Tag Archives: photoshop

New Photoshop CS5 Must Be Powered by Magic Elves or Something

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.

The First Photoshop

A Real Quack-Up: Late 1870s Collage of watercolor and albumen silver prints; 14 5/8 x 11 5/8 in.

Currently on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, Playing with Pictures: The Art of Victorian Photocollage is a truly fascinating, often hilarious look into a funny facet of aristocratic recreation you most certainly didn’t know was there. Whoda thunk that in the parlors and drawing rooms of 19th Century England, women were cutting up pictures of the social elite and gluing them onto water colors of ducks and toadstools?

Remember that in the 1860s and ’70s, not everyone was toting around a cheap point and shoot. Photography was still a relatively formal art/science, making the levity and wit of these creations that much more outstanding. Moreover, the folks in these pictures were no plain shlubs; only the cream of high society were skewered so. And, my, were some of these images awesomely creepy.

If you can’t get to the museum, check out the small online gallery of images, or the book, from the Art Institute of Chicago.

A Designer Resignation

If you’re going to quit today, may I suggest you do it thusly:

The artist behind the creation is a designer named Juan Carlos Pagan. Perhaps ’twas he who left this Dear John image on the desktop of his temporary work station. Or perhaps someone else copped Pagan’s Photoshop for his own dramatic departure. Either way, that’s some good stuff right there.

One day maybe I’ll have a job I can ditch with indignant impunity. Or any job. Or any computer skills. For now, simple, analog, and non-employed, I occasionally leave myself Post-Its that say, alternately, “I quit” and “you’re fired” — keeps me humble.

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