Photoshop is an amazing tool. For some it is the only post processing tool that they would ever need. From color correction, to changing skin tones, removing blemishes, increasing sharpness and removing stuffs from the picture that you didn’t want in the first place, Photoshop has a wide range of applications for both photographers and photo editors. But these are just some of the clichéd uses of this amazing software. Beyond that Photoshop has much wider applications, some of which may even be on the borderline of what is called as ‘illegal’ in terms of photographic authenticity.
Photoshop and transformation of the darkroom
But then authenticity and legality is something that is beyond the purview of this discussion. We are here because we all love Photoshop (in some form or other) and we are all intrigued by the potential it has to improve the quality of our work, to better the workflow of editing our photos and to generate more value for our clients. Sometimes I wonder, what photographers did before Photoshop! Some of you would comment below “Well they made the exposure carefully and they passionately post-processed in the dark-room!” Some of you would say, “They paid more attention before clicking the shutter button.” All of you would be right. However, with the growing demand for high quality professionally made photos for commercial usage and the pressure that is often put on a photographer to produce “excellent” quality work in a short frame of time, the old approach would be untenable. Thanks to Photoshop, we finally have a way to not only refine our work, but often give final shape to a vision that eluded the lens in the first place. We have a way to produce quality work in a very short time frame.
Whatever those pioneers of photography did painstakingly in dark rooms we do that now with a few mouse-clicks on the computer and the results are professional. The dark room has been digitized and a majority of photographers are not complaining.
The power of Photoshop
The true power of Photoshop is difficult to fathom. It would be safe to say that the true potential of the software is only realized when you are not limited by your imagination. Most photographers would identify with that statement. It is a fundamental truth of photography itself. To highlight this I will cite an example. Back in January of this year I saw some pictures taken by Elena Shumilova, a Russian mother of two and a self-taught photographer. She claims to live in a farm with her family which also includes her two children, whom she photographed at various moments of their life on the farm. The pictures depict the other ‘inhabitants’ of the farm as well. An adorable St. Bernard, a few cats, a rabbit and some ducks. The photographs that she took all depicted a dreamy, warm tone and an almost magical use of light that sometimes seemed too good to be true. Needless to say, the use of Photoshop is quite apparent. But even with all the post-processing, she did create quite a buzz.
More everyday usage
Life without Photoshop is unthinkable for commercial and wedding photographers. Whether you are looking to retouch your wedding photos or want to make sure that the bride’s skin tone is perfect or bring those details out of the highlights and shadows of your landscape shots or want to combine together those 25 different shots you took of the new sedan for your corporate client, Photoshop can handle it all. Wedding photography is one of the more everyday genres where post-processing using Photoshop is common. Due to the nature of a typical wedding, and in spite of you making it a point to sit down with the couple before the wedding and explaining them the shots you need for the album, things can go wrong. Either the lighting is incorrect, or the ceremonies happen too fast or you don’t get the couple to do the right poses or someone photobombs a scene, you are left with no choice but to salvage the shoot using Photoshop.
For those who have not been properly introduced to the powerful features of Photoshop, it is a life saver and a time saver bundled together. Be it color correction, noise reduction or other finer adjustments, which one would normally have to do manually, the software allows you to batch process them saving you lots of time to do what you love doing, shoot more photos. Let’s look at an example to highlight this.
White balance adjustment is a critical aspect of any professional photographer’s work flow. Unfortunately, however, it is often difficult to nail it in the camera. Some amount of adjustments are nevertheless required even though you were careful enough to enter a best guess judgment for the applicable kelvin value of the principal light source you shot your photos in. Your eyes can adjust to different light sources quiet easily and realize the true color of an object regardless of the color cast that light source creates. Unfortunately, even with all the technological advancements made over the last decade or so, modern digital camera are still decades, behind that level of adaptability. Resultantly, it becomes necessary to color correct your photos before delivering / printing them. With Photoshop’s advanced white balance adjustment feature that mundane process is taken care off usually by a few easy mouse-clicks.
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