Purists Beware

I just recently overheard a self-described “purist” photographer ranting on about how we’re all cheaters and that the photographic masters before us lacked our current luxury–even desire–to “customize” (read: manipulate/photoshop) images. It was “…all about the the composition, a beautiful subject, and a properly exposed picture”.

I call horse-pucky.

Above: Avedon’s instructions to his printer.


[Via Monoscope.]

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126 Responses to Purists Beware

  1. 3Horn November 16, 2009 at 9:19 am #

    For as long as people have been able to practice selective developing in the dark room, there has been photo manipulation.

    Heck, the Soviets were masters of the clone tool 50 years before Adobe was even founded.

    • yoyo September 11, 2011 at 11:23 am #

      painters of the 19th century considered the use of cameras as cheating….

  2. Dave November 16, 2009 at 9:21 am #

    Interesting. What exactly do those instructions mean?

  3. Chris Biele November 16, 2009 at 9:22 am #

    This looks like something straight out of a nip/tuck session.

  4. Anonymous November 16, 2009 at 9:22 am #

    Some photoshop tools derive their names form photomanipulation techniques found in darkrooms. Who does he think he's fooling?

  5. cruelphoto November 16, 2009 at 9:28 am #

    I like how it looks pretty much exactly like the sketches most fashion photographers send to their retouchers these days ;D Except the intructions are painted on with a brush in PS ;=)

  6. htown November 16, 2009 at 9:29 am #

    I beleive any masters of ANY craft will always be defensive of their trade (skill) when another comes along to replace it or make it such that a person with a casual interest can do what took him years to master. I am already hearing some of it now with the guys that have become good digital photographers winning about how HDR is blah blah blah. Some find it easier to stand and defend their position than just embrace new technologies. A bend in the road is not the end of the road, unless you fail to turn.

  7. ColetasSoft November 16, 2009 at 9:29 am #

    I´ve always loved how all the purists always forget the surrealists photographers.

  8. Marty Near DFW November 16, 2009 at 9:31 am #

    Hehehehe! I'm just glad we don't have to do this with airbrushing and light tables any more. And then to photograph a halftone on top of that. I do not miss the days of mechanical prepress.

    =M=

  9. Anonymous November 16, 2009 at 9:33 am #

    I guess those number mean the number of seconds, that those parts are suppost to be burned/dodged. Old Darkroom technics.

    Most people just don't realize, that there some basic things are done to photos from the day the genre was born. Everytime you give your film away for development, the printer does those and just because you don't see him do it, doesn't mean they are not done.

    Daniel

  10. marcus November 16, 2009 at 9:33 am #

    Ah ignorance… Ansel Adams, quite literally, wrote the book on dodging and burning. It's called "The Print".

  11. mike November 16, 2009 at 9:33 am #

    See http://www.cs.dartmouth.edu/farid/research/digitaltampering/ for examples from 1860 onwards

    and don't forget the Cottingley fairies

  12. Steve Smith November 16, 2009 at 9:33 am #

    These same purists also crack me up when they go on about how they use no filters, extra inks or other 4 color press enhancements, any alterations blah blah, in their coffee table books. Not that they lie and do this anyway…..a "real" photograph starts to deviate from the path of "reality" from the second the shutter is snapped and at every stop along the printing way…oh but thank god a filter wasn't used. I guess we shouldn't consider Ansel Adam's photos real either.
    I guess to be a purist you have to have some kind of badge of honor.

  13. KAST November 16, 2009 at 9:36 am #

    To assume that the Ansel Adams' or Alfred Eisenstaedts' of the world didn't fret over the nuances of their photos is crazy. What is Adams' Zone System if not a way to "manipulate" the final image.

  14. Matt Stauble November 16, 2009 at 9:36 am #

    Haha I was looking at a few Life magazine's I found from the early 70's. The images were so manipulated that they were barely distinguishable from the clip art.

    Also I new a guy who did work for Ansel. AA spent more time inside the darkroom than outside in the parks.

  15. Michael Hurcomb November 16, 2009 at 9:42 am #

    Easier for him to call himself a self described "purist" than a self described "person who fears change and new technology"

  16. OliverPoburski November 16, 2009 at 9:42 am #

    Is it cheating when I make a photo (including post processing) to express what I saw or felt at that moment?

