Gad! I Photoshop my Images!


This afternoon I have been busy loading the car and getting packing done for a trip tomorrow that will lead to some friends in the Houston area.  We will be gone for about a week, hence there will be no posts here during that time.

But I am going to do a little ranting.  It is about one of the least understood subjects, i.e. post processing of photos.  This was brought on by a remark a reader made about one of my photos that I posted to my Facebook page.  It was a beautiful photo of a Painted Bunting.  It is truly one of the most beautiful birds in the United States.  This reader said that it must of been “Photoshopped”.  Well, of course it was.  I don’t think that he meant anything derogatory in the remark.  I actually believe that he was giving me a compliment, and I appreciate it.

However, it gets my dander up, when I hear that term used, as a lot of people tend to think that the pictures were somehow ‘doctored’ up to make something look different.

In the old days, I post-processed photos in a darkroom, or I had a photo lab do it for me.  I always process my images, whether it is film in the darkroom, or done digitally in a computer.  With the computer, I just don’t get my hands dirty.  But I accomplish the same either way.

There is a term, “the camera doesn’t lie”.  That is true.  But they don’t produce an accurate image of what the photographer sees either.  I have to check the lighting and adjust accordingly, or adjust the contrast to give the image more pop, or correct the color, or remove dirt spots.  But the odd thing is back in film days, you wouldn’t hear such remarks like, “Hey, that picture was ‘dark-roomed”.

Look in any magazine, book, trade magazine, you name it.  You will never see a photograph that was published straight out of the camera.  My photos would still be very nice, but you can see a marked difference between my originals and the processed ones.  But do they look anything different that what I saw when I took the picture,  Of course not.  An exception would be if there would be, for example, a beer can lying in an inappropriate place in a composition.  I would try to remove it, but I would also do the same if I was using a darkroom.  I believe that would called be using a bit of artistic license.

Which makes bring up one more point.  If a paint artist can paint a picture, interpreting it as he sees it, a photographer has the same freedom.  Again, that is artistic license.

That is the end of my rant for today.  I am sure that I will now get comments about the pros and cons of post processing.  Now I have to get back to work.  I have a number of photos that I need to Photoshop, er, uh, I mean Darkroom. 🙂

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34 thoughts on “Gad! I Photoshop my Images!

  1. It gets under my skin really bad, too. We’re darned if we do and darned if we don’t, Bob. We catch enough h-e-double hockey sticks from fellow artists about not having to do as much as other artists to produce our craft (even when many of them are simply doing their work in the easy chair, crochet hook in hand, watching Wheel of Fortune), yet when we dare to use a tool to put more effort into our craft we’re criticized again. You’re right–no image right out of the camera is ever truly print worthy. Nor was it when we “dark roomed” images. To heck with ’em, I say.

    By the way… I like the new format. Very clean.

    • Thanks for your great comment, Jim. I really appreciate what you had to say. It is odd the way people now think in these modern times. I am glad you like the new format. With the old one, the sidebar didn’t show when people viewed it on their iPads.

  2. I’m in total agreement with all of the above. Even though I can’t use Photoshop on my computer I try to do pretty much the same thing with the Canon program. It is all part of the process. Like you I often don’t know what I have until I get home and download the pictures. Anyway, there is no such thing as perfect conditions for every shot, and even when there practically is, you still have composition and reducing to jpeg and the list goes on…but I won’t. 🙂

  3. Your point is well taken, Bob.I think that I remember the photo and did not perceive it to be too strong.I agree that I need to “enhance” some to get what I saw. Very grateful for grad filters in Lightroom when I have been to the mountains. Unfortunately I see many published photos out there that I consider over- processed.Oh well, each to their own.

  4. “You don’t take a photograph, you make it”, Ansel Adams. If he had to “make” his photographs, we are certainly allowed to. There is technical photography and there is artistic photography. The best photos are a combination of the two. Keep on “shopping”, Bob. The results speak for themselves.

  5. I’m with you, Bob. I am more technician than artist, but IMHO the idea that “straight out of camera” is somehow “more pure” is inaccurate. A computer must process the raw data from the camera sensor in order to create an image, either the computer built into the camera or the desktop computer outside the camera. You program the in-camera computer using camera settings, and you program the desktop computer using Photoshop (or, in my case, Lightroom)—two different programming skills. Even if your goal is simply to recreate what you saw, why not use the latter to correct any mistakes made with the former?

  6. I don’t believe there’s a pro photographer out there (or an amateur one!) who doesn’t PhotoShop their images! But PhotoShopping has become an art form in itself, and you can take it way too far (in my opinion). It is a tool to enhance the beauty of the image, just as the camera and lens are the tools that took the photo! I think it’s probably the media, PhotoShopping pics of models for womens’ magazines, that has given it a bad name. And I’ve seen a pic of a Painted Bunting – if that same person saw one in real life, they’d probably still think it had been PhotoShopped! Have a great trip, Bob! 🙂

  7. I try to get the picture I envision using the cameras abilities. Bottom line: I get it wrong sometimes and have to adjust me shots to post. I use Corel Paintshop Pro X4’s Brightness and Contrast feature. It is set to do the brightness and contrast automatically and I choose which to use,the original or the edited one, for my post. Either way it sings to me at some level.
    Great rant Bob! Maybe someday you can post on how you darkroom guru’s could pull or push film if one over or underexposed the film.

  8. I hope you have a great trip! I get many compliments on the photos I post on facebook and I always tell people that I have some nice software that cleans my images up incredibly! Since I don’t have any fancy photo equipment, I rely on the software to help me adjust the exposure and make the images more colorful and crisp. The funny thing is, I guess I’m photoshopping and I never even knew how to do that! LOL Can’t wait to read your posts when you get back, Bob! Happy travels!

  9. Great post Bob! I agree, nothing comes out of a digital camera that could not use some post processing help. No professional photographer would deny themselves the tools provided for post processing their photos. All of my photos go through the digital darkroom and receive adjustments with Photoshop, Lightroom or both. I really look forward to getting home with images, sitting down at the computer and seeing what I can do with them in the “darkroom”. 🙂

    • I loved your comment, Alison. Sometimes I say that when I am in the field I take the exposures, then when I get home is when I make the pictures. 🙂 By the way, I believe it was you that mention the clarity that I had in my photos. I have a nasty little secret for that. It is called Focus Magic. A great little plug-in. (Now it’s not a secret) 🙂

  10. It is amazing what folks come up with …I am the painter and I do take artistic privileges!! When you post your pics, they are beautiful done with much accuracy and when you “dark room” haha it always enhances..have fun on your trip …will look forward to new photos..

    • Thanks, Syl, both for your compliments and for your understanding where I am coming from. You and I are both artists, just working in different mediums. Loved your comment.

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