Thursday, January 13, 2011

Let's Talk "Photoshopping" Photos

I'm working on my second assignment in the FREE photoshop class I'm taking with Kim Klassen ("Skinny Mini"), which is on using the layers and adjustment panels.  The result of my initial attempt is above, and I think it's pretty cool looking.  Here's the original photo below:
First, I changed the photo by using the "hard mix" blending mode to get the cool highlights; then I lightened everything in the blending mode and added text. 
I'm happy to be learning photoshop, but I'm feeling a little conflicted as well.  I have always been a little uneasy about "photoshopping" or "processing" photos because I think it changes the essential nature of the photograph and consequently photography as an art form.  That's the main reason I hesitated for so long before learning photoshop.  I finally broke down and bought PSE because I thought PSE would be an easy way to improve a photo without changing it.  I think the processes I went through with this photo really change it's nature, rather than simply improving the original image. On the other hand, I can see how these types of changes will be useful in creating a poster or card or some other digital art piece.  
Here's the rest of my homework assignment. I did all kinds of blending and adjusting on the first photograph to create the second piece.
Again, it's cool to be able to do this, and I'm glad to be learning this, but this still seems to me like a different art form than photography.  And maybe that's okay. And maybe I'll embrace digital art or digital photography (or whatever it is/should be called), but I do think it's different than the art of photography.  What do you think? I'd welcome your thoughts.

13 comments:

Amy said...

I view it more as the opportunity is there to change things and you can really get very creative. As far as reality is concerned, I see that as the mark of someone who has really got a good grasp of the subtlties of editing - personally, I like to be able to enhance a shot that may have been quite poor- light wise - and yet the photo still looks as though it is not overly processed ... it is trickier than you think and not something I have mastered as well as I would have liked so far.

Every now and then I like to manipulate a portrait or a landscape and use effects such as the coloured pencil or watercolour or paint daub.

Like all things I suppose, learning what you can do gives you more opportunities and you sort out what you like pretty quickly!

helena said...

I also have issues about using photoshopping when I'm 'memory keeping' as opposed to being creative.

My soloution is that my digiart is clearly not reality and I think of it as like art journalling rather than memory keeping.


For memory keeping, at the moment, I only remove red-eye, add light and crop but nothing else. For photo a day I did nothing.

laurie said...

i am not a photographer but am amazed at what photoshop can do (although i don't have it.) i actually prefer the original photos you took in this post, for whatever that's worth.

Sian said...

I feel exactly the same way as you do. I've long held that the original with all its flaws is reality and that most often that is what we need for memory keeping. On the other hand, I do enjoy looking at manipulated photos simply for the pleasure of looking at the beautiful image. Room for both?

Karen said...

For 90% of my photos I use levels to improve the exposure, and do some sharpening and that's it. I often use the Pioneer Woman's free actions to help me do this quickly. I love the options I have to create art with photos and that's what I call adding textures, softening colors, adding text. . . It's a powerful program (even the PSE) and I don't utilize half of it. I'm enrolled in Kim's Full Photoshop class that starts next week. For memory keeping, I agree with Sian, I want the original with flaws and all. I decided a long time ago a snapshot was all I wanted for memory keeping.

scrappyjacky said...

I agree with Helena....a photo that is about memory keeping might need a little enhancing eg. correcting light and colour levels, removing red eye....but anything much more than that is 'digi-art'
I love seeing digi-art...some of it is amazing.....but to me it's not about photography....it's a different creative art form.

Mommy2CVC said...

Personally, I like the untouched picture better, but that is just me. Maybe because it's an action shot. The second picture touch up looks like a painting to me.

debs14 said...

I think there is a place for photoshopping but I'm not sure that it is for me. I like being able to put text on photos but I can do that for free with Picasa. Being able to manipulate any picture somehow takes away the pleasure of finding that you have taken the perfect shot first off somehow. Does that make sense?

humel said...

I know exactly what you mean. Nearly all the photos you see on my blog are straight out of camera. Even when they'd benefit from a little lightening or sharpening, I tend to post them just as they are. I try to get the framing as I want, so that I don't even crop the photo.

However, there are times when I do want to use Photoshop, either to resuce a photo that really hasn't come out right, or to create an effect that isn't possible in the original shot. I see the latter as 'digital art', not photography! And, as Sian says, I think there's a place for both.

It's great that you're acquiring the tools to use Photoshop. I think you'll find a way to make it work for you. No, I know you will :-)

Terry said...

I struggle with just taking a picture in the correct light!!! All of your before and after photos look great. The important thing is if you enjoy it!

Nancy Y said...

I like how Humel put it - basically Photography will be an art form unto itself and any manipulating (other than a bit of red eye removal or brightening) in PSE then renders it digi-art, a whole other animal! I think it's fun to learn the program... usually if I don't keep playing I forget how to do things, so it's one way to help me keep my brain young by learning something new!

Fiona said...

I remember going to photoshop a photo my son had taken on a trip to London - then I thought 'No' cos he took and to change it would change his memories. I mainly use PSE for removing red-eye and maybe some lighting. Although I have scanned in and touched up old photos and thought it was great for that.

alexa said...

I tend to see it as a spectrum - from simply lightening a dark shot or correcting a yellowy tint ,all the way up to digital manipulation which is not so much about the story of the photo as the photo itself... Hope you continue to enjoy exploring - these are lovely. Like that action shot!