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Friday, 03 August 2007


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and then God created Jackson Pollock ....

Overall I agree wholeheartedly with your post. Many would be artists obtain(pirate) a copy of Photoshop and then proceed to try out every slider and filter available. Many of the amateur programs seem to proliferate with auto uglify buttons. Having said all this however I have one reservation. Why does a photograph have to look "real"?
If the image "works" (now that is a subjective term if ever there was one...) then the tools used are irrelevant. I have a number of images where, it could be argued, I have gone over the top, but, in my humble opinion, they stand up and communicate what I want them to say. Painters, sculptors, etc are not constrained to reality. Photographers like Haas and Turner did not always produce "realistic" images.
I guess the real problem is that photographers as artists need to decide what exactly it is they want to say, and then visually communicate that statement. To me, this is the challenge of photography. Once in a blue moon I come close...


If you hit your hand with a hammer is the tool bad or your aim?

Good grief...what a shovel full.

Maybe people should have a "limiter" tool too so that we all come out as "cookie cutter" copies. Maybe we should all be limited to a bottom level on the "creativity" meter. Maybe we should all have a "mistake limiter" so that nothing is ever ventured and hence, nothing gained. Maybe the world should not change so that our personal sense of security continues to be safe in the confines of the old familiar fall-backs.

Maybe we should all be equipped with a "vitriol limiter" too, this writer included.

However, the rant above strikes me as myopic to say the least. Bad craftsmanship spans all methods and media, whether it is in the use of a software program or in the use of traditional photographic media. Taste, is also that, a matter of taste--one person's poison is another's drink, etc. Please do not try to excuse confuse anyone's bad craftsmanship or experimentation with a tirade like the one above (even, possibly, the author's).

No highlights in digital B&W! Bah, humbug. Next time the author waxes rhapsodically about a printed volume of black and white images, perhaps he should remember that their is not a book published today that does not go through the digital process before it reaches the press, not one.

I will rest my B&W case with a reference to LensWork which is published under the guidence of Brooks Jensen and Maureen Gallagher. And not every source in the magazine is film (or even B&W film for that matter). If people don't know what a good B&W print looks (a highly suspect statement) have them look at this publication for a start.

I realize that you have not been well lately, but good grief Mr. Johnston, I'm sure you can do better than your article "Photoshop Excess" indicates.

All of us could learn to do better and in turn, help others to learn and improve, all the way from equipment and exposure choices, to post-production techniques no matter what medium is used. Encourage people to grow, don't slap them down just because they don't meet what may be a narrow set of parameters on the part of the observer. Emphasis the importance of a vision.

From Richard Crack, 40 year plus photographer and proud Photoshop user.

Any chance that you'd offer up a couple of examples of "XS FX"?

Over-sharpening? Over-saturation? Etc. ...for example?


Does this mean that LightRoom and Aperture with more simple "just the basics" interfaces are more conducive to good photographs?

While they still be good after several years of Feature Creep render *them* bloatware, too?

Of course, you can still abuse the contrast, saturation and sharpening. 8^)

Mighty grumpy today.

I've over used PS on occasion - part of my learning curve. When I go back to images I worked on a couple of years ago I sometimes can't believe what I did then and start from scratch with the RAW file with what I know now (curves are way better than "auto-adjust").

And I think it's just possible to get the occasional decent B&W image if you're more interested in the composition than measuring dmax to the micron.

Amen! Glad to hear that someone else sees what I think I've been seeing: Gross over-manipulation of images, everywhere you look.

Totally. I now have a folder on my hard drive devoted to them. When I see those extreme freaks of nature they get a special spot in my computer. If I ever need a smile, I just browse through them.

Great, great post Mike!

One of the ones that tends to drive me round the bend is the plethora "HDR" pictures. Many of these (probably most) look utterly unnatural. They seem to be making some kind of statement of "look how much information I captured!" rather then adding any creative value. This seems to extend to B&W, where most seem particularly afraid of the "B".

Can I assume that your comment about black and white photographs is in reference to common processing of digitally captures frames that are then converted in grey scale images?

I have a really hard time with this process as I have a poor set of references as to what looks good/right and what others have done in this area.

Using BW film images from history as reference is handy, but what I'm lacking I think is a vocabulary about what makes a strong BW image compelling and vivid.

Does anyone know of a good book or reference for learning the subtlety of a rich BW print/image.

btw, I feel your pain with an overactive photoshop gland.

Color photographs are not a 2D copy of the world.

