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Thread: Use of Photoshop

  1. #1

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    Use of Photoshop

    Is it safe to say that almost all photographers use Photoshop or Lightroom in one way or another? I'm not talking completely altering a photo. I'm talking more or less about manually adjusting levels, sharpening, cleaning up unwanted distractions etc.

    I find myself using PS to tweak 90% of my pictures. Just curious how many people are getting exactly what they want in one shot without some kind of alteration.

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    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Use of Photoshop

    Quote Originally Posted by Chimpancheesze View Post
    Is it safe to say that almost all photographers use Photoshop or Lightroom in one way or another? I'm not talking completely altering a photo. I'm talking more or less about manually adjusting levels, sharpening, cleaning up unwanted distractions etc.
    Rather than say 'Photoshop' or 'Lightroom', I would say 'Post-processing software'. Whilst the majority do use Adobe products, there are many alternatives. And the answer to that question is 'Yes' - I would suggest that 100% of serious photographers employ post-processing software. This, remember, is now the digital darkroom.

    Quote Originally Posted by Chimpancheesze View Post
    I find myself using PS to tweak 90% of my pictures. Just curious how many people are getting exactly what they want in one shot without some kind of alteration.
    If you're serious about photography, then you'll be shooting in RAW as opposed to JPEG. Every image needs post-processing work. Some less. Some more.

    There are lots of discussions on this forum that try and dispel the myth about post-processing work somehow being cheating. You use the word alteration. You're not altering, you're carrying out part 2 of the process. Part 1 was pressing the shutter. The latest discussion was only a couple of weeks ago. The subject comes up regularly.

    EDIT - Do a tag search on 'post-processing' and you'll see some of these threads.
    Last edited by Donald; 15th December 2010 at 01:28 PM. Reason: See above

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    Re: Use of Photoshop

    Continuing with Donald's reply, Even analog or film photography, yes it's still alive, has evolved into the digital age.

    Whether shooting with a 35mm fSLR or a large format view camera using sheet film, the common work flow is take the photo, wet darkroom film processing, high resolution scanning, and then digital post processing regardless if the image's final presentation will be as a computer displayed image or as a physical print.

    The actual scanning step has become very sophisticated are there are numerous wet labs who offer in house scanning services to further eliminate the potential of image defects caused by shipping between the wet lab and scanning service company. You can also find labs who specialize solely in scanning and many flim photographers have their own scanners. Praus Productions, Inc. in Rochester, NY is an example, but there are many others. I've seen specifications on film scanners achieving an optical resolution of 12,000 pixels / inch, equivalent to resolving the grain of film with a resolution as high as 236 line pair / mm. ( For the digital only photographers here, that would provide a 17,007 x 11,338 pixel (192 MP ) image from a single 35mm film frame. - If you're into high pixel count, try going back to film. A single 4x5 sheet film image would equate to a 2,880 MP imager. )

    Just do a google if your interested.
    Last edited by Steaphany; 15th December 2010 at 02:53 PM. Reason: typo and added a bit more

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    The Blue Boy's Avatar
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    Re: Use of Photoshop

    "You're not altering, you're carrying out part 2 of the process. Part 1 was pressing the shutter."

    Now that is iconic for the digital age.

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    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Use of Photoshop

    Quote Originally Posted by The Blue Boy View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Donald
    You're not altering, you're carrying out part 2 of the process. Part 1 was pressing the shutter
    Now that is iconic for the digital age.
    Yes, I have been trying to get it down to something that short for 3 years!

    Well said Donald.

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    Re: Use of Photoshop

    Quote Originally Posted by Chimpancheesze View Post
    Is it safe to say that almost all photographers use Photoshop or Lightroom in one way or another? I'm not talking completely altering a photo. I'm talking more or less about manually adjusting levels, sharpening, cleaning up unwanted distractions etc.

    I find myself using PS to tweak 90% of my pictures. Just curious how many people are getting exactly what they want in one shot without some kind of alteration.
    Randy, I shoot in RAW and therefore post-process anything that doesn't go in the digital trash can. Having spent a few years in film before going to digital I can tell you that even my amazing Canon EOS 1Ds mk3's RAW files still lack the pop that you get shooting something like Fuji Velvia, or even pro negative films like Fuji Reala 100. You get your exposure right on a pro grade film and the color and clarity is unbeatable (still). RAW files simply must be processed. That's just part of digital photography.

    Now for my personal philosophy on actually altering an image.

    We as humans tend to expect a photograph to be an accurate representation of something that actually occurred because a camera is something that does nothing more than capture the light of whatever subject at which the operator was pointing the lens. An altered image is not an accurate representation of anything except maybe what the digital artist had to drink with his last meal.

