When my freshman high school yearbook came out it featured four of what the school deemed to be the top students of the year. I frowned at the fact that I was not one of the exalted four-pack, and I bitterly cut my own face out of a photo and pasted it over one of the quartet on the cover. “Yeah, that’s what I’m talking about.” I nodded smugly. I was satisfied with my in-your-face fix.

Not thinking much of it, I carried my yearbook to school the next day to pass around for signatures. Little did I suspect the manner and degree of reception my mid-Pleistocene Photoshop gag would garner. I traded yearbooks with a brother and just like that it was gone. My effen yearbook was effen gone. Gone with a whooosh in a vortex of dust.

It pinballed its way across campus, trading hands as students screamed and howled with laughter at my mug plastered next to the homecoming queen. I was the man! Forget the homecoming king, where is that guy who put his own face on the yearbook? What’s his name? Where’s the book? I wanna see the book…the book…the booooooook!”

The yearbook as it appears today makes a simple statement, though it hardly fools anyone, what with the B&W photo cut out and plastered to a color photo.

It’s good to be king, even if only for a day in high school in Chandler, Arizona. It was a prank. No harm, no foul. Right in, right out, nobody got hurt. I didn’t get any chicks out of the effort, so how had it really even served me? I mean, it’s not like it fooled anyone. Well, maybe just those few with feeble cognitive prowess.

“Dude…you…YOU were the homecoming king and made the cover of the yearbook?”

This simple alteration is how I chose to deal with the fact that a trash bottle was in the photo of the prairie dog.

Jump ahead to the days of the powerful industry standard photo manipulation tool Adobe Photoshop. Photoshop is still the industry standard, pretty much as it was some 30-ish years ago when I first started using it. Why, the name even became a verb in the English language, as well as in a host of others. “Hey, this looks like it was Photoshopped.” We have all heard that before.

This quick “parlor trick,” despite its simplicity, fooled a good number of people into believing this sort of shop actually exists.

The infatuation I have with Photoshop stems from the power to alter a photo with the use of layers. I so thoroughly enjoy the challenge of altering a photo either by taking things out of the photo, or—more difficult—putting things in that were not there at the time of the exposure.

Now, there are two dimensions of photo alterations as I’ve categorized them: altering for the humor value but fooling nobody, and altering to such quality that it fools everybody. I love a good joke, but I am equally enamored with the challenge of trying to fool people with the realistic and believable appearance of my work.