Photoshop is frustrating but fun…

Just playing with color curves to provide punch tonight…

Straight Out of Camera
soc-boys-on-beach.jpg

Curves Auto Corrected in Photoshop
boys-on-beach-curve-corrected.jpg

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14 thoughts on “Photoshop is frustrating but fun…

  1. I think I have mixed feelings about photoshop or other photo correcting software. While the photoshop picture certainly adds definition to the tykes in the shot, I don’t find it as charming a picture as the SOOC shot. There’s something to be said for the stuff we capture through the lens without messing with it in photo software. Do you all know what I mean?

  2. karmadav, I know what you mean. I used to be farther on the end of the post-photo-processing-is-kinda-like-cheating line. However, I’ve changed my stance considerably. What prompted the shift was realizing that often, no matter what we do, the lens is just inherently unable to fully capture what the eye sees. Usually, a bit of photo processing takes us closer to the real thing, and even then many times it’s not as good as what we actually saw.

    Additionally, digital cameras have a “softening” effect that’s just inescapable. In fact, if we took the same shot with identical settings, one taken with a film SLR and one with a DSLR, the digital shot would come out slightly less sharp. When we send files to the photo center to be printed, typically part of their “photo optimization” involves some level of sharpening so that it looks more like a shot printed from film.

    I guess I’ve come to the point where I view photoshop like seasoning food. You have to start with good ingredients, but the right amount of seasoning brings out the best in your ingredients. Too much, and you ruin the dish or turn it into something it wasn’t supposed to be. Use the wrong kind of seasoning, and it just tastes wrong. But what matters is that ultimately, you have to start with ingredients that are good enough to stand on their own. Otherwise, you’re just serving a dish that highlights the, well, seasonings.

    Jenfera, for the love of all that makes sense, please help me with my rambling metaphor.

  3. ivory – I get your rambling, and found it an interesting comparison. That’s interesting about the sharpness,digital vs. film. Is that true for all digital or is the number of megapixels a factor?

  4. I like the altered photo better. I like the pop. I think it makes a difference what your final intention is for the shot. Are you putting it in an album, just to peek at now and then and tell the story of your vacation? Or, are you going to frame it? Maybe make a big enlargement? Have it speak on its own as art, as opposed to regular family snap shots?

    ivory, I liked your metaphor too! We had some butternut bisque at lunch today and it was really good, but we felt like it needed something a little more. Maybe some fresh ground pepper, or some hot sauce to really bring out the flavor. So, for that really special photo, maybe to make it stand out, it needs just a little photoshop.

    I love what P’Dub does with portraits with some of the filtering tools. She makes eyes sparkle, and complexions look more real.

  5. Karmardav, I didn’t intend to make a sweeping generalization. For the most part, the process of digitization comes with an apparent loss of sharpness. It’s my understanding that many digital cameras compensate for this by applying some degree of sharpening before outputting the image in JPG. (Then again, I could be making another generalization and the heavens will open up and fire high-resolution lightning bolts at me.) But to give a quick answer before I hastily retreat looking anxiously at the sky, the yes, typically digital images have a characteristic “smoothness”.”

    Color geek Bruce Fraser explains it this way:

    Whenever we turn photons into pixels, we lose some sharpness, because no matter how high the resolution of our capture devices, they sample a fixed grid of pixels, turning the continuous gradations of tone and color that exist in the real world into discrete pixels.

    If that didn’t give you a headache or make you wish you had some cookies and a time-machine to erase the last two minutes of your life, you can read more about it here.

  6. I have come a long way in the past couple of months. I tend to be a purist in all things photographic. I used to feel that photoshopping the image turned it into something more like photo art than a photograph. I have, however, been converted. I love ivoryhut’s seasoning analogy. And when I think about it, people have been manipulating photos in darkrooms for years. Now we can all have our own digital darkroom with photoshop!

    That said, Karma I totally understand where you are coming from. But now I see the possibilities of Photoshop and I can’t wait to buy it.

    Shrew I don’t know what a color curve is, but I like the “corrected” shot. It gets my attention more and makes me appreciate the composition that was there all along.

  7. That was more than I ever thought I’d learn about pixels in a couple minutes – you do have me craving cookies now though. 😉

  8. Man…what a great conversation. Karmardav, I am sensitive to what you are speaking to…actually I hear two things.

    1. Will Shrew Shutters become all about manipulation and less about the fun and excitement we have been having
    2. Where does photoshop manipulation fit in to the modern photo world.

    Let me address number two first. More aptly, let me build on to what IvoryHut, Jenfera and brc have already so beautifully commented. Not only do digital sensors cut down on the clarity inherent in film, but for a very longtime the development process was as crucial an expression of the photographer’s artistry as well as the eye to know what to shoot. Take Ansel Adams, who worked to create special darkroom techniques known as The Zone System. Photoshop, when used judicially, can provide the same creative adjustments as the Zone System. And to build onto it furth, real fun can be had in some real whacky manipulations with a photo.

    As to what I suspect are some fears that this little place will center on the geeky technical aspects of photography…no way! We are here to have fun. The challenges will remain as they have been. I may apply somethings I have read from essays or from my class, but as for the technical requirements for Shutter submisions…as long as the image can be emailed or uploaded to our webgallery that’s good enough!

    Karmardav…I loved this conversation, thanks for initiating it.

  9. Believe it or not, I’ve found that having Photoshop Elements has taught me to take pictures in a very different way. I am so much more aware of my light source now when I’m shooting anything or anyone. I can only do so much in Photoshop (due to my own lack of time! How does Pioneer Woman do it????!) so it helps to have a decent photo to start with. And sometimes I do kinda feel like it’s “cheating” but Photoshop (Elements or otherwise) really can take a good photo and make it into a great one. Again, if you have the time. I rarely tweak photos anymore now. The storage and organization alone was well worth the price of the software for me. And at $99, Elements is a fraction of the cost of full blown Photoshop and it can do a LOT. Check out the “clone overlay” clip and you’ll see what I mean…

    http://www.photoshopelementsuser.com/learningcenter/#elements3

  10. I upload all my photos into Elements and that’s where we store them (all 9,243 of them as of this morning!). By organization I mean the way in which you view and categorize your photos. You can store them by date, category, create albums and tags. For example, I just recently added a new tag called “flowers”. So every time I want to find one of my flower photos, I just click on my little flower icon and poof!, all my flower photos come up instead of having to scroll through years worth of ALL our photos and hunt for them with the naked eye. It’s freaking awesome. I can’t explain it nearly as well as say my techy geeky husband could. I should steer him over here. Or try the “smart albums” video clip on the same link I reference above to see what I’m talkin’ ‘bout Willis. I would imagine full blown Photoshop has the same feature(s) if not even more exquisite stuff to play with!

    Where/how do you keep all of your photos, Shrewbie? Do I smell a new post from this?

  11. Hi There, I hope the person who took that beautiful picture can email me back. I am an oil painter preparing a series of beach poses. I would like to inlcude if not exactly as the picture looks like something very close. The kids are really natural and that is what I am looking for. Please let me know if you can share with me the photo. Thanks.
    Best regards
    Jose Luis

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