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Photoshop: The Digital Darkroom
Photography is the art of capturing a single moment, but many images require spending a little extra time in Photoshop. Spur your editing chops with Groupon’s guide.
A suite of photo-editing software developed by Adobe Systems, Photoshop has become such a ubiquitous part of digital photography that it warrants its own verb. If an image seems heavily edited, it’s said to have been “Photoshopped”—often for the worse. Still, nearly every professional-quality photo has been Photoshopped to some degree, as many photographers rely on a few essential tools to put the finishing touches on their work.
Crop: Even a sharp eye can’t compose a photograph perfectly every time. Cropping reframes the image to create a better composition or fit a certain aspect ratio.
Dodge/Burn: When creating prints from a film negative in a darkroom, a photographer can adjust the levels of exposure to “dodge” (lighten) or “burn” (darken) certain areas of the image. Photoshop’s similarly named tools simulate the process automatically.
Clone Stamp: Sometimes, one area in an image sticks out from the rest, whether it’s a rock in the grass or an unsightly freckle. Using data from other parts of the image, the Clone Stamp Tool can help patch the offending area, seamlessly erasing it.
Adjust Brightness/Contrast: Every picture is comprised of shadows and highlights, reds and blues, tones and contrast. Photoshop can easily adjust any of these, instantly changing the image’s quality.
Layers and Masks: One of the biggest advantages of digital editing, layers and masks isolate certain areas of an image, allowing an editor to work on them without altering the rest of the photograph.
In its 16th Annual Readers’ Photo Contest, Popular Photography magazine awarded two prizes to frauds. Or at least, as readers saw it, the entries were nothing more than elaborate collages, so altered by Photoshop as to no longer reflect reality. The magazine’s editor disagreed, insisting on the inventiveness of digital composite images as an evolution of the art form. Just as early photographers staged scenes and retouched black-and-white portraits, modern artists have simply developed new techniques for capturing the visible world through their own creative lens.