Excessive Use of Photoshop

Discussion in 'Digital Discussion & Q&A' started by John Sampson, Nov 8, 2009.

  1. John Sampson

    John Sampson TPF Noob!

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    It is my feeling and observation that Photoshop is becoming a kind of de facto photo medium in its own right. It has become the easy excuse for anyone with a camera and a computer to produce what they hope others will recognize and define as photography. In fact, all it is, is a tool being well utilized.

    Can these same people produce an equally good picture without Photoshop, or is it a crutch that they cannot do without. Take away the crutch and see what you have left!

    I would love to hear the opinions of others. The sheer volume of photoshopped images is beginning to render photography as a mere adjunct to Photoshop, and yet there is a large percentage who think that it is the way to go. That direction will win out in the end, but the integrity of the so-called photoghrapher will not stand up to any muster or scrutiny. Put me to the test.
    Who is the photographer and who the Photoshopper?
     
  2. Buckster

    Buckster Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    You still have to start with a photo, and my observation is that it's very difficult to take a crap photo and turn it into an award winner, Photoshop or not.

    When the major magazines from National Geographic to Vogue to House Beautiful to whatever, as well as catalogs with fantastic images of products no longer use professional photographers who know the craft, get back to me. When photography schools world-wide stop teaching f stop, shutter speed and all the rest, and teach only Photoshop, get back to me. When you can simulate a Joe McNally shot without starting with a camera-captured image, get back to me.

    When you can look any of the iconic professional photographers of our day in the eye face to face and tell them that they suck as photographers because they use Photoshop as part of their work flow, be sure to put it on YouTube so we can all laugh when they punch you in the nose for it. :lol:

    In the meantime, go fix this:

    http://www.thephotoforum.com/forum/photography-beginners-forum-photo-gallery/183125-help-photo.html

    Prove your point by using PS to turn it into an award winner.
     
  3. Rifleman1776

    Rifleman1776 TPF Noob!

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    I think that is a silly question. Back in the days of dark room and enlargers, virtually every print was 'adjusted' via timing, dodging, selection of paper, etc. to get the best possible print.
    Today, we have editing software. Probably 95% of all my shots get some editing in PSE. I'm a believer in tight cropping. That is not always possible when taking the picture. I often lighten/darken, increase/decrease contrast, etc. Rarely do I get 'creative', that is just not my style.
    So, the answer is 'no'. PS is used but that is just part of the process.
     
  4. Dwig

    Dwig TPF Noob!

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    The answer to this question, which shows up on forums like this somewhat regularly, is that Photoshop, and all the other postprocessing software/firmware out there, is necessary as it is the electronic equivalent of the darkroom. This is, of course, not the answer the questioner wants, but that because they've always asked the wrong question.

    Anyone who has a real understanding of the history of photography and the history of the impact of computers on the graphic arts along with real knowledge about how digital images are formed and processed will easily understand that Photoshop, or some similar app, is necessary to the process just as some from of processing is necessary for a film image. In both film and digital, the processing can be altered to change the result.

    Photoshop brings almost nothing new to photography other than to make many techniques easier and therefore putting them into the hands of the less practiced and skilled. Just as computerized typography and "desktop publishing" brought a rash of bad designs a generation ago, lowering the overall standard of design in many publications, easy access to photo manipulation made available by PS and its brethern has led to an increase of visual trash. The difference is the same; its not that the computer tool made something new possible, but that it made it easier to do.

    Before anyone rants against modern electronic manipulation as if its anything unique or new they need to educate themselves about the history of photography and photographic manipulation. They should become familiar with the work of Jerry Uelsmann ( Jerry N. Uelsmann ) who has created beautiful photocomposites with conventional wet darkroom techniques that very, very few PS practitioners could match. They should also be familiar with WeeGee's later work. Additionally, they should make at least a cursory study of the classic early Soviet photo manipulation during the 1920's and '30s where they frequently tried to "alter the past" by editing out individuals that had fallen from favor.

    The electronic era has brought nothing new to this aspect of photography and to rant against PS manipulation is narrowsighted. The bottom line is the final image. How you get it is not important.
     
  5. Garbz

    Garbz No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Dwig well said.

    Photoshop isn't a crutch as much as it is a leg. Photoshop is basically the darkroom. Today people touch up photos both slightly to improve the image, or to massive extremes borderline digital art. But this is no different from the dark room of the past. Sure there are people who claim they are purists, not touching the image after the camera shutter is clicked, but in this case the person developing their images is just an engineer who designed the algorithm in the camera. If you go print the image you'll likely see the local lab do their own touchups. If you shot film and delivered it to the lab, your results were entirely in their hands.

