Yesterday on FaceBook I saw a photo of a huge full moon rising on an ocean horizon. The shore in the foreground is rocky and moonlit in places. It had some 89,000 “Likes”. To my pleasant surprise, there were MANY comments calling it what it is, including mine: “Go outdoors. Look at the moon. Look at the ocean. Look at a tree. Photoshop is fun, but reality can be quite beautiful. This photo is so over-edited that it’s ugly, in my opinion.”

In previous times, the camera was never a liar. It could force us to look at realities we might otherwise avoid. Film was primarily a truth-teller, even though we burned and dodged in the darkroom.

Photoshop is a great tool. It’s fun to use, it can “rescue” a less than perfect shot (sometimes). I use it – along with every other serious photog – on almost every picture I take, but this world is becoming more and more dystopic, and people are getting further and further removed from Nature. We need to see the natural world as it is, not as one more thing for man or photog to manipulate.

2 thoughts on “Photoshopping

  1. There was image manipulation pre-Photoshop, through control of values in the dark room. I’ve heard that Ansel Adams was a master at this, almost dancing around the photographic print he was making, dodging and burning in and generally performing magic, and that his finished prints could look very different from his negatives. He was Ansel Adams, however, so all is forgiven. 😉

    1. Yes. The line about “burning and dodging” was written with Ansel Adams (and my own darkroom experience) in mind. Adams’ work was, of course, black and white photography, so color saturation was not an editable part of a print. While the extremes or range of light and dark do greatly affect the appearance of a print, they do not add surreal or unnatural colors – which Photoshop can do. I was probably most bothered by the lack of artistic taste evidenced by the guy who took and edited the photo which caused me to react negatively. Just because you CAN manipulate an image doesn’t mean that it’s a good idea!

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