So many times you hear “that’s been Photoshop’d” or simply “its not real”… Well, that’s all true with 99.9% of images that you see or buy out there today. The fact is, any camera that is shooting a JPEG image is taking the raw data and applying color corrections to make the scene look like what the camera thinks it should look like. So yes, they are all “photoshopped”!
Ansel Adams would spend hours in the darkroom “dodging” and “burning” his images to get the perfect balance that he was looking for in his images. Clearly this was LONG before any digital options were available.
The issue is that a camera can only capture a singular perspective of a scene. Our eyes adjust nearly instantaneously when looking out over the hoodoos of Bryce Canyon or the varied geological colors of the grand canyon. Our eyes shift in what they allow in as the darks of the canyons are viewed and then “stop down” when we raise our gaze to the bright clouds lit by the setting sun… so, here comes “Photoshop”
Here is a raw image that was taken with my Nikon (91.37 MB file, 8256 x 5504 pixels). In this image, the camera captures all that it “sees” and does nothing to “Post-process” the image… this is ONLY what the camera sees, not what it “thinks” it sees.
This is NOT what I saw that morning… it is the best setting (from my perspective) to capture the focus of the scene, which on this day was the sunlit clouds of the sunrise.
So, for fun, I asked Lightroom to tell me what it “thinks” the photo should look like. So, with a click of the “Auto” button in the develop module – a slight bump in exposure, a little drop in contrast, an increase in shadow detail, big drop in highlights, a slight bump in Whites, a little drop in Blacks, and a touch of added vibrance and saturation, Lightroom says “this is what the image” should look like.
Again, not what I saw that morning, but certainly better than the “RAW” version.
So, into Lightroom I go and start with the RAW file. Every photographer or artist or whatever you would like to call us has a “Workflow” that they utilize to get to an draft image. After those sequenced steps, then the art takes over. What does the artist like? What does the artists collectors like? Will this be a “show” image or a “Gallery” image. Is this an attention getter for online advertising (if so, blow the crud out of saturation and vibrance, get as much pink in there as possible and make absolutely certain that contrast is kicked!!) Same image, different perspective.
For this image, my end goal was simply sharing online through my Facebook and Instagram feeds and various groups. So.. here is where I landed.
This is how my mind remembers that morning. Is it any different than a painter recapturing a memory? It is real, no doubt about that. I do not add objects or colors to my images, but I do manipulate the underlying color spectrum to get to that memory.