    • Corey March 18, 2011 at 1:01 pm #

      Never. That’s called art.

  17. Mary Strubbe November 16, 2009 at 9:44 am #

    Too bad these purists don't study photo history. So many holes to poke in their arguments…Henry Peach Robinson, Oscar Rejlander, oh, that Ansel Adams fellow and his zone system, and anyone else who's spilled their beer in the Dektol…

  18. Ben Lawson Photography November 16, 2009 at 9:48 am #

    Dave, those are dodge/burn/retouch instructions. Not that I can interpret them for you… Anyone have a link to the final result?

  19. Brian Auer November 16, 2009 at 9:49 am #

    So does that mean Jerry Uelsmann is not a master?

  20. Dan baker November 16, 2009 at 9:50 am #

    One only listen to Ansel's own words to understand his stance on photo manipulation. He even referenced the ability to someday edit images electronicly. People so desperately want to believe images were straight out of the camera instead of appreciating them for what they are, fantastic images.

  21. Angelini Photography November 16, 2009 at 9:51 am #

    Frankly who gives a rats a** how you arrive at a beautiful image – it is ART which is subjective anyway. That is like telling a painter who uses a pallet knife instead of a brush a fraud. The tool needs a clue and some history lessons…maybe even a chill pill or two!

  22. Michael G. Manoukian November 16, 2009 at 9:54 am #

    I have to agree with most of you! Retouching in some shape or form has always existed. Those of us who printed in darkroom know retouching well.

    I read through a book on the British Royal family not too long ago (of course I can't remember what its called right now). It had plenty of classic film printing manipulation in it. Not just D&B;, I'm talking removing objects, people, replacing heads, wrinkles and more.

    However, I don't want to seem like a hypocrite, but I disagree with alot of what is going on these days in the media and what is being taught in school. I draw the line when an image has been manipulated so much that it no longer resembles the original. Like any other, retouching is a tool. I gave a brief demo at a college in Montreal and I was shocked to hear a majority of students say at one point "oh I cant fix that in Photoshop later!"

    It should be a tool used to add and enhance not replace good photography!

    Thats are my two cents!

  23. Bruce DeBoer November 16, 2009 at 9:57 am #

    There's an understandable frustration out there. The tool kit for photographers is much more comprehensive that ever but I'm not sure how limiting the tool kit improves imagery.

    You want to hear a rant? Get me started on the aesthetic judgments of photographers and their use of manipulation – THAT will be an earful.

    Don't blame the tools!

  24. Eric Baumann November 16, 2009 at 10:00 am #

    i think photoshop is a great tool when used responsibly, however it is also a dangerous tool, one that has been misused very publicly, subsequently- and irreparably-damaging public attitude towards photography/photographers.

  25. BDStudio Photography November 16, 2009 at 10:04 am #

    Look at the book "The Master Printer's Black & White Workbook" and weep! This debate will never end and it's gets quite boring actually!

    • Meltdownman December 24, 2010 at 1:06 pm #

      I’ve read Steve Macleod’s book “The Master Printer’s – a professional guide to b+w darkroom techniques”. It is a wonderful book describing “the old school” way of doing things. From darkroom setup to dodging and burning methods. It is in itself an art form that is being replaced by other art forms in the ways of doing things.

      However, we simply cannot dismiss this “old school” of ‘technique’ and replace it with another form. It is but a stepping stone to other creative methods and ideas and it still has its place just like that of the great sculpters and painters from the past.

      I would encourage any new photographer to read and understand these older methods and apply them to what is available today. It is such an amazing place this world in which we live in. Tell your story from whatever method you chose and bring it out from behind the lens. I look forward to reading it.

      The Meltdownman

  26. Evan November 16, 2009 at 10:04 am #

    @htown:

    I agree that the masters of any art can get defensive, but I think what we're seeing here is that people feel like complaining about new technologies gives them the same cache as the old masters, without having to actually learn the techniques themselves. Dollars to doughnuts the original complainer has no darkroom skills to speak of, but feels that these sorts of statements make him/her look like they do.

    That said, I (as a digital photographer; I won't say good) HATE HDR. Not because I think it's lazy or sloppy or whatever, just because I think it looks stupid. Or, I should say, it looks stupid in the cases when you can tell by looking at it that it's been used… But of course, any new technique, whether technologically driven or not, will have people who simply don't like what it outputs. Photography itself did, early on.