Imaging technology and popular taste are not static. Excessive post processing techniques started with professional commercial photographers and digital artists. Under educated image makers such as myself emulate the excesses they see others being paid to create. Are you the taste police?

Excellent Black and White digital images are possible to produce. They rare, as are excellent B&W prints made from film.

I've never been in a darkroom in my life. How dare you limit my creative potential based upon your training and prejudices. I may or may not measure up to your standards but my photographic journey is my own.

I understand that criticism is a valuable tool. Use it wisely.

Recently I have discovered a very decent way to get good B/W pictures from digital files: DxO Filmpack.

It simulates looks of B/W films in a very nice way, and to my surprise, the highlights don't look blown anymore. Especially with images showing faces, it gives you that moment: 'yeah that's exactly what I have missed' I am not capable of doing anything close to that, even if a fiddle with contrast/curves/... for a vey long time.

I really like the look of TriX, and they are able to get you exactly that. (or Delta400, Tmax3200, ... for that matter)

Gawd, Mike didn't you read Ctein's previous post?

"And then there's black and white. I find DSLRs nearly useless for B&W because of the highlight issue. There's just no information there ... but for B&W DSLRs are essentially useless."

Digital is different from film, duh. So we B&W fans should trash our DSLRs; buy film cameras, or bring our old ones back from the closet? Keep up our real vs. pretender argument as we comb the back alleys of eastern Europe to find the few B&W products still being made? Like Fred Picker, fill freezers with our favorite film, chemicals, and paper? Just to get the look that a "real" B&W photographer defines as a proper example of the medium?

I prefer to accept the new technology, "expose to the right" (and/or use the highlight recovery that Nikon provides, if required), hope - no pray - for performance improvements in sensors, rather than more MP's, continue to produce images in my favorite medium that please me, and hope that others can enjoy them, also.


I have tried many plug-ins to give me the TriX, HP5, FP4, etc, look. Each film had it's own characteristic look as to how it responded to light. Then I got an epiphany - wish I got more of these; it's such a cool word :) - Why shouldn't digital be allowed its own look? Learn it, like any film, learn it's limitations, and present your best photographic interpretations - with pride. Ignore the old fuddy-duddies of "film-only" B&W ;) I think that it would be far more tragic to let the monochrome medium die.

BTW, I totally agree with the main point of your comments - there is too much image manipulation for its own sake; and it looks very much worse in B&W.

I think this discussion goes extremely well with the Ctein essay. One of the ways "good" photographers can stand out now is by NOT overusing the new tools and showing moderation and restraint with an eye towards their chosen representation of art. In some cases, digital art depends on that "overuse," but it can be demonstrably useful in capable hands. In other cases--Jay Maisel for example--otherworldly color is profoundly of this world--it has just been seen, recognized and captured in a unique way. In may ways, how one uses the software tools and filters helps define good from bad from exceptional. Twas ever thus, no?

I 100% agree with you Mike. Those horrible HDR pictures all over the web should be banned.

LOL, Mike. I agree with the first part, regarding fx xs. But I totally disagree in two aspects:
1) Digital B&W: It definitely can be done. You know Juan Buhler's work. It's GREAT black and white photography, made with dslrs. I'm the lucky owner of three 13x19" inkjet prints from him and they're outstanding. Several photographers were marveled looking at them and more so when I told them they were inkjet. It can be done, for sure. And you should never use "highlight/contrast", its very destructive. Levels or Curves are your friends.
2) Color: Who says "natural" color is the only way to go? Very B&W minded comment. I hate Velvia look, but there's a lot of variations in hue and saturation that can be very good and expressive.

"Color photographers don't have that excuse. Their frame of reference should be THE WORLD. Also known as reality. What's out there."

Maybe. Then again maybe not. That's your bias. My photographic art is about how I interpret the world through my imagery. In that sense my images are very much "colored" by my own experience, creative vision, feelings, etc. Sometimes that has very little to do with the reality of the world in front of me when I took the picture.

Do great paintings absolutely have to use colors straight out of the tube? Of course not, that's absurd.

As with anything, those with vision, style and skill stand out. It's abruptly clear when you see photographers & artists who use the tools available, but lack vision.

> "...this doesn't stop photographers from publishing loads of B&W pictures"

You forgot to add "...including the ones by me in the pages of B&W Photography magazine." If you're going to keep ragging on those digital B&W highlights, making it sound like nobody should dare convert digital images to mono, at least 'fess up to the odd conversion yourself.

