Above my desk, I have a photo wall with these 9 photos. I use it to remind me what artists can really accomplish when they have the focus and determination to be great. I can’t say I can do anything in this life to match their accomplishments, but I can use the ideals from their success to make me a stronger and more focused artist.
The greatest physisist that will ever live. I have read his biography numerous times. He invented the Standard Model and theory of gravity (relativity), yet his biggest blunder, the cosmological constant, make turn out to be correct if Dark Energy is proved to exist. Even when Einstein was wrong, he was still correct.
The writer without adjectives. His life was as stunning as his writing. A tortured soul who kicked off the Hemingway curse. Died on the same day as Celine. I wish I could be 10% of the writer he was.
My favorite President. A Republican and committed environmentalist. Championed the preservation of everything from Mesa Verde to the Grand Canyon.
John Muir is Yosemite. John Muir is California environmentalism. He saw glaciers and ice ages that people couldn’t imagine. Restore Hetch Hetchy now. We are now 100 years overdue.
What can you really say about the greatest photographer of all time? You can only look at his images and hope you can acquire just 1% of his talent. That is enough to sustain you for a lifetime.
The artist behind Apple Inc, from a company run out of the garage, to early dominant computer maker, to the person behind the greatest comeback in the history of business. We lost Steve way too early, and his absence will always be there.
The man behind the Beat Generation. One of my favorite writers. A person destroyed by alcohol abuse. I yearn to visit the places of his novels, like Big Sur and Desolation Angels. The greatest story teller.
The man behind some of the most amazing music of my life. Equally powerful in Radiohead and a solo artist. Perfect blending of rock and electronic, without ever jumping the shark. I never knew after listening to Pablo Honey in 1993 that his band would be the most significant in my life.
The color Ansel Adams. The last truly great film photographer, whose work stands up even in today’s digital world. The great master of the Eastern Sierra. An expert photographer, climber, and athlete. We lost him way too young.
Every time I see Mountain Light in the Sierras, Galen is the first person I will ever think of.
These art my artistic heroes. I hope you will take a moment to ponder yours.
Tauni went to school with me in Yucaipa, California. Her painting work has an animated quality and includes a variety of natural subjects in brilliant, vibrant colors. She does her work in a variety of mediums, from acrylics and oils on canvas, pastels, pencils, and ink.
I have known Josh for a long time through our association in the Scouting program, however, we both have a number of outside artistic pursuits. Josh works in color spaces, excellent pencil drawing, and a number of awesome artistic projects.
Longtime friend from New York. He does photography, sculpture, and design.
Vin and I are long-time co-workers in the IT industry, so naturally we are more interested in discussing our art work. Vinny is a long-time animation and anime fan, and his work varies from pencils to his full-color Tako Salad comic. Although, being that I don’t understand much of the anime and science fiction industry, I don’t always get all of the jokes!
Tonight is one of the best opportunities to photograph the best Perseid Meteor Shower in years, and yet I find myself at home with a myriad of reasons I am not out making art.
Because the meteor shower this year coincides with a new moon, the opportunity to see and photograph is great. Yet not planning ahead and managing the things that keep me from being artistically productive has grounded me. Continue reading →
It is about that time, and Adobe Systems will soon be announcing Photoshop Lightroom 6. For those who have been with the program since Lightroom 1, they have seen the program evolve from rudimentary to indispensable. While there are a number of amazing tools such as Nikon CaptureNX, OnOne Photo Suite, Topaz Labs, and MacPhun, Lightroom has the largest recognition and scale in the field of photography. When a new version is announced, everyone must pay attention.
I have witnessed the impressive maturation of Lightroom from it’s initial edition to Version 5. What were once massive updates have become more subtle as Adobe adds more fit and polish to an incredibly full-featured product. That being said, here are my list of updates, dream, and wish-list items I would love to see if Lightroom 6.
Automatic dust spot detection. Adobe added a great contrast filter that allows you to detect even hard-to-find dust spots. Now, I must admit, I use my cameras so much that I am often stuck with a dirty sensor in between cleanings.
An update to the 2012 Process. The upgrade from the 2010 Process to the 2012 Process was significant (who remembers the Recovery slider?).
