Have you ever looked at a good picture, and upon knowing that it's been photoshopped, said that "Chehh like that hor"?
I had. In particular, I have more than once been disappointed that in real life, travel destinations look blander and less interesting compared to pictures in travel websites. I have always blamed photoshop for that. However, as I learn more about photography, I am starting to see the other side of the coin.
I learnt that every single photo, no matter how original and pure, must have been photoshopped by the time it appears in front of you.
When we took film photographs in the past, we thought that our pictures all turned out bright and colourful. But that doesn't mean that the colour and exposure of our pics must have been right in the first place - the people in photo shops have been "photoshopping" colours, brightness and levels for decades before Adobe Photoshop came along. That's precisely where the software's name came from. All your pictures in the good ol' albums, regardless of its quality and age, had been photoshopped.
How about digital pictures, one might ask. In most digital cameras, the pixels of a picture are recorded with digital sensors, processed by a processor and converted into a jpg file. The quality of the picture coming from the process is largely dependent on the quality of the lens as well as the processor. When I visited St. Kilda beach with my friends last time, when I compared the same picture (e.g. group picture) taken with different cameras, I noticed that my Canon A70 produced much more vibrant colour out of the camera. Colour, contrast, saturation, sharpness etc, they have everything to do with the lens and the processing of the camera.
So my point is, every picture (apart from professional unprocessed RAW files, but that's another story) has already been through some level of processing, sharpening, colour-changing, white balance tuning etc. Some photo-purists take pride with not photoshopping pictures to the extent that they have this holier-than-thou attitude towards the whole practice of photoshopping. I feel that it's a bit ignorant for them to do that. Yes it's a good thing that your pictures are already beautiful straight out of the camera, but that doesn't mean that you are naturally better than people who do more post-processing. Probably unbeknownst to them is the fact that their cameras have already done a fair amount of "photoshopping" in the 'original" version. Unless you are talking about composition (which can't be changed with photoshop except simple cropping), or you are comparing two photographers using the same camera system, it's hard to make any meaningful comparison based on the usage of photoshop alone.
Also, with regards to the "cheating" travel photos - I came to term with it with the realisation that they were never meant to paint the actual picture for us anyway. Photos are now more a form of art than an item of realism.
To finish off, I will show you one of my recent efforts in improving a photo with photoshop. The techniques and results are nothing to rave about, but it's just a concept I am trying to get across.
here, or google "channel mixer".
full size gives you an even greater impact. Also, do compare this with the original pic above - it's definitely an improvement.
Ahh the joy of photoshop.