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Thread: Photoshop...

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    Default Photoshop...

    ...has it degraded photography?

    Having just read through the latest issue of Rangefinder Magazine (http://www.rangefindermag.com/Magazi...ent_issue.tml), there are so many articles devoted almost exclusively to Photoshop techniques that I wonder what is more important, the camera or Photoshop. Perhaps Iím lazy, but I try to avoid the type of post-processing covered in the latest issue and try harder to get things right in-camera.

    Personally, I think that Photoshop has made photography in some ways questionable. The shot of the Patagonian horsemen by Peter Eastway is an example of the style of photography that Iíve often seen in Better Photography. Many times, the photos Peter Eastway has presented are not even a representation of reality, but Photoshop creations. Yes, photographers have always done additional darkroom work, but has Photoshop has taken this to a new level?

    Although I was working frantically, I thought I had the scene reasonably well covered with long, mid and close-up shots. Ď...for five minutes or so while we filled up a dozen memory cards with images. Ď
    Did any of the photographers just sit back for a moment and consider what they really wanted and approach the scene with a less Ďmachine guní mentality? Is the final rendition of the Patagonian Horsemen that of an accomplished photographer, or that of an accomplished Photoshop technician? Could a shot taken by a tourist with a P&S and with the same Photoshop skills, come out more or less the same?

    Maybe itís because Iím far from being a great photographer and even further from being a ham-fisted Photoshop (or equivalent) technician, that I find this sort of stuff kind of disappointing.

    Cheers

    Ray

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    Default Re: Photoshop...

    Hmm maybe. I've got two thoughts.

    The first is... it's easier to write an 'new' article on photoshop techniques than it is to right a new interesting article on photographic techniques - ie composition. I'll admit it - if I'm looking at two photo magazines - one full of stuff that I 'know' but don't actually remember to use ( ie rule of thirds) vs one with a couple of cool photoshop techinques that I don't know (which is pretty much all of them) I'll pick up the one with the photo shop techniques.

    Secondly, I think expectations in post processing are much higher. Look at any advertising photos you see - and lets be honest, most photos we see in real life are advertising photos - and they are almost entirely 'retouched' - there's probably not a single non-adjusted pixel in most.
    Stray hairs? Freckles? Wrinkles? Annoying wires? Gone.
    Everyone is expecting that instant 'oomph' from their images - very few work to produce 'subtle' pictures that take time to digest and truly appreciate.


    Are the basics still the key to a killer image? Hell yeah, but especially in terms of 'what sells magazines' - I think the latest little 'gimic' is much better at selling copies.
    ----------------

    Dave W

    www.hesawshesawphotography.com

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    Default Re: Photoshop...

    In response to your first question, I think it has "degraded" it.

    Too many people think that taking pictures is actually pointing their $3000 worth of equipment, pushing the button down, and then spending 30min post processing the thing.

    For a lot of people, it isn't about taking a good image. They are trying to make a perfect image, and it doesn't work and isn't the same.

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    Default Re: Photoshop...

    Over the past few weeks I've been rereading some of my photography books -most recently Gary Brasch's book on the patterns in nature (can't remember the actual title, don't have it in front of me). The point is - this book was written and illustrated during the film era - and I could not help myself thinking about each image:

    - "should have cloned that out"
    - "could easily have fixed that hot spot"
    - "maybe changing that color would have harmonized the image better"

    You get the point.

    There is no doubt in my mind PS has changed the way we look at photos as well as how we make them. For good or bad? Both. I agree the best fix is the one you make between brain and shutter button, rather than relying on PS to fix it later.

    Peter

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    Default Re: Photoshop...

    If you keep the PS involvement within limits it definitely does not degrade photography. If you alter and modify an image beyond believe than I guess it doesn't degrade it either, because it becomes different kind of art.

    It think what becomes frustrating not only for you is that PS stuff is everywhere, it becomes mainstream and torn in an eye of many at the same time. I think Adobe loves it, but as with everything the market will saturate and there will be new kid on the block........

    Regards

    Marek

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    Default Re: Photoshop...

    There is no doubt in my mind PS has changed the way we look at photos as well as how we make them. For good or bad? Both. I agree the best fix is the one you make between brain and shutter button, rather than relying on PS to fix it later.
    Full ACK. The one thing that PS has allowed, for me especially, is to have a darkroom without the mess and harangue. And, TBT, a lot of the stuff that is being pulled off in PS by mere hacks (like myself) were always being done prior to an image being printed.

    Since the software to perform these miracles is now ubiquitous the way things are done will change. New photographers, many of whom have never seen the Wratten Red Light will emerge, challenging the conventions, generating debate and moving the art form forward. And if an art form doesn't move forward and evolve, it becomes irrelevant.
    John

    -- Life is complex. It has real and imaginary parts

    Smugmug

    Blog

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    Default Re: Photoshop...

    I do think we are starting to see a balance returning to photography.

    Frankly when I first got into digital, it was FUN to 'tweak' a mediochre photo into some sort of minimal acceptability. Which is why we now see so many monochrome digital shots with an isolated compoitional element in color (I got 'em too! so I can't say too much about this technique!)