I hate photoshop, because despite the "photo" in its name it's really a crummy tool for photography. It requires a lot of useless information to perform pretty basic photographic tasks, and is streamlined to give results that are punchy, modern and brilliant -- something the core audience of graphic artists cheer for. Crummy results are as much a result of being given crummy tools as they are an indicator of bad taste.

It is for this reason I much prefer the current round of robust Digital Asset Management tools, such as Lightroom, Lightzone and Aperture. Sure, these can be abused but the focus is on photography. There's no layers, no effects and no paintbrush.

I agree in general, Mike, but must take issue with the b/w comments. All of my b/w landscapes are digital, and I take great care to keep as much, if not more, tonal range and detail than I could have achieved with film (at least given my limited talents for darkroom printing). I'm happy and proud with the images I can capture digitally.

As with all Photoshop endeavors, though, it takes more than simple book knowledge of what's possible. It takes the care, the talent and the practice to know how the tools should be used. Unfortunately, too many people get stuck in their simple ability to do something "clever", and never graduate to the level of understanding WHY they are doing it.

But c'mon, we ALL played with the digital effects when software first became available in the early '90's. When I first encountered Photoshop 2.5, I giggled for hours playing with the clone tool and moving eyes from one body part to the other. It's probably a lot the same now, although the tools have gotten much more sophisticated, so the bad and overused effects are all the more dramatic.

Realistic photography, aka literal photography, is just a choice. You seem to make a canon of it. Regards.

Has anyone ever attempted to "push" B/W film to some absurdly high ASA (as it was know back when) number and come to regret it but kept the prints anyway? Was that a mistake because of the big chunks of grain or was that art?

[Sarcasm Alert]

I personally have never seen anything in real life that looked like this:


This guy must really have been a very heavy PhotoShop user.

[end Sarcasm Alert]

I think, collectively (which is of course a totally unfair thing to say), people are overreacting. Point of post: a significant percentage of the millions upon millions of pictures posted to the web exhibit really execrable taste. (What, ya gonna argue with that?!?) Specifically: some people are over-the-top heavy-handed with the horrible oversharpening, with the oversaturation, with the goofy added colors and photoshop illustration effects. (Argue that? Are you crazy?) OF COURSE some photographers can do wonderful things (did you forget who you're talking to here? It's me, Mike, the guy who writes this blog in praise of photographers and their accomplishments, day-in, day-out, year after year), and of course anyone should do whatever the heck s/he pleases. But I don't think my points are in any dispute. Unless perhaps one has seen far (far) less of the vast ocean of online drek than I have slogged through. Again, that doesn't mean I'm talking about anyone personally.

Back to cleaning up the office....


The more the world changes the more it stays the same. Photoshop and its ilk have merely made it easier for those with no taste and judgment to make their failing noticeable. The same thing happened years ago, with the same published rants, when "desktop publishing" was born and anyone with no knowledge and judgment but a few bucks could buy a PC or Mac and a PS printer and set up shop. The common typographic quality dropped noticeably for many years. In fact, its still seen all too often today.

Mike- I think that your complaints cannot be seriously disputed but you are wrong about the reason for the problems you cite. The problem ain't the numerator, it is the denominator. What has happened is that the price of admission to the "world photo gallery" has plummeted so low that there is little or no natural selection going on before you get to see the photographs. So you see a lot more dreck.

The "old days": To make a photographic print you had to get a camera and some film, take the photograph, develop it and print it. For black and white that usually meant investing the time, energy, money, and space to build and maintain your own darkroom, or belong to a community darkroom. Then you had to actually learn how to use the darkroom, hone in on a reliable process, make test prints, etc, etc.. If you were lucky and/or skilled you might get one or two "keeper" images from a shoot. After being up for several nights in the darkroom trying various approaches, dodging and burning, toning, yada, yada.... you MIGHT come up with a print that you were happy with. Then you might mat and frame it and put it up on your wall where a few people might see it. Or you might take it your local camera club where maybe a dozen people might see it. Or, if you were extraordinarily talented, persistent, and lucky you might get a gallery show where maybe a hundred people might see it. Or, if all of the above were true and the planets aligned and you were in the right place at the right time you MIGHT get a book published and maybe a few thousand people might see your work before the book ended up in the remainders pile. And, if you were one of the dozen or so people in your century who actually got recognized by the "right" folks you might actually get a few photographs in a museum where a few thousand more folks might actually see your work.

