Photoshop is okay, if that’s your thing. Deception, not so much.

The other day I stumble on article titled “Do Your Pictures Need Botox?” and it contained what I thought was a great quote:

Using Lightroom is like putting on makeup.  A little accent here or there, but no major changes.  Using Photoshop is like giving your picture plastic surgery.  If it needs that much work, the picture is probably junk anyway.

And I think when it comes right down to it, folks know that making a digital image in Photoshop is a lot easier than capturing a compelling image in the field. Not that there is anything wrong with creating digital art. Its just than more and more often folks are either omitting that salient detail or lying about the authenticity of the image out right. And I feel that this degrades the value photography and reflects poorly on the integrity of photographers.

So why am I ranting about Photoshop again, because it appears that there is some discussion on the net that Peter Lik’s Full moon image may be a composite. And again, that’s all well and good provided it’s not marketed or inferred as an image shot in camera.

Update: Two things happened since I started writing this blog post and now. First it was confirmed that this image is indeed a composit image. Now the fact that it took a petty big internet push for this information to come out is exactly the problem as I see it. Far too many photographers proudly extoll the virtues and capabiltiies of Photoshop only to be shy when it comes to presenting their digital art.

The second thing that happen is that I took the 7 mile round trip walk (a great walk btw) from Kaanapali Beach on Maui to Lahaina to have a look at this image at the Peter Lik gallery. Now I have to say that I have always admired the quality of the prints that Peter Lik displays and sells at his galleries so I was interested to see how this one looked in person. And as a photographer who has, unfortunately, seen more than my fair share of full moons pasted behind all manner of things, and usually in front of the clouds, I confess that my initial thoughts from the internet pics were that this was a composite.  But in person it screams fake, or composite, or whatever you want to call it. Now again as digital art it is still pretty dang amazing. And I will say that the sales folk in the gallery came right out and said it was a composite. I kind of wish I’d had visit before the internt hubbub to see if they were similarly forthcoming. But at least now they are fessing up.

2 thoughts on “Photoshop is okay, if that’s your thing. Deception, not so much.

Add yours

  1. There was a great conversation about this on FStoppers. With landscape and "real life" photography, I want to know that it might be possible for me to experience that light, that color, that view, if I went there in person some day. I think the issue with Peter Lik is that he has built a following based on images that fit that criteria. Clearly, he’s moved to some images being composited, and I think that’s misleading to his followers because of his prior work. People buy his images because of their beauty, but also because of the inherent difficulty in achieving the shot. We value what is difficult to achieve. For my professional work, I use Photoshop all the time. For my personal work…Lightroom, and as little as possible. Thanks for the stunning images and inspiration Bill!


    1. I couldn’t agree more with your sentiments Tacey and thanks so much for taking the time to chime in. Seems we are following similar paths to process as little as possible which is one of the driving forces behind me shooting film again. As I mentioned, it’s only the deception or slight of hand that annoys me. I think folks deserve honesty and integrity when they buy or view photography. Cheers, Bill


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