15 January 2008

In Day-to-Day Photography, Is There Such a Thing as "Photoshop Ethics?"

this was taken early one morning out in colorado. this is 3 exposures combined with a magenta gradient applied in photoshop (where all that purple comes from). this leads my to a thought i've been having... how much photoshop is too much? in short, i believe whatever produces an image that you like is the appropriate amount. for me (and this changes from time to time), i enjoy the fine line between impossible and plausible. heavy contrast and saturated colors, but just shy of "that's not even possible." sometimes i fail at this and sometimes i think i succeed with flying colors (you just got punned) (i think).

the example on my mind currently has to do with the photo above. i'm reading a book "Understanding Exposure" and the author seems to use a graduated magenta filter on many of his sunset/sunrise photos. most people wouldn't think twice about considering that a valid way to add/change color in a photograph. this would be "in camera" work. however, if i told you i added the same grad mag. filter to my photo, only i did it in photoshop (and i had a million shades of magenta to pick from), i think most people would say "yeah but that's not really what it looked like" despite the fact that it's the exact same operation, just in a different order. so why does everyone (including myself at times) think it's "less" if it's done in photoshop? is it just the connotation of the word "photoshop?"

(here's the regular single exposure untouched version)


Josh Bush said...

I think it comes down to how you represent the photograph. If your audience is under the assumption that it's unaltered, then it should be unaltered. If they know you are tweaking it, then the sky is the limit.

And to think, I thought you managed to get all of that craziness from your Christmas card in one shot! I'm only kidding of course, but the point is that you aren't misleading your audience.

Josh said...

that's exactly what i think. photojournalism and other similar genres depend on "realness", but most everything else seems fair game.

the whole filter thing just struck me as peculiar. i hadn't really thought about it before.