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New Contributor
Posts: 2
Registered: ‎10-08-2018

Is there a stigma around photoshop, now?

When I got my first photography job, over a decade ago, the first question I got in the interview was "how would you remove this background?" Recently, I got pounced on for bringing it up. I've only ever worked in fashion photography, where we discuss how we're going to 'shop the photos as we're taking them. Is photoshop a dirty word outside of fashion? Have we entered a new era of pretending that a good lens is the reason your contrast is so perfectly balanced? Or did I just have the misfortune of stumbling onto a bunch of G.Q.s?"

Esteemed Contributor
Posts: 3,231
Registered: ‎02-17-2016

Re: Is there a stigma around photoshop, now?

As you said it really depends on the people you are asking. I think it goes from fashion photography on one hand to journalism and f/64-type artists on the other.


Some landscape photographers have angst over removing a coke can that might be in the foreground.

Posts: 10,933
Registered: ‎12-07-2012

Re: Is there a stigma around photoshop, now?

[ Edited ]

I have shot a lot of things in my career but fashion was not one of them. In my world Photoshop is king.  I know of no serious, full time, pro photographer that doesn't use it. None!


Now do we all like Adobe as a company?  Hmmm, that one it still up for debate.  Smiley Sad

EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV, even less and less other stuff.
Valued Contributor
Posts: 479
Registered: ‎01-25-2018

Re: Is there a stigma around photoshop, now?

Maybe where PS becomes a stigma is when the image has been so heavily modified that it bears very little resemblance to what was originally captured.  At that extreme, why bother with photography and instead just contract out the graphics work to Pixar. I am not in any way implying that you are going to those extremes but some do.  When doing a google search for noise reduction last year I was amazed, not in a good way, by some of the images proudly displayed by PS types who had altered it to such an extreme that basically you could have started with a photo of Donald Trump and ended up with Boy George instead Smiley Happy


I try to do minimal alteration because I like the discipline of capturing the best original images that I can (and THAT is a constantly moving target).  It is easy to fall into the habit of using PS as a crutch just as you can utilize the ability of a modern DSLR to capture a huge number of images at a high rate of speed.  Earlier this year I shot a high school football game for the first time since my film days when I was a teenager and I realized after the first quarter I was relying too much upon the frame rate of the 1DX 2 and not enough on the basics of getting good captures.  By the second quarter I had at least progressed from unmitigated disaster to a partially mitigated disaster and things have gotten much better since but I am still very much on the steep part of the learning curve for football even though I have shot soccer for several years.


And ebiggs1, I definitely won't debate liking Adobe as a company.  I will keep using PS but I will be so glad to see the final end of Adobe Flash.  I don't like the move to subscription based software but Adobe annoys me FAR less than the recent antics of Microsoft and all of the issues with Windows 10 creating very unnecessary annoyances.  Office 365 has its own subscription issues.





EOS 1DX M2, 1DX, 1D M2, EOS 650 (film), many lenses, XF400 video
Posts: 10,933
Registered: ‎12-07-2012

Re: Is there a stigma around photoshop, now?

"...when the image has been so heavily modified that it bears very little resemblance..."


Folks are folks and people are people and opinions are opinions. What some like others don't, neither is right or wrong.

EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV, even less and less other stuff.
Esteemed Contributor
Posts: 3,800
Registered: ‎06-11-2013

Re: Is there a stigma around photoshop, now?

[ Edited ]

It really depends on what you do to an image ... and why.


There are loads of "adjustments" that images need... things like fixing white balance, adjusting levels, etc.  You might crop the image to improve composition.   But the essential contents of the photo are essentially the same.


Then there's the notion of materially changing the contents of the photo... things appear in the photo that weren't actually there when it was taken.  Or possibly things were removed that were in the photo (and not removed by cropping... removed and replaced with something else.)  It ceases to be a "photograph" (a drawing made of light captured of the scene) and becomes more a piece of graphic art ... composed from elements that were not in the photograph when it was captured.


For that latter type of editing ... the question becomes "why". 


In the world of literature... there's "fiction" and "non-fiction".  If you write a fiction story ... and you tell everyone it's a fiction story, and nobody has the expectation that it's real ... then you haven't mislead anyone.   We don't get upset at Tolkein and accuse him of making up the story of the "The Hobbit" because Tolkein doesn't try to pass it off as a true story.  It is presented as a work of fiction ... meant to entertain the reader.


The same is true of photography.  If you take a photo that was meant to be a documentary style photo (the photo documents or captures something seen in real life) and after the adjustments, everything about the photo is still true, then you haven't mislead anyone.  But if you start making edits that are so aggressive, that the photo no longer "documents" a scene of real life ... now it's fiction.  Trouble happens when you try to pass off fiction as non-fiction.


Nature photographers get in trouble for "photo-shopping" in an animal that wasn't really there ... or the photo is real but the scene was staged (e.g. they were trained animals in captivity being passed off as a scene being captured in the wild.)  They get in trouble *because* that makes the work "fiction" but they're trying to pass it off as non-fiction.


I am passionate about astrophotography.  I also have a fairly deep knowledge of astronomy.  So when this came out...


You can read the article for the reasons they suggest it's a fake.  But I'll add to that based on my knowledge of astronomy.


The moon in this photo is about 17 days old (that's the number of days since the last "new moon").  At that point, the Moon doesn't rise until about 2 hours after the Sun sets.  When you look at the photo... where is the light on the trees and rock-face coming from?  It isn't from the moon ... because that's in the background and the foreground would be silhouette.  It isn't from the Sun because that set a couple of hours before the Moon could possibly reach this point in the sky.  Could it have been taken at Moon Set instead of Moon Rise?  No.  The Sun would have been up for hours by the time the Moon gets low to the horizon near Moon Set; it would have been daytime.


There is some gray area ... suppose you take high-school senior photos.  Your client has acne.  The clients expect that acne blemishes wont be in the final results.  While the portrait isn't a fantasy photo ... the industry expectation is that cosmetic blemishes will be removed.  


To me it's as simple as this:


Is the photo meant to be a work of fiction .... or non-fiction?  

If fiction you can pretty much do anything.

If non-fiction, are there edits which go too far such that the viewer is now being mislead about the truthfulness of the image?


Tim Campbell
5D III, 5D IV, 60Da
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