  27. matthew d. lyons November 16, 2009 at 10:06 am #

    Brilliant. I wrote a blog piece not too long about about having some issues with "manipulation." It didn't take long to understand that I was hung up on the terminology and not properly associated with what's been done in the dark room for decades. I think it's time for me to write a follow-up piece. Thanks for the reminder, and not-so-gentle kick in the stones.

  28. Ben Klaus November 16, 2009 at 10:09 am #

    Here is the finished product of the above image, if you are not familiar with it…
    http://www.richardavedon.com/#s=5&a;=0&mi;=2&pt;=1π=10000&p;=7&at;=0

  29. Jon Thorpe November 16, 2009 at 10:12 am #

    To those wondering, those are dodge / burn instructions to his retoucher / developer. the negative numbers are dodge instructions, where he wants the image lightened up a tad. The positives are burn instructions to bring the highlights down.

    Manipulation is nothing new. there is a book out there on the trial of a photographer who claimed to be able to photograph spirits. Of course, he was really just double exposing film. But this was over a hundred years ago and people believed him ;)

  30. Ron November 16, 2009 at 10:17 am #

    Whatever discipline you are talking about, people have always used whatever tools were available to them at the time. A photo "purist" might be considered a cheat by a portrait painter, a painter considered a cheat by someone carving petroglyphs, etc. etc. etc. I won't be photographing with a 50 lb. viewcamera and I won't be apologizing for it, either.

  31. Kevin Halliburton November 16, 2009 at 10:18 am #

    Both those who dodge current technology and those who burn yesterday's bridges are fools in my book. Anyone too lazy or undisciplined to learn both the history and the tools of their craft should walk more humbly around those who have invested the time to remain relevant. The true masters have always forged new tools. There is not a "purist" among them (whatever that is).

  32. Vincenzo Pistritto November 16, 2009 at 10:26 am #

    The industry is full of people who want to claim tat retouching is "wrong" and that HDR is fake. At the end of the day an image is an image. And if you took an amazing image in camera, that really great, kudos to you, but if you took that images with I digital camera (or even film it would seem, but especially digital) you have no choice but to make some decisions about that image, as simple as what color space does my image need to be to get good colour at mt preferred lab? Is this not technically changing the way the viewer will experience the image? Is cropping not photo manipulation to a point? The only thing "purist" have done is attemped to draw a line in the sand. I'm sorry but that's just not going to fly anymore. Take final products at face value and give every photo an honest shot. That's the way I see it!

  33. aedmonds November 16, 2009 at 10:28 am #

    Looks like the same process that Vincent Versace uses in processing his images. From his book, "Welcome to Oz".

  34. Don November 16, 2009 at 10:32 am #

    If you were lucky enough to see the Ansel Adams show at San Diego MOPA, you would have seen how far he went in the darkroom. Included at the show was a copy of the original negative for "Moonrise, Hernandez, NM" which is about 2.5 stops underexposed and almost clear. To see that negative next to the print is stunning for anyone who has ever printed.

    And anyone professing such a stupid and totally non-aware statement only shows how silly, naive and totally irrelevant they are.

  35. Heymo November 16, 2009 at 10:34 am #

    "horse-pucky" – it's such a never-ending discussion, love it :-)

  36. Trudy November 16, 2009 at 10:41 am #

    The self-proclaimed purist is just revealing their lack of education of the history of their own craft and should be ashamed.

  37. SpiffyPix November 16, 2009 at 10:55 am #

    I don't argue this anymore. I just point everyone here:

    http://www.cs.dartmouth.edu/farid/research/digitaltampering/

  38. Reatha November 16, 2009 at 11:04 am #

    Hmm I get that all the time in my studio. Purist film guys come in I swear just to argue with me about digital manipulation. Now I just show them Wanda Wultz's The Cat and I from 1932. That shuts them up.

  39. Matt November 16, 2009 at 11:19 am #

    Nice to see you slapping down the haters, Chase. :) I've always hated that stupid line of thinking too. I'll be sure to forward this to anyone who brings that up.

