France in Epcot

The new Photoshop CS6 – what is your “line”?

Like you, I’ve been watching the videos of CS6 and playing with it myself. (notice the important “it” in that sentence)

Things are gettin’ a little crazy with post-processing eh? What are your limits for what you’ll do with your photos? It’s a very personal thing… I won’t judge you… I’m just interested! Here’s my post-processing line (which I reserve the right to change at any time):

I will:

  • I will remove things like lightposts or ugly animals or tourists wearing Spice Girls T-shirts
  • I will use HDR to bring out the colors in the shadows and dial back bright areas
  • I will sharpen to bring emphasis to one area or another
  • I’ll take multiple exposures on a tripod and fix one area of a photo with another exposure

I will not:

  • I will not take a foreign object from one photo and put it into another (like pasting a moon over a mountain)
  • I will not take a sky from one photo and paste it into the landscape of another

I might:

  • Use the new Content-Aware-Move in CS6. I can’t decide! It’s a slippery slope. For example, in the photo below, I had to work so hard to find and frame these boulders in this EXACT way. Man, it would have been so easy just to go to an easier location and then re-arrange the boulders using CS6 Content-Aware-Move. But maybe that doesn’t even matter! I can’t decide… And it is soooooo slippery… If I will allow myself to “Move a Boulder 10 feet” — then maybe I would also also “Move a Moon Behind THAT Mountain” — then maybe I would also…. well… where does it stop? It’s almost like I am 6-years-old and moving stickers around a sticker book! Hehe… I’m confused… my “line” is constantly being challenged… like the border between two countries in a good game of Civ!

Daily Photo – France in Epcot

These little fabrications of countries around Epcot try really hard at being authentic, and they are often quite successful!  Sometimes bits and pieces here are a little cheesy, but I get the sense that the people that build, model, and landscape these things put a lot of time and effort (and love) into it.  I’m sure it gets down to the detail of trying to choose the right kind of fonts for the clock.

This evening was a particularly lucky one because of the clouds and the light in the sky.  This situation is so rare that I went photo-crazy for about 15 minutes while it lasted!

HDR Photo<

  • beautiful Trey – I am sure processing is a ‘slippery slope’ but know we can always count on you to be authentic! 🙂

  • Casper van Zyl

    I would agree with you with regards changing things within a photo.If you want a moon wait until its full moon that is what most do. Its the artistic few who maybe they cannot see or capture composition that have to do these things,I don’t know. The old days I remember we always did a lot of holding back or burning in for black and white pics but today you never can tell. Photography has come really jumped in leaps and bounds and with it the art world. I will stick to my old fashion ways as well.Nice pic for a kids room or for a junior school .

  • Trey, I mostly agree with your boundaries in post-processing and I only feel comfortable adding shapes or objects to a photo if it’s visually clearly that this was done, say for example, a texture. As for removing things, I’m also easier about doing it, but I wouldn’t remove a building for example, if it’s obvious that it should be there.

    About the content aware moving tool, maybe an acceptable use of it is in distorted corners of wide angle lenses shots. If you are warping or cropping with perspective, you may want as well to move a certain element in the corner just enough to prevent they from being cropped out, if it’s an important element in your composition.

  • Ha, I know that invisible line. It’s tough sometimes.

    But then again – how is taking a tourist out less invasive than rearranging things for composition purpose? So I keep ignoring this line when I really see something in a picture that I want to show. Just replaced a sky yesterday, in fact, because I had a great action photo shot without bracketing. So I replaced the blown-out sky. Looks much better. Why not? 

  • Mandy Jones

    I like to work with what I’ve got in an image. I’ll crop, sharpen, mask, multiple exposures, HDR, etc…. to create an image.

    But I don’t like to add a moon or replace a sky cos they weren’t there!

    As for the content aware move tool I probably wouldn’t use it cos I think that would be a step too far…. even though the elements would be there, it kind of takes the excitement out of the chase for the best composition I can get?

    I like to see what hand mother nature deals me if it’s not that good then I’ll try again another day!

