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Friday, 19 February 2010


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I'll never miss an excuse to link to this:


(Make sure you mouse over the comic for the alt-text.)


Adobe, like many other companies, is in a Catch-22 with regard to being so popular that their brand is actually hurt by common usage. Kleenex, FedEx, Xerox, Band-Aid, etc., have all become so common that they aren't really trademarks anymore. Companies sometimes fight to keep from having truly generic trademarks, because they lose some legal control of them. (Meaning anyone can use them, even for marketing or competition.) Photoshop is probably now (and has been for a while) in that same category.

On the Adobe website, there's a lengthy page on how you SHOULD use "photoshop". (http://www.adobe.com/misc//trade.html#photoshop) Things like :

Trademarks are not verbs.

Correct: The image was enhanced using Adobe® Photoshop® software.
Incorrect: The image was photoshopped.

Always capitalize and use trademarks in their correct form.

Correct: The image was enhanced with Adobe® Photoshop® Elements software.
Incorrect: The image was photoshopped.
Incorrect: The image was Photoshopped.
Incorrect: The image was Adobe® Photoshopped.


It all gets kind of silly, since no one would do this conversationally (although I suppose their pretty strict with their partners or big clients). For the record, I agree with the choice not to photoshop yourself into that picture Mike. But if you had, it would have been funny if you had photoshopped yourself in using Corel Paintshop Photo Pro X3 brand software.

"... the granddaddy of image editors..."

You're really making me feel old, Mike.
I still have files from the great granddaddy of image editors, Digital Darkroom. I only wish I had kept the manual and disks - it was version 1.0.

I had a chance to see John Knoll present his VFX work on Avatar here at a local Siggraph conference in Vancouver. He also talked a lot about the beginnings of photoshop and all the history behind it. Was very fascinating that it was sooo close to being an EA games product! He also opened up his vault and did a demo of the early early builds of photoshop. Pre 1.0 stuff. Was amazing!

Thank you Knoll brothers! PS is like air or water nowadays.

Nerd alert! Nerd alert!

Matthew Allen wrote:

I'll never miss an excuse to link to this:

Likewise, I think this is worth another mention.

I wonder if the very staged breadboard with wine and carefully sliced bread was was Adobe® Photoshopped-in? Was that diagonal placement an artistically conscious arrangement? So many questions...


What would have been funny was if Mike had used GIMP to 'shop himself in... You know, that free, open source, really useful, non-trademarked alternative graphics editing programme. Personally, I've never used Pxxxxxxxp, but I'm told it's pretty useful. :)

As for the video at the link, it sort of made me squirm - 4 guys telling each other how wonderful they are. Ah well.

Before that there was the old Amiga and Deluxe Paint which I used to make this "photoshopped" Arbus Photograph into this little animation.


I would vociferously argue against Kevin's parting comment: "Sadly, its success has made for a much more samey, predictable digital imaging world. Sniff."

First I agree that Photoshop had many small predecessors and competitors along its 20 year history. Having been around long enough to remember the beginning I remember some (but none that Kevin mentioned). Some are still around, like the fine PaintShop Pro. But only the goliath that became Adobe could have capitalized the development of what is today's Photoshop.

But I strongly disagree that Photoshop has produced sameness in editing. You couldn't be wronger. If anything Photoshop's relentless development and its basic model of layering adjustments and of providing powerful tonality adjustment tools has enabled paths towards infinite variety. And let's not forget Photoshop's plug-in architecture that has enabled 3rd parties to put food on their tables by building powerful special-purpose extensions to the program. That was genius that's rarely recognized.

So if images are starting to appear to have sameness don't blame Photoshop. Point your finger to people using it, probably applying today's latest hot plug-ins (i.e. "high dynamic range" toasters).

Or move off the Web to look at better stuff that Photoshop makes possible. One example that comes to mind is the work of Ben Gest. He's become a master. Looking at some of his works online, but even looking at the large prints in-person, you would never guess that Gest constructs many of these images from dozens of detail pieces.

Or Beate Gütschow who uses Photoshop and digital images to create remarkable large landscapes and cityscapes from, somewhat like Gest, many other captured scenes.

You would not suspect Photoshop being involved in either artist's work. These are people skillfully using the tool's power for subtle unobtrusiveness.

So if you find yourself lamenting a parade of visual sameness and disfigurement don't blame the manufacturer of the fine surgical instruments. Look, instead, for more skillful work by surgeons who are using the tool to create specific premeditated creative results, rather than the average amateur who staggers ham-handedly through the tool, or more likely, runs cookie-cutter effects, looking for -awesomeness- for their Flikr posts.

Photoshop has enabled countless artists and photographers to create unique visions that would have never been possible in the analog photo world or with lesser tools. It's only a cookie cutter for those who want to make cookies. And that's fine, too, albeit tiresome.

I have often thought that Photoshop was responsible for confusing many people, especially beginners, about the real nature and benefits of digital photography. Until good workflow and digital asset management software entered the mainstream - I'm thinking of Lightroom and Aperture here - many people, including myself, thought that Photoshop was the natural companion for a first digital camera. Even today, magazines like Amateur Photographer devote far too many articles to Photoshop techniques for elaborately manipulating individual images, thereby failing to educate people in the pleasures of working with software that was designed for working with collections of images.

Ken reminded me...

Here's an illustration I did several years ago for a brief article about useful Photoshop plugins. Interestingly, a colleague wrote about photography-useful plugins and I wrote about other kinds of plugins, like those to simulate paintings et cetera. :)

Ansel Adams knew what he was doing to silver halides when he was in the darkroom. Photoshop is opaque about what it is doing to the pixel data. Other programs, e.g. Picture Window Pro, are much more informative in this regard.

Being a long time fan of the illustrative arts, it would seem that photographs and image editing software have come to co-exist with painting as the medium of choice. And difficult to tell where and if there should be a distinction. See "Illustrators Annual".

Please check out Fine Art Taco Photography at-

Dear Charles,

Ansel Adams didn't have a single clue what he was doing to silver halides. What he looked at were the emergent properties of density, speed, and graininess. On the most fundamental chemistry level, he didn't know and he didn't care.

You don't need to know what your image processing program is doing to the underlying data, all you need to know is what values come out.

pax / Ctein

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