Better plug-in integration. One of the greatest features of Lightroom is the non-destructive editing. Your edits in Lightroom do not tough the raw file until you export an image. However, if you are using a plugin (such as Nik Software, MacPhun, OnOne, Noiseware, list goes on), you are required to make a separate tif file. I feel this ruins some of the Lightroom aesthetic when you are making a separate file. I would love to see plugins handled more like Adobe Photoshop Layers and Layer Masks in the Lightroom database.
Seamless editing with Adobe Photoshop. This issues follows a similar issue to the way Lightroom plugins. When you want to use Photoshop for those final edits out of Lightroom, you must export to a PSD file. It would be great to be able to edit in Photoshop right out of Lightroom, and return with those edits intact, all without creating a separate file.
Larger image cache. Adobe currently has a 50gb image cache maximum, and the default is much smaller. For those working with heavy image loads, particularly wedding and event photographers, initial images load slow. Storage is cheap, and being able to increase the image cache would be a huge help.
Improved batch editing. This would save wedding and event photographers a lot of time. While you can do some minor batch editing, a full featured batch editing feature based on user preferences and the histogram would be useful. This is much different than the autotone, which uses an Adobe-specified profile. This would be able to set by user.
With the Lightroom 6 announcement coming soon, many of these features may be slated for the next version, or something we may see in the future in Lightroom 7, 8, or beyond. In the meantime, I can’t wait to see the next edition of Lightroom and what it does for all of us in the photography field.
As the internet became ubiquitous, it was not long before Adobe’s Photoshop entered the pop culture lexicon. The powerful image-editing product became famous through the photo manipulation of various celebrities. In the eyes of photo professionals, Photoshop had long held a special place for its seemingly unending ability to carefully edit images of all types. Yet, the product was so powerful, that in the eyes of the public, use of Photoshop became a source of disdain.
The very idea of Photoshopping an image was thought to be fake, unreal, or cheating. This was not necessarily a problem for the magazine industry, who have a long history of airbrushing images. But with the digital revolution, and the incredible growth of the photographic industry to hobbyists, a paradox was reached.
Why is Adobe Photoshop such a polarizing tool in photography? Despite the steep learning curve, inaccessability to average users, and considerable time needed to master, even people not into photography know what Photoshop is. That, in and of itself, is the problem. Many outside of the hobby associate the program with faking celebrity photographs.
Many landscape photographers had to confront a very big issue in the eyes of the public. One could not display their images, whether on the internet, or in a frame, without somebody asking if their images were Photoshopped. This was a loaded question, because of course, the person was already casting artistic judgment. Photoshop, to them, was a perjorative term. While digital photography was still in its infancy, it provided a lot of ammunition to those still shooting film, who would say with glee, “No Photoshop is used with my images.”
One thing that people struggle to accept is the role of editing, or post-processing, in the production of an image. Many non-photographers and new users think that the role of the camera is to exactly match the scene you are viewing with the cameras in your eyes. Yet, the features in your camera and your eyes are much, much, different. Your eyes are well-adapted to contrast. Even a large format view camera cannot capture the stops of light you can see. Yet, cameras have other features, including the ability to change the shutter speed giving a sense of time. Our eyes, see an instant moment.
Today, you will hear many Photographers refer to their Photoshop work as post-processing, or the digital darkroom. I have heard many refer to these terms as some type of political correctness to get around using the term, Photoshop. However, I do believe that those who stick to those terms are doing the field an incredibly valuable service.
Many accurately portray post-processing work as similar to the film darkroom techniques used for a century. Many of Ansel Adams’ methods, such as dodging, burning, and edge-burning, were ways that he sought to manipulate his plates to produce the image he wanted on paper. So what is the difference to what we do today? The answer is nothing.
What may discomfort people is how powerful that post-processing is in the digital world. We can achieve incredible dynamic range just by dragging highlights and darks sliders accordingly. You don’t even need to learn a Point Curve if you don’t want to. We can change white balance on a dime after the photograph, something you can’t do on film without filters. We can enhance colors, even change them completely.
Shooting RAW files makes sense, because without it, you as the artist are giving all of the processing power to an engineer that works for one of the Cameera manufacturers. They are very good, as you see from the jpeg captures if you ever choose to output them, but those same engineers are constrained by the need to make a “one size fits all” algorithm that cannot possibly account for every scene and light medium.
