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New Tag for Photos? How about: Before Photoshop CS6 #BeforePhotoshopCS6

Like you, I've been watching the videos of CS6 and playing with it myself. (notice the important "it" in that sentence)

Things are gettin' a little crazy with post-processing eh? What are your limits for what you'll do with your photos? It's a very personal thing... I won't judge you... I'm just interested! Here's my post-processing line (which I reserve the right to change at any time):

I will:
- I will remove things like lightposts or ugly animals or tourists wearing Spice Girls T-shirts
- I will use HDR to bring out the colors in the shadows and dial back bright areas
- I will sharpen to bring emphasis to one area or another
- I'll take multiple exposures on a tripod and fix one area of a photo with another exposure

I will not:
- I will not take a foreign object from one photo and put it into another (like pasting a moon over a mountain)
- I will not take a sky from one photo and paste it into the landscape of another

I might:
- Use the new Content-Aware-Move in CS6. I can't decide! It's a slippery slope. For example, in the photo below, I had to work so hard to find and frame these boulders in this EXACT way. Man, it would have been so easy just to go to an easier location and then re-arrange the boulders using CS6 Content-Aware-Move. But maybe that doesn't even matter! I can't decide... And it is soooooo slippery... If I will allow myself to "Move a Boulder 10 feet" -- then maybe I would also also "Move a Moon Behind THAT Mountain" -- then maybe I would also.... well... where does it stop? It's almost like I am 6-years-old and moving stickers around a sticker book! Hehe... I'm confused... my "line" is constantly being challenged... like the border between two countries in a good game of Civ!
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After news hit that CS6 Beta was available for free download, I told myself I would get it. But I either haven't had the time, or .... Well. Yeah. I just haven't had the time. Nice to know you're getting some use out of it.

Also, I think your level of editing is fine. I actually think a lot of editing is typically fine, even photos people think are "overly photoshopped" -- the only thing I disagree with is when people use photoshopped photos to portray themselves as one way online with the intent to very purposefully trick people into thinking they are someone they are not (a la online dating).

But for art?
For editorial?
Magazine, beauty, glamour, whatever?

Photoshop away. I appreciate the outcome.
btw... just to emphasize something that might have got lost above... I don't mind what your personal post-processing "line" is, but I do think it is valuable to know-for-yourself and kind of be mindful of challenges to that line... and having a good feel for where other photographers fall relative to your line.

Also, obviously, I think it is smart (and grown-up) not to have any malicious opinions about where other artists fall relative to your line. For example, some people do very little post-processing and are way to the left of my line. That's cool. Other people do way more processing and are to the right of my line. For example, they may add a model from one photo to the beach above... that's cool. I don't mind... but I do make note of it, just so that I have a firm foundation for personal reasons.
+Sherilynn Macale makes a great point. It all depends on what the photo use will be.

For news.. I don't want any photoshop.

For art.. have at it..

I guess we are all becoming digital artists as much as image capturers these days anyways. +Trey Ratcliff
I'm not against compositing, but I am against compositing and then showing as a photograph. I guess that is the difference between being a author of fiction or non-fiction.
I pretty much have the same boundaries as you outline here. Mine constantly change a bit too. I don't look down on those with other boundaries, but I do think it's important to be honest with what you do.
if I'm posting it as a ~photo~ I'll edit as you have. If it's "art" I do whatever I want.
I find that that my proverbial line in the sand that I will not cross does change with how much I learn/grow.
I will do anything it take to make it look the way I want. Reality is flexible +Trey Ratcliff and getting even more so with these awesome new tools.
Sometimes I go all the way with post processing, I mean all the way making things seem surreal to the extreme. We see life as it is everyday and it can get mundane (probably why many of us like B&W so much is that it differs from our everyday views).

I will be posting some of my beyond surreal images soon, most likely on FAA first, but I warn you they are not for the individuals that images to be just as they are.

By the way Trey, I love your work.
Always an interesting question. And like you I reserve the right to change my opinion at any time!

My line is more conservative than yours. I hardly ever remove stuff and if I do it's very small. I don't think I'd ever move anything. I'm happy to use any and all tools to control exposure - lightening shadows, taming highlights - but I do so to portray the scene as I perceived it rather than to reveal something unseen. But this is admittedly a slippery slope.