If you did color work the learning curve and difficulty of maintaining a darkroom and learning how to actually make decent prints was much higher and far fewer people did it themselves. So they contented themselves with slides or paying other folks to make prints for them at some expense. Easier to show your slides to the camera club, but otherwise an even more difficult path to wide recognition than black and white.

The new day: You buy a digicam or DSLR. You go out and shoot some photographs. The only limitations on the number of photographs you can shoot is the number of flash cards you can carry and the amount of time you have. You go home and upload the files to your home computer. Home computers are nearly ubiquitous at this point. The only limitation to the number of photographs you can upload to your computer is the size of your hard drives. For under 100 bucks you buy Photoshop Elements, or for $150 bucks you get Photoshop at a student rate. Your home computer and monitor are probably not calibrated, so the colors you see as you work on your photograph between checking emails are not what anyone else is likely to see on their (also probably uncalibrated) monitors. You play with the filters, mess with the photo until it looks cool to you, and then (and this is the important part) with the click of a mouse you can upload your photograph to a photo sharing site where literally BILLIONS of people can see it worldwide. There is basically no limit to the number of photographs that you can upload in this fashion.

There undoubtedly are many positive things that have come out of the democratization of photography that the digital age has wrought by lowering the price of worldwide exposure. Almost every week I stumble across the work of some person half way around the world that is as good or better than many of the masters of the 20th century. That just would never have happened before. So the good news is that the numerator (the chance of discovering a great photographer apparently out of nowhere) has quite fortunately gone up. The bad news is the denominator (total number of photos available for view) has gone up exponentially more. In the past a photograph would be unlikely to come to your attention without having gone through a myriad of hurdles that tended to assure the quality of its craftsmanship. That is certainly no longer true. And not all bad, either.

When I studied with John Sexton for a bit at the Maine Workshop, he was working as A.A's assistant at that time. We had some of Ansel's work prints, straight prints, final prints and I think some older and newer versions to look at as illustrations. He said that Ansel said he became more "Wagnarian" in his printing style over the years.

It's not just photoshop. You dodge and burn and mess with film and chemistry and paper. Or you mess with photoshop. You can do it with color wet materials -- filters and masks etc. Plenty of great prints in traditional media are good because they are over the top in technique. It's not a substitute for a good eye or good taste, but it's always been part of the range of expression in photography.

And a lot of the bad photography probably since it was invented is because of over the top technique, way before photoshop. And a lot of dull dull prints are the result of no technique. You can have a reasonable composition but not make it pop or snap because you didn't work on it. Maybe one is afraid of photoshop or afraid of dodging and burning. It's as big a failure mode as overdoing it.

In my darkroom days it would take me all day to get a good print, or half a day if I was lucky. And now it takes me all morning with photoshop and the printer, and sometimes into the afternoon. Less waiting with photoshop, is about the biggest difference for me.

Yes, it's all about having a good eye, and working to make something happen. There have always been more hacks than people with good eyes, good ears, and the willingness to work and work and work at an art to get some work to be in tune with refined sensibilities. Luckily there are some people working well, and photoshop is a nice tool for them, and the internet is a lucky way for them to share.

I was recently at a photo workshop and one of the presenters said that "if an image looks like it needs to be sharpened, sharpening probably won't help it." That said, a little bit goes a long way. Some folks just seem to think that "some is good, more is better and too much is just enough." Easy on those sliders, Bubba!

Thanks Mike, I was afraid you were getting politically correct on all of us... To make a point you have to exegerate to make it clearly, but most importantly, it's much more enjoyable that way. Thanks!

Yesterday I received a book I ordered of pictures by Henry Wessel and I was struck by the 'lightness' of them. All the midtones are lifted but never blown out and there is such a wonderful and subtle gradation between all those light grays. It's how a sunny day should (could) look in Black and White but hard to do in digital. I'm gonna give it a newly inspired try though!

The trouble with B/W nowadays is not that digital cameras aren't particularly suited to it - anybody worth his salt should be able to get it right with Photoshop, Capture NX, Lightroom, all of which allow for selective tone changes - but that people think B/W inherently artsier and better than colour.

Have you noticed how often B/W renditions of mediocre [often even downright bad] photos appear in online contests? I remember one particular forum - won't tell which - staging challenges instead of contests, where people are asked to come up with their rendition of a particlar picture. Almost always the first or second entry is B/W, and in many cases that should have been the last choice!

