Zenfolio | Karl Shreeves | The Problem with Photoshop

The Problem with Photoshop

July 05, 2018  •  Leave a Comment


No, this is not another rant about how Photoshop is a harbinger of the apocalypse and will be the end of life as we know it. I like Photoshop. I use it and (I'm told) I'm pretty good at using it for some heavy-duty photo manipulation and construction (like this one).


But, I've discovered, my ability with Photoshop comes with an annoying problem, and here's a typical example: When friends of mine saw this image, many (including skilled photographers) complimented me on how well I dropped the dramatic sky in behind the kids. Wow, that was very kind and I always appreciate compliments, but, uh . . . . that's the sky that was there. I didn't composite in a new one.


Yes, I did use Photoshop (along with high speed synch flash) to balance the sky's brightness with the swing's, and of course to generally adjust color, exposure, etc., etc., and that's why it's so dramatic. But there's no photo sleight-of-hand (tip of the hat – sans rabbit – to photographer/magician Scott Tokar there) going on. That said, I'll admit that it does look like the background was dropped in, mainly because it's not typical to get a sky's lighting to match the subject so well.


If I were to do this over, I'd be tempted to go the other way and let the sky be a bit overly bright and a bit flat (grayish), just so it looks like what you expect in a photo. It seems that even with new technology improving the brightness range we can capture, people still expect the old blown-out (i.e. too bright) sky of a "real" shot like this would have. I'd guess this is partly because we're not yet used to the latest photo capabilities, but also because of millions of snaps made daily that don't even attempt this kind of dynamic range.

So, I'd be tempted . . . but nah, I'd do this way again.






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