    When one observes an exceptional work of art one think of the artist because it is a created masterpiece. When one observes a well taken photograph the reaction is something more like "wow, I'd like to see that myself!" because one naturally expects it to be real, which is why the vast majority of prize photography contests will not allow any manner of alteration on an entry unless it is in the "altered" category. "Altered" includes pretty much anything outside of standard post-processing except subtle HDR. Any good digital artist can make something intriguing out of almost any totally unskilled, useless photograph. But what they can create in photoshop says absolutely nothing about their skill and ability as a PHOTOGRAPHER!
    I can enjoy and appreciate digital art of almost any form. I like collage images, composite images, textured images- you name it, I can generally speaking enjoy seeing it. But do be so noble as to not refer to it as a photograph.
    I know countless teenagers who go and buy a digital SLR with mom and pops money, skim through the instruction manual once, go out and take a bunch of snapshots, mess them all up in photoshop and call themselves a photographer at the end of it. I think those kind of people make the greats like Ansel Adams turn over in the graves because there's no skill involved. You want to be a photographer? It's a very, very competitive industry (especially if you're shooting for publication) so you're going to have to put as much energy into learning as you put money into equipment. And if you do, I think anyone can develop a good eye and make it in this tough industry. But again... if someone is going to take snapshots, chop them all up and glue a few bits and pieces of other snapshots in and call it a photograph I can tell you that they're only fooling themselves.

    There... now I've gone on my rampage so I'll leave you all in peace... for now

    P.S. I don't generally feel as strong as I sometimes state things... I have this habit of overstating things to make a point...
    but I still don't think of digital art as photography.

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    Re: Use of Photoshop

    Quote Originally Posted by Chimpancheesze View Post
    I find myself using PS to tweak 90% of my pictures.
    What 90%?

    It appears that most (amateur in my case) photographers discard a large percentage of their captures (perhaps they keep them, but they don't pay much attention to them) and concentrate on the ones they like best. I would say that I concentrate on roughly 10% of the images I take. These I usually really like, so it is hard not to think that they could be improved even slightly by 'developing' them a bit in a raw converter like ACR (or CNX2 in my case), therefore I tweak them all a bit (batch or singularly). Out of these I will take perhaps one in 10 or 20 into PS proper for some cutting and pasting or advanced processing.

    For the 95% of mine that never see PhotoshopX, I am typically just fine tuning manually what the in-camera processing engine is doing automatically. These engines are good and getting better, but they can only affect global parameters and there are too many variables to get them all right on the fly robotically. In raw post-processing we tell the processing engine what we would have chosen instead, both globally and locally.

    Some may disagree but I believe that, except in controlled studio conditions, you need to be exceptionally good, lucky and have vast amounts of resources and time in order to get a capture that cannot be improved, even slightly, in 10 minutes of raw post processing.

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    Re: Use of Photoshop

    Donald, you're correct. I should use the term PPS. Didn't mean to single out Adobe. It's just what I use on my Mac accompanied by Aperture. I realize that people use different applications and should always work with what they're comfortable with and the features the software has to offer.

    jeffmoll: I always shoot in RAW. No exceptions.

    JH: Judging by some of the responses and personal experience, every photo can use some type of PP. I find it rare (at least for me) to take only 1 shot and have it come out perfect to the point I don't have to do anything to it. I know 90% seems high but I'm not talking about 90% of my entire library. Just a days shoot and I throw away more than I keep. You can't alter a really bad picture in PP and bring it up to an acceptable level. Especially in sports photography (which is where I concentrate most).

    Thanks for the feedback, all. I always felt like I was "cheating" when I would change things up. Glad to know it's pretty much the norm.

  9. #9

    Re: Use of Photoshop

    Now for my personal philosophy on actually altering an image.
    I was not going to rise to this...but against my better judgement

    When one observes a well taken photograph the reaction is something more like "wow, I'd like to see that myself!" because one naturally expects it to be real, which is why the vast majority of prize photography contests will not allow any manner of alteration on an entry unless it is in the "altered" category. "Altered" includes pretty much anything outside of standard post-processing except subtle HDR. Any good digital artist can make something intriguing out of almost any totally unskilled, useless photograph. But what they can create in photoshop says absolutely nothing about their skill and ability as a PHOTOGRAPHER!
    I disagree. Reality is limited by personal experience anything else is presented through the eyes of others and that may or may not be an accurate representation. Narrowing the definition of photography down to what compartmentalist competition judges 'expect' and bounded by a book of rules that has no tangible origin would be conservative in the extreme. To say that an altered image says nothing of the skill of a photographer misses ignores a fundamental (if not the fundamental) skill of the photographer...to see the image in the first place. An additional skill is to see through the 'real' image capture and perceive the finished product. This is not a detriment but an important artistic skill applied to the 'craft' of imag capture.

