Is your image “Photoshopped”?

May 25, 2021

What’s the definition of “photoshopped” for me? Probably much different as for most persons. “Photoshopped” for me is that you add or remove things on your image. Replacing skies, make subjects better, create things that aren’t actually there or create a surrealistic piece of art. For creative minds everyhing is posible in software nowadays and that is ok.

But, it’s not what I do. Yes, I give my images a finishing touch. RAW images are a very flat straight out of camera and have a lot of more data in it. So what I do is retouching it by create a wide dynamic range of light and dark and color. For me this creates a natural look waht I prefer. It’s a bit the same as back in the early days of photography, the analog era, when you needed to process your negative shots in to photo’s. Back then you didn’t have software to help you with it but there were different kind of liquid baths to process them.

Source: Wikipedia

When an image is too dark, you let it stay longer in an baht to create more brightness. This could have gone very far. It could be used on different places on an image for getting a good dynamic brightness or color range. This was the old fashion way of “photoshopping”. Sometimes it took multiple tries to get it as the photographer wanted.
The thing I do is kind of the same, but in the digital era there are much more options to process your image to get it exactly as it was.

For example, the picture below. Left, the flat original image without any corrections. The color and dynamic range on the right side is corrected. This gives the image much more brightness and depth. Compare the shadows in the mountains in the background and the color of the water.

Another example;

Often with photography you need te make compromises. Are you going to blow out the sky and expose the foreground correctly? Or are you going for a underexposed foreground with a correctly exposed sky. When you go for a underexposed foreground it will be very dark. You have to crank-up the shadows for a wel exposed image. This will generate some noise in your image. You can fix that but then you’ll lose lot’s of detail. So usually I choose for a well exposed foregrond and a bit blown out sky. Not to much because if the sky clips you can’t fix it anymore. So you have to find a good balance between it.

Bottomline; You can’t expose the sky and foreground exactly right you need processing it to get the right balance.

Over here is a image of a tree shot on Madeira, Portugal;

In the original image you see the sky is pretty light with not much detail of the clouds. Also the fog in the front is a bit flat. (Remember, raw photo’s are flat straight out of camera) The final image is more crisp with more details in the sky,  a less dark tree in the foregrond and more brightness in the fog.


Conclusion: Yes, there is a manual proces for all of my images.
No, I don’t create new objects or edit things that weren’t there on my images.

What is your opinion?

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