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Photo manipulation is the technique of modifying a photographic image by either analog or digital means.
In digital manipulation, photographs are usually taken with a digital camera and input directly into a computer. If a digital camera is not available, a printed photograph may be digitized using a scanner. Photos can also be obtained from stock photography databases. With the advent of computers, graphics tablets, and digital cameras, the term photo manipulation encompasses everything that can be done to a photo in a darkroom or on a computer. A photo manipulation is most commonly subtle (eg alterations to colouring, contrast, so forth), but may be explicit also (eg overlaying a head onto a different body, changing a sign's text). Sometimes a photo manipulation has little or no resemblance to the photo from which is started. Image manipulation software is then used to apply effects and warp the image in whatever way possible until the desired result is achieved.
Before computers, photo manipulation was done by retouching with ink, double-exposure, piecing photos or negatives together in the darkroom or scratching Polaroids. Photo manipulation is as old as photography itself; the idea of a photo having inherent verisimilitude is a social construct. Manipulation has been used to deceive or persuade viewers, or for improved story-telling and self-expression. As early as the American Civil War photographs were published as engravings based on more than one negative.