Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Photoshop as an electronic darkroom

The electronic darkroom. It was a promise made in the past and kept and still being fulfilled today. Yet, the idea of a program like Photoshop being essentially an electronic darkroom has faded.

The Photoshop software is associated with manipulating photos and not simply printing images to bring out the best. Let me give you an example.

The other day we had lunch at a small, dark restaurant and the meal that I ordered looked photo-worthy. Sadly the room was dark, and worse, it was lit with old style tungsten lights. I took a picture despite all the problems.

The camera, a Canon S90, cleaned up the colours admirably. The mild amount of yellow cast was easily removed by Photoshop using Levels and the white eye dropper. Using Levels again, the white point was raised to brighten the overall image and give it some snap. Finally, the deepest shadows were selected and opened up just a little using Curves

I burned the edges to enhance the detail in the rice and, other than sharpening, nothing more was done. I didn't even have to saturate the colours. The camera and its software and hardware did that just as film once punched up colours. There was a reason Paul Simon sang the praises of Kodachrome.

Could the image be better? I think so. If I made another "print", I'd brighten the overall image in Curves. Back in the days of film and paper, chemicals and filters, I would have done essentially the same thing. Well not exactly the same. It would have taken longer, cost more, and been harder on the environment.

Photoshop and my home computer, a team that makes a true electronic darkroom.

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