New Photoshop Elements

I recently upgraded to Photoshop Elements 8.  Since I wanted to get into it a little bit more than what the “help” menu shows, I opted to order the book “Photoshop Elements 8 for Windows: the missing manual”, by Barbara Brundage.  She says this is the book that should have been in the “box”.  I agree with her, it seems that you can spend hundreds of dollars now for software, but hardly ever get any instructional material with it.  Anyway, this book is a 624 page tome, but very informative.  I just received it yesterday, and with just browsing a few pages, I have picked some new knowledge.  It cost 29.69 from Amazon, but worth every penny.

I would like to point out that I still try to keep my photographs as original and realistic as I can.  I use this photo editing software, but I absolutely do not do anything to an image that I wouldn’t do when I used a chemical darkroom.  The only difference is that I now keep my hands cleaner.  I adjust color, lighting, and sharpness.  I darken highlights and lighten shadows.  If there is an unwanted item in a picture, such as a beer can, cigarette butt, or one time there was a “cow patty”,  I do remove such things.  I also crop the images if necessary to improve the composition.  Of course, in the old days with a chemical darkroom I would have done the same thing.

The great photographer Ansel Adams was a master in the darkroom.  He would love the digital age, I am sure.  He spent countless hours in the darkroom, sometimes in a tent, producing his utterly magnificent black and white photographs.  He, himself, was quoted as saying that people would be surprised if they could have seen the orignal scene, then his finished photo.  If you haven’t seen any of his work, make a point to do so.  His images are fantastic.

I recently had a disappointing experience.  I was eating breakfast the the Village Cafe where I have a few of my photographs hanging on display.  An individualGreat Blue Heron with fish - original saw my picture of the Heron trying to swallow the catfish.  I happened to catch the action just as the catfish appeared between the heron’s jaws.  He immediately accused me of “faking it”.  Actually, he said that I “photoshopped it”, meaning that I somehow placed the catfish in the mouth from another picture.  I was offended, but said nothing as that is the way with some people in this digital age, to assume that since it was done with a computer, it can’t be real.

What they don’t realize is that I work with state of the art Canon equipment that enables me to get fantastic results.  The original picture is to the right


Great Blue Heron with fish – edited

with my cropped and edited version below it.  I had my camera with a 500mm super telephoto lens set up on a tripod.  I saw the heron fishing along this little pond.  I focused on the heron, set the shutter for high-speed shooting.  As the heron dove his head in the water, I pressed and held the shutter.  At 6.5 frames per second, I got a series of images from the time he lifted his head from the water with the fish until he was swallowing, or trying to.

Anyway, comparing the original shot with the finished photo, you can see that I cropped it so I had a good close-up.  I know that I don’t have to defend myself against such allegations as described above, but I felt that I wanted to describe how I did this anyway.

Now having said all of that, it wouldn’t have been hard to falsify the photograph with Photoshop, but it also wouldn’t have been hard to do with the chemical darkroom either.  But it is a matter of ethics.  If a person does fake a photo and admits it that he does it for the fun of it, that’s different.  However if a photographer does it and mis-represents it as genuine, then shame on him.

Happy Birding!!

3 thoughts on “New Photoshop Elements

  1. Pingback: Abusing digital tools « jmillerphoto – Pictures by Jim Miller

  2. Photoshop is both a blessing and a curse. It is a blessing in that those of us who enjoy working with images can do so in the comfort of our office rather than in a darkened room reeking off vinegar and other caustic substances. And when we make a mistake on our dodge or burn or crop or whatever, we can fix it in an instant with a couple of keystrokes rather than starting from scratch and an unexposed piece of paper.

    The curse is that when you or I make a fantastic shot (and you, my friend, make far more of those than I), people assume that we used technology to make the shot rather than talent and good fortune. More than once I’ve had to go to my sequence of original shots to defend my photographic honor.

    But the curse exists because there are those who will go beyond removing a discarded smoke or beer can, to include a couple of well-known bird photographers who will erase large items in an effort to make a “better” shot. And unfortunately the ‘Net is so full of blatantly faked shots that we have to sometimes try extra hard to show that we walk the walk and talk the talk.

    Your GBH shot remains one of my favorites because it’s an awesome image and you did it the right way.


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