explains to others how they can copy the effect.

So why does cloning these clouds still upset so many people?

I guess because the alteration isn’t mentioned in the instagram cation itself. But I wonder if giving the right explanation on the right place would make a difference. Something like #fakeclouds would probably not get noticed by most profile visitors that fastly scroll through a page.


I am starting to wonder whether the problem is not with the persons manipulating a picture, but with anyone believing that photos depict reality.

Shouldn’t we all by default assume that any photo we see online is manipulated in some sort of way?

I would love to know your thoughts and opinion. Do you feel betrayed when you see these photos? And under what surcumstances is swapping a background acceptable?

Let me know in the comments.