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Thread: To what extend do you use photoshop?

  1. #1

    Default To what extend do you use photoshop?

    I was typing this reply in the pinholecam's "Pentax has few lens selections" when i realised it was way offtrack. So i decided to start a new thread.

    I attended a photoshop workshop recently in my school. photoshop is unbelievable. any photo that is not too badly taken can be shaped into one that looks like a masterpiece.

    that gave me a strong feeling of irony. brands, camera models, lenses, how much you spend, do they matter? to get nice pictures, you just need to postprocess your photos. which is what everybody is doing to their picture before they post it up anyway.

    that being the case, as it is, the image quality differences between the many DSLRs today are not very great already. if you are going to post process your photos, why bother deliberating between the finer differences between the different brands and models?

    in the Before - After column display of photos before and after photoshopping, i looked at all the "before" photos - all so ordinary and in some cases even poor. but after photoshop - tadah! it looks fantastic! it made me think about my PnS sitting at home along, as it has been often after i got my k-x. why dun i just put the photos taken with my pns through photoshop, and make them nicer than that taken from my k-x?

    my question is, to what extent and for what purpose do you guys photoshop your photos? at the very moment you begin tweak settings like improving the sharpness, making the colours nicer, won't the photo already speak more of you as a photo editor than a photographer? i have seen galleries of insanely nice pictures, but obviously photoshopped. to that i ask, what is the point of being the proud owner of all these nice pictures... if they are not real?

    p.s. while this topic is not exclusive to Pentaxians, i feel closer to you guys and thus would rather ask it here and get your views, rather than in whatever Tech posts elsewhere.. hope you guys don't find this too irrelevent! Also, if from reading my post you deduce that my knowledge and perception of post processing very limited and one-sided, you are probably correct. I refuse to edit my photos to make them look better than how i captured them with my hands. Feel welcome to enlighten me on the benefits of photoshopping

  2. #2

    Default Re: To what extend do you use photoshop?

    Don't refuse... think of it this way...

    In the film days, we would expose the negative. Now we expose the same digitally... and its called a RAW file.

    In the film days, we would then make prints from this negative... and could control the time it remained in the wash, control the chemical agents that comprised the wash along with some other variables to achieve the type of look we wanted. Now we use image editing software (Photoshop, Elements, LightRoom, PaintshopPro, etc.) to achieve the look we want.

    Even basic PP, decently done, will always add some more value to the final appearance of your images. Its rare that the image is absolutely perfect without some basic PP routine... at least that's my experience... I generally end up adjusting levels, shadow/highlights, saturation, etc. in PP... all of which just takes a few seconds per image... and which help to some degree to make my images POP!

    Of course, shooting and exposing correctly OR a good composition also go a long way... and should become a habit. There is only so much one can do in PP within a short span of time... complicated PP routines take hours... not worth it for general snapshots.

    My mantra is to shoot correctly first, then PP adequately next!
    Last edited by sircam; 31st January 2010 at 06:30 PM.

  3. #3

    Default Re: To what extend do you use photoshop?

    is there any place i can learn? eg. community centre, etc.

    Just need the basics, not those advance type.

    I never touch it b4 but heard many good comments and saw the magic it can do.

  4. #4

    Default Re: To what extend do you use photoshop?

    Quote Originally Posted by ohok1973 View Post
    is there any place i can learn? eg. community centre, etc.

    Just need the basics, not those advance type.

    I never touch it b4 but heard many good comments and saw the magic it can do.
    think the best is learn at home?
    You can go to your nearest public library and borrow some good photography books, read it in the train, or during commercials etc.... Look at the 770-779 series directory in the non-fiction category.

    Alternatively u can also borrow audio-visual DVDs from the AV section of the library, i have seen some titles like "Photoshop for Weddings" etc. Shows u step by step on screen.

  5. #5

    Default Re: To what extend do you use photoshop?

    i've tried processing PnS (jpeg) files, but i find them very intolerant to adjustment.

    DSLR jpegs or raw have far greater workability, or i guess i'm just not pro enough to make magic out of PnS files..

    by the way there are some things that are necessary to post process, like black/white/gray points, sharpness, WB. even the best cams are limited in some ways.

    i want my pics to look like what i see, and no cam can resolve as well as a human eye, heck not even anywhere near.

    so i PP for accuracy, but accuracy gets boring, so it's a tool to get creative too.

    being hardcore purist to me just doesn't make sense, why would i want to showcase technological limitation/flaws?
    Last edited by elavan; 31st January 2010 at 07:24 PM.
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    Default Re: To what extend do you use photoshop?

    photoshop is part of photography workflow... its no longer photographer, they call themselves artist, the cam is just part of the tools to create art...

    many shoot with the purpose of only getting the raw file, sometimes overexpose it by 0.7 EV, and the rest is post production...
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  7. #7

    Default Re: To what extend do you use photoshop?