    But do be so noble as to not refer to it as a photograph.
    Firstly the term photograph does not and never will enjoy exclusive rights of the self appointed rule makers. These rule makers have a serious artistic component missing from their makeup...to understand that imperfection is art. Art cannot be sustained in a perfect world. Rigid thinkers are unable to conceive that any skill does not have to have parameters applied, boundaries inflicted and benchmarks set. Secondly I see very few image alterers claiming nobility of their art...but I see plenty of photographers expounding the nobility of sterile image capture

    I know countless teenagers who go and buy a digital SLR with mom and pops money, skim through the instruction manual once, go out and take a bunch of snapshots, mess them all up in photoshop and call themselves a photographer at the end of it. I think those kind of people make the greats like Ansel Adams turn over in the graves because there's no skill involved.
    Snapshots are 99.99% of what you may term photography and if a teenager(or anyone else) wants to use a DSLR to snap away and play around in photoshop fine. The more the better. The concept that this somehow threatens you as a 'photographer' in any way is unconceivable to me. Do you see it as demeening your chosen craft? I could predict with some accuracy that Ansel Adams would not give a monkeys. He was an artist not Judge Judy.
    if someone is going to take snapshots, chop them all up and glue a few bits and pieces of other snapshots in and call it a photograph I can tell you that they're only fooling themselves.
    In the UK this is part of the curicullum for Advanced Level Photography as a national qualification (the course being a qualifier for University entrance). It is used to train the photographer to see past the view finder. The photographic artisan (as opposed to artist) does not need to see past the viewfinder since all the effort is bestowed on faithful capture. A capture that seeks technical perfection and ticks all the rule boxes. This is undoubtably a skill but it is not the a fundament of photographic artistry.

    I think you do an injustice to many excellent photographers on this forum. They are not only skilful photographers but they also have the creative ability to take the basic concept to another level. This should be encouraged not derided. The day I log on to CiC and am confronted with page after page rule book photography will be the day I subscribe to POTN

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    Re: Use of Photoshop

    I have agree with Steve. In my point of view there is not allot of difference between a painter, sculptor and photographer. We chose to use a different medium to express our self's. Painters add and take away from their painting as they see fit and so do sculptors. Why should a different standard be set for photographers just because of the medium we have chosen to use. The creative effort all starts from the same place, our brains eye. How we chose to express it is different.
    Ansel Adams said taking the picture was the easy part. The darkroom was were he spent 75% of his time on the photograph getting it to what he envisioned and I know no one that would not call him a artist.

    To answer the original question I would guess and say none.

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    Re: Use of Photoshop

    Quote Originally Posted by Sam Smith View Post
    I have agree with Steve. In my point of view there is not allot of difference between a painter, sculptor and photographer. We chose to use a different medium to express our self's. Painters add and take away from their painting as they see fit and so do sculptors. Why should a different standard be set for photographers just because of the medium we have chosen to use. The creative effort all starts from the same place, our brains eye. How we chose to express it is different.
    Ansel Adams said taking the picture was the easy part. The darkroom was were he spent 75% of his time on the photograph getting it to what he envisioned and I know no one that would not call him a artist.

    To answer the original question I would guess and say none.
    Here! Here! Well said Sam and Steve

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    Re: Use of Photoshop

    Eloquently put Steve (I think!!)
    It is my understanding that behind all those that we perceive as the great photographers stood a brilliant darkroom technician and printer.

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    Re: Use of Photoshop

    Ansel Adams had a number of printers, one of whom (Al Weber) I had the pleasure of doing two workshops with in Montana. He will tell you that contrary to any populr Adamesque mythology, printing one of his negatives was quite an ordeal at times as there was much dodging and burning and many of his prints were contact prints off large format negatives. My students do a goodly amount of dodging and burning and contrast control via multi-grade filters, paper flashing, chemical mixes, etc... Post production work is as much a part of the whole process as is the shooting itself.

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    Re: Use of Photoshop

    Quote Originally Posted by Donald View Post
    You're not altering, you're carrying out part 2 of the process. Part 1 was pressing the shutter.
    I'd take it even further than that. For me, photography is a multi-part journey in the pursuit of perfection. Take a typical studio shoot - it starts with briefing the model some days before on things like makeup - clothing - avoiding alcohol - discussing what they feel are their strong points, and their weak areas. At the studio, another part is things like background selection - lighting design - metering - testing. We then have a "capturing phase" (encompassing composition and model posing and direction) - then post production & printing etc.