    Photoshop, like a home darkroom in the basement is for those photographers who perfect their image and finalise their visualisation of the scene. We see these days a large number of "over-processed" images, however all that has happened is the tools to make these visions have become more user friendly. The fact that anyone can now photoshop their dog onto their mother's head and post it on the internet for all to see, doesn't mean that it hasn't been done in the past. Just that these acts were reserved for very skilled darkroom ninjas, and these images didn't leave their personal collection.


    The following image was published by Nelson in 1981 in a book called The Darkroom Handbook by Michael Langford. It was made before photoshop, and likely created before the book was even published. It was created literally by drawing with light, and thus is by sheer definition photography.

    My question is, would you call this photography?:

    [​IMG]
     
  6. Photoform

    Photoform TPF Noob!

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    Very good...
     
  7. rocdoc

    rocdoc TPF Noob!

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    interesting debate. It's certainly grey and not black and white... Anyone who read Ansel Adams' books sees that he used extensive post-processing in development and print to get the look he wanted. The new digital techniques just allow that to be done differently. I shoot raw and process everything, BUT: the processing is supposed to be just adjustments and corrections maintaining the original image. When it becomes more, and you create a different image in post, it's not photography any more but digital art.
     
  8. bigtwinky

    bigtwinky No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I echo was most say here in that photoshop is today's darkroom. But not to forget that the same software is also a graphic and image creation software, and thus offers a much wider array of tools to play with.

    Is it "cheating"? No. Heavily processed shots are today's reality and the many people who refuse to use the software because they consider it cheating and just refusing to adjust to the times.

    A nice image almost always starts with a very well done photo. I know some people who are amazing with photoshop but take crappy photos and I know others who are ok with photoshop for slight image adjustements and take good photos. I always prefer the good photos with limited photoshop to the crap photos with loads of photoshop.

    I feel that these days, there are huge misconceptions about photoshop. Mainly because people just don't know. There are alot of people with dSLRs who fancy themselves photographers but who have never worked with film or in a darkroom and dont know that there were ways to dodge, burn and such in the darkroom and thus thing that anyone who uses photoshop is using it to greatly alter their image.
     
  9. Buckster

    Buckster Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    I missed that law in both photography and art classes. Who wrote it and what was their authority?

    Thanks for your subjective, yet authoritative opinion. I hereby reject it.

    The idea that a composite in the camera is photography, but a composite in the darkroom or lightroom isn't is arbitrary and unnecessary. The same goes for all the rest of the possible ways to manipulate an image made with a camera.

    Photography is an art medium. Digitized photography is thus a digital art medium. Photography and art are not mutually exclusive, nor are digital photography and digital art.
     
  10. Overread

    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Some great points have been made above and I agree with the likes of Garbz on the views of using photoshop. However myself if a person is taking a photo and then performing heavy photoshopping onto that image such as adding whole new components and constructing something new I would say they are more of a digital artist using photography as a part of their creative process than a photographer. Just my personal view and no it does not mean I view the process any less (infact I probably end up admiring those people more since its something I know I couldn't do well)

    most of the people I have met who have a view that they will never use photoshop and that its "cheating" etc... also tend to admit that they hate computers and have very little understanding of them and of photoshop itself (let alone how to recreate even some basic steps). Thus I think they feel as if others are getting some unfair advantage over them and thus they seek to defend their stance without furthering their own understandin (though I fully admit that understanding computers i general is very hard for some people)
     
  11. rocdoc

    rocdoc TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for the classy, constructive input.
    In case I created any confusion, my post was meant to represent my view of my own attempts when it comes to post-processing vs the original image.
    I don't think the OP intended a debate on the definition of photography, but it might be unavoidable. Merriam-Webster says: "the art or process of producing images by the action of radiant energy and especially light on a sensitive surface (as film or a CCD chip)".
    I think most people's definition of photography (though lacking the authority of numerous posts on photo forums) includes capturing an image as well as post-processing, and the balance between these that is acceptable for the result to still be called photography is widely debatable, of course. I'm in the camp favoring work that relies more on the former element, and it's what I try to emulate when I play around, without ever pretending to create anything worthy of much notice. I'm very interested in other's views, as I would love to learn more about how this is seen.
     

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