    Quote Originally Posted by elavan View Post
    ...being hardcore purist to me just doesn't make sense, why would i want to showcase technological limitation/flaws?
    Wow!! Beautifully said!!

  8. #8

    Default Re: To what extend do you use photoshop?

    In film, it was not so pure either. There was the use of different chemicals, exposure times, dodge, burn, burn on another negative even
    PP nowadays just gives us the freedom to do even more precise control.

    That saying, a good lens is still a good lens. Fast f-stops for faster shutter speeds, lower DOF, and sharpness esp wide open or near wide open cannot be replicated in PP (or at least can't be done easily). A lot of PP magic cannot stand up to close scrutiny either (eg. larger crops and large prints). Time spent to right a wrong also needs justification. But for a lot of the web based photos that are small in size, its hard to tell.

  9. #9

    Default Re: To what extend do you use photoshop?

    Quote Originally Posted by tootboink View Post
    I attended a photoshop workshop recently in my school. photoshop is unbelievable. any photo that is not too badly taken can be shaped into one that looks like a masterpiece.

    my question is, to what extent and for what purpose do you guys photoshop your photos? at the very moment you begin tweak settings like improving the sharpness, making the colours nicer, won't the photo already speak more of you as a photo editor than a photographer? i have seen galleries of insanely nice pictures, but obviously photoshopped. to that i ask, what is the point of being the proud owner of all these nice pictures... if they are not real?
    that statement in bold, not true.

    how much i edit my photos, here are some examples, you can compare the before and after yourself.







    not real? is black and white real? is freezing a moment in time even real? do we view life inherently as a 50mm perspective? 10mm? 300mm?

    i think, as long as we do not submit a piece of work that has too much removed or added to it as something other than digital art, it is real enough as things go.

    what i see in real life, the colors of a sunset, when have i ever been able to capture it sufficiently to represent it as my memory did?

    the potential in light that yields a great result in black and white tonality, i am not entitled to show it?

    kafka said - "we photograph to drive things out of our minds"..... is it not true? do you think the capture of a machine is sufficient ever enough to do so?
    Last edited by night86mare; 31st January 2010 at 10:19 PM.

  10. #10

    Default Re: To what extend do you use photoshop?

    Quote Originally Posted by pinholecam View Post
    In film, it was not so pure either. There was the use of different chemicals, exposure times, dodge, burn, burn on another negative even
    PP nowadays just gives us the freedom to do even more precise control.
    yes, cloning was also possible, along with what we know as HDR today.

    photoshop was after all, as i always say, based on what you CAN do in the darkroom.

    btw, certain characteristics of camera, such as dynamic range, that is something that cannot be helped too. i am glad that the k20d had improved so much in that aspect over the k100d.

  11. #11

    Default Re: To what extend do you use photoshop?

    Quote Originally Posted by elavan View Post
    i've tried processing PnS (jpeg) files, but i find them very intolerant to adjustment.

    DSLR jpegs or raw have far greater workability, or i guess i'm just not pro enough to make magic out of PnS files..
    pns files undergo very heavy processing by the camera itself, they tend to be sharpened, saturated with sharp contrast among other things. the problem is that if you want something that is not so saturated, not so high contrast, details have been lost.

    dslr RAW and neutral jpgs are deliberately handled minimally by the camera so that they are more malleable. certain steps done to a photograph are DESTRUCTIVE, like saturation, oversharpening, contrast adjustments.

    there is a reason why people who switch from pns to dslr start complaining that their photos lack color, lack contrast, lack sharpness.

  12. #12

    Default Re: To what extend do you use photoshop?

    Quote Originally Posted by night86mare View Post
    ...there is a reason why people who switch from pns to dslr start complaining that their photos lack color, lack contrast, lack sharpness.
    LOL! You sound like my wife now... !! She is of the exact same opinion and just loves my little Fuji F31fd and Pana LX3 because it gives her "superb" pics (punchy colors, sharp edges) most of the time as compared to my more expensive, heavier and complicated cameras.

