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Everything is "Photoshopped"!

January 27, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

Read any newspaper or other media outlet's social media page and look for posts where they show off a great photo. Then count on one hand the number of replies before some loudmouth blurts out "Photoshop!".  (He thinks everything is Photoshop. He doesn't know any alternatives.)

 

Of course it's "photoshopped" dumbass. Everything is. A digital camera converts light to digital data, and then into it's interpretation of what it saw. An artist paints a scene based on what her eyes, which are slightly different than everybody else's eyes saw. Even the negatives from that $4.99 throwaway plastic camera that loudmouth used at Universal Studios last year was fixed in the lab in order to avoid it becoming a complete plastic lens with fat, sticky fingerprints catastrophe.

 

Canon .raw code snippet

Part of a photo of a horse before it was "photoshopped".

 

Those wanting "pure" photos have to understand that there is no such thing as the exact interpretation of a scene. That's why there has never been a single "true" film, or digital setting on a camera. The chemical composition of film reacts differently depending on the conditions at the time the shutter clicked. Digital camera settings attempt to do the same thing chemical formulations in film did. Photo editing software can now change these settings after the fact, often making the image more true to what the photographer saw than what the camera rendered. In this case, which is the true image.... the one the camera took, or the one made to look like the the original scene by photo editing software?

 

Few if any photographers make any bones about digitally editing their photos. All they are doing is creating art, just like the masters that inspired them did. In fact there are few people in history who were better manipulators of negatives than the oft cited Ansel Adams. Nobody screams "Photoshop!" when they look at one of his images, yet he manipulated negatives in a darkroom much the same way today's photographers do on a computer.

 

Of course there are photographers out there that overdo it. They load a photo into Lightroom, push all the sliders to the right and produce images dripping with ugly, oversaturated colour. Not my cup of tea, as I find it ruins a lot of otherwise good images, but it works for them. I'm the same way with garlic when I'm cooking.

 

The one legitimate time that someone can be called out for editing an image is if they alter a news photo's composition. It's one thing to adjust exposure or to correct colour temperatures to show a more accurate rendering of the scene, but adding or removing anything is completely off limits, as some well known press photographers have learned the hard way recently.

 

Pulitzer Prize Winning Photographer Fired by AP

 

So don't expect too many plaudits for your "pure" images. As much as I think it's important to get the image as right as possible in the camera, the act of developing and editing is just as much a part of the process, and no less legitimate than act of composing, and clicking the shutter.

 

And for the loudmouths out there who use the term "Photoshop" derisively, we know exactly what you mean when you say it in an accusing tone.....

 

"Why can't I take photos like that?"

 

 


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