Friday, July 24, 2009

Is It A Real Photo?

We're moving deep into Photoshop territory in class. We've already played with alpha channels and masks - amazing.

Today's lesson was very heavy and after seeing what can be done in post-production my classmate Carlos brought up a very valid point.

To what extreme should we apply these tools? If we change the hue of the sky, make it darker or lighter, add more contrast to the road, add a filter so the mountains in the far off distance pop out more --- is this a real image?? Afterall ... it's not what you captured. This all led to a nice discussion and got everyone thinking about the images we see everyday.

The truth is that every image has some adjustments. Even back in the film days ... it took longer and if you made a mistake you had to start all over, but each photographer altered the image to their taste. Back then (and even now) it was done with cardboard cutouts, filters for varying contrast, films with varying ISO, the list goes on and on. Now we do it all in photoshop.

The question I ask myself is ... Did photoshop create better photographers or is photoshop a crutch? As for myself I often prefer my film images to my digital images. Why? I'm not quite sure, perhaps I prefer the darkroom process over the in-front-of-my-computer-photoshop process. Maybe it's because I don't have the image instantly and I have to really stop and think about what I'm going to capture. Afterall, I only have 36 exposures and if I don't get it right I may not get an opportunity to repeat.

This is, of course, all subjective and will certainly depend on what you're shooting. But I think it's an ongoing discussion.

Interestingly enough, a few days ago I read about two French art students that entered and won a very pretigious photojournalism contest. Their story was fake and the images staged ... they did it to prove a point. It's one of those things that makes you go hmmm?!? I read about it on Chase Jarvis' Blog in case you're curious.

For your viewing pleasure below is a picture taken from my bedroom window. Should I have left as shot? Hmmm?

Original Photo: No Retouching

Subtracted Exposer in Camera Raw to keep detail in sky, added temperature to make it a warmer image, added mask and adjusted levels to buildings to bring out the white and detail in the cracks.

Critique, pointers, tips are always welcome. = )

1 comment:

  1. I used to think photographers who used photoshop were not "real" photographers. I realize that I used to say that when I didn't know how to use photoshop myself ;-)

    Now that I've learned a few things and started using photo editing software on my own work- I found that photoshop is just a digital darkroom. While it may have been harder to create "comp" photos in the darkroom and anything done in the darkroom required much more time, digital photography is just another part of changing times and technology. We used to rely on newspapers every morning to find out what's going on in the world. But now we can turn on the computer, connect to the internet, and read up to the minute news instantly as well as see photos captured an hour beforehand. It's all just keeping up with our need for instant gratification. It's a preference that some people still choose to pick up their newspaper at the stands just as it is a preference that some people still choose to shoot film.

    Now, I SUPPOSE this need for instant fulfillment could be what separates art and non art. But that's most likely a different discussion :-)

    Back to whether photoshop makes a photographer or not- it doesn't. Photography is all about the photographer's talent to capture an image and moment. Photoshop just enhances the photographers work that perhaps a camera was unable to. Our eyes are all different. What you see is different than what I see. Whose to say that tweaking the colors in your photo to match what you really saw is wrong? If you had taken a black and white photograph of the building above and painted in the colors of the sky and building exactly how it was that night- would it still be considered a photograph?

    My belief is that a great photographer can take a great photo regardless of the tools- be it a point and shoot disposable camera or a $20,000 digital medium format. A great photographer also knows how to use photo editing tools to enhance the photograph into a stronger image- not change it into something completely different.