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Saturday, February 28, 2009

Does Photoshop Seriously Damage Your Photographic Talent?

By Gordon Ball


Are you a so called Photoshop specialist photographer who can correct an image that was destined for the 'Recycle Bin' and produced an image that can be uploaded and sold through Microstock?

Do you justify your Photoshop expertise by explaining that the landscape shot was ruined because it had an overflowing litter bin in the foreground? Or are you the portrait photographer telling me how you had saved your embarrassment of a reshoot because they had cloned in a corner section where the background was missing? It's absolutely fantastic that we can all use Photoshop to correct our mistakes. But my question is - Should we make the mistakes in the first place? I come from the days of film and one of the first things that you were instilled to do was let your eye roam around the viewfinder.

Then when you were happy with what you saw, you took the picture. Notice I did use the term we. I admit on a bad day I am just as guilty as anyone else. What we need to do is to pay more attention to the shooting of the image and less to the post shoot correction techniques. In other word stick your camera on a tripod if possible and let your eye roam around the viewfinder looking for anything that you can see that shouldn't be there. It's so easy to simply shoot what you think that you see only to find that object that has crept into the picture that is clearly visible on the monitor. How did I miss that when I took the picture? I ask myself. That's when I also think, thank goodness for Photoshop.

A very experienced photographer once explained to me that when he 'went digital' he got lazy when taking the shots. He had heard before going digital Photoshop solved all your picture taking problems. Like a lot of photographers he began to rely on the qualities of such a superb piece of software. He ended up spending more time working on the images in Photoshop than he did actually taking the shots. He simply had taken for granted the fact that simple mistakes could be easily rectified. But he also realised that every minute spent checking the picture at the time of shooting saved him ten minutes work in Photoshop. He began to wish that he had stuck with film and thought about returning to his old ways.

But after analysing his situation and evaluating his photographs he realised it wasn't the digital image that was the problem. It was his technique; he had assumed that this was how you approached digital photography. So now he has reverted back to his old style of shooting by taking more care when taking the picture. Not only has his picture taking improved but he has a lot more spare time.

Let's suppose that you had decided to shoot a still life set up comprising a bottle of wine, a glass of wine and a few grapes. You spent your time getting the composition looking just right and started to shoot away, changing the viewpoint and moving in closer. You must have at least ten saleable images. You transfer the files to a folder on your computer and open each file. But your excitement turns to horror as the first image has a dirty great thumbprint on the glass slap bang in the middle of your picture. So you decide to rectify the mistake in Photoshop. It'll only take ten minutes or so. That's ten minute per image time ten of course. So in fact it will take you the best part of two hours to correct something that should have been spotted at the shooting stage. Incidentally, when I shoot any shiny objects I always move the objects wearing white cotton gloves.

What you should be doing is simply tweaking the image. Maybe giving is a slight increase in contrast or burning in, very slightly, the label on the bottle. Just the odd corrections that make a good image become excellent. Remember that you can't make a silk purse out of a pig's ear. The same goes for Photoshop.

So maybe you can save the once in a lifetime picture by adjusting it in Photoshop, sometimes mistakes can't be helped. Think of the potential market for a portrait photographer that can make the model look thinner and younger. Photoshop has set the Industry Standard and is a superb tool in the Photographers Arsenal - Providing that the Photographer has the knowledge to use it and realise its limitations.

If you really want to be an expert in 'Post Image Manipulation' or to simply correct your images in Photoshop take a look at my website http://www.gbphotostock.com and go to the Photoshop page.

This is just one subject that is covered in our FREE 'Microstock Photography Market Newsletter'. If you want to make money with your camera sign up for our free newsletter today!

http://www.gbphotostock.com/stock

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