I don't generally use selective blurring or sharpening in post. I prefer to emphasize things through found light and composition.
+Trey Ratcliff I completely agree with you. These are all things that I think everyone even learning photography needs to think about an answer. We also need to realize that our answers may change as time goes on.
I personally would prefer to go that extra step in the hard location to get the image the way I want to start with. Putting this extra work in up front saves time for processing, creates the story of the photo, and teaches you how to compose a photo.
The skill of compositing and changing so much in photoshop is a great skill to have, but it's a different skill than what photography requires.
Are we just getting too lazy? What about the old days before photoshop? Or before photoshop was so advanced?
Really it boils down to the reason for what you are doing. When I am working with a natural photo, I'll take lots of extra time to try and get it right and then try to stick to minor manipulation of colors, very rarely will I even change the cropping.
However, I've been trying to push the envelope in my photoshop skills and have done some of the #moviemashuptuesday submissions, which is very obvious that you are putting other people into the original poster (or making it seem that way).
I think both have their place, but I also think you should be honest with your viewers about what you have done. I am a huge fan of people that photo-composite to create something fantastical looking from completely normal looking items or places, but I am more of a fan of Ansel Adams that did not have any of the extra tools and developed what he saw in his eye and on the plate. In both cases (or extremes if you will), I know what my own eye enjoys and I will stop for pleasing attributes, but I have a deep respect for those that share their craft and the techniques involved. I try not to judge, but I generally only comment on things I personally enjoy or find interesting.
Wait... there's supposed to be a line? When I'm creating digital photo art.... I don't think I have a line.
Good question and one that I bring up in my Photography Basics classes! Personally:
I will: adjusting lighting and contrast (using Picasa).
- use HDR when needed to reproduce a scene as I saw it.
- crop a shot

I will not: add anything that was not there IRL or Remove anything.

My line for post-processing is as close to reality as I experienced the scene as I can make it. I'm a self-proclaimed purist without a doubt. My favorite quote by Edward Steichen: "When that shutter clicks, anything else that can be done afterward is not worth consideration." Cheers!
Auto tone, auto color, ctrl+f, step backwards, done. :) I'm still new to this... I do agree that, for news, anything more than a little clean-up is manipulative. As far as everything else goes, I definitely appreciate a wide range of post-processing for different applications, but I prefer to see as natural of a photo as possible. As I learn more about the program, I will experiment with everything I can but I will probably stay away from super-processing. Probably...
+Kim Hansen No worries! :-) Like I said, I'm a self-proclaimed purist, and I'm definitely in the minority. We all have to be happy and satisfied with where ever our lines fall. Never a judgement from me, I can assure you!
+Trey Ratcliff This is clearly a topic which has been subject to a lot of discussions. Perhaps it may boil down to what is meant by "photographer", vs "visual artist". Some will argue that photographers should "stick to what comes out of the camera" , although it has never been like this, even in analog times.
Visual artists could be considered those who produce images wishing to communicate something - ie. deliver some kind of "message" - to the viewer. For those, it really doesn't matter how this image was produced, whether straight from the artist's mind into some medium (e.g., drawing, painting, etc...), using the required techniques to produce the intended message, or via some technology mediated medium (e.g., photograph or film). In both cases, there is a synthesis process, the difference is where they start from (scratch, or a captured image through some device).
So one can think of a continuum ranging from pure "photographers" to pure "visual artists".
Personally, I don't really believe in the idea of "capturing reality", or on the notion of "objective observation" which is implied by some when critisizing those who somehow alter the image captured by the camera sensors. In my view, everything ends up being subjective, so I consider myself more on the "visual artist" camp.
I agree that we should be clear on what has been done to produce the image, and all I claim regarding any image I produce is that it represents my vision, which I'm trying to convey to those who see it. This may or may not correspond to what others call "reality", but this is less important to me, since it's completely out my control anyway.
I agree with you that it doesn't make sense to judge others with respect to where they fall in this continuum, although it may be interesting to notice where I and others fall within it.
To me it also depends on the style of the photography, for street photography, you don't need much, add some contrast may be darken it a little to make it more dramatic, convert to bw, that's about it, i try to spend more time taking pictures then editing them, at some point you cross the line of being a photographer vs being a graphic guy who is good at Photoshop.
great idea for a post Trey. I too jotted down my dos and donts and one of the greatest challenges is staying true to them.
I don't think I could move boulders. Maybe people or animals but not something Mother nature or the weather put there. I don't like the idea of putting in clouds or a different sky. Maybe smooth a cloud but not add a whole sky. I love all the technology & software and use it. But I think we should limit it or we'll end up all plastic.

