I love the wallpaper pictures that Patagonia offers free of charge on their website. I particularly love this Christian Pondella photo of Lonnie Kauk leaping from a boulder in the Buttermilks.
But when I showed this photo to a friend at work, a person who has done considerable photo retouching professionally, he instantly said the photo is a fake. He swears it is composited…and he showed me how, by using something he called a “spaghetti curve” he could pick out dramatic differences in gain in three or four regions of the picture. He believes that the climber, the rock, the sky and the ground are all separate elements. Unfortunately my Photoshop chops don’t allow me to reproduce my friend’s wizardry to use as an example.
Now I wouldn’t be surprised to find that there was some significant post-processing to balance the sky and foreground. But I find it hard to believe that Pondella, Kauk, or Patagonia for that matter, would participate in creating a composited image. I simply think too many people would call “foul,” and I don’t think the photographer, the climber or the company would want to risk their reps on forging a photo like this. I think it would be too easy for Pondella to take the shot straight up rather than risk a smack-down for fakery?
Can anybody help me out on this? Maybe you know this route and can verify that it’s real. (Pointers to additional pics would be great.) Or maybe you have the Skillz to identify it as a fraud. Please leave your helpful input in comments…thanks my friends.