    There is significant scope for dramatically altering the shot(s) during any of these phases, which to me is one of the reasons why photography is so much more than just "taking pictures" - it's truely an artistic expression. I think that as photographers grow they eventually go from simply "capturing what they see" to "commanding and controlling many aspects of their environment so as to create the vision they have in their minds". So we start out by taking a shot of a group ... then next time we learn to shoot with the sun behind us ... then we start chosing better locations ... and we start using fill flash ... and we start getting people wearing more colour-coordinated clothing ... we start using props ... we develop better post-processing techniques etc etc etc. All in all, if I had to sum it up in a few words, I guess those words might be "experience = learning".

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    Re: Use of Photoshop

    Well said, everyone -- this argument isn't new, even before digital came along -- as I mentioned in my recent interview , Alfred Stieglitz and the Pictorialists began seriously manipulating photographs in the late 1890's, trying to "free photography from its documentary and technical stranglehold and to use it as a more impressionistic and flexible tool to realize a valid form of artistic expression."* There was a photographic secession, just as there had been an artistic one. Photographers like Eduard Steichen, Gertrude Kasebier, and Julia Cameron were involved in this movement. Although many eventually moved away from it, toward a more realistic form of photography, the desire still remained to elevate photography beyond mere snapshots, toward something that represented the intention and visualization of the photographer, which in my mind is not equivalent to just taking a picture of what you see. I completely disagree that "a camera is something that does nothing more than capture the light of whatever subject at which the operator was pointing the lens" -- that's like saying "a pen is something that does nothing more than write words on paper." A camera is a tool, yes, but it's never "just" recording a scene that someone else could then go see, because it doesn't take pictures on its own -- someone is using it. I venture that no one has ever seen Half Dome in the way that Adams did -- first, not in black and white, but then at that moment, that particular light, with all the tones and so on brought out (in the darkroom) in the way that matched Adams' envisionment. I've seen Half Dome, numerous times, and while it's magnificent, it doesn't look anything like the way that Adams portrayed it.

    A postcard photograph might make you want to go see a particular place; other photographs convey to you a sense of beauty, or deep emotion, or ugliness and despair, whatever the photographer intended, if he or she was successful. A beautiful macro of a flower doesn't necessarily make me want to go out and buy a bouquet, but rather gives me an appreciation of the intricacy and wonder of nature, even in the tiniest views of it. There's art, or at least artistry, in that photograph, and the fact that skill has been used in the production of that photograph for my consumption doesn't bother me one whit.

    I think in this digital age, in which everyone and his brother has discovered photography and is out there snapping away, those of us who imagine ourselves to be "serious" photographers struggle to find something that differentiates us. My 13-year-old daughter knows her way around a camera very well, and mostly takes pictures of herself making alluring poses in the mirror which she then posts on facebook. Does the fact that she fiddles with these pictures in Photoshop and calls herself a photographer diminish the work I do in any way? I don't think so, I just keep plugging away.

    *Paul Roberts' introduction to Camera Work, the Complete Photographs. Sorry about being pedantic -- I can't help myself.

  16. #16

    Re: Use of Photoshop

    I'd take it even further than that. For me, photography is a multi-part journey in the pursuit of perfection. Take a typical studio shoot - it starts with briefing the model some days before on things like makeup - clothing - avoiding alcohol - discussing what they feel are their strong points, and their weak areas. At the studio, another part is things like background selection - lighting design - metering - testing. We then have a "capturing phase" (encompassing composition and model posing and direction) - then post production & printing etc.
    Good point Colin. I thought about this after submitting my post. There is also the pre-processing phase. Introducing supplementary light (which is far more difficult that the PP), waiting for favourable ambient lighting conditions and even the position of the photographer in relation to the subject it is all part of the package. All of these components could be said to alter reality...whatever that is

    Elise, eloquently stated. I think I need some English lessons

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    maloufn's Avatar
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    Re: Use of Photoshop

    And is'nt working on a negative in a darkroom Step 2 in producing prints?

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    Re: Use of Photoshop

    What a thoroughly intersting discussion this has been/is. This where CiC really comes in to its own, I think.

    Just struck me that teachers/tutors could develop a flow diagram showing the phases/things to be thought about from 'idea' to finsihed product. What an aid to learning that could be. We should get it done and copyright it for CiC.