    Anyway, content aware isn’t really an option for me cos I can’t afford CS6!

  • Like Frederick Van Johnson always says: pixels are meant to be punished!

    Great shot. 

  • Casper van Zyl

    Mandy,could not agree with you more.

  • Peter Grew

    Well, I’ve seen some heated discussion on g+ lately and my thin-grey-line is very similar to yours, Trey. Removal (crop, filter, content-aware-fill) and mix multiple exposures is OK but I do not add… unless I’m doing the  christmas card. I do respect the ones that cut-copy and paste content between photos if that’s their artistic expression… and the result can be extraordinary… but I don’t have to like it! I have to admit that I sometimes add textures but that is not an addition to the content it’s more like changing the canvas the photo is visualized on.
    I haven’t played around with content-aware-move, but I’ve seen it in action. I would not use it myself because for me a move is a removal and then an add…

  • Gorgeous Photo!
    Are you still using the same photomatix to bridge to PS, or have to started using PS alone for your HDRs?

  • This is a great subject Trey. I won’t remove any major object. For example in this shot of the Inca Trail the ancient, mysterious and remote charm is marred by a power line. However I think  removing it greatly misrepresents the reality of the scene.

    On the other hand I removed a flood light buried in the ivy from this photo using content aware as I felt it was insignificant in saying anything about the shot. Am I contradicting myself 🙂

  • I might remove a power line if it’s really really distracting, I would more than likely remove a tin can or piece of garbage if I hadn’t done it before I shot. I like the content aware tool but haven’t found a use for it yet. I will sharpen and enhance the colors or go HDR, but I am not a fan of composite shots, if the sky wasn’t there then try again. If I have a model and want a background behind her, then we go there, if we can’t we get creative in the space we have available.

    I have fooled with the oil paint tool and find it fun for a few things. So far I am very happy with CS6. LR4 is better than I had hoped and I have actually converted all of my Aperture files over, not a fun thing …. but in for a penny in for a pound.

    But all of the above is TODAY, tomorrow is another matter. Much like someones reversal on purchasing a new DSLR. Art is not only subjective, but ever changing inside your head and the best thing to do is go with the changes.

  • I agree with all your points today Trey. Especially the “I will not” points. I think it is fine to remove unimportant aspects to a picture such as power lines or road signs, as a landscape painter would never add in the undesirable aspects to a landscape painting. To add in objects that were not there though, is for me to take away the excitement of photography (as Mandy hinted at); being part of a moment and capturing something special. There would be no point of photography if I could just merge or rearrange aspects of different scenes (not exposures) and create an image. I’m not saying there is anything principally wrong with that but I would label it Digital Art not Photography. All your ‘wills’ and ‘will nots’ are the same standards I work by as well.

  • Wowee, I love this photo, Trey.  From top to bottom, it’s just gorgeous!!  I especially love the purple in the sky 😉  As you know, that’s my favorite color.  Have a wonderful day 🙂

  • SharonDeHayes

    Is it just me, or are we missing a photo here? I don’t see any boulders in the France/Epcot photo …

    Love the Epcot photo and all your Disney photographs.

  • Great shot to day — I’m really enjoying the Disney photos!   When I go next month, I might not even snap any shots, you’ve gotten them all, I think 🙂

    As for my line?   I don’t have any sense of purism with regard to editing photos.  Make it pretty and enjoyable.   If that means the shot is composited from multiple shots… so what? 🙂

  • I am with you…I have a tendency to remove things, never put things in, but honestly isn’t that what helps define a good photo?  The things we leave out not so much the things we put into the photo?  Less is often more, in a way. 

    I sharpen the bejeezus out of my photos and tinker with color balance.  I am always going with a feel of a place, not the exact representation.  Exact representations tend to be boring, flat and less than interesting.  

