Thursday, October 1, 2009
A word about photographic process-to photoshop or not?
I have been noticing the words "no photoshop" tagged or labelled on a lot of photoblogs lately (especially surf photoblogs). I am not sure what exactly this means or implies. Does this statement mean the photograph is better?, more pure? more skillfully articulated? Does it reflect more photographic talent? etc.
While this mindset is not new to photography (filed negative carries to reflect uncropped images for example, sun exposed contact prints), it does question the process of photography and I believe art in general. As it pertains to the "no photoshop" aesthetic, I would argue that the proper use of photoshop is no different that the use of standard dark techniques, including the use of different contrast grade paper, differing papers (cold tone, warm tone etc), use of chemical toning (selenium, sepia ect), selective dodging, burning, and selective bleaching, not to mention the use of the enlarger and the transfer from negative to positive. All these techniques serve to help articulate the image and ultimately the art. Have all the photographic masters (you insert your master) relied solely on the contact print? i think not. Interested readers should check video archives of Ansel Adams in the dark room. While I am not a big fan of his images, his camera technique, understanding of exposure and the negatives and the zone system have been a hugely important to photography. That said he still was a slave to the image when in the dark room thereby completing his articulation of the image through dark room manipulation.
Keeping this in mind, I believe the use of photoshop is just an extension of the darkroom, and with all photographic tools the artist must know when to say enough is enough when working on an image.