Posts Tagged ‘Photoshop’

From Photoshop to Filters: Living in the Age of Photography Skepticism

photo: Christopher Tomas / via

We live in the age of skepticism. In all things, yes, but especially in photography.

For instance, BuzzFeed recently ran a list of Perfectly Timed Photographs, and while the shots were awesome, the dominant sentiment in the comments section was along the lines of “These were obviously Photoshopped.” Listen, some of the images might have been manipulated in this case, but I do find it sad that we’ve gotten to a point where viewers of spectacular photography tend not to take into account just how spectacularly talented photographers can be. To be fair, some commenters—photographers themselves, one guesses—rejected the idea that each of these shots couldn’t have been captured with a mixture of the right gear, the right place/right time, and a healthy dose of patience.

This is not a rant against Photoshop. I don’t intend to assert that Photoshop and other post-production software are out of place in the world of photography. Obviously, editing is an essential part of the process and many professionals use software to tweak elements of their shots in order to produce the highest possible impact. This is about the climate of disbelief that has been inevitably generated by these tools, and by the more recent ubiquity of filters, thanks in large part to Instagram. (Which DP loves!) This is about the knee-jerk skepticism that denies a viewer the experience of looking at a photograph in genuine wonder. And, in turn, giving credit where credit is due to the photographer who pulled off such an artistic and technical feat as capturing a passenger plane at the moment it crossed the path of the moon.

In a way, this is simply a rant, because I’m not offering an answer. I don’t think there is one, except to keep encouraging photographers to practice their craft.


photos: Unidentified American artists / via Faking It: Manipulated Photography Before Photoshop

This skepticism isn’t actually new. Brain Pickings recently featured a book called Faking It: Manipulated Photography Before Photoshop. As Maria Popova points out, the book is the companion to a current exhibition of the same title at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Aside from providing pure delight, the photographs found in the book, and on view at the Met, teach us that the art of manipulating photographs vastly predates the digital age. And that very early on this visual trickery created an uncertain relationship with “visual truth.” From the Met:

Featuring some 200 visually captivating photographs created between the 1840s and 1990s in the service of art, politics, news, entertainment, and commerce, the exhibition offers a provocative new perspective on the history of photography as it traces the medium’s complex and changing relationship to visual truth.

(Please note that the exhibition is sponsored by Adobe Systems Incorporated, maker of Photoshop.) The images in Faking It are divided into seven categories: Picture Perfect, Artifice in the Name of Art, Politics and Persuasion, Novelties and Amusements, Pictures in Print, Mind’s Eye, and Photoshop. It’s interesting and useful to see how each of these sections serves as a road map, I believe, to where we are today. To this place I’m calling The Age of Photography Skepticism, which isn’t really an age so much as a state of mind. And I have to admit that after looking at these old images more closely, I’m not so convinced that’s a bad place altogether. It’s worth considering how exciting photo manipulation is when viewed in this old-timey context. It loses the sting of “Meh, that was Photoshopped” and instead manipulation becomes an art form to marvel at just as one would marvel at well-executed, untouched photography.

In the end, I guess this isn’t a rant against anything at all. Maybe it’s a call (to myself, to you) to approach all photography with fresh eyes. After years—in the digital age and long beforehand—of viewing photo manipulation, post-production editing tricks, and a heavy layering of filters, some of us might need to refresh our settings. First, it would do us well to give photogrphers of jaw-dropping images the benefit of the doubt and at least consider that they could have captured such stunning images with nothing more than a good camera and a good eye. Second, now I can see that it’s equally as important that we recontextualize the “that’s obviously Photoshopped” indictment, turning it into a compliment—a celebration of the amazing things artists can do with editing tools.

Either way, let’s promise to always be excited by good photography. Because there should always be an audience for the beautiful images shutterbugs like you make.


Dear DP readers, this has been my final post for Digital Photographer. After four and half years, I am passing the mantle of Editor on to former “Politics in Photography” contributor and talented photographer Debbi K. Swanson Patrick. I have been honored to be a part of the DP community these past several years, on the journey from print to digital publication, and from the crowded halls of CES Las Vegas to the inspiring daily task of choosing a reader photo to feature in our closeUP column. I will still be a part of the DP community going forward, and I will always count on you to provide me with the experience of looking at photography in genuine wonder.

Keep Shooting, Allison Gibson


Adobe Working on Image Deblurring Feature for Photoshop

At the Adobe MAX event last week, Adobe presented an image deblurring feature that they are working on to possibly include in an upcoming version of Photoshop. The demo video below shows some pretty amazing results when a street scene photo is deblurred before the audience’s eyes. Those gasps don’t come easy in the photo world; Adobe earned them with this one. Here’s hoping that feature makes its way into new a version very soon.

(via PetaPixel)



American Medical Association Officially Condemns Retouched Photos

image via photoshopdisasters

As of this week, the AMA (American Medical Association) has “adopted new policy to encourage advertising associations to work with public and private sector organizations concerned with child and adolescent health to develop guidelines for advertisements, especially those appearing in teen-oriented publications, that would discourage the altering of photographs in a manner that could promote unrealistic expectations of appropriate body image.” (source)

via GOOD, via NY Daily News


closeUP: grapes and wine

grapes and wine
© Flickrnaut


Hands-on: Adobe Photoshop CS5

Adobe Photoshop CS5 & Photoshop CS5 Extended
Text and Images by Tony Gomez

Adobe Photoshop CS5 and Photoshop CS5 Extended—part of Adobe’s recently introduced Creative Suite 5—are the latest versions of the world standard for digital imaging software. CS5 comes packed with several new features that will be of great interest to you as digital photographers, including: the clean removal of unwanted photo elements; High Dynamic Range (HDR) Pro image processing with multiple exposures; better noise removal and image sharpening; and Automatic Lens Correction to minimize lens optical distortion effects. Here I will delve deeper into how these tasks work and what effect they will have on your post-production work-flow.