Actually special effects are often used to salvage a mediocre photo. Nothing wrong with that as long as it is some kind of personal memory only; I just had to save several badly lit and exposed photos from the 50s and 60s. Some had been scanned with a bad and broken scanner leading to a kind of noise that was not healable by noise reduction software. So I decided to go for B/W with a sepia tone corresponding to the era. Worked nicely [but I had a certain creative vision in mind] but only because these are family memories and nothing more.

As is so often the case, rarely does it work to come up with a special effect after the fact, that is, after taking the picture. That is why I like the Lensbaby approach, you decide what lends itself to its specific renditions. You can also come up with something very similar looking in Photoshop - but would you use it on a perfect shot or only on one of those throwaways to salvage?

Well, I'm certainly one of those guys to be guilty in case of oversaturation. The article - and especially the responses to it - somehow remind me on the "to Velvia or not to Velvia" discussion when the first Fuji Velvia film with it's oversaturated colours hit the market. So,the author of the article and everyone who answered so far, should read the latest article by Ctein al least 10 times :-)

But seriously, with photoshop you can get even more oversaturation. Is this good or bad? For me it just depends on what kind of photography you intend to perform. I want to express the colours like I expierienced them in the scene I was in. This may be quite different from the "true colour" that you can measure with a spectrometer.

Why am I oversaturating some of my pictures? Because I like them as they are!
Actually that's just the reason because I sometimes also undersaturate the colours.

My pictures hurt your eyes? I'm sorry, just look elsewhere (No blame intended). Actually I fully understand your point, because even a guy like me who likes (over-)saturated colours, runs into pictures that may damage the eyes.

Nevertheless, I found the article as most others on this site very interessting. It's always worth to reconsider what one is doing. Thank you!

Wolfgang Küchle

I agree with you on the excess photoshopping of color images. I call this the "Flickr effect". But it is a matter of taste, not reality. We can all agree that most photos don't look like reality 100%. To me it's like eating candy: too much isn't good, you might like it when you first do it, but on the long run it hurts your stomach! I also don't like Velvia colors by the way. I used to think they're cool, but these days I like good saturation instead of lots of saturation.
Strangely that seems to be the tendency on flickr, I see it much less on other photo sharing sites.

But on B/W, I'd have to disagree. Digital images can often be superior to film, as long as the contrasts aren't too heavy.

I remember this quote from Alex Majoli:
"In his Leica days, he shot Tri-X and developed it in D-76. His Olympus files show much more shadow detail than those old Tri-X negatives, the photographer says. So he often finds himself increasing the contrast of his digital pictures in Photoshop, but part of him considers it a nasty habit.

"Digital, you can see everything," he says. "I used to try to catch as much detail in the blacks as I can, and now I can see everything. It's more than I need, so I try to go back to what I used to see in the past. It's wrong, psychologically. Digital is something different than film, but I try to go back to the idea of what film could do. Film is more black. I need the blacks.""

"Photography is not a sport. It has no rules. Everything must be dared and tried!" - Bill Brandt

Alan: I think trying out every slider is what makes people learn. That isn't bad. Bad would be to not learn, and keep sliding to the extreme forever.

I expect more from a good rant here than the standard

"X is different therefore X is useless"

If you don't think you can get a decent B&W out of a digital camera then by all means go back to breathing fixer.

Meanwhile, let me know how useless these are


I couldn't agree more. All photographs should be required, by federal law if necessary, to be completely unprocessed. The guy who is the worst offender is that goof ball Ansel Adams. I've traveled all over the west and I NEVER saw a sunrise or sunset quite as dramatic as presented in his prints. Fakery, that's what it is. A complete falsehood neatly packaged in each and every Adams image.

And, like you, I'm outraged at the use of B&W. What was wrong with Adams, was he color blind or something? I see in color. How dare he print in B&W. Perhaps he was just learning about photography. He should have taken lessons from my Dad.

Every Easter Dad photographed our family, all dressed up, in front of our house before we went to church. He took at least 10 minutes to arrange us and to properly prepare his Brownie camera. Eventually, when the prints came back from the drug store, they were completely lifeless, drab, and boring, just like our real life. Fantastic. That's what it was. Talk about capturing the moment accurately! Dad was a master. Thank God Dad didn't try to fool us like that nut case Ansel Adams.




Three cheers for Bob Walters, for the biggest laugh of the day!

Hi Mike,
As you said in the OP that you enjoyed looking at images posted on the web I thought you might enjoy these ones.
By the way, I am in no way connected to this service - I just enjoy sharing the insights that others bring to photography.
(Ironic) Cheers, Roger

Okay, Roger, that genuinely horrified me. Those eyes...those terrible, pasted-on EYES! This is going to give me nightmares.

