Do I Photoshop?

Do I Photoshop?

Yes, I do!

Photoshop is a powerful tool and there is almost no limit to what can be done to an image.  It can be used to create beautiful thought provoking imagery, or it can be used to fool the viewer into believing in something that isn’t real.

Unless a photographer is using film with traditional chemicals to make prints they use Photoshop or some other program to edit images. Even if it’s just to process RAW Files. Even with film, photographers have been manipulating images since photography was invented – this is nothing new

Aesthetics vs Ethics

I’m not going to go into the ethics of using Photoshop, simply because I don’t need to. I am not an editorial photographer who needs to be free of bias and hold accuracy sacrosanct. This is why my website is I consider myself a photographer and digital artist who worries more about aesthetics than ethics.  My work is my own and I am free to create whatever images I find interesting using any tools at my disposal. I change color and contrast, blur, sharpen take distracting objects out of and add things into an image, I transform, skew, liquefy, enlarge, shrink, warp, add grain remove noise, blend, tilt and crop (I could go on but I think you get the point).

Photoshop Adjustments

As an example, take a look at the original and finished images below that I recently captured of downtown Cincinnati during the Cincinnati Reds Friday night fireworks. I only made a few minor adjustments to color and contrast in the original image.


Original version of the Cincinnati Reds Friday Night Fireworks


Finished version of the Cincinnati Reds Friday Night Fireworks.


Here is a list of adjustments I made to the original version the get the final finished image.

  • I’m not a big fan of the black sky in the original so I changed the color to a darker blue.
  • I found the wires running across the bottom of the image distracting, so I removed them.
  • Brightened up the barge where the fireworks were being set off so you can see the reds logo. It is the Reds Friday night fireworks after all.
  • Replaced the stadium with an image I had shot earlier in the night that was lit up. This is the most major change I made to the image.
  • Added some more fireworks to top left corner. I found the smoke in the top right to be a bit distracting and I wanted to add a little more color to the fireworks.
  • Enhanced the logos on the buildings so they were more legible.
  • There is a hot spot in the fireworks near the top center of the original image. I added some streaks to the fireworks to get rid of it because I found it distracting.
  • Lightened the large reds sign on the right-hand side of the stadium.
  • Adjusted the overall color and contrast.

I probably did more to this image then most of the images I have taken of Cincinnati. Replacing the Stadium was the one major change, but I think it adds quite an impact. With the stadium lit up the city looks much more alive and vibrant.


Using the Tools Available

I use Photoshop as a tool to create and hopefully inspire others, but simply using Photoshop does not create works of art, just like a hammer does not make a carpenter. I spent a few hours scouting and shooting this image, then around 4 hours editing it in Photoshop. And that doesn’t count the hundreds of hours learning how to do it all. So I would strongly disagree with anyone who says that using Photoshop is the easy way out or it doesn’t take the same amount of vision as a photographer who doesn’t use it.

Some people may say that I go too far in the digital enhancement of my images, and that the original image above is better than my finished version. And that opinion is OK with me. However, it is my job as an artist to present my interpretation of reality and to be honest about my work, and it is their job as viewers to accept it and get something out of it, or not, and reject it.



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