If you live in Atlantic County, you probably feel as though you should be washing out your mailbox.

On Sunday, Oct. 30, The Press and its readers expressed what many people are saying about the unrelentingly negative campaign between Democrat Jim Whelan and Republican Vincent Polistina for the 2nd District State Senate seat.

You can check out our editorial, and see what reader’s had to say.

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For me, the most disturbing part of this campaign — and others around the area — is what I see on the mailers. More specifically, it’s the misuse of one of my favorite programs, Photoshop.

On one flier, Polistina has been turned into a money-sucking vampire, complete with bright-red eyes. On another, Whelan is a pig in a suit, running off with an attache case we are to assume is full of money, I guess, or gold ingots.

Photo manipulation isn’t anything new. After Stalin’s rise to power in Russia, there was a cottage industry in removing rival Leon Trotsky from official photographs.

Plenty of well-deserved criticism followed a June 27, 1994 Time magazine cover featuring O.J. Simpson. Newsweek and Time used the same police photo of Simpson on their covers that week. Time distorted the photo, darkening it and adding shadows, presumably to make it seem more sinister.

But those crimes against photography seem quaint compared to the circus of visual sins evident on campaign mailers, all made possible by Photoshop.

For many years, I made my living as a graphic artist. I came to love Photoshop, a beautiful, powerful, intuitive program for manipulating digital images. Seeing it used to land dirty, below-the belt shots is like watching an old friend behave badly.

I know what you’re thinking: Pixel-based imaging programs don’t insult people; hungry-for-work graphic artists insult people.

I find no comfort in that. Photoshop is capable to creating wonderful, surprising, delightful images. Now, like some comic book villain, it is using its powers for evil.

So we need to recast the old expression: Don’t even believe half of what you see.

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