I can't blame those folks for making a living doing that, but I'm sorriest that there are people out there who demand this kind of "perfection" (wrong word, but you know what I mean) in photographs/photoillustrations. It is the o p p o s i t e of what I'm after when I look at pictures...I want to see what things really look like.

It reminds me of a portrait project disaster I did once...I worked my tail off doing a five-print sequence of an extended family, and the man who hired me basically rejected the finished work because his BELT wasn't tucked into his BELT-LOOP. Pressed shirt, tie, nice slacks, hair perfectly in place, but somehow we all missed that damned belt loop. Seriously. You can't parody something like that, because the reality is beyond parody.



Someday I'm going to record an album titled "Past the Point of Velvia." What an elegant phrase.

Whilst I can see where you are coming from, one guy's art (child's crayon drawing) is another guy's piece of junk (Miro).

And what's this nonsense about digical Black and White - god I hate film snobs.

Oh my! Can I just say how much I have enjoyed this post and all of the comments!I laughed out loud at the "Control-O-M-F-G'. (My husband looked at me like I was crazy when I read it to him....he is obviously NOT a Photoshop user.)(BTW, when will that be out? ;) )

I have to admit, lately I have not been shooting 'pretty' pics. I have been shooting with the thought in my mind of, "Wow! I can't wait to take this into Photoshop/Painter and make it look as graphic/un-real/painterly/ over-OVER saturated as I possibly can!". This does not mean that I shoot technically incorrect or that they are 'bad' photos that need 'fixing'.....(well,... except those I took after all those drinks on the patio in Port Aransas, Tx...although those were quite interesting too!)Haa!

Aaanyway, this is my first visit to this site and I will definitely be back!

Welcome, Tracye, and please come back any time.

(I also laughed out loud at "Control O-M-F-G.")



I'm not going to rehash what's already been said. I've been taking photos for more than twenty years and for a fair bit of that time as a pro and although I LOVED shooting film I'll never go back. For me my favourite was Neopan 400 pulled two stops and it became almost an obsession but those days are gone.

I started using PS way back in version 3 (and the thought of the crimes against photography I commited while I learned how to use it make me shudder) and I still use it now - but for me it has to be Lightzone for B&W.

I disagree with you Mike regarding digital B&W, I think the problem is that most people don't understand histograms and exposure. The dynamic range of a RAW file allows you to really express yourself - and that is what it's all about isn't it? (I'm talking here about art photography rather than reportage) and subtle use of HDR and tonemapping can really make a digital B&W 'pop'.

and on a slightly lighter note. WTF??

I, I just don't know what to say...

There are many, but this is a good example to prove Mike's point.
A flickr-shot called "East Lake" is highly decorated in the comments, yet it was completely destroyed in Photoshop:


Photoshop's tools were already at its peak. It is depends on the user in how they would apply it. Like Mike said, if you hit your hand with a hammer, was it the tools fault or you have a bad aim.

Those people suck at photoshop because they only wanted the shortest path. One click and done. And usually, they don't like being compared or commented.

I usually find that niche products do a better job than a massive program like Photoshop. In particular I have started to mess around with HDR images and get much better results by not using Photoshop.

oooo yyyyeeeeaaaa

This is my second round reading this post. Intestinal knots oblige comment.

There are basically 2 kinds of photographs.

One is the catalogue photograph, a photograph that is dedicated to mimic reality. That reality can be a pair of socks, or you favorite landscape.

The second would be the Fine Art or interpretive photograph, which follows one of two traditional paths. One path is to simplify, to reduce to the minimal element. The other path is to exaggerate to some chosen effect.

The photographic artist can choose either path at the point of exposure, e.g. Jeff Wall. The photographic artist can choose either path post exposure, e.g. Flicker groups. (As polar opposites as I can imagine)

Perhaps the biggest objection to the Flicker group approach arises because of the ease of use, the democratization of the tools.

I choose to NOT be a catalogue photographer. But, I will confess that I have abandoned paths of exaggeration in the past, when the Flicker hounds were baying at the fence line.

I hear the hounds with the ear of colour exaggeration, (they are distant and still have more ground to cover); they are silent with the ear tuned to the simultaneous exaggeration of detail in the same image.

The compromise.

It might be time to consider proper labeling.

The Catalogue Photograph = Photograph
The Fine Art Photograph = Photographic Illustration


Raymond St Arnaud

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