  • For me it depends on the purpose of the image…In an advertising shot I would accept a lot more manipulation than in a landscape or a portrait. In a reportage or news shot I would disagree with adding or removing anything from MY image – the person wielding the camera is entitled to make decisions about what to include/exclude at the moment of capture, no-one else has the right to manipulate a reportage shot after the fact.
    For me scientific images, photojournalism and reportage = little or no tolerance to removal/insertion of material. In landscape or portrait photography there is more room for manipulation and in advertising and editorial work the sky is the limit!

  • Although I don’t often make such changes, I have no qualms about compositing if it helps the image.  I’m not creating a historical record.  I’m trying to make a pleasing image for people to enjoy.

  • cochrun

    What are your limits when working with sky?  So many of your images have bautiful, multi-colored skies.  Blue and yellow; orange and purple or blue and purple like this one?  I have a hard time believing that you didn’t fool with them.  Do you paint color into the sky or just manipulate portions with color adjustments (using what is really there of course – just emphasizing one color and holding back another)?

  • Eric Walker

    Line? What line? Being the novice that I am, I’m constantly looking for lines to cross. Maybe with more experience I’ll find a few lines to draw.

  • Here is what I think, the line can be crossed between surreal and real photography at times. Its fun to do both, realist photograph can be just as beautiful as a sunset in person. However a twist on the new age art of photography can create other really cool photographs that are just different works of art.

  • If you feel you are creating art, then there really isn’t a line to cross.

  • I think it really depends on the context. For me,  If I’m presenting a photo as an editorial piece, then even removing power lines and stuff like that is only okay if you crop (it seems a bit arbitrary, but that’s sort of the expectation of your audience). If the photos is presented as digital art, or just a nice looking picture, I’m willing to do anything that will make it better. Comping on skies or repositioning objects is fine, since the photo itself is just the raw material for a finished piece of art. Photography is always an abstraction, so it’s not like you’re ever presenting “reality”. I think you can do whatever you like, just as long as you don’t try to dupe your viewers.

  • Trey Ratcliff

    Thanks for your feedback and comments – interesting

  • With the advent of Photoshop One, we passed into a new realm of photography. 

  • I’m all about the final image. I enjoy the process (mostly), but it is the final image that is paramount. I’ll composite if it makes the image better. I don’t often do things like moving a moon into a shot where there was none, because it begins to feel like a cheap paint-by-numbers image (where they were likely to include the moon and some sort of majestic bird in every painting), but I have been known to move the moon from one place to another in the same image. I think that whatever you do that services your own vision of what the image should be is perfectly okay, so long as it isn’t photojournalism or you don’t lie about it (which doesn’t mean you can’t just keep your mouth shut in the first place). Either refuse to answer if not answering is practical and you’d rather not say, or tell the truth.

  • I think it might bother some of us if we do what some might call a “cheap compositing trick” and the result is an image that gets attention and admiration for that particular feature — in other words, you move the moon into a shot where there was none and it is THAT which most viewers — who are none the wiser — comment upon. But it’s all subjective, and your mileage may vary.

  • This is one area where you and I disagree, Trey.  I don’t care if the image I put out represents reality or not.  That’s not even close to why I take pictures and it’s no where near why I process them.  I can see reality by looking out the window.  I want my images to have something that’s a little “off” going on.  Something that makes you look a little longer trying to figure out what’s wrong. 
    In that image of 6th and Congress anyone who has been there will notice that the corner angle is way off and the building is way too angular, almost Flatiron-like.  But I like that.  

    I don’t go out of my way to stick objects into an image that don’t belong there, but I will gladly remove stuff from them that I don’t like and I will alter the image to suit my own purposes.

  • jrlaughlin3

    My biggest problem is that I use Lucis Pro on a MacPro, as well as Noiseware Professional, and neither of them work in 64-bit CS5.  Noiseware claims to have a 64-bit version coming soon.  But Lucis Pro has NO plans to do so.  Since CS6 will only run in 64-bit mode, this means I can’t use Lucis Pro at all…PERIOD.  That’s a pretty big investment to not be able to use it in the latest version of Photoshop.  I don’t use Lucis all that often, but it’s so expensive that I feel I need to at least try.  CS6 will prevent that.  

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