  40. Andrei November 16, 2009 at 11:19 am #

    What does it mean to make a photograph? Is it the mere "recreation" of what your eyes see, or could/should see? Is it a moment captured and frozen in time? Is it a piece of art? I believe it can be all of these together and it may have different directions. Look at Mr. Jarvis' images of the skier. I don't know about you but I've never seen these guys in real life leave "trail of themselves" behind when doing stunts. It may be the same with HDR (there is a whole lot of tasteless hdr being done, but then who am I to be the judge of that. "De gustibus et coloribus non est disputandum". What a truth perfectly applied in photography.

  41. Dan Kaufman November 16, 2009 at 11:37 am #

    heck…I didn't even understand how to use Photoshop until I studied Ansel Adams' darkroom processing/printing techniques.

  42. Marc Pritchard November 16, 2009 at 11:46 am #

    Too right! The more people that become aware of this, the better! Purists miss the point completely with being so absorbed with the process.

  43. Patrick Briscoe November 16, 2009 at 12:44 pm #

    I think it is important to remember that photography is an art form. Art is creativity and is in the eye of the beholder. It should not be bound by restrictions of group X or person Y. Personally, I don't care what is done to an image; if it speaks to me, then the artist did his/her job. Where I can see an exception is if the image is representing history/important events. Just my $0.02 :)

  44. Greg November 16, 2009 at 12:46 pm #

    Its always good to look back at the cornerstone of visual art, you have:

    -One stroke Japanese Calligraphy

    -reshaped/reworked paintings of all types

    -etc.

    Both have strengths & respect each other.

  45. PositivePaul November 16, 2009 at 1:00 pm #

    Hmmm:

    Was this man a purist???

  46. Darren November 16, 2009 at 2:02 pm #

    I agree, Ansel Adams changed the chemical mixes and only dipped certain parts of the paper to achieve different exposures.

    Back in the early 80's in Art College we were introduced to the technique of using lead pencils on negatives to manipulate certain parts.

  47. Kevin Halliburton November 16, 2009 at 2:04 pm #

    One of the oddest things about those instructions, if I read them right, is that Avedon doesn't appear to be trying to correct the man's skin tone "flaws," but rather enhance them. It looks like he has been wearing dark goggles while getting a pretty dark tan. The final print must have made him look like he had just come out of a long stay in an underground hideaway to take a job testing welding masks at a nuclear blast site. Something tells me that Avedon was going for something pretty surreal here.

  48. Martin November 16, 2009 at 3:03 pm #

    I used to love printing with multigrade, my darkroom was filled with bits of card with holes in and bits of wire with card shapes on the end, multigrade came along and all of a sudden your having to pause your dodging and burning while you slip in a different grade filter, oh the good ol' days :o ) (ps god i love photoshop, it's saved us all a fortune in carpets)

  49. Simon F November 16, 2009 at 3:07 pm #

    So selecting one film type because you prefer the way it renders a particular subject compared to another is not a form of manipulation…?

  50. James November 16, 2009 at 4:09 pm #

    Aren't we past all this. No really does anyone but another photographer ask if you use digital or photoshop?

    Technology makes things easier. I bet he/she drives around in a car and doesn't use candles!

    All light is manipulated from the moment its conceived. That fact that its done with a camera or darkroom or photoshop or print or screen doesn't matter, these are just tools.

    But then everyone has their own opinion.

  51. kamel November 16, 2009 at 4:24 pm #

    Is that really so important the how you do it if it helps you to express what You want?

  52. Anonymous November 16, 2009 at 4:39 pm #

    Maybe if photography were an Olympic sport these rules would be appropriate.

    Most of us consider ourselves visual artists and should be taking advantage of every available tool to create a visually pleasing or compelling image.

    Maybe our purist should stick to a Polaroid for maximum purity.

  53. Chiara November 16, 2009 at 5:05 pm #

    Ahahah nice post Chase :)

    IMHO all this "purism" is a big mental masturbation of little skilled photo amateurs :P

  54. Kevin Alex November 16, 2009 at 6:03 pm #

    I have to say that I still have my attachments to film and chemistry but photography is forever evolving. Years ago when I went digital, my friend snubbed me saying that he wants to keep it traditional. My reply? "Where do you get your flash powder?"

  55. Anonymous November 16, 2009 at 6:41 pm #

    Wasn't there an elegance to the visualization, chemistry, and clockwork of film? I love the freshest/ latest, but film is cool.

  56. a November 16, 2009 at 6:50 pm #

    Thank you.

