Thursday, January 19, 2006

To Photoshop or not?

click photo to enlarge
To Photoshop or not to Photoshop, that is the question. The photograph above I mean. It's the stick. And I just can't make up my mind.

I like the surreal qualities of this photograph that I took in late autumn at Abbeystead Reservoir in the Forest of Bowland, Lancashire. The background is all Gainsborough and the foreground is a bit Dali. You look at the misty sky, the distant hills, the orange trees, the green grass, the chimneys nestled on the lakeshore, the reflections in the water and think, fine - so far, so conventional. Then you look at that rim of water where the reservoir overflows and falls down to a stream and think - that looks weird! But then you notice the stick, drawn to the falling water, but not able to slip over the edge. And you think about the way it breaks the perfect line of the rim. Photoshop it out of existence! That's the next thought. Get rid of it. But I can't.

I'm a bit of a purist and a traditionalist. I don't like to add or subtract objects from photographs. To me doing something like that seems like mixing painting with photography. Now I realise that many people find that entirely unobjectionable. But not me.

Then I considered the stick for a bit longer, and decided that it was an imperfection that added to the appeal of the photograph. In my mind it's like the false mole that women stuck to their faces in the eighteenth century - a blemish that makes the surroundings, by comparison, much better. The stick stays.
photograph & text (c) T. Boughen


jason said...

I'm the same way. It's just not right to add and remove things from my photos (unless there is dust on my sensor making spots).

Tony Boughen said...

I get the feeling - though I could be wrong - that we are in the minority in holding this view. Post processing of digital images is, relatively, straightforward. I have no problems with the digital equivalents of burning and dodging, or changing contrast, etc. But adding different skies? Removing objects or people? that's a trick too far!

azirca said...

Hi Tony, I stumbled across your blog while I was reading the FujiTalk Forums. I'm glad that I took the time to visit your blog, you have some fantastic photos on here. I love this shot, personally I like the stick, it adds interest. I love the muted painterly tones of the photo too. I have bookmarked your site, I'll be back to check out your photos and writings as I enjoy your little explanations just as much as the photos.

Tony Boughen said...

Thanks for tne feedback Azirca. I'm trying to do something a bit different here. I guess I see it as the antidote to all the "techno" chatter that tends to surround digital photography!

Anonymous said...

Sometimes heavy photoshopping is called for but not in this particular case. Removing the stick would remove some of the tension and make the picture bland and too pretty. To be honest I did not notice the stick until I read the text; the stick was integrated and part of the picture at first view.