    But now that I am a bit more mature in my 'digital vision', I am returning to a more subtle approach to my use of editing tools. And I think that is true of the photo community as a whole.

    One piece of evidence of this is the new emphasis on workflow products. True, it is a way to sell software to a market that had pretty much been saturated with photo editors. Let's face it, they are really just organizers on steroids, but they do promote an emphais on different qualities in a photo and in the distribuiton of those photos, not in their value as raw material for something different.

    I think we are maturing in our development as digital artists. And the fact that we even considering this question is further proof of that.

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    Default Re: Photoshop...

    I've heard many different ways of describing photography- recording light, capturing a moment in time, etc. I tend to think of good fine-art photography as the proper intersection of reality and art. A good photographer doesn't sacrifice too much art for the sake of reality, nor does he or she sacrifice too much reality for the sake of art.

    I checked out the article by Mr. Eastway. It was interesting. I can't say I would totally disagree with him about trying to get as many shots as possible of an interesting subject. I think I would do the same thing. A modern-day Argentinian cowboy makes for a pretty good human subject (let alone three of them, com cavalos), and I think his original photo was quite nice, what little I could see of it.

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    Default Re: Photoshop...

    Hi Ray,

    I think the availability of good image editors like Photoshop has elevated photography. It is better than ever!

    Just look at what we can do with Photoshop that would have been impossible or, at best, tedious in the past. Sure, a tool like Photoshop can be misused. But it's the user---not the tool---that is the culprit.

    Why don't we blame poor or sloppy photography on a lack of patience or an overabundance of laziness on the part of the photographer? What causes that? Photoshop? Our "instant" get-it-now culture? The photographer's family environment? His or her work ethic? Their moral foundation?

    How many young people have you met today who have the drive and endurance to apprentice themselves for a decade to a great photographer to master the skill?

    In the end, photography is a "black box". An image is exposed on one end and it is output at the other end. Who cares what steps go in between inside the "black box" as long as you get the results you need.

    At least 50% of my photos would not be possible today without two things: (1) higher usuable ISO capability of modern digital cameras and (2) Photoshop. Photographers who shoot a lot in low light and with high contrast understand this. These technologies have opened new doors that didn't exist before.

    Yes, photography has been elevated thanks to tools like Photoshop!!!
    Best regards, FL

    Pursuing excellence...

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    Default Re: Photoshop...

    FL

    I think Photoshop is a double-edge sword. Yes, it most certainly has elevated photography to a great degree (made some things much easier), but I also think that, in some ways, it has diminished respect for photography skills as well.

    How many times has someone, who has taken a great photo and really done minimal post-processing, been asked whether they use Photoshop to get such great results? I know I have, and far too often for my liking. I never heard anything similar in my film/darkroom days for some reason.

    Maybe I'm being too picky, as I suppose photography is all an illusion anyway, so whatever one does (or doesn't bother doing) to get a great photograph, doesn't really matter. Perhaps I 'should' do a Photoshop course to enhance my photography skills.

    Cheers

    Ray

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    Default Re: Photoshop...

    Quote Originally Posted by First Light View Post
    I think the availability of good image editors like Photoshop has elevated photography. It is better than ever!
    .
    .
    .
    At least 50% of my photos would not be possible today without two things: (1) higher usuable ISO capability of modern digital cameras and (2) Photoshop. Photographers who shoot a lot in low light and with high contrast understand this. These technologies have opened new doors that didn't exist before.

    Yes, photography has been elevated thanks to tools like Photoshop!!!
    I believe Sports Illustrated's first issue was done 50 years ago. I believe it had sports or action shots in it. Wasn't a big deal back then for people like yourself to get quality images from inferior film loaded with film grain.

    People only demand noise free iso1600 or 3200 speeds because they are plain flat lazy. More people NEED to spend time as an "apprentice" to someone so they can learn the basics.

    Too many people have a history of having a silver spoon in their mouth and are incapable of working at anything. Photoshop allows more people to be lazy about photography. Less people use Photoshop to work an image like the old darkroom days.

    Photoshop has brought digital photography to the masses, but it isn't elevating photography. It is elevating digital imagery. There is a difference.

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    Default Re: Photoshop...

    Blame Hollywood. We've seen so many amazing and convincing unreal images in the movies that there isn't any perceived subjective difference between generated images and real photography anymore. And when a film's imagery is celebrated, how many times do you see the cinematographer interviewed rather than the leader of the computer effects team?

    I agree with First Light; software has elevated photography. The tools of yesteryear---, different film emulsions, color filters, different developer chemistries, etc.--- are clumsy compared to the software we have to do the same things today. At the same time, those techniques are not the sum total of photography. Example: A point and shoot camera makes it easy to shoot, but pointing has always been the hard part. What to shoot, where to put it in the frame, when to shoot it, in close or far away, how much DOF... the camera can't make these decisions for you and neither can Photoshop. If someone thinks you get good photographs from Photoshop that just means they don't understand photography, not that Photoshop is bad for photography.

    I think photographers understand and appreciate craft. The general public probably doesn't but photography is hardly the only trade where that is the case. When photographers start thinking that great images are created in Photoshop, then we're in trouble.

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