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Photographs – Real life or Photoshopped

Real or Artistic?

Or as I have had it put to me, film is real and digital is Photoshopped fakery.

One of the joys of digital photography is that is brings what was the art of the skilled darkroom worker and retoucher into the hands of everyone.

The majority of the great studio portraits of the movie stars from the 1930’s and 1940’s used lots of tricks with light, and filters to give them that soft glow. The skin of the stars looked perfect, due to the skill of the retoucher, who in those days used a sharp scalpel and paint brush. But as its film people believed it to be real and still do.

The photograph above was shot on film. Its colour, softness and blur on the sea, produced by the use of filers and a slow shutter speed. Digital trickery not required.

Is digital and Photoshop cheating, or trickery. I think not, they are artistic tools to allow the photographer to achieve his artistic vision for a shot.

I suppose it depends on what the person is trying to achieve with the shot, are you achieving your artistic vision or is the intention to trick the viewer. Truth or Advertising as the saying goes.

In the picture above of the swan, it was a simple noon shot grabbed while I went for a walk one lunchtime, while I thought at the time it had some merit, I was not entirely sure how I would post process it.

Sat at the comfort of my desk in front of my computer my artistic vision soon knew what I had to do. While I enjoy darkroom work, I have to admit, using a computer is easier, faster and produces more repeatable results.

After a few hours I could produce a shot like the one above using a traditional dark room, producing a second or third would be difficult to reproduce. Using a computer its just a simple matter of pressing the print button.