This flight really happened and in just this way, but no camera was there to shoot it! Photoshop to the rescue . . .
It took eight separate photos composited with lots of lighting and perspective adjustments along with added elements to create the scene after the fact.
Happy Birthday, Photoshop!
This month Photoshop, the most successful image tool in the world, is 25 years old! Creatives everywhere and in nearly every medium use Photoshop for some part of their workflow. Almost everything visual is touched directly or indirectly by Photoshop. It’s not only changed the way images are created but the way we see the world.
Top 10 reasons to love Photoshop and respect those who use it well
- Photoshop provides a safety net for when you miss the shot entirely (see above)
- Photoshop can improve the shot when what you took isn’t quite what you wanted
- Ten real butterflies can look like a thousand—ditto for flowers or bricks or anything else
- A single beauty dish and two Speedlights can emulate a much more extensive and expensive setup
- Composites can be made to look like they really happened that way (see above)
- Photoshop can bring the imaginary to life, as in “anything you can think of you can create”
- Your color palette is more or less infinite
- Nothing else can do what Photoshop does; there is no real, effective competitor
- If an image is a wreck it’s not Photoshop, it’s the user
- Photoshop frees the artist to focus on art like nothing else can and do it faster and less expensively.
Modern tools for darkroom tricks
Photoshop tools are analogous to what early photo masters used to develop their images. Ansel Adams anticipated the digital age, calling it electronic, and believed it would be the next major image-making enhancement. Like the dodge, burn, and sponge tools of 19th to 20th century darkrooms, Photoshop offers synonymous digital processes to deliver even greater control to the digital darkroom. The 90% of creative professionals who use Photoshop daily understand that no software replaces imagination and skill. Yet their work is often lumped together with pretenders who get into visual trouble using Photoshop like a hammer!
A web search of “Photoshop disasters” will turn up many examples of missing body parts, ridiculously enhanced ones, and deeply disturbing body postures. Such mistakes are unfortunately common like Glamour’s November 2011 cover with Kristen Stewart missing part of her left arm to Vogue’s September 2011 Kate Moss wedding layout including this one of her daughter’s fingertips airbrushed away. Throwing the verb photoshop about—as in, “Did you photoshop that?”—without referencing the quality of the actual image is an insult to those who do it so well that you get the enhancement without shouting the tool.
Inventing new ways to work and how we see
If you don’t already know layers and adjustments, healing and warping tools, or filters with smart objects, you’ll be astonished by liquefying content, altering perspectives, relighting and refocusing, rethinking the shot after the fact. And the tech teams at Adobe are always working on wondrous ways to challenge the skill of image artists everywhere.
Anyone can take a photograph but it takes an artful eye to perfect it. If you don’t like the result, blame the artist. It’s time to stop using “photoshop” as a dirty word!