The tendency to over-Photoshop?

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by manaheim, Jan 19, 2009.

  1. manaheim

    manaheim Jedi Bunnywabbit Staff Member Supporting Member

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    In recent months I've come to realize that in order to keep up with the expectations of the times on saturation and contrast and such, that I must seemingly err on the side of over-photoshopping files.

    For example, look at these images (not mine)

    The Beauty Of Urban Decay | Inspiration | Smashing Magazine

    Many of these are very nice. Very stunning images and whatnot, but a LOT of them seem WAY over-photoshopped to my eye. Extreme contrast, saturation and sharpness boosts that are clearly done in post-processing.

    Is this right? Is it wrong? Is it good? Is it bad? I'm curious of thoughts.

    Also... was it even possible to do this with film prior to Photoshop? If so, did it take extraordinary means to do so? Or was it common?
     
  2. Battou

    Battou No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I don't know, I did not check the link yet but I'll tell you there is some film I have shot that comes out of the camera with amazing color saturation with out the help of Photoshop.
     
  3. Overread

    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Its like the HDR factor - its a popular move with photography at this current point in time. I suspect if you study the themes over a long period of time you will see many changes like this occur - as different methods become possible and popular - as well as how much of this is possibly for the layman to reproduce themselves.

    right/wrong/good/bad its not really any of those things to me - its just fashion.

    It might be limiting in what the press and economic market produce in the way of photography, but that has always been the case. There are always standards in the market and expectations which restrict what can be "popular" and - of course - these also change as well. How and what makes them change is something that I don't know and I suspect that its not something that anyone really has full control over (though there will be strong players that will push for their vision)
     
  4. ksmattfish

    ksmattfish Now 100% DC - not as cool as I once was, but still

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    Look at those again. Do you see the problem that occurred long before the processing? Boring subject matter and light, or at best mediocre and common place. That's the problem. The over processing is just an attempt to make something out of nothing, and that's very tricky to actually pull off. The subject matter can't hold the viewer's attention, and they begin to dwell on the processing. Better to come up with compelling subject matter and interesting light to begin with. Then no one will pay attention to the processing whether it's a light touch or heavy handed.

    "The sheer ease with which we can produce a superficial image often leads to creative disaster." -Ansel Adams

    I haven't bought film in a few years, but extra and ultra saturated films have always been popular. When Velvia was introduced half the photogs loved it, and the other half thought it was an abomination. I've heard it's the photo contest winningest film ever. The colors it produces are not particularly accurate to any reality I've been part of. Kodak and Fuji both offered several ultra saturated versions of their pro neg films too.

    Many of these fancy Photoshop manipulations are technically possible in the darkroom. Obviously burning and dodging are basic darkroom techniques, but unsharp masking and sophisticated contrast manipulations are possible. They just take all day, you have to do it in the dark, and there's no saving or going back. Once you goof you have to start from the beginning, and if each test print takes all afternoon it may be weeks before the finished photograph is realized.

    The color darkroom is particularly difficult because you can barely use any safelight, and it's hard to tweak color one way without effecting it in other ways that we'd rather not change. In Photoshop we can adjust each slider/input individually without effecting the others. In the color darkroom it's like they are all interconnected, and sliding one means messing up some of the others.

    So while yes, this stuff could be done with film, it was such a pain in the ass that no one would ever bother to do it with anything but their best work. :) I used to USM about 6 to 8 landscape photos a year; it was always from 4x5 film, large prints, and definitely my best stuff. Now all of my family snaps get unsharp masked! :) Do they need it? Not really. Does it make them masterpieces? Nope. Do I think they look better because of it? Yep.

    I think everybody gets fascinated with new tools and techniques for a while. I couldn't keep my hands off the saturation when I first started digital processing. HDR and the over-the-top Photomatix tonemapped look really grabbed me too. Dave Hill, Dragen, etc..., but I find the thrill wears off the gimmicky, flashy stuff pretty quick. People either move on to the next image trend or fall back on the fundamentals.

    Once upon a time, not too long ago really, color photography was considered a gimmick, and too over the top for serious fine art photographers. ;)
     
  5. Jaymz77

    Jaymz77 TPF Noob!

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    It seems there is a super fine line that distinguishes a well taken photo manipulated in Photoshop, adding great detail and colors to a otherwise dull picture due to bad lighting, slight movement(no-IS lens) or an entry level camera and incorrect settings and a well taken photo over saturated, over sharpened and well, flat out over processed. I know I have been a victim of over-photoshopping and it seems that at the time I edited it, it looked fine but later seeing how much I over did it. I also will throw in that I think a lot of blame falls in our monitors. I have edited at work, on a little 17" dell cheapo monitor, saved to my thumb drive, go home and looked at it on my nice 24" View Sonic HD monitor and was just shocked at what I had done. I am sure that isn't all of it but it does amaze me at the difference looking at tpf forums on my nice monitor compared to my work cheapo monitor.

    Now, I never had the opportunity to get into film, but I think film and digital photography are having a larger and larger wedge put between them separating any similarities they once had due to more people having access to higher end equipment and software. In my mind I don't compare a digital photograph to a film photograph, they are art in their own respect.
     
  6. ksmattfish is right. You can shoot the biggest action film (even with big stars) but if there's no story, there's no film. All the special effects in the world will not make it work.

    A lot of those shots use tools without a goal. The very same visual treatment would be quite interesting with a person in it (for example.)
     
  7. dEARlEADER

    dEARlEADER TPF Noob!

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    oh ya? ever seen GIGLI?

    asking about how much pp is like picking up a guitar and asking people what you what style you should play....

    you should play what you wanna play....

    you could play what everyone else is playing.... of course... this could make you look like a cheap ***** in the end...

    in the end it's YOUR CAMERA, YOUR VISION, and YOUR RULES!

    hey.... i kinda like that.... think i'll put that in my signature....

    MY CAMERA, MY VISION, MY RULES!

    Brilliant...
     
  8. manaheim

    manaheim Jedi Bunnywabbit Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Some great insights and observations, particularly from ksmattfish (no surprise there!) :)

    I appreciate everyone sharing their thoughts. I'm gonna go sit off and bend my mind around this a bit. :)
     
  9. epp_b

    epp_b No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    First off, let's get one thing straight: "Photoshop" is a proper noun. It is not a verb. Don't use it as one.

    Onto the bedrock of your post...

    There's nothing wrong with heavy processing on photos. Do you think most of the photos people pay good money for are straight out of the camera? Doubtful.

    Personally, I find that there is rarely enough saturation and contrast straight from the camera, and it usually isn't quite the right tone. Most of what I do is just adjusting contrast, sharpening and tones until it "feels" right to me.

    HDR is another story. I think it generally tends to make things look radioactive and generally "ick". I tried it for a little bit and then decided it was a fad. I prefer to wait for the right lighting and use the correct exposure.
     
  10. sabbath999

    sabbath999 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    If we did away with over-saturated images, poor old Thomas Kinkade would starve to death.
     
  11. manaheim

    manaheim Jedi Bunnywabbit Staff Member Supporting Member

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    You do realize, of course, that this one sentence basically made me ignore the rest of your post.

    :lol:
     
  12. ksmattfish

    ksmattfish Now 100% DC - not as cool as I once was, but still

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    Absolutely follow your own path. All I'm saying is that if viewers are concentrating on how the photo was made then the subject has failed to catch their attention.
     

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