Photoshop Is Not A Verb - Doc Miles Photography Tours

April 03, 2014  •  2 Comments

Recently I posted a photograph of a storm cloud formation over Alcatraz Island on Facebook. A Facebook friend commented " I have a hard time with DM's photos because I think he Photoshops everything. PLEASE correct me if I am wrong!"  I had to laugh because another friend came to my defense and said "they are definitely his photos. Not photoshopped. More details in person."  While I appreciate my friend defending me, it really was more flattering than accurate. 

To set the record straight, the way an experienced DSLR photographer shoots is by setting the shooting mode to "Camera RAW". This captures the whole range of pixels the camera is capable of processing on the sensor (Think "negative" in the film era). No pixels are manipulated, enhanced or changed. All the digital information is there. It isn't very pretty. Why? There is a protective filter over the sensor on DSLR cameras that cause the RAW (negative) to appear dull. The photographs need "Post Processing" to look like what the eye actually saw.

Early photographers did all kinds of post processing in the darkroom. They dodged, burned and cropped only to name a few of the myriad of darkroom techniques to get a photograph just right. Ansel Adams was  a darkroom master and a great photographer. A truly worthy photograph has to have three qualities: Light, Composition and Emotion. Those are the qualities that a photographer has to get right in the camera. Post Processing is the technique of enhancing those qualities to make a compelling photograph. 

All cameras today feature a Scene Mode or Auto Mode that produces a JPEG image that has been enhanced according to the scene selected. The RAW image has been processed by the camera with enhancements to please the eye. This mini photo enhancement feature is what sells camera to non-professional photographers. It is a one step process to good looking images. Even the iPhone camera has image processing features.

I prefer to shoot RAW as my canvas and then post process to the look and feel that is my creative signature on the image.  Do I post process every image I display? Absolutely. It is my art in two stages. First, the shot ( Light, Composition & Emotion) and second, the post processing. I have been doing that long before Photoshop was released.  Do I process everything in Photoshop? No. I use Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5, NIK Plug in suite by Google, OneOne Suite 8 and Photoshop when necessary. I use Lightroom 85% of the time and Photoshop 15%.

Photoshop is a tool not a verb. It is a brilliantly developed and massive image processing program that is hard to live without if you are a creative professional.

If you like my work, enjoy it, but beware..it has been post processed.

Here is the shot in question:

Capture Time 11:47:05 AM Tuesday April 1, 2014

Camera: Nikon D800 Film: Lexar 32GB/1000mbs CF     Tripod - Gitzo Mountaineer  Exposure: 1/400 SEC at ƒ/11  Lens:Nikon 70-200 mm/2.8

Focal Length : 90mm  Processed in Adobe Lightroom 5.3 Camera Raw 8.3 and NIK ColorEfex Pro 4

Alcatraz StormAlcatraz Storm


Comments

anne scully(non-registered)
Doc: To photoshop or not to photoshop...that is the question!

You know I'll be your defender, even if I'm incorrect about my terminology! Many thanks for your educational piece re "photoshop is not a verb" -- too good! Also helped me to understand the process you go through to create your end results, and they are stunning!

Best, Anne
Bill Wamsley(non-registered)
Excellent explanation! I hope it helps non-professionals better understand the processes that are involved in the creation of photographic art. It did for me.
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