The stigma of post-processing

“This is photoshopped, right?”
“#nofilter, mind you!”

I’m sick of people pointing out photoshopped pictures, and people being proud of their ‘#nofilter’ pictures, and yeah, people asking “nice pictures! which camera do you have?”

Why don’t you ask “wow! nice poem! which pen do you use for writing?”? Why not discuss whether J.K.Rowling wrote drafts and then edited and refined them or whether she wrote stuff and published it without giving it a second look? Why not ask whether an artist ever used the eraser while he was drawing that drawing? Sure, remix in music is fine, florid and articulate language in literature is welcome, highly stylistic films get rave reviews because they are stylistic but… but… deviate a little bit from what our eyes see and a photograph suddenly becomes ‘photoshopped’ and dismissed right-away.

You take pride in reading between lines, but you refuse to see between the pixels! Every photograph has its own story, you know… Stop thinking of photographs as representation of reality. They are rendition of the reality as seen through the photographer’s eyes, touched by the photographer’s imagination, wanting to tell a story, deliver a message.

Clarification: By “photoshoppnig”, I just mean post-processing. As a matter of fact, I don’t use photoshop, I use Gimp instead.

Look at the following picture, for example.
Yes, you said “Meh. Too much editing” and you moved on. The editing was there for a reason.

We’re told life is beautiful. And here was a dead-n-decaying dragonfly, in its death, lay a strange beauty. Its wings, lifeless, yet intricate. Fragile, still evading decay. While the dragonfly in the foreground made a statement about death and beauty, the background aptly portrayed a transition: from the dark and gloomy to the bright and full of hope. The sun, dispelling the ‘blues’. The colors are always there in the sky for the keener observers. They are there, but faint and washed out. Why turn all your attention to the fact that I digitally boosted the colors and hence dismiss the whole picture? The colors were boosted because there was a message. The boosting enhanced the symbolism I wanted to capture in the frame.

Here, check this picture of a dead butterfly:
For starters, the white balance was clearly off the mark in the original one. I fiddled with the contrast too, usually increasing the contrast makes the image appear to have more ‘depth’.

Again, you discarded this one as “Not possible with a point-and-shoot. You must have photoshopped”. Yes, goddamn right, I photoshopped it, Sherlock! But look beyond the editing, will you?

It is picture about growing up, about death of young love. The proverbial butterfly in the stomach: lying dead — in the dry, hot, and coarse sand of reality, responsibility, and rationality. I increased the color-temperature because it goes well with the idea of hot sand. I increased the contrast because it brings out the harshness and coarseness of the sand.

Sometimes editing can enhance a particular effect dramatically.
Here, I was wondering “What’s he thinking? Is he being nostalgic?” accordingly, I edited the image, bringing out signs of aging, making those white bristles more prominent, the furrow of the brow more detailed. Don’t tell me his eyes don’t look more yearning now! It was my idea of his inner thoughts that I wanted to portray. I did it... by photoshopping!

You might have thought of these two as some fancy long exposure gimmickry,

but the stories go deeper than mere gimmickry.

The first one is a story of two friends, of the inevitable separation, of the eventual drifting apart, of the fading away of memories.

The second one is depiction of the typical extrovert mindset. For an extrovert, one’s own company, no matter how hard one tries, never seems whole, complete.

We talked about minor tweaks, but sometimes, the colors are off-balance, the contrast is weak, and the whole composition is emphasizing wrong subject! Look at this one...

For every I-don’t-give-a-damn-what-you-say fellow like me, there are many for whom encouragement matters, feedback means a lot. Just keep in mind, every time you say “this is photoshopped, right?” you are snubbing their creativity, smothering their imagination, and suffocating their artistic freedom.

By default, photographers aren’t reporters. They are artists. Treat them like one.

Dream! Imagine!! Because many a times, the world’s too bland, reality too drab, and… post-processing so easy! ;)


  1. Teach me, Master!
    Also, + 1 for linking to Gimp. OSS FTW.

    Reply Delete
  2. Everytime I read your blog, the only word which pop up in my mind is "HOW"
    How U think like that... I mean what imagination , what creation, how U weave all this things ..
    U r too(3,4,5,6...........infinty times) GOOD

    Reply Delete
    1. Thanks a lot! :)

      I'm curious... where/how did you come across this blog? (I mean, some google search, or someone shared on FB etc etc)

    2. Well, U must be happy to know that u r quite renowned :)
      n it wont be an exaggeration if I say that YOU r an epitome f creativity

  3. Yes I too read your blog and the same words come on my mind "How , How and How" one can elaborate soo many things in very simple and fluent word...the only word come after all your blogs is "Great, Awesome , Nice and all adjective which make your blogs feel proud"

    Reply Delete

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