I’m Afraid of Photoshop

Okay, not really, but sometimes I have a hard time knowing how much editing I should be doing to my pictures.  Is photoshopping pictures “cheating”?  Does a brilliant, perfect photographer not need Photoshop?  I honestly think it takes a lot of talent to edit pictures in a way that makes them look better.  I admire those who can both take amazing pictures and enhance those pictures to create a stunning image.

Now that I’ve come to the conclusion that photoshopping is a good thing, how much editing should I be doing to my pictures?  Here are some examples I put together of pictures that have no editing, a little editing, and heavier editing.

Original photo – no editing

The picture after some sharpening and color enhancement.

Colors have been further enhanced and unwanted objects removed

Which one is the best?  I suppose it’s a matter of opinion.  Let’s look at another example.

Original image – no editing

After a few color changes and sharpening

After a lot of color editing and removing unwanted objects

One more:

Original image – no editing

After some color editing and sharpening

After additional color editing and removal of unwanted objects

What do you think?  Is it possible to edit a photo so much that it loses its original charm?  How much (if any) editing is too much?

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9 thoughts on “I’m Afraid of Photoshop

  1. I would say if you can do it in a darkroom then you can do it digitally. One way to know if you have gone too far is if you can no longer recognise what the picture is of in the first place.

  2. Its safe to say most every photograph you come across online has at the very least at least a bit of post processing done to it. How far is to far? well thats a question with about a million answers. Personally I don’t do much more than color balances and sharpening, things you’ve done in the middle images of your three examples. I absolutely draw the line at things like HDR, it just lacks the natural feel of what photography should be, in my opinion anyway.

  3. You will be suprised at the amount of photoshop work done when it comes to commercial images and in adverstising. For example: Every diamond jewelry in high end advertising are photoshopped. It’s only cheating if you are in a competition or taking a photography school test where the rules are clear not to cheat. Anything else would be a distraction to your creativity.

  4. This is a super old post, but I feel the need to put my two cents in as well.
    Post production is ok. Everyone does it, even mind blowingly amazing photographers. As stated previously when you start removing objects or cutting out things and pasting to another background, that’s photo manipulation. Which is an art in itself, but no longer photography.
    Now, when it comes to post I would not recommend using photoshop, as it is more for photo manipulation, or just straight up drawing with a tablet. I would suggest looking into buying a copy of Lightroom. Just glancing at some tutorials, I’m sure you’ll agree it’s far superior for what you’re trying to achieve.
    Hope that’s helpful!

    • Thanks for the comment. I have never heard of that program before, but I will look in to it. Recently, I’ve only used Photoshop to adjust sharpness, brightness, and contrast. Nothing fancy. I want most of my photos to look natural.

      • Oh definitely natural is the way to go! I just find that you have more options, and overall an easier time using Lightroom. It’s made especially for photography, so if you feel up to looking into something new it’s well worth the effort it takes. Well… it was for me at least 🙂

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