Sunday, February 27, 2011

Photoshop Vent

It is 12:33 am.  My baby is asleep in her Moses basket and my husband is asleep on the couch.  I am totally exhausted and have been for weeks and I know I should be in bed, too.

Why am I up?

Photoshop.  We have a love/hate relationship.

Photoshop is an amazing tool.  I have had the program for quite some time, but have largely avoided using until very recently.  You see, I'm a bit old-school (read: behind the times) when it comes to photography.  I truly thought in high school that digital cameras were an expensive fling bound to fall by the wayside.  "After all," I thought, "REAL photographers use film."

And now I shoot with with a digital SLR.

I still tend to be of the mindset that photoshop is largely a toy.  "After all," I thought (and still think), "REAL photographers properly expose the first time."  While that is true, I've been thrilled to save quite a few beloved images through a few photoshops edits.  Where the issue comes for me though is the over-use of photoshop in photos that are lovely without all of the edits.  Just like other techifized (yes, I just made up that word) areas, photos are now so frequently photoshopped that a lot of hobby and amateur photographers feel they just won't roll with the big dogs (or well, let's be honest, medium dogs, even) if they aren't able to stylize their photos.

I love that blogger didn't underline the word "photoshopped" as a spelling error.

My point, exactly.

Photoshop is truly an art all it's own.  You create amazing masterpieces through the medium of photoshop.  It takes years to master and the possibilities are endless, just like acrylics and a canvas.  That's actually part of my own personal beef with photoshop; the possibilities are so endless that it tends to overwhelm me.  I have a hard time deciding what I like best among a group of edits, all so different and yet lovely in their own right.

Photoshop is also an incredible tool for portraits.  You can erase blemishes, whiten teeth, smooth hair, tan skin, pop the color of eyes and redden lips.  All of which can make a great photo just that much more lovely, at least in the eyes of the world.  Yet all of these edits can take hours, and you can end up altering a photo so much it becomes akin to the Dove commercial girl.  (Remember her?  And remember how they made her so "beautiful" that it felt fake?  How the next time the commercial started your first thought was, "Wow, she was lovelier before they did all that.")

I have largely avoided Photoshop because I believe in the art of a picture made by a good photographer with a well-loved camera.  (Well, and because I'm the opposite of computer-savvy.  It takes me forever to figure this stuff out.  I'm computer-crappy.)  I don't like the artificiality of overly-sparkling eyes or changed scenery.  Birth marks and freckles should stay put.  The problem is that photos are so edited now that if you leave teeth un-whitened, it won't go without notice.  "Normal" teeth will look yellow.

I like trying to stick with edits that feel "natural."  That is, if the type of edit used to be a regular part of developing film in a dark room, then it still maintains the integrity of the photo.  For example, increasing or decreasing exposure, contrast and/or saturation is still very "natural" because a photographer would automatically do that in a dark room.    

Tonight I spent a long time going back and forth between an edited photo and the original.  I know my client will want the edited one.  But I have to be honest; I love the original.  Her eyes are perfectly lovely and her expression is so candid.  I did love the look of a bit more contrast and I did increase my saturation just the slightest.  An hour later though, after all of my "perfecting," I still loved the original.

I'm sure my feelings will change over time and I'll swear by action sets like everyone else.  Maybe I just need to get a lot more comfortable with Photoshop, and then it won't feel so artificial to me.  After all, I've really enjoyed learning how to smooth skin and such.  But for now, I'm going to stick to my own simple edits I've done all along, most of which I can do in iphoto, and be that much more proud of my edit-free photos.  I just don't think I'm going to become an avid eye-sparkler!  But who knows?  I've eaten my words before.  

So what's this girl going to do?  Stay up until the wee-hours studying and practicing photoshop tutorials every night, or just go to bed?  Only time will tell!      

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous8:04 AM

    Well, I hope you went to bed and that you're still asleep! :)

    I have to learn Photoshop for a website I'm working on for work and it DOES seem complicate and time-consuming.

    You could offer your client both versions - the original and the edited - and see which one she likes better. Just a thought. :)


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