Photoshop… Do we do it?

It’s not uncommon for us to receive e-mails from readers either asking us if we used Photoshop on an image… or, in some more extreme cases, accusing us of Photoshopping an image without disclosing the alteration to the reader. Since our Photography Issue (September) hit the stands, we’ve been getting mail from readers inquiring about our use of Photoshop. First, for those of you who are not familiar with Photoshop, Photoshop is a computer program that enables one to alter an image. Photoshop is a commonly-used tool, especially in the magazine and advertising world… 

Well, we thought it might be worthwhile to once again clear the air about Photoshop and how we utilize this technology. Photoshop is a program that we use sparingly… and if we use the technology, we ALWAYS inform the reader. As our former Director of Photography, Peter Ensenberger said in the April 2008 issue of the magazine, “We dont want to lose your trust in the beautiful photography published in our magazines, calendars and books, so we’ll never abuse the technology at our disposal.”

Some of you may have noticed the cover of our September issue taken by famed-photographer Jay Dusard… and some of you may have noticed that the location of the image does not, in fact, exist. It’s actually a composite of two photographs taken by Dusard (we noted that on the cover). In Photo Editor Jeff Kida’s column (pg 9), he noted that  photographers like Dusard, have been manipulating images in the dark room for decades to create these wonderful surreal abstractions… I suppose you could call it old school Photoshop… the process to create a composite image like the one you see on our cover and on page 9 (Dusard’s Anasazi Waterfall) was an arduous one, requiring, multiple negatives, time — 6-to-10 hours — and a lot of patience.

As for us, we take a tremendous amount of pride in the photographs that go into our magazine and other publications… and should we ever include an image that has been altered, we will always let you know. You have our word.



Filed under Inside Scoop, Photography

12 responses to “Photoshop… Do we do it?

  1. Could you also describe color correction in digital photography. As a photographer myself it is an important tool to use and MUST be done to make a photo that looks professional. I took a AZHighways digital workshop and tool such as Photoshop and Lightroom are used to make pictures sharper, brighter, and higher contrast. Few people realize that.

  2. I’d love to know what you even mean by Photoshopped? I think most photographers probably touch up their images for color, tone, exposure blending, etc. I know a few issues ago that you even had some HDR images in there, but didn’t specifically say that.

    I think photography is beautiful in any format…B&W, color, manipulated, HDR, whatever.

    I’m just curious though…when you say photoshopped, do you mean stuff has been added to the scene that wasn’t there, or it’s just been enhanced with curves, etc?

  3. As you correctly described, Photoshop, Lightroom, and any other photo correction or enhancing software does for me on the computer, what I would have to spend hours and hours doing in the darkroom. It’s fair use of a technique to make the photograph appear as the photographer wants you to see it.

  4. An interesting debate with a lot of misconceptions… Even when we printed directly from negatives, it was very rarely done with no alteration or improvement to the original image. Density was nearly always added or subtracted, and color corrections were often applied, yet no one ever complained that the integrity of the original image was violated. Whether a negative, a transparency, or a digital capture, an unaltered shot fresh from the camera is merely a starting point, not an end result. If Ansel Adams were alive today, he’d be inhaling Photoshop techniques even faster than he ever inhaled darkroom chemistry fumes! 😉

  5. A Photographer

    Chris, if you take a picture properly, you will not need color correction or HDR.
    I have noticed a few images in AZ Highways in which HDR was used, albeit sparingly, that it was not noted.

    Image Craft, I honestly doubt Ansel Adams would use photoshop as the crutch many photographers use today. He spent days and months composing a photograph and waiting for the light to be JUST SO to give him the image he wanted.

    FLANO, there is something to be said for capturing an amazing scene and showing something that others could conceivably reproduce in that same area without a photoshop crutch – that takes TRUE talent.

    • To “A Photographer”, it is unfortunate that you consider it a crutch. I consider it talent. Talent to take the raw image and to take the image and make art or something amazing of it. I am not stuck on the idea of take a picture and do nothing to it. As I stated earlier, in the days of print film, the dark room was an amazing tool, not a crutch. This tool is no different.

      • A Photographer

        Talent is taking an amazing image to start with. Not manipulating a mediocre image into greatness.

    • AZDawg

      @A Photographer: It’s one thing to shoot a photo properly, process the film and admire the uncorrected transparency, and a completely different thing to publish it in a newspaper, magazine or book.

      You’d be sorely disappointed with the results if the density, colors or contrast weren’t adjusted to compensate for the printing technology and the paper to be printed on. Then there’s sharpening that needs to be do, also.

      Photoshop, and other software packages, are indispensable to modern publishing.

      • A Photographer

        That is totally different than the usage most people apply. Correcting something to get an accurate reproduction to the original photo is just that. Manipulating a mediocre image into something worthy of printing is just lying.

    • I am not sure you are aware of how modern magazine digital photography works. Every picture is post-processed. You keep offering up an example of taking a “mediocre photo” and using photoshop to spin it into gold (or a silk purse if you will). However, even a perfectly framed photo taken at the golden hour by a professional will need post processing. The digital sensor just isn’t good enough to reproduce the vision of an artist. Digital photos just needs post processing. AZ Highways does it, National Geographic does it, and Time does it.

      Post processing is the same (just higher-tech) processes used in the dark room world such as dodge and burn.

      You would be shocked by what happens in the real, professional world of photography.

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