What? No Spice Girl tees? What about tourist with Justin Bieber shirts? ...sorry, I just had to ]:-)
What I don't understand is why anyone cares how much post processing was done, unless the maker purports that the image is a true reproduction of the scene, as in photojournalism. Also, I would object to any changes intended to misrepresent or defraud in some way. Otherwise, the photo should be judged on the result. Who cares whether it was in camera genius or post processing that created the result? If you really like a photo, that should be enough.
They look like some of the rocks in "Riven"!
I understand so clearly I trust this is a real change thing as you can do it or less of change thing. I would love it!
Hmmmmm.... maybe we need new definitions of what the final image is... Photo... Photo Collage... Photo Altered Art... Maybe it's a little about audience perception... Do they see it as a true representation of what you really saw... or a fiction based on a true story... I am thinking of those writers who sold stories as true accounts only to be caught out as what they really created was believable fiction. It was still a good story, but it was tainted by misrepresentation... If you are honest about what your process is... then it is not a lie. But... if the audience isn't told... then what happens when they find out, revolt and feel betrayed.... and how does that reflect on the rest of us as photographers...

Sorry.... just thinking out loud.
Personally, I only ever use content aware fill to remove distracting elements. At the end of the day if you're creating art I suppose it's all down to artistic interpretation, right +Trey Ratcliff? It's a tricky one for sure ;)
+Trey Ratcliff Maybe post the original. That would help the discussion. Your stuff looks so cool as if it could not even be real!
Do whatever you want man, its art. You may have to stop calling it photography at some point though. It'll become computer art with photographic input.
I've got to agree with +Larry Bartholomew here. I shot this photo ( in Seattle and although there were clouds in the sky, they weren't where I needed them to be. So in photoshop I created a nice mask for the sky and dropped in an image I had of some clouds. I then changed the blend mode to make them not stand out so much, then added some motion blur to them to mimic the movement in the foreground from the car lights going by. I don't feel like I was dishonest or anything like that, I just wanted some nice clouds in the frame and didn't have time to wait for them to float by :-). This doesn't mean I will always do something like this, but I didn't even think twice about it in that image.
Thanks for the good discussion. Interesting that many people are still stuck using the word "Photography" and wondering what that category means... I find it interesting how so many people find the need to "categorize" everything... it seems to be a strange way to even talk about it or frame a conversation. It's all grey...

+Francis Gilg this IS the original

+Roberto Gelleni Yes I know many people like your daughter - I like that people do have a line that is well defined, no matter what it is.

+Larry Bartholomew I don't get it either. Some people REALLY care about the amount of post-processing...
I am strongly in the 'get it right in camera' camp BUT...for me it depends on the intended output and use of the I creating 'art' or documenting? For art I really have no boundaries other than the limitations of my technical skills. That wasn't always the case but I find myself experimenting more and more these days. If I was any good at compositing I might be tempted to try it and see where it led me, but it would be for obvious creative purposes and not to fabricate a lie.
For documentary and pj style purposes I'm fairly strict with my self-imposed limits...basic RAW conversion, targeted curve adjustments, maybe a little dodging and burning. I enjoy both types of photography, it depends on the subject, my mood and the intended use. I have no problems with where others set their lines, I enjoy all type of photography and visual art and I like to see where people's creativity takes them...I only have a problem when they deny it, especially in photojournalism.
Fooled me! That is not that hard though!
About removing stuff. Don't remember where I heard it, but think it was in a video I saw recently on youtube. If it's something that isn't normally there, it's ok to remove it. I feel that is a good way to start.

