To Photoshop, or not to Photoshop

To Photoshop, or not to Photoshop, That is the question? Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous editing. Or to take arms against a sea of images. And by opposing end them. To die – to sleep, No more … Yep you know the rest. Excepts taken from the Prince of Denmark’s most famous speech, with a little photographic twist added.

Which in fact leads me onto a discussion that came up on our Stuck in Plastic Discord Chat Room. And it had me thinking back to the long term debate around photoshopped images. It also had me thinking back to the history of photography and rethinking the photographers intent. And that is too photoshop, or not to photoshop?

The Changing way of Photography

You see it everyday, the citizen journalist or the avid photographers posting onto their social media accounts. In the hope to create engagement for others, for what is often a way of creatively expressing themselves. However, has this technology created an impact in this ever changing world of photography? Some would argue yes.

Altered Images

From the beginning of photography, images have been transformed and altered in the photographic darkroom. Using various methods, from dodging and burning to creating double exposures blending two negatives together. The use of Photo manipulation has enabled photographers to achieve desired results.

Seeing is Believing

The evolution of the digital darkroom has the ability to allow artists to creatively engage with their work in a way they have never been able to before. However, some critics would consider the use of photoshop as a cheat method. Saying this, there are many artist who have embraced the skill of manipulation to their advantage. As much as I appreciate photos created in camera. I for one, enjoy creatively editing and enhancing in the digital darkroom.

You can argue the question, does photo manipulation actually take place on a regular basis in your own work? Or does manipulation render the image as unauthentic? We present the end image as seeing in believing, apart from the odd edit of a filter, as the original image remains authentic. However, by altering the composition, changing the contrast and saturation, perhaps adding that favourite filter. We have in fact made a decision to manipulated and alter photographs on a daily basis.

Composition altered with minimum editing

The Authentic Workshops

This is interesting. So, Stuck in Plastic if some of you do not already know, has developed a series of Workshops, these workshops require a registration to join and they are open to everyone. Saying this, spaces are minimal so you have to be quick.

During these workshops we are given a limited time to shoot. And during that limitation, one often does not give you ample time to photoshop your images to infinity. If you pop over to the blog in particular The Rabbit Season. There you will see great photographs with minimal editing, that were created in a short timeframe.

Before and After.
I wish I had paid more attention to the direction of light and the shadows on the ground.
If I had more time then I would have altered that in post-processing

Commercial Type Photoshoots

As crew members of SiP, we get the opportunity to photograph wonderful LEGO builds provided by our dear friends over at The LEGO Group. For example, you can read all about my review featuring the Porsche 911 Turbo or Targa.

In light of the task at hand, I wanted to share the before and after versions of the Porsche shoot. Not something I usually share, but given the fact I am discussing to photoshop, or not to photoshop. It is essential that I show what I consider my failed attempt without editing in comparison to the successful edit. And the simple answer is yes, I used editing software to enhance and alter the exposure levels. I added the headlights in Photoshop to make the cars appear realistic as opposed to the original.

Some would say, I should have got the exposure correct in camera. With that in mind, yep I should have. Then again I am not really bothered as I was concentrating on writing the letters using a long exposure. I knew how long it took to create in camera and I knew I could alter the final result using post-processing.

Before Straight out of Camera. After Lightroom Exposure Levels altered


When all is said and done. Sympathetically, I am going to use the editing skills I have learnt in order to create images that excite and challenge me. With that in mind, I get to create realistic scenarios in the toy world. Obviously one will never make it to the moon, but a little imagination and I can make the moon land in my studio “Huston, The Eagle has landed” and that is the beauty of post-processing.

Before and After with added Special Effects in Post-Processing

Then we have the Everyone is Awesome set. An array of colour and a reflection of pride created by LEGO’s very own Prince of Denmark. In order for me to approach this shoot, I added post-processing that I felt benefitted the image with the inclusion of awesome bursts of colour.

Designed by the Vice-President of Design, Matthew Ashton. Everyone is Awesome set.
A diverse celebration of Colour before and after using Post-Processing


Image manipulation by whatever means, enables you to create and develop your own technical stamp on your work. Perhaps you might also inspire others in doing so. During #SiPgoesTGIF creative challenge, I decided to create a photograph that was inspired by our very own @ballou34, after seeing his review on the Lego Ideas Tron:Legacy set.

Inspired the Before 1/30+ different light painting and After blending using PS layers

Although the long exposure is a technique that can manipulate the camera into receiving more light onto the sensor. This was a two hour edit because I wanted to add more dramatic light painted swirls. And by layering the images taken, you can see my final photograph was one I was happy to share.

Then I see the marvellous photographs that @me2 produced in camera on The Blue Carpet, inspired again! Along with the rest of our talented crew. They continue to inspire me with their unique styles and creativity, sometimes with or without photoshopping.

At the end of the day, I for one champion post-processing and I continue to use some degree of photoshopping within my photographic work. The most important thing for me is having a workable image in the beginning. An image ready to become the end result and the journey how I got there supports to my creative process.

Basic Photograph taken in Camera before Post-Processing

Let us know in the comments your own feelings on post-processing, whether you like or dislike. Are you a beginner or technically skilled in the digital darkroom?

And so to make calamity of this lifelong question … To Photoshop, or not to Photoshop? That decision my friend is entirely up to you …

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2 years ago

When you add something to your image, do you use your own pictures? Or do you draw?

I myself use photoshop and I am not ashamed at all

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
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