Has Photoshopping gone too far?

There is a growing view among ‘photographers’ that the use of all the various photo editing tools has gone too far. ‘Finished’ photographs now can have colours and shading in them that were nowhere to be seen in the actual scene that was photographed. There can even be subjects in the finished photograph that were not in the original capture like: moons, suns, trees, clouds, animals, cars, people … whatever.

Shadow areas can be brought up to look like they had a reflector pushing light into them (depending on the EV depth of the original picture); and highlight areas can be subdued or filled in to recover them.

Contrast and hue can be played with and, using layers, can be used to totally change the look of the finished image compared to what was shot.

Personally I am one of the sort-of ‘purists’. I do use Photoshop—well Photoshop Elements (PSE) to be accurate. Mostly I use it to crop, resize/resample, and sharpen. I also use DxO to process my RAW shots into JPG images. DxO is awesome for processing RAW to JPG in that it corrects lens curvature and colour fringing introduced by the lens (assuming you are using a support lens that DxO knows about). Basically I don’t see this as cheating.

The purple/red chromatic aberration fringing removed by DxO was not in the scene that was shot. It gets introduced by the lens. Hence I do not see removing it, or calming it down, using DxO as cheating.

I also don’t see removing lens curvature with DxO as ‘cheating’ because this was also not in the original scene. It was introduced by the lens when the picture was taken. If I could afford better lenses I would not need to remove curvature using DxO but I don’t have $2,000 to spend on a single lens. I have trouble justifying spending about $1,500 every three years or so upgrading my camera body—especially now I seem to be taking less and less pictures.

But using PhotoShop, or Corel PhotoPaint, or ACDC, or Lightroom, or Topaz, or whatever, to turn a yellow sky into a blue tinged sky—I have reservations about that. Or putting a mirror image of a scene into the water of a lake or river where no mirror image really existed. Or introducing clouds where no clouds existed.

There are basically two schools of thought here.

One view is that you just can’t over PhotoShop a picture. Go for it. Do whatever you want to make that picture snap, crackle, and pop. Add stuff in. Take stuff out. Pop the colours. Change the colours. Go for it. This is all part of the artistic freedom of the photographer. So what if you put four hours into making a picture look the way you want it to look?

The other view, and one that I am more aligned with, is that you use PhotoShop to sort of tidy the picture up but you don’t do stuff to the picture that presents a false representation of what was in the original scene. At best you put maybe 15 minutes into cleaning up and finishing a picture in PhotoShop (or whatever).

Following are some pictures that I consider to be over-PhotoShopped pictures. This is just a small collection randomly picked off the 500 pixels site. Well they are over-PhotoShopped in my opinion. What do other think about this?

<<Image removed as an example. Refer owners comment>>

Title: “Is anybody out there …”
Taken by: Adrian de Vittor


Title: Untitled
Taken by: Jaewoon U


Title: “Torments”
Taken by: Mr Friks Colors


Title: “Haunted House”
Taken by: Igor G

Clicking any picture will take you to page 1 of the ‘popular’ pictures pages at 500 pixels.