Pursuing Photography without Photoshop – An Artistic Choice

I’ll start of by saying that I’m totally cool with digital photographic art produced by blending multiple image or using the other tools contained in Photoshop. Photoshop is an amazing tool and the artists that wield it well often produce stunning results. But is a tool that I have chosen to avoid using for my landscape photography.

This is not so much a rant against Photoshop as it is a mission statement for my own work. My reasons for pursuing my photography in this manner can be broadly characterized as:

Boundaries, Challenge and Personal Choice

I’ll quickly run down this list, in no particular order, to give a bit of rational to my thinking.


With a background that includes 15 years as an Aerospace Engineer using numerous computer aided design applications, I think I could obtain Photoshop competency pretty quickly. Certainly I could become skilled enough to save myself a bunch of time in the field, save “missed” shots and create amazing blended images from shots in my catalog.

And there in lies the rub. If I had the skills I would be sorely temped to use them. Which would definitely weaken my resolve to capture my images in camera. All the misses and failed attempts put me back in the field to try again and again. Which really helps me improve my ability to capture images in camera and allows me spend more time at a location and get to know it better.


This might be the key variable. I like a good challenge. When I hear folks say you can’t do that it camera you “have to” use Photoshop my mind starts spinning trying to think up ways. Granted that’s a path littered with failures but it’s a path I really like to explore. Often failing trying to accomplish something “impossible” allows me to achieve things I  may never have tried before. And I do love a good challenge.

Personal Choice

Simple, I’d rather be in the field shooting than hunched over a computer making images. In my old life I spent 60 hours a week as an Engineer using computer graphics programs and I still spend plenty enough time as it is processing files and trying to keep up with social media. So adding another way to be at my desk is just a poor choice for me. The reality for me is that I can’t capture compelling images at my desk. I can only do that with my camera in the field.

So why even write a post like this. For me it’s because I have always liked to publicly state my beliefs. It helps me work harder to towards my goals and being upfront about them makes it a bit hard to revive history later.

So why this picture with this topic? Well I’ve been working on capture compelling moonrise and moonset silhouettes for a couple of years now. And mostly I’ve failed miserably. Capturing these types of images can be a challenging combination of gear, skill, planning and luck.

But this particular type of shot can be pretty easily achieved by merging and scaling multiple images in Photoshop. And although you see countless bad example of huge moons in front of clouds and buildings, there are plenty of well done full moon digital creations. So why bother spending years trying to do it in camera? Well for “ME” photography is as much a journey as it is a destination. And Photoshop rushes past what I consider to be the “good stuff”.

The Fine Print

The above photographic mission statement is for me and my landscape work. When I shoot landscapes I’m the client. But for my commercial and residential real estate work someone else is the client and their needs might require that I blend multiple images or clone out objects. And if that requires Photoshop, or any tool for that matter, I use that tool. Cause client work is all about the destination, ie the final result.

4 thoughts on “Pursuing Photography without Photoshop – An Artistic Choice

Add yours

  1. Your work surely compliments your journey. I’m using Photoshop but do try harder to capture so I use it less. Thanks Bill.


    1. Hey, thanks Don. There isn’t any "right" or "wrong" way. I was just writing about what works for me. Good luck in your photographic journey.


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