    She can never understand why I am so fascinated by these interchangeable lenses too... too much of bokeh also she doesn't like!! Says... "how come everything is not sharp in focus... I don't like it."

    I am just so aware how much tastes can differ between individuals!!

  13. #13

    Default Re: To what extend do you use photoshop?

    Quote Originally Posted by flowerpot View Post
    photoshop is part of photography workflow... its no longer photographer, they call themselves artist, the cam is just part of the tools to create art...

    many shoot with the purpose of only getting the raw file, sometimes overexpose it by 0.7 EV, and the rest is post production...
    Quote Originally Posted by night86mare View Post
    that statement in bold, not true.

    how much i edit my photos, here are some examples, you can compare the before and after yourself.







    not real? is black and white real? is freezing a moment in time even real? do we view life inherently as a 50mm perspective? 10mm? 300mm?

    i think, as long as we do not submit a piece of work that has too much removed or added to it as something other than digital art, it is real enough as things go.

    what i see in real life, the colors of a sunset, when have i ever been able to capture it sufficiently to represent it as my memory did?

    the potential in light that yields a great result in black and white tonality, i am not entitled to show it?

    kafka said - "we photograph to drive things out of our minds"..... is it not true? do you think the capture of a machine is sufficient ever enough to do so?
    thanks for the new perspectives and for sharing your nice photos. you have provided good food for thought for me

    nightmare, refering to your last picture the one with the rock, which photograph is more accurate to what you saw with your eyes? i do really like the both pictures, and while i feel that that the one on the right is so much nicer visually, the strong pinkish hue over the trees seems too nice to be true.(pls pardon me if i am wrong) If the one on the left is truer to what you actually saw, won't it remain to you that your post-processed photo is not what you truely saw, but a beautified version? and behind this beautiful version, won't the actual photograph be truer to your heart as the image you saw with your own eyes? Won't you wonder, when you see post-processed photos of others, what the original image captured on their camera was instead of the glorified version they are showing you?

    Quote Originally Posted by elavan View Post
    being hardcore purist to me just doesn't make sense, why would i want to showcase technological limitation/flaws?
    when we do not post process, are we definitely showcasing these flaws? are there even such flaws to showcase in the first place? most cameras(let's narrow it down to DSLRs) i have used are able to take pictures that are accurate to what i see. is it a flaw or a limitation of a camera if it does not produce more wonderfully hued and vibrant pictures than what we see with our eyes?


    thanks guys for your wonderful and thought-provoking replies =)

  14. #14

    Default Re: To what extend do you use photoshop?

    Quote Originally Posted by tootboink View Post
    thanks for the new perspectives and for sharing your nice photos. you have provided good food for thought for me

    nightmare, refering to your last picture the one with the rock, which photograph is more accurate to what you saw with your eyes? i do really like the both pictures, and while i feel that that the one on the right is so much nicer visually, the strong pinkish hue over the trees seems too nice to be true.(pls pardon me if i am wrong) If the one on the left is truer to what you actually saw, won't it remain to you that your post-processed photo is not what you truely saw, but a beautified version? and behind this beautiful version, won't the actual photograph be truer to your heart as the image you saw with your own eyes? Won't you wonder, when you see post-processed photos of others, what the original image captured on their camera was instead of the glorified version they are showing you?
    i do hold a certain disdain for certain types of photographs, e.g. photographs that say, add in light rays that are not there, a clean horizon cloned out of a messy one....

    i really think it depends on what you're doing. commercial photography is more than happy to leave more room for this sort of manipulation, for obvious reasons. same for fashion/model photography. have you seen a model in vogue with pimply skin? models DO have good skin sometimes, but it is not as smooth and perfect as you see.

    for photojournalism, other than slight contrast adjustments i think there is a lot less room for such.

    the rock? i wish i could bring you back then, in my mind, the glow is even more red, i stopped the saturation short a little because i didn't want to chance going overboard.

    for landscape photography especially, the camera is extremely, extremely limited. the reason is what we see, our eyes, that has a load of dynamic range. i'm sure you have looked into the sun (not for too long, obviously) for a brief moment before, you can see everything against the sun. or say, a person standing in backlit situation, you will obviously not see as bright as day, but you would not see him as a silhouette! the eyes, in particular are extremely good at discerning and picking out shadow details - without noise.

