Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Power of Photoshop

Although I miss the unique smells of a photoprocessing darkroom, particularly one in my own basement, and though nothing matches the magic of a silver toned image appearing like a ghost from the bottom of a tray of developer reflecting the red glow of the safelight, I certainly don’t miss all the time, fuss and expense of film and paper based photography.

In fact, I take great pleasure sitting in front of my 21 inch monitor, listening to my iTunes library or radio and manipulating my negative and print archive with a scanner and Photoshop.

I am currently working with the CS3 version of Adobe Photoshop, and although I know next to nothing about it, I’m stunned at its power. For example, I was looking through some old photo albums the other day and ran across some pictures I took some 15 years ago of Petroglyphs near Vernal, Utah. I thought I might be able to use one of them to illustrate the preface to a new photojournalism book a couple of us IPFW instructors are collaborating on, but I was not pleased with the lighting and the contrast of these images.

Enter the Shadow/Highlight control of Photoshop CS3.

The first picture below is a scan of the original color print (commercially made at CVS). The second is the straight black and white conversion: rather lackluster looking.

But now, after playing with the Shadow/Highlight control, look what is possible.

In the “olden” days, one could have approximated this result with “dodging” and “burning” after multiple tries and much wasted paper and time. This is why I don’t bemoan the passing of the “good ole days” of Dektol paper developer, acetic acid stop bath, and hypofixer!


At 10:16 AM, Anonymous Shannon E. said...

Here's the funny thing Worth. I so remember those days. I bet you think I am too young too. Many of high school years were spent in that darkroom developing film for our latest newspaper and the yearbook. The smells and their memories never go away. In fact open a little canister of real film and put your nose right up there....ahhh memories.

Great photo. You have seen some amazing things.


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