Personally I don't think you should go too far away from the original. In the end though, it's up to the person that takes/edits the photo.
I believe those are fossilized stromatolites. Great photo!
I agree with Trey's points...except for the sky replacement. I have done this on a couple occasions, but don't make a habit of it.

My philosophy is that I get a very limited time to go to places, and the weather doesn't always cooperate, and I usually don't have the opportunity to wait until it does. So if the picture is good but with a flat cloudless sky, I add clouds.
I think it dependsif you are making a picture or developing a photograph..
i think that that is an amazing shot. my uncle does photography and film making so either way that sounds pretty solid!!
High five for a Civ reference +Trey Ratcliff! I've gotta ask possibly the most important question........Civ 4 or Civ 5? (Personally, I own and like both) Or do you go for even earlier versions?
+Rezaul Haque the problem with your line of no Photoshop is that Lightroom actually does a ton of the stuff that Photoshop does. You can remove objects, smooth skin, create masks, etc. And I really think Photoshop is a must for any image that get's run through Photomatix. The outputs of Photomatix are typically hideous and aren't (or at least shouldn't be) meant to be a final version of any image.

I think the important thing to remember is that as soon as you pick up your camera and press the shutter, you are manipulating reality and 'lying' about what the human eye really saw. If I put my camera on a tripod and drag the shutter to blur the head/tail lights of a car - that isn't reality. If I shoot a portrait of someone at f/1.4 and nail the focus on the eyes but everything else is taken to a beautiful soft blur - that isn't reality. If I get down low and shoot a city with a super wide angle lens or a fisheye and causes the lines to distort and converge together - that isn't reality either. If I shoot hummingbird in flight at 1/8000th of a second and freeze its get my point.

Photoshop is simply an extension to the manipulation that already occurs in camera. I agree that it's good practice to 'get it right in camera' but only as a means to minimizing post production in an effort to maximize time for other things, not as a means to trying to be some kind of 'photography purist.' The tricks and techniques used in the dark rooms during the film days are still being used in Photoshop and Lightroom today.
Nice work Trey. Photography philosophy haunts us all I think. My mentor drove it into my head to "make it in my camera" and edit as last resort. With most of what I do on my computer, I just keep it to a minimum. Then again, I make lots of in-camera multiple exposure I can "make" some compositions happen that would otherwise be impossible for a single exposure work.
It only shows how amazing life is. Different is really beautiful.
Let's see, I've done sky replacement and I've added lens flare to places where there was no possible light source. Neither of those things bother me in the least. I've also used liquify and spot removal. I haven't gotten any complicated compositing to work well enough to show publicly but I will eventually do that too.

The question isn't so much what would I do to the picture, it's what would I do with the picture after I've made it. I don't foresee a time where I would have a restrictive editorial process for my work, therefore I'm not going to impose a hypothetical line to cross.
From where I am, I don't care how you went about making the picture. Obviously I have a technical and professional interest in knowing but for the purposes of judging the image, it's only the image that matters, nothing else. I'm interested in what you have to say, not how you go about saying it. No-one cares if an author wrote his book with a pen or a wordprocessor, why should a photograph be any different.

As far as adding or taking away from the image, comping and whatnot, I don't care much about that either. Unless, of course, you're using it to lie to me.