    i am wondering why you did not comment on the second photograph, as that jetty photo took a lot more photoediting than the rock photo. for one, WB is edited on the jetty itself, i brightened up the entire photograph... the reason why the colors might even look "less deep" on the output photograph is because i brightened it up! i could have done the same for the rock photo, i.e. underexposure, and lifting the shadows later on. however, i foresaw problems if i did expose for the sky only. you can try saving the photograph, and just darken it with any simple program, the colors will deepen. and these are the colors your eyes will see. and everytime i bring someone new to sunsets and we get a good one, they are frequently amazed by the beauty that those brief 15-30 minutes brings.

    i don't profess to remember every sunset, but i always, always remember the better ones. for that sunset, i most definitely saw something closer to the edited photograph.

    is it so hard to believe in beauty?



    i did not keep the raw file for this one, mainly because i would not have edited it again. the bulk of the work was nothing to do with color, or adding in the mist, i did not even saturate this one. the main bulk of the work was correcting the distortion present in the image due to the tilt of the camera downwards to get this composition.

    i think this was one of the first few times i brought my fiancee to photograph sunsets.... she's not a landscape shooter, but she too, was amazed that mist could be present in singapore. sometimes, it is all about luck. i think she took only one photograph, the rest of the time was spent gawking at the sunset.
    Last edited by night86mare; 1st February 2010 at 05:03 AM.

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    Default Re: To what extend do you use photoshop?

    I just bought my first DSLR a few months ago and I am kinda torn by the fact that I still need to post process to make my image looks better. I thought DSLR solves everything PnS can't do. Then I am trying to find justification in doing PP. Lucky these 13 posts above have given me some light . Thanks. Save me a thread here
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  16. #16

    Default Re: To what extend do you use photoshop?

    here's more food for thought, photography is one of many branches of visual art. what are the other common ones? sculpture, painting, drawing, architecture, film-making. some are grounded in reality (e.g. architecture), others are certainly not.

    here's one by what people profess to be one of the greatest painters of all time:


    here's a generic drawing:


    here's a screenshot from 300:


    do we complain that picasso didn't represent reality, even though he was no doubt, painting portraits?

    do we complain the the artist above was drawing a hand but it doesn't come out looking like one, even though he was definitely sketching one?

    are we going to say, that 300 didn't use real spartans and didn't follow history, and no one was pushed off a cliff during production?

    no, no, and no.

    nick stubbs has an article here: http://www.callofthewildphoto.com/ar...-cheating.html

    maybe it will make for interesting reading, even if it doesn't convince you. i quote:

    What about when an interior photographer like myself moves items of furniture in a house, or adds a bowl of fruit to a room to enhance the image? What about when we add make up to a model before a shoot or re-arrange a wedding dress? None of these images tell the story of a scene as it was when we arrived at it. All the alterations were made manually to make the image more pleasing.

    So what is the difference between doing it before the shoot at the scene, or after the shoot in Photoshop? What is the difference between pulling an obtrusive branch out of your way for that perfect landscape or simply removing it later on your PC. Why do wedding photographers carry clothes pegs to pin back the dress for some formal shots? Is that cheating?

    I am sure also, that when Turner or Constable made their beautiful paintings, that maybe another ship was added here, or an annoying, unwanted bush was removed there. In fact it has been suggested that the "Masters" used optics to project the model�s images onto their canvasses when painting "The Renaissance". This was highlighted when someone pointed out that everyone including the animals, were left-handed! Is this cheating?
    everyone has their own degree of acceptance. i do not like addition of light rays, photo composites, but when i see a good one, i still applaud the work the person put into it, i can appreciate the beauty that exists in it. i am not going to stick my nose up in the air and say that "oh, he photoshopped this". the mere conceptualisation of something that amazes me, that is what i am looking at.

    here's an example of a person whose "art" might get all the anti-photoshop brigade all riled up:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/midnight-digital/



    here's another example of something that isn't really "true" in the best sense of the word - a gorgeous lady produced by the wonders of plastic surgery. do i think that she is less beautiful after finding out that she was the result of an operation? no. maybe i will make judgements on her value systems, but beauty is beauty.

    i think what remains important, is that we use photoshop as a TOOL, not as a CRUTCH. that we take good photographs that are ENHANCED, instead of spending loads of time trying to SAVE bad ones. and therein lies the difference between what i view as a good photographer and a bad one.
    Last edited by night86mare; 1st February 2010 at 05:26 AM.

  17. #17

    Default Re: To what extend do you use photoshop?

    @night86mare - I've enjoyed reading especially your replies. Very well-reasoned and displaying a passion for this art we all partake in as and when and how we can.

