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.


Brine Time said...

Here, here. Somewhere in the continuum between the camera obscura and the Canon 5D MkII, lies the pinhole, the Holga, the Nikonos, the Rollei, the 'Blad and all the other cameras and lenses I've used to trap light. To me it's about the image making me go "wow" -moving me.
Is an old camera with no AF, no winder, no light meter more authentic than the 5D - it's like asking if an old skool noserider is more authentic then a modern quad. I own both and use them differently when the ocasion (wave) dictates. AND they both contribute to the WOW factor in their own ways.

glider said...

nicely put!!!

Leandro said...

Well put, I know when I see things like no photoshop, I can't help but think that they're really completely ok with whatever automated settings the scanner did or the camera did and they really feel no need to tweak? You phrased it very well in regards to paper type, filter type, film type, developer type and so on. I've made those comparisons as well. For some I think its the line between what you can do in the darkroom and being able to do the same things in photoshop. The people who are into compositing, effect layering and mixing imagery, well, thats a whole new category in my opinion. For me its about the moment, having the right tool of choice to capture with and needing the other tools (scanner, photoshop) to finalize it.

By the way, you've got some really great photos on your blog.

warbo said...

So, the question is then, did you or did you not boost the the contrast of the above photo in photoshop? Haha, I'm kidding, great shot. I guess if you are using analog cameras such as these some people would like to keep them as "virgin" to the digital process as possible, but I have no problem adding a few tweaks as far as say contrast/saturation. Especially if they are going to be viewed online in forums like this.

Maggie said...

to each his own.

photoshop will never give you the sensation of the feeling of wet emulsion under your fingertips.