It is not the photographer’s job to replicate the scene as he sees it. It is his job to produce art that is viewed aesthetically on a print. The photographer should be able to touch, retouch, edit, process, and color balance any scene to produce an image that is both beautiful, but also appeals with the brain’s sense of recognition.
Despite all of the advances and the incredible growth of photography, the naysayers persist. I find this hypocritical.
Just look at the music industry. For decades, musicians have escewed the need to record live songs. Songs have been recorded in studio by laying down individual tracks, usually by recording the percussion first, then laying down individual instruments, and finally vocals. Synthesizers even replicate other instruments, orchestras, and samples. The Beatles’ 1966 album, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, recorded the entire album on a 4-track machine. They achieved such incredible sound by combining several parts of their arrangements from individual tracks and layered them into a single track. To put it simply, John, Paul, George, and Ringo, Photoshopped the hell out of their music.
Does their music, or any album music for that matter, really sound like it does live? Not even close. Yet, we completely accept the premise that this is the way to make music. I have had good and not so good experiences with recorded and live music. Acts like Nine Inch Nails and Radiohead, who are known for extensive modern recording techniques including Pro Tools and other computer enhancements, were absolutely incredible live. It helps that Trent is a great musician in his own right, and he feels right at home with a guitar in his hand in front of a huge audience. Thom Yorke isn’t just an incredibly charismatic performer, his entire band can read sheet music!
On the other hand, I have seen other bands not as associated with computerized recording embellishments that I found to not be as good live. I love Metallica, but you just can’t replicate all those guitar overdubs live. I found the same with Smashing Pumpkins, who have made albums with a lot of traditional recording and others with extensive use of drum machines and synthesizers. Another example is Pinback, my favorite local San Diego band. When I heard them at the Belly Up and it seemed the sound was set up to be overly loud and the guitars overpowered the rest of the band. Yet at the Casbah, they sounded great.
Just like some post-processing can be viewed as gaudy and awful, music has shown you can go too far as well. The pushback against Auto-Tune is an example where vocal smoothing has drawn the ire of artists who can really sing or rap, as well as the idea that all vocals must sound pitch-perfect. The CD loudness wars have had a detrimental affect on sound quality. Sounds are pushed so loud while being mixed, they clip many of the nuanced parts of the music. When everything is as loud as it can be, it can also make music sound flat. Just think for a moment how that relates to photography? We all know how the same is done every day to images. I have done it myself. As always, careful editing in an artistic field is necessary.
The art still matters. A powerful image can be taken, but with bad post-processing, or bad printing on cheap paper in a discount frame, it can look mediocre. Careful post-processing, like careful mixing in a music studio, brings out the most pleasing parts of an image and de-emphasizes or removes altogether the parts that are not. Careful printing on quality paper is like having a good gold master laid down for the CD or a good roadie crew setting up the right equipment to make the sound the best for the audience.
Art is often thought as a self-contained product, like the single strum of a guitar or the quick click of the shutter. Yet, it is proven that art is really a holistic process that starts from the very idea of an image all the way to the print displayed on a wall seen by a critic.
It shows that Photoshop (or Lightroom, or Aperture, or any post-processing) is not cheating. It is part of the artistic process. It is our job to educate those who are interested in the field, and perhaps a potential customer of our images. I like to explain it similar to how I read it from Ansel Adams. When I am about to click the shutter to capture an image that will appear in my portfolio, I already know exactly what I am going to do to post-process the image, and I already know exactly how I aim to print and present it. I may have my camera in front of me, but I have my thought on the entire artistic process at all times.
It is a duty for every photographer to evangelize the role of editing and post-processing as a key role in producing an image.
T.M. Schultze is a San Diego area-based photographer, writer, and artist. For a list of his articles, click here. To send him an e-mail, click here.
I have started this new blog to offer a regular opportunity to communicate with those who share my interests in art, photography, writing, and travel.
I plan to use the blog for quick posts that will be much shorter than the Articles I plan to write on the website and longer than I want to post on my Twitter account, something right in between. I imagine that some of the short blog posts will eventually evolve into Articles and I hope this will stir creativity for me and my friends who read my work.
I look forward to sharing with you my thoughts, opinions, ideas, insights, and adventures out in the world, and in doing so I hope you can share too.