The One Minute Rant – No Photoshop Used


The sixth installment of the One Minute Rant. Each audio is one minute or less and focuses on a very specific topic to engage readers here on the FR to comment and start a dialogue! Just click on the RANT logo to listen.

6 thoughts on “The One Minute Rant – No Photoshop Used

  1. I think it is an extreme reaction to extreme uses of photoshop, including but not limited to HDR. The “non-photoshoppers” in question most likely feel that they want to show that they can capture a good image in the first place, and they don’t need to spend hours manipulating a mediocre image in to a good one to produce solid work. Personally, in photoshop (well, in lightzone), I almost never do anything beyond desaturation, and the digital equivalent of dodging and burning, because a lot of images I see look “too photoshopped” to my eye, which is a matter of personal taste. Photoshop has even changed my wet darkroom habits. Even though I know how to do darkroom solarizations, and I know how to do various tonings such as sepia, I never do anymore. I have stopped because even though these processes (especially solarizations) take time to learn and skill to execute well in the darkroom, they are just the matter of the click of a button and the slide of a bar in photoshop. I still selenium tone for archival purposes, but that is about it. The ‘democratization’ of a lot of these once exotic processes has cheapened them, in my opinion. Even though I hold the work of people like Jerry Uelsmann in very high esteem, and I can spend hours marveling over his images and the techniques he used to make them, the ease with which you can emulate those processes in photoshop has made them seem passe to casual viewers of photography, because anyone can whip that kind of thing up in photoshop in a relatively short amount of time with a comparatively low level of skill. Does that mean there aren’t any good or great works out there that have been heavily photoshopped? Of course not. Do I have “photoshop fatigue” because a large number of people use photoshop like a sledgehammer when a paintbrush will do? Definitely. Does it mean that doing absolutely no post processing whatsoever is the answer? No, unless the image genuinely doesn’t need any (about one in a thousand, in my experience), that is just as silly as doing too much.

  2. if you don’t want to use any post processing, how can you have a print? even polaroid has post processing.
    the only thing that no photoshop means i.m.h.o. is that there was only contrast, light and colour adjustments, so no cloning, deleting and other tricks. photography is subjective and you make the photograph as how you remembered it was, or has to be.

  3. A few thoughts….

    I think that Photoshop has made some traditional techniques easier for the average user but the skill to apply a particular technique from split tone to sepia to solarization or dodging and burning is still something that in the hands of a master printer or very advanced user stands out from the average. Most users in the darkroom can dodge and burn and maybe even tone… same is true for the digital “darkroom” but the real difference lies in how these techniques are applied.

    Contrast, light and color adjustments are adjusted just by the very nature of scanning so they are always adjusted regardless of additional work applied in PS… cloning or deleting of areas I don’t view as tricks but rather as tools. All of these techniques were available in the traditional darkroom- in one manner or other- and used by many of the great luminaries of our medium. In the hands of a good printer these tools can be used to great success in the digital realm.

    In the end it all matters how a technique is applied- does it appear to be added to a print or… is it part of the complete experience of the print?


  4. maybe there is something else at play here. when people look at my photographs they will often say “i’m just curious…. is that image photoshopped?”.

    i could see how answering the question ahead of time by putting “no photoshop used” in the caption could save myself from having to answer the same question over and over and over again.

  5. I agree with you 100%. Far too often I see photographers talking about how they don’t manipulate their images like it’s some kind of badge of honor. Often, they’ll follow it up with something along the lines of “I try to preserve what I/my camera originally saw.”

    The way I feel about it is that you shouldn’t try to preserve what was captured on the little rectangle of film/silicon in your camera, but what you felt when you took the photograph. Why did you put your eye to the viewfinder and press the shutter button? Does your image communicate that? Does it communicate that as well as it would if you dodged, burned, cropped or even cloned out distracting elements? If nobody can figure out why you took a particular photograph, then it belongs in the trash bin, regardless of how faithful it was to the negative.

    To me, taking a photograph and not processing it is like writing a novel and not proofreading it.

  6. I think a few of these comments go back to a world where digital media is questionably accepted in high art, snooty circles. You have critics who poo-poo over an image that was “painted” in Photoshop, because it detracts from painting. I see the biggest problem here as the language disconnect that leaves digital work with no adjectives that rest comfortably with both traditionalists and the new kids.

    The root of the problem? our fascination with technology. We want demos and case studies and whiz-bang exhibitions of the best that something can offer us, and we don’t look to people for that.

    We don’t look for the image. We don’t look for the content.

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