Last week in the NY Times, David Pogue posed the question that, for purposes of a contest, where does the line get drawn between a photograph and “photoshopping”.
A subject I’ve mused about before…
I’ve been recently reading Michael Frye’s book: Digital Landscape Photography: In the Footsteps of Ansel Adams and the Masters.
I’ve been dying to try out some of the ideas here, but I discovered aspects to Adams’ process which has made me re-evaluate what exactly allows a photograph to be still considered a photograph rather than digital art. Certainly his ability to expose and overexpose to highlight things in his pictures is well known. (And that was a motivation for
me reading the book).
But did you know he did extensive dodging and burning during the development process? (The photoshop techniques come from photography, not the other way around). Even more interesting is the fact that Adams did photographic retouching that is common and easier in photoshop.
It turns out that local teenagers had painted white rocks to spell out “LP” in the mountains in this photograph. Adams used a technique on his negative to blot out those letters from the final image.
Is Ansel Adams’ work art (and NOT) photography, then?
Me, I think that photography ends and digital art begins when you start adding elements not present in the original scene. For example, if I took a picture of President Obama, and digitally added my mother to the scene, that would be photoshopping. A little dodging and burning, or even combining a couple of images to get high dynamic contrast (which I haven’t managed it–no good copy of photoshop) isn’t *quite* photoshopping, in my book.