High Dynamic Range (HDR) Processing and Simulation

HDR processing is a solution for the inability that a digital camera tends to have in capturing a single digital image that contains the full tonal detail range—from extremely bright, to very dark shadow detail.  You need to capture a multiple set of images, each with under, normal, and overexposed settings.  HDR then blends these multiple images into one image which has an expanded dynamic range. Photoshop has incorporated HDR processing into CS5.

click the thumbnails to see the full-size images

There are some important tips to consider before Photoshop CS5 can work its HDR magic. First, take your D-SLR off the Automatic mode, and use the Aperture Priority Mode to shoot. This is because you don’t want successive images to be captured with different f-stops, as this would result in images with different focus points. Next, it is ideal to use a tripod to shoot your multiple exposures because you don’t want your hand to move the camera significantly between successive exposures, or there will be “ghosts” created in the final HDR image. However, if you don’t have a tripod available, and if your D-SLR can be programmed to rapidly shoot three successive exposures while automatically varying the shutter speed by the required amount, the three captured images should be stable enough so that HDR Pro software will give you the desired result without ghosts.  Even if there are ghosts, Adobe HDR Pro has a “ghost removal” feature. My rule of thumb for good hand-held HDR image capture is about 1 to 2 frames/second.

Select your multiple-exposed images and then from the Tools menu select Tools/Photoshop/Merge to HDR Pro to import the images into Photoshop CS5. You can control the degree of HDR processing by adjusting the Radius, Strength, and Detail Sliders to higher numbers. Also adjust the Vibrance and Saturation sliders for more intense color. Finally, the Contrast of the overall HDR image can be further adjusted from the Curve Control.  When finished, save your image as a TIFF file for high quality preservation.

Clean Removal of Unwanted Photo Elements

Most of us shoot in the real world, not in the ideal photographer’s studio. Our captured images often contain distracting objects besides the main intended subject—trees or poles popping out from behind a subject’s head, or ugly telephone wires which detract from a scene’s beauty. Wouldn’t it be great to magically remove these distracting objects? This unwanted object removal has long been the bread and butter task for professional Photoshop artists, but even the most masterful among them can leave behind telltale signs that something has been removed from the background.

click the thumbnails to see the full-size images

Photoshop CS5’s new Content-Aware Fill Option performs this image removal magic for you automatically without painstaking effort or masterful selection skills. This new fill feature removes a distracting object intelligently, without leaving signs of its removal because the lighting, tone, and actual noise of the surrounding areas are matched. The removal is transparent.

Unwanted objects can be removed by either being painted over with the Spot Healing Brush tool and the Content Aware Fill option, or by using the Lasso Tool and then the Edit-Fill/Content Aware Fill option. The process is automatic and nothing short of magical. Bravo, Photoshop CS5!

Noise Removal and Image Sharpening

Digital noise is present to some degree in every captured image. You need to reduce this digital noise, particularly if you are making a large print. The Camera RAW 6 plug in for Photoshop CS5 has some expanded controls for noise reduction—not only noise in the luminance (brightness) region, but also in the chrominance (color) region. To take full advantage of these expanded noise reduction tools in CS5, you have to capture a RAW image. Photoshop CS5’s RAW 6 Plug-in recognizes more than 275 D-SLR models, so there’s a pretty good chance your RAW image will be supported.

click the thumbnails to see the full-size images

Opening up your RAW image in CS5 makes available several new control sliders: Luminance, Color, and Edge Detail.  Move the Luminance slider to the right to remove grayscale (non-color) noise. Move the Color Slider to the right to remove Color noise. Both of these controls can have a softening effect on the image detail, so to sharpen up your noise-free image, move the new Edge Detail slider to the right. When all adjustments have been completed to your liking, save your Camera RAW image as a TIFF format.

Automatic Lens Distortion Correction

One of the greatest things about a D-SLR is that it allows you to use various lenses for different effects. However, even expensive interchangeable lenses have imperfections known as optical distortion.

click the thumbnails to see the full-size images

Three common types of optical distortions that exist, particularly in wide angle lenses, are: Barrel distortion (where straight lines seem to bow out, as if around the sides of a barrel), Chromatic Aberration (where blue fringing is present), and Vignetting (where darkening occurs in the extreme edges of the image).

Photoshop CS5 offers a Lens Correction feature which automatically removes most of these imperfections. You engage this feature from the Filter/Lens Correction menu selection. Adobe has implemented a growing database of interchangeable lenses to choose from, allowing you to custom tailor your profile to your own specific lenses if you wish to correct these optical distortions. The Adobe Lens Profile Creator is available as a free download from

Computer Requirements

Photoshop CS5/CS5 Extended is available for either Mac or Windows format. For the Mac platform you need OS10.X or higher. For the Windows version, you need Windows XP/Service Pack 2 at minimum, with later versions of Windows Vista and Windows 7 recommended.  Photoshop is very memory intensive, so you need 1GB minimum, and 2GB recommended. And your processor needs to be powerful enough to handle the more complex processes—dual core CPUs are recommended, with quad core preferred.

If you want ultimate control over your captured digital images, Photoshop CS5 is more than capable. The basic Photoshop CS5 version is $699.00 MSRP, with a $199.00 upgrade from CS4. The 3-D graphics market is very hot now, and a more powerful version, Photoshop CS5 Extended ($999 MSRP) offers exciting 3D extrusions through its Repousse feature. With it you can also create exciting 3-D images with realistic lighting, shadows, reflections, and refractions of lighting. For more information go to

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