I like it when you're more subtle with the colours , +Trey Ratcliff
I think I am too lazy for post work :-)
For me it is as it comes, but on occasion I have cropped in a minor way, mainly to overcome the limits of the camera (I'm no professional, and can't afford a fancy camera). I prefer to take lots of shots from differing angles, settings, and zooms, and then choose the right one.
I don't have a problem with people modding their photographs, but I think that unless it is blindingly obvious to even a neophyte that it has been modded, then it should be stated as such, or declared as photo based art or similar description. Both are art forms, and both deservedly recognised, but they should be differentiated as such.
Just my 2p's worth. Top photo/photo art btw. :-)
Interested in the moment of the capture , and where I am taking it. I don't do a lot of post processing, maybe a little photoshop, cropping, optimize for web...that's it. Time & skils are limited......I really like your work and process, and when I have more time would aspire to do something similar. For today...... the art of photography , the creative process of discovering what I like to capture, and the inspiration behind it are enough, for now.....there is always tomorrow.....
Don't do the move around thing. That takes photography out of what it is, and makes it so that you create the image, and not you capturing the image.
Great commentary. Post processing is such a slippery slope. Good to see photographers recognizing the risks and rewards.
there is editorial photography which shouldn't be tampered with, it needs to be as real as photography can be. Then there is all the rest: it's the end result which I like or dislike, which I see. How you get there is your journey, your fun, your hobby, your passion. None of my business!
And by the way, the Moeraki boulders are clearly eggs from Space Ducks - ssssish .. thought that was Obvious!
I'm not really good with Photoshop, so if I get CS6 I will only use it sparingly. Personally if I can't do something in the dark room I will not do it with Photoshop. I still have the mindset from the film days - to get it right in the camera. I tried to post process as little as possible. But that's just me.
Moving/adding/deleting things would generally be a no in a photo for me. I have tried to make some images by composting. usually they have been nothing more than double exposures.

Converting to BW and selective coloring that BW are fine. Cropping (usually for lens and aspect ratio constraints) is fine as well. minor exposure control, or selective exposure of some large parts as well, like dodging the entire sky.

Basically anything I know i could have done simply in a darkroom is fair game, while trying to retain the original image.
Lovely photo. Regarding the photoshop topic, I don't do anything to my photos. There is something to be said for imperfections. And I think that thing to be said can somethings be something good.
tenemos un mundo hermoso!! sin duda! no dejara nunca de sorprendernos! y aun nos falta por descubrir mas!
I don't tend to go very overboard with my post processing and am just getting into HDR. Waiting for spring and a wide angle lens before I jump into the deep end!

I don't have an issue with how anybody else does their processing - some I like some I don't but that's just a personal opinion. I may not like the way you process but that doesn't make it the wrong way.

While I am always happy to find a scene that is composed perfectly it doesn't seem to happen all that often I think that the right sky really makes a landscape scene and as such I personally wouldn't mind dropping in some great clouds that "fit" with the scene.

I guess in the end if your labeling your photography as just what was in front of your camera at the time you took the shot then obviously adding or subtracting objects would just be a lie. However, that "line" is kind of fuzzy when we merge different exposures and then enhance colors and other techniques to the point that none of us have ever seen anything in real life like that photo!

Being an artist (pencil drawings) I can fully appreciate artistic flair and the need to use composition to guide a viewers eye around the piece and capture and keep their attention. As I said above that rarely happens just by chance. With photoshop we are given the ability to do nearly unlimited post processing. As such photography is becoming much more art than documentation and I love the possibilities that gives us.

In the end it has to be what you believe in for your photo's and the only one you will hurt is yourself by crossing a line that you have drawn in the sand.

