Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Photoshop: the awe and awful

I love photoshop. It was like the gift of fire to mankind and artists. One could start with a photo and recreate at will. Layering and collages without glue! Color changes and editing out Uncle Mort's head, easy! No more zits, a result so perfect Dr. Zizmor—dermatologist to subway riders—would weep in envy.

The laws of physics bent to the needs of imagination with a few la-di-da filters and warp effects. (And maybe hundreds of hours of effort.) Like manna from on high it gave us drop shadows and a new reality where all light sources are bright, colors ever ultra saturated, and no random objects daring to interfere. In fact, looking away from the computer screen to the ordinary January day happening outside my window, I see a pallid disorienting mishmash. Where is the focus of the world? Diffuse dim lightsource, really? Why is that power line making an annoying squiggle against the corner of sky? And who put the smudge of smog on the window--very distracting!

But, even as such gifts became part of an everyday workflow, so too did the products. This morning as I walked to the office I passed a poster and flinched. In my brief shuddering eye assault it presented twisty balls of fire, a hero with sweat slicked spandexed muscles, and a robotic lizard doing an aerial ballet of badass. "Ah," I thought, "another example of too many photoshop-like special effects." Actually I thought SPX but this would reveal a disquieting amount of geekyness.

I note that designers are pulling away from using every single photoshop effect on one crummy title...fewer typefaces tortured by drop shadows and beveling and texture and glow effects. A little moderation folks, please. As for me? I plan to go out on my lunch hour and look at the world as it is...until I whip out my camera and think about what I can do to the view, cropped and cornered.


Natters said...

Lovely Post, Ma.

David Graham said...

I've been on Instagram for a few months now, and it certainly is a festival of heavily edited photos, overdone HDR, cutesy captions, grunge gone amok, retro overload, absurd crops doing the work, and other illustrations of the "if technology exists it will be used" principle. But in fact looking through thousands of photos, I think my own taste has been both broadening & sharpening a bit. I have really enjoyed the best of what's there, and there sure is a lot. I even follow a group called "United By Edit," devoted to pushing the edges of editing techniques.