To edit, or not to edit, part 2

Some advocates of the “No editing”- camp claim that editing is something that came along with Adobe Photoshop and therefore some kind of modern mumbo jumbo. This is definitely not true. Back in the days when we all shot on film there were two ways of doing photography. Most of us sent the exposed film to a lab and got paper prints back. This was the equivalent of shooting JPEG and not doing anything to the images afterwards. The more advanced enthusiasts had their own darkroom where they developed the film and made their own prints. These enthusiasts also had a few tools and tricks to alter the final print from what it would be “straight out of camera”. More on this in the next part of this series. This is equivalent to shooting RAW and using software like Lightroom and Photoshop or others. The difference is that some hand over all the control to others and more or less automatic procedures, while others prefer to have total control themselves. Today with relatively cheap software, virtually everyone can have their own digital darkroom if they want to.

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So there is nothing wrong with having a darkroom, either digital or analog, and deciding how the final photo will look. There is also nothing wrong with handing most of the decisions over to the algorithms of automatic developing and printing machines. It is entirely up to you as the creator of the photo. The main goal will be to fulfill your own vision of what the final image will look like. If you do that by having the camera on Auto and shooting JPEG, then that’s just fine. If you want to have more control and your vision goes beyond what is possible with Auto then you have a vast toolbox to choose from, ranging from manual and semi-automatic camera settings to the whole world of photo editing.

Of course there are situations where heavy editing and alteration of an image would be wrong, and even unethical. This would be for example in journalism or any time a photo is taken with the purpose of documenting reality. In these cases it is important to be able to trust that what we see is what was really there. Therefore, when I say you are allowed to do whatever you want to your photos I am obviously not talking about these cases. I am talking about when a photo is taken for more artistic reasons.

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In the next and last post on this topic I will look into some of the things that actually were done before Photoshop was invented. In the mean time you can check out my images at my Clickasnap profile or my website.

Happy shooting and editing!

Hans Petter Birkeland.

Read Pt. 1 here

Read Pt. 3 here

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