Sorry if I was rambling, doing two things at once so this post may not make much sense!
I think I have to agree with you...less because I actually have a problem adding something to my photos (which I almost never do), but more so because I think generally things need to be removed not added. It has been said, an artist knows what not to include in the frame. Sometimes, because of logistics, timing, phantom trash cans (where did that COME from!) a perfectly good photo is less than we wanted it to be. Photoshop simply helps the beauty of the scene shine.
I remove stop signs and electric lines with content-aware. Moving stuff? Doesn't appeal to me. If I'm taking the photo in the first place, it's because I like what I see. I do use selective sharpening, I play with the Topaz filters, and I love rich saturated color. I'm still learning how to use CS5. I don't think I'm ready for the next version yet.
Anna K
the God create so beautiful things in the world, all the beauty in rocks , I just wonder, the outstanding beauty in colors and rocks in our galaxy and other galaxy if we can see it. Thank you for sharing the beauty with us
Photo shop gives the people an ablity to turn an average camera into a better tool. It is still up to the taker to produce the art
I agree with all of your "I will" section, Trey. However, I will also composite pieces of different photos for a specific purpose. E.g., if I'm making a twin/clone scene. Or if I'm purposely making a silly photo. But it is always done with a specific intention in mind and it was usually planned to be done that way from the concept of the image.
Interesting! I do a photoblog on 100-year-old aviation photos my grandfather shot, and I do remove simple artifacts introduced in the darkroom, but I wonder sometimes if people would feel like it's cheating. Fun comments!!
"Playing with it myself" should be "playing with it, myself". Correct punctuation goes a long way in preventing misunderstandings. :) Otherwise, neato :D awesome picture!
there's just rocks.... I don't get it
I try to limit it to what could be done in a dark room with film. That being said, I have combined a sky from one picture with another picture using film in the past.
All i do while for post-processing is size crop, change exposure, contrast and vibrancy on lightroom. adding/removing objects from photo is way on the right for me.
interesting topic! i would love to know where everyone stands on this subject
I'm rock'n it out with Photoshop CS how's about that for #beforephotoshopcs6
I think I'll weigh in here since is a topic very dear to my heart. I started life as an artist, became a photographer and now shoot both for posterity and for creativity.
My Two Cents:
To answer your question you must first answer the question, what is the intent of your work or vision. If it is journalistic, historic, or realistic in nature, then restraint is compulsory. So is a sound mind. The exact amount depends on the intention or purpose
If you are creating, the sky is the limit, the canvas is your playground, create and don't be inhibited. Sound mind optional ;)
Coming from a design and especially printing background I can see the reason editing is important. That is based clearly on reproduction in terms of highlights, midtones and shadows. As far as to the limits I would take a photo - what's visually appealing. As far as HDR is concerned, it works to mimic the actual viewing the human eye sees in it's current state. However, pushed too far it can look cartoonish, but only if a surreal look is what one is after.
+Trey Ratcliff is the new content aware supposed to be better than the one is current version of 5.5? Seems like you could already be moving stuff couldn't you?
My thought, +Trey Ratcliff, is that reliable genuineness is an important part of the art of photography, and a very altered image turns photography into an art that must be experienced in a very different way (though makes it no less valid as a different form of art). We love dramatic changes because it is different than what can we can experience with our own eyes, but it is only interesting if some part of our mind finds it real, whether through metaphor for abstracts or by meeting at least some of our expectations of the way the world works for photography. I believe that the most moving photography is like a good sci-fi novel. It pushes right up to the edge of what you think is real, so that all the while you can convince yourself of its truthfulness. Put a moon over a mountain where the light isn't met just so, and it shatters the delicate belief of realism. When I view photography, realism is important to me, because the primary source of my enjoyment in viewing it is this "wanting" of the experience. I want to see the colors that clearly with my own eyes, I want to feel the breeze that my memory is filling into the experience. Viewing something that invites my memory to fill in the gaps is an entirely different feeling than viewing something that I cannot accept as true and therefore stop imagining-- it becomes as cold and as clinical as colors on a page, just as text without words invites no feeling.
But if the art wants to be clinical, perhaps it serves its purpose by being less realistic.
Personally I think if you can't physically move the object, or if the object wouldn't naturally move on its own then I wouldn't alter it in the photo. With the exception of wires and cabling that tend to be obnoxiously in the way sometimes of a good shot. But heavy rocks and the moon can stay right were they are meant to be, and I try my best to position great composition with style ;)
I do have a line, it goes all the way in front and behind me as far as I can see. As far back as I can see is the first creature that drew an image in the sand to represent something they saw and wanted others to see. As far forward as I can see is a future with unlimited possibilities. To say we shouldn't use those possibilities is to be always stuck in today.
As I'm not a pro photograph, photography for me is more about capturing what I see and sharing that. So I'll do small adjustments in tone or exposure, adjust shadows, highlights and exposure. But I usually draw the line there.

However if I want to create a more creative piece then I'll crack out the Photoshop and go crazy with some gradient maps.
Great photo. Regarding your "I might", I feel that using software to alter photos kinda makes them "artificial", although, like most things in life, there are shades of gray, so it's not quiet the same to sharpen some areas than to put in objects that weren't there, if so, just make a drawing. The same goes for moving objects I think.
hey cooooooolllll image, but where did you click this photo???????????
Moeraki is situated on the East coast of South Island New Zealand on the main costal route between Dunedin and Christchurch. I am from the UK and also captured some similar photography in January. Fantastic little place.
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