“Have you done something to this in Photoshop?” is a question I’m occasionally asked in the gallery.
In the days of film, photographers had their own favourite film(s) for the type of photography they undertook. For landscape, names like Velvia and Ektar will bring back memories for some and I must say I’ve spent a not inconsiderable amount of hard earned cash on both over the years. What has this got to do with Photoshop? Well, these films had their own characteristics resulting in very different results. Darkroom addicts would further process prints using techniques with curious terms like ‘dodging’ and ‘burning’ in order to achieve the results they wanted. So, photographers have ‘tweaked’ their photographs for time immemorial.
Nowadays, I shoot entirely digital and in a format called RAW. In shooting RAW (and in contrast to JPEG), the camera stores the image onto the memory card with the very minimum of manipulation. Having downloaded the images to a computer, the RAW image then needs to be processed in software to produce the required image. Typically, colour balance, saturation, and sharpness, are adjusted to produce a pleasing image. So, when does this ‘processing’ become manipulation? Does it matter?
Photographic magazines are packed every month with articles on how to transpose the sky from one photograph onto another. How to take a photograph of the moon, enlarge it and transpose it to another photograph for dramatic effect. Different photographers have different views on this. My own view is that the important thing is transparency (no pun intended!) so I believe these type of images should be clearly identified as 'composite images' or something similar. It's not wrong, it's just not my type of photography.
What is my type of photography? In the same way that a painter paints a subject in their own personal style, my photography is not a clinical, forensic science, it is a creative art. I will apply sensitive adjustments to an image which might involve reducing or increasing the ‘brightness’, or saturation, of selected areas of an image using similar techniques to those adopted in the darkroom. My ultimate objective is to recreate the scene I witnessed from the RAW file but often and more importantly, to attempt to evoke an emotion in the viewer. Any less subtle treatments will be obvious such as this image entitled ‘Homecoming’.
By 'selectively retaining the colour in the roof only, and presenting this as a rather dark image, this is the most radical I am likely to be and the intention was to add a sense of drama. But the strange thing is . . . . I don't use Photoshop - at all!