The new Photoshop scares me. Adobe Photoshop CS5, out this week, includes an eerily easy and accurate “content aware fill” feature. That basically means that if you want to touch up or remove something from a picture, the program looks around the image and intelligently fills in the empty space with fabricated content to match. Not just little holes, neither. It can fill huge swaths of the image with stuff it just makes up on the spot. Like that. It’s freaky:
On the one hand, the Photoshop moron in me loves how easy this is. But of course the photographer and all-around hater in me sees this as a terrifying precedent. Will we be able to believe anything we see anymore? And what about integrity in the craft? When I first learned darkroom techniques (in a high school darkroom next to and completely dissociated from the computer & Photoshop class) I was taught to respect printing full-frame, which means not zooming in on “the good part” and cutting off the “bad parts,” but taking photos that start out good across all 35 mm. Nowadays it’s like it doesn’t even matter what’s in the photo in the first place — just Photoshop it. It makes me sad. And angry, since I hang onto this antiquated view of taking and making pictures and my work turns out looking shittier than everyone else’s.
What is “the craft” anymore, though, really? Thinking of Photoshop as a different art than Photography makes me more comfortable with the evolution of digital photo manipulation. Helps me embrace the awesome accomplishments of CS5. But the distinction between Photography and Photoshopping is so blurry that separating them feels futile and idealistic. I’m sure there’s a tool in CS5 for that.