Art Without Photoshop

Havasu Falls at Dusk, Havasu Canyon, Grand Canyon, Arizona

Do You Really Need Photoshop to Make an Artistic Photograph?

If anyone tells you yes, that’s BULLSHIT!! If the light hits the sensor in an appealing way then you can get away without using photoshop or elements. You will need to convert the RAW image to a jpeg with a basic converter. Many times we will need need photoshop to make local adjustments meaning specific areas of a photograph. But yes there are times when the light is perfectly fine within the frame of what was photographed and if the composition is fine then it just may be artistic enough.

Just to clarify, this is not an anti photoshop blogpost, I wouldn’t own Photoshop CS5, 4, 3, 2 and other versions if I didn’t use them.

Havasu Falls at Dusk, Havasu Canyon, Grand Canyon, Arizona

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19 Responses to “Art Without Photoshop”

  1. Ben Glatt Says:

    Often times it takes Photoshop to make the image more realistic than if I were to do a basic jpg convert from cr2 file! A lot of folks don’t understand this as well.

  2. Steve Sieren Says:

    You’re right Ben, some people see Photoshop as the evil enemy and it doesn’t help them achieve what they want, close as they can remember to realistic or surreal as some other planet. But there are those cases when the light lands on the sensor and everything in regards to saturation, sharpness, and contrast will come out just right and that’s a time when it’s isn’t necessary to use photoshop. Some photographers frame the light and know the sensor’s limits.

  3. Derrick Says:

    Great shot, and spot on analysis!!

  4. QT Luong Says:

    That some people even assume that shows how far the wide availability of digital tools has affected certain photographic practices. In the area of film and optical printing, the color print was a fairly straight rendition of the negative/transparency.

  5. Steve Sieren Says:

    Formerly sponsored Fuji photographer Patrick Ross had this to say about it .

    Photography has lost its roots in many respects. I dont want to see a rendering of a location, I wanna see a photo! I loved working when people understood a photograph stood for the “truth”. I tend to like the photos of yester year quite a bitmore than the 35mm, distorted, over digitized work flooding the market today. When everyone was still shooting large format film, you made sure everything was set and everything had to be done in camera, etc… Well, no need to hold on, its over, hopefully some of the next generation will learn the “roots photography” from somewhere and keep it going.

  6. Steve Sieren Says:

    Thank you Derrick.

    QT, How things have changed, back then I did think I really need to learn photoshop. Now I only use it if I have to.

  7. Jane Goodall Says:

    Many people seem to forget that film is a conversion of the light to colour and or tone that is equally manipulated. Users finding a film that ‘suits ‘ them is like a digital using a set of setting on their raw convertor that they also feel appropriate to their tastes and the conditions they experienced. Dark room workers have always made adjustments to their images and employed many techniques that are equivalent to photoshop. The greatest example; Ansel Adams.
    Dark room users can do just as dreadful things to their images as a digital user and were not scared of changing skies from one image to the next. Its becoming a tired argument.

    Just more thing I find it amusing also that many photographers seem to find something pure about using the JPG straight out of camera like a holy grail, without realising that they have used the automatic algorithms put in place by the camera manufacturer.
    The manufacturer doesn’t know what you saw, performing the conversion oneself provides the user to take control of the process.

  8. Steve Sieren Says:

    Jane, I agree with part of what you’re saying but this isn’t an arguement that one should not use photoshop.

    Is it possible to create an artistic photograph without the use of photoshop?

    My opinion is yes and maybe your opinion is no?

    My camera settings are modified to my liking. Anyone that shoots straight out of camera has experienced dynamic range issues that are not close to reality, or close to it and occasionally spot on. There are too many declarations about what manipulation is but that is not the point in my short paragraph. If I could shorten the paragraph it would just say.. .

    Can you make an artistic photograph with out photoshop?

  9. John Says:

    Heck, it’s even possible to make an artistic photo without a *camera* ( or!

  10. QT Luong Says:

    In my comment this should have been “the color print”. Simply put it, if the answer to the question was “no”, then that this would imply that all the images made prior to digital photography would not be “artistic”. Nonsense.

  11. Ben Glatt Says:

    not sure i understand what “artistic photograph” means…is there a difference between a photograph and an “artistic” photograph? I think the easy answer to your above question is an obvious yes.

  12. Steve Sieren Says:

    QT, fixed that.

    Ben, Maybe we should just call it getting lucky?

  13. Jim Goldstein (@jimgoldstein) Says:

    I like the premise of your idea, but in reality digital sensors are dumb technology. They make a best estimation of 18% gray and frankly they’re not very good about it. Even with in camera exposure compensation and other techniques the output is not consistent. Film on the other hand you could predictably obtain the same results after getting it back from the lab.

    While artistically speaking if the image speaks to you and your vision straight out of the camera I am not one to criticize. Technically speaking though the output straight from a camera is not very good for most photographs and does require some level of color correction.

    My hats off to you for tackling the topic, but I can’t say I agree 100%.

  14. Steve Sieren Says:

    Jim, I agree with you 100%, if the sensor doesn’t make you happy with it’s result then photoshop it! Light or heavy, whatever it needs. I’m beginning to think it’s a miracle if you don’t need to use photoshop. With most positive film we got great midtones and and now our RAW captures usually lack them.

  15. Paul E. Duval Says:

    I Do believe it’s possible to set up creatively and technically to capture an image that requires no post processing to match your vision. I always find that the more an image is processed the more it loses in it’s attachment to the original scene.
    However the rest of the argument, film, format,black and white, color, 35mm or digital is just a bunch of steaming meadow muffins littering a field of incessant never ending debate. The final word for me about the “truth” in photography and the babble of opinion is this. It doesn’t exist, never did. To experience reality or truth requires the observer to actually be there. There is no “truth’ without the whole experience. Including the feel of the wind in your face, or picking up you hat off the ground for the twelfth time, the smells, the sounds and of course the view. What makes photography so enduring is it’s ability to communicate a recorded moment artistically, documentary, or emotionally. All great images connect with a large number of viewers on some level. That may be more than two cents but what the hell I had a pocket full of change.


  16. Steve Sieren Says:

    Paul, you’re always a man of many words! I was there for this truth or close enough to it. It was dark and the last person exited the pool right through the photograph. Thank god I didn’t have to edit him or I’d have nothing to talk about.

  17. todd Says:

    Steve, I like the image as is as well, and it’s your vision so what else needs to be said. It’s a new vision of this location, it would be almost too easy to brighten, enhance the red and blue etc. I personally am open to all processing options when I shoot, sometimes very little, sometimes a lot more complex. sometimes the jpeg just nails it with the settings I use, then I try to duplicate what Canon did(very hard to do), I shoot raw plus jpeg if I think I’ll print it.

  18. connectingthedots13 Says:

    just like any piece of technology, it’s just an extra tool 🙂

  19. Steve Sieren Says:

    Todd, there are so many different scenes out there it’s just too hard to tell what we’re going to at the point of capture.

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