What? You've never seen a photo of a blue flamingo before? Not surprising since I created it in Photoshop and this beautiful pastel bird never really existed. Unfortunately, I haven't always been particularly clear on that fact since I first started using it as decoration (and only decoration) on my website. I assumed people would know it was a fake just by looking at it, but oh how wrong I was. In fact, I've never had a single photo get as much attention as this goofy late night creation.
I have used the photo in a Photoshop tutorial and obviously people seeing it there know it's a fraud because I'm telling them how to create it. I've also posted it on my Flickr stream and I'm always careful to say it's just a fake and that there's no such bird. I took it down from Flickr because it was getting ripped off on a daily basis and I had to write a lot of letters to tell people that they were stealing (perhaps without know it) a copyrighted and registered image. Apparently a lot of people don't read captions too carefully on Flickr either, because even though it was identified as a Photoshop creation, about once a week I would get requests from bird photographers asking me where I found this unique and wonderful bird. I even had one person offer to pay me to tell them (wow, how tempting that was).
Creating the image was easy by the way. I simply selected "red" from the pull-down menu (the flamingo was a sort of salmon pink in reality, of course) in the hue and saturation tool box and sampled the red color with the eyedropper tool. Once I'd sample a few different red tonalities in the bird, I just used the hue slider to change the color. The background stayed natural looking because there was no red in it--thus I ended up with a "blue" flamingo with in natural-looking surroundings. And I think that's the reason it draws so many double takes: it just seems so real.
To be honest I think a lot of people (me included) wish there was such a beautiful bird species hanging out on a Caribbean island beach, but there's not. It reminds me of the colored chicks that some farmers used to sell around Easter time. They would inject the egg with food coloring and, for a few days at least, the chicks would come out in pretty shades of pink or blue. I don't imagine anyone still does that, but I could be wrong.
I really don't mind all the email about the shot, but I feel terrible when I can tell that it's a young kid writing to me and I have to disappoint them with reality. But I do tell them that blue flamingos can always exist in their imaginations--along with green flamingos, orange flamingos, yellow flamingos--and mayb even a striped variety. I suppose I should caption the photo on my website, but I'd probably miss the letters. Still, I am careful to caption the photo as a fake when I post it anywhere beyond my site--but like I said, I'm not sure anyone reads the captions (or maybe they just choose to ingore them!).
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