    I think this is an issue that will forever divide the art community in one form or another, but important is to recognize beauty where we see it and also the work the artist has put into it, whether that be more weighted to the fundamentals (composition, framing etc) or the post-camera aspects (post-processing). They all contribute to the final work of art. Maybe just as important is to share the works, spread some beauty to the world and for those on the receiving end to give feedback (whether praise or otherwise) so the artist knows his/her work is not just disappearing into cyberspace. Through our appreciation and feedback, the power of the image goes on. I think that applies whether an image is clean from the camera or has been processed.

    That's my humble opinion. Whatever your views, let's just keep on shooting what makes us happy and bring more beauty into the world; however that beauty may look to you.

    Cheers, Ben

  18. #18
    Senior Member creampuff's Avatar
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    Default Re: To what extend do you use photoshop?

    As others have stated here, Photoshop (or any other photo editing software) is an integral and invaluable component in the digital workflow. Invariably, the benchmark of comparison for how digital images ought to look is strongly influenced by how film images appear. If one looks at the characteristic curve of any film, whether color or B&W, slide or negative, the sensitivity response is not a straight line but an "S" curve. At the brightest and darkest end of the curve, the highlights and shadows are compressed, which gives a greater apparent dynamic range, something that people like about film. Practically speaking it means less blown highlights and blocked shadows and a greater latitude for exposure.

    In comparison, the response from a digital sensor is linear. Expose correctly and all is well but encounter a scene with a large dynamic range and you'll get clipping in the highlights or no details in the shadows. Now this is where post processing comes in because software tools like Photoshop, Lightroom, Aperture, etc. provide a way to adjust an image. By way of an example:

    Straight from the camera


    Curves adjustment applied (greater contrast)

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    Default Re: To what extend do you use photoshop?

    Quote Originally Posted by night86mare View Post
    i think this was one of the first few times i brought my fiancee to photograph sunsets.... she's not a landscape shooter, but she too, was amazed that mist could be present in singapore. sometimes, it is all about luck. i think she took only one photograph, the rest of the time was spent gawking at the sunset.
    Sorry, OT a bit...
    Fiancee? First time I see you say that. Congrats!
    My photos - see just some or all of it =)

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    Default Re: To what extend do you use photoshop?

    Ok, back to topic at hand....

    I would say, think of it this way. What are you really trying to do with your pictures? I think it's fair to say that one primary purpose of taking all these pictures is to show our friends and families the beautiful scenery that we saw, or the interesting person that we met, or a really exciting performance that we watched, etc. We want to tell them the story of the scenery/person/event in pictures, the way we remember it to be.

    However, different people may remember things differently, and will certainly tell a story differently, according what their perception of the scenery/person/event was, and according to their own style. If a group of people viewed the same sunset from the same location, I'm sure some will remember the sky to be redder than others do (remember, this is their impression of the scene at that moment, they don't have a colour swatch to compare the sky to), or the reflections in the water to be sharper, or the mist to be thicker. Heck, some people may even unknowingly exaggerate their story in their minds (it was a really fine sunset!) and make the sun more fiery, or the clouds more dramatic than it really was.

    The camera is just our tool, capable of capturing the "facts" of that sunset, but it doesn't take into account our personal perception at that time. In fact, the camera is not even able to capture all the "facts". Eg. our eyes have higher dynamic range than the DSLR sensor, stereoscopic view gives real depth perception, etc. We could leave the camera to tell the story for us, but it would probably not tell the story exactly the way we remember the story to be. Whether it's just processing the raw file or doing other fancy tricks like HDR, we're just filling in for what we think are inadequacies in the camera's stories. Or we could even add lots of "flavour" and "untruths" to spice up the story if we think the audience is going to like it (eg. radioactive HDR).

    So tootboink, I would say that you would prefer stories to be told to you without too much distortion - just give you the facts. But the truth is, how we remember the facts have already been tainted by our perception, and we have to touch the pictures up to tell you even just our version of the facts. And people who show you pictures that have been obviously photoshopped are just trying to tell you a really dramatised story, some soap opera. You may like their drama, or you may not.

    And frankly, sometimes we just want to tell about all the happy and nice stuff, little flaws and hiccups are quickly forgotten (huh? The model got a small pimple under her chin meh? I only remember she got very nice complexion, big eyes, etc...). Or we really want to harp on a certain point that seems important to us (That dragonfly really got this super crystal clear eye! USM, USM, USM...). If everyone tells stories in the same way, things will get pretty boring after a while right?
    My photos - see just some or all of it =)

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