Blogs > 37th Frame

Photography, notes, commentary and much more from former Reporter Online Editor Chris Stanley.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The end of photography?

We tend to think of paintings as interpretations and photography as truth. Of course, this has never really been true - since the early days of photography images have been manipulated in many ways, from cropping and lens selection to darkroom tricks and Photoshop tools. But somehow the basic building block of a photo was reality, framed and captured by the photographer, tweaked just enough to give it their style.
With every version of Photoshop that came along, new tools were introduced to enable photographers to change the reality in their photos by moving, shaping, warping, or eliminating elements. The clone tool was revolutionary in the early 1990's; the healing tool even more so a few years later.
The newest version of Photoshop, CS5 (which is not out yet) includes a tool that not only can automatically do what all the other tools did, but can actually 'interpret' the reality in a photo and fill in what it thinks should go there.

The Content-Aware tool gives photographers the power to change photos so quickly and so accurately that I wonder if photography as we know it will cease to exist. Don't get me wrong, there are more cameras and photos in the world than ever before, and that seems to only be accelerating. But when entire elements of photos can be changed so easily and so well, I wonder if we aren't actually looking at something different, something closer to a painting. Photos become our interpretation of reality, and now need to be 'read' differently. If I like what I see in an online photo gallery, the correct response is now 'great image' instead of 'great shot'. And since we don't know the history of every photo we see, we have to assume that they might have been manipulated unless we know otherwise.


Anonymous Tony D said...

Jeez! I cant believe how advanced PS has become. I must get this!

March 30, 2010 at 4:56 PM 

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