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    Re: Use of Photoshop

    Quote Originally Posted by Wirefox View Post
    I think you do an injustice to many excellent photographers on this forum.
    No offense mate. I was being far more sarcastic than anything. My point was simply this. Photography is an art form. Artists are free to express themselves in whatever way is individually theirs. That's what I enjoy about photography, everyone's shot is different. I shoot some weddings with my brother-in-law and I love it because even though we're both shooting the same thing our shot are totally different and have a totally different feel and impact to them. The diversity of perspective and outlook is great. Each art form takes a different set of skills and your definition of photography will dictate what set of skills you begin to focus on and build.

    Let's say I'm an artist since I'm a bit of a photographer. Now we all know that music is an art form... so for me to say "since I'm an artist then I can make music too." would be a totally incomplete statement because it's over generalizing art. I enjoy digital art. But I can tell you that that takes a totally different set of skills than the landscapist who gets up at 2:00 am, hikes for 10 miles to get to a remote mountain lake, gets setup and waits for 45 minutes in the cold to get a sunrise over the lake that will never happen again. That's what a skilled photographer is, one who can calculate when that magical moment is going to happen and can capture it in an awe inspiring way. John Shaw is one of my favorite photographers. I look at his work and realize that he has photography skill WAY beyond mine. One of my favorite artist for digital imagery is Richard Tuschman. I look at his work and realize that my photography skill is equal to his but he can do things with digital imagery that are jaw-dropping. I just love his work and he has photoshop skills that are WAY beyond mine. That's his art, he's very good at it, but again it takes an entirely different set of skills than does photography. And that is why photography contests provide an "altered" category, for those whose skill and interests lie more in the digital imagery.

    Now... the bottom line to me is this. That we are all endeavoring to be artist of some variety or another, and the most important thing is that each one of us find out what we enjoy and pursue that. Be an artist! Express yourself and your point of view! That's what art is all about. But we do need to recognize the differences in art forms and realize the different skill involved. And when we recognize that we know better how to pursue our specific interest.

    And as for my comment on about people getting camera, shooting away and then chopping things all up and applying all kinds of effects in PS... where I'm coming from there is this: I know a couple dozen (literally) youngsters that shoot a digital SLR but pay absolutely no attention to composition, they don't watch the edges of the frame for obnoxious objects that intrude on the frame, they give no forethought to setting, lighting, or anything of the sort and what they end up with are images that I've seen 10 year old do better on. Then they take their images home and do all manner of crazy things to them in photoshop, make an almost intriguing image at best and then go flaunting themselves as "semi-pro photographers" and patting themselves on the back and have really no drive to become something great in the world of art. Just like the musicians that you hear that just make you roll your eyes and say "how did that person ever sell this stuff, he has no skill at all!" and the artist that come out of nowhere make the whole world stop and applaud. Skilled digital imagery I appreciate as much as skilled photography. The thing that gets me is someone who takes cheap, careless shots and does some weird effects and tries to pass themselves off as something great when they haven't even tried to make a winning image. Just my personal pet peeve and not by any means dissing anyone on here. A lot of these careless snap shooters have real potential if they would just slow down and put some time and care into their images whether it be their photographs or their digital imagery. Any real artists is careful and puts much energy into learning so that they can produce even better art. That's what I enjoy about this forum, is that we're all here because we want to learn and so we're willing to put our embarrassingly worst shots up so that they can be picked apart and we then know how to do it even better.

    I think Rob's thread about Jimmy Lawrence is proof enough to us all that all you need to become a real artist is passion and a love to learn. If you've got that, you've got mountains of potential regardless of what your current knowledge level might be.

    Anyway... I'm rambling again. My apologies!

    Cheers, and happy learning!

  20. #20
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    Re: Use of Photoshop

    I enjoy digital art. But I can tell you that that takes a totally different set of skills than the landscapist who gets up at 2:00 am, hikes for 10 miles to get to a remote mountain lake, gets setup and waits for 45 minutes in the cold to get a sunrise over the lake that will never happen again. That's what a skilled photographer is, one who can calculate when that magical moment is going to happen and can capture it in an awe inspiring way.
    Um . . . who says that someone who uses a DSLR and Photoshop wouldn't do exactly the same thing? And who might tinker significantly in the digital darkroom, just as Ansel Adams did, to get a "more perfect" image? Without going so far in the manipulation that the picture becomes an image, rather than a photograph?

    I think I get what you're saying, once you talked about your "pet peeve." I know the difference between a photograph (however much "photoshopped") and an image, and it really doesn't take anything away from me to have someone who does digital art calling themselves a photographer. You seem, finally, to be talking about "kids" who are neither good photographers nor good digital artists, and I don't think that applies to anyone here . . . as you said.

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