  57. Jason Christopher November 16, 2009 at 8:31 pm #

    If you have to correct your lighting and composition then it is cheating. Anyone who can't light their set up correctly and relies on Photoshop to fix it, is a friggin retard wanna be photographer.

    Jason,
    http://www.jasonchristopher.com

  58. Joe November 16, 2009 at 8:35 pm #

    To play devil's advocate, there are some people out there that do more hiding/altering than enhancing/creating, which I think is what the general population thinks of when they use the name Photoshop as a verb.

    I held out on anything more than color adjustments for a long time until I realized that the thing holding me back from what I wanted to represent in my photos was something that could only be achieved with a combination of a good native image and the post-processing to enhance it. Hell, Ansel Adams was renowned for his post-processing techniques!

  59. Admin November 16, 2009 at 11:52 pm #

    Only some color correction should be done in my opinion.

  60. Matt Allan November 17, 2009 at 3:44 am #

    As soon as a photographer makes a concious decision to set ISO, shutter speed and apeture on their cameras the image they see and want to capture has been manipulated.

    How easy is it to 'brighten' a scene with higher ISO or slower shutter speed? For that matter, if someone sets their camera to Portrait Mode, snaps the shutter and the image has been 'altered' without even being opened in PS.

    While the traditional methods certainly should be respected I personally think we're well past the "digital is the devil" mentality.

    It's here to stay… deal with it or not, No one is twisting arms.

  61. Deb November 17, 2009 at 6:07 am #

    Oh my goodness – so true!

  62. Adam November 17, 2009 at 6:13 am #

    I know this name was mentioned above…but again, Ansel Adams, "Dodging and burning are steps to take care of mistakes God made in establishing tonal relationships." That said, I take a certain pride in getting a really great photo without any post…

  63. Anonymous November 17, 2009 at 7:01 am #

    Maybe just maybe the guy was lamenting about people who never learn or understand the basic componets of what makes a good image and then try to make up for it by tweaking the crap out of it. Hoping that will make up for a ill concieved image to begin with. We all see this all the time…come on folks.

  64. Louis Jiran November 17, 2009 at 7:05 am #

    I'm with ya on this Chase. I've been in the wedding and portrait buisness since 1985. Whether it's done on a negative or a digital file, it's still photo manipulation. We were still shooting with film only, up-till about 4 years ago.

    Louis Jiran
    PPA Certified Master Photographer

  65. viskussity November 17, 2009 at 7:11 am #

    hey look… I'm sure there are purists out there in any field. and i love them and respect them for keeping the traditions alive, without them the craft gets lost and overtaken by careless novices who have little to no respect for the CRAFT of a thing.

    i say respect the purist and his efforts to keep things alive, and allow them to not like the new things that may seem to "threaten" their crafts. meanwhile we keep advancing the craft and maybe they will come around, provided we do so with respect to their efforts.

    we need them, they need us :)

  66. Kevin Halliburton November 17, 2009 at 7:54 am #

    It's the ultimate ignorance to criticize someone's accent when you can't even speak their language; Chances are they will mock you in return in languages you aren't even educated enough to understand.

    Very few people who ridicule the Photoshop accent know how to speak the language fluently. It's just tough for me to respect those mocking me from a darkroom as superior craftsmen whose enlightened opinions warrant review.subignic

  67. Blake Marvin November 17, 2009 at 8:04 am #

    clearly these purist havent spent any time in the darkroom with a talented printed or done any reading on the greats, weston, adams, etc.

  68. Greg November 17, 2009 at 9:35 am #

    I believe photography falls into 2 main groups, artistic and documentary. With artist photography, the world is their oyster, make as many manipulations as the artist believes necessary. Documentary photos on the other hand should be kept true to form with the photographer trying to duplicate what was seen. Manipulating a documentary image to distort or prove something is uncalled for and should be avoided.

  69. Jared Froiland November 17, 2009 at 11:35 am #

    To me there just projecting frustration about something they in someway or another may do themselves. And whoever this person is, obviously must have never heard of Jerry Uelsmann. The man is making composites with B and W film printing, in a darkroom! He inspired me in making composites digitally. This may sound funny to you, but I also remember my photoshop manipulation getting better after I took a zone system class. We don't need to even start with how much you manipulate your photos in zone…

  70. Jared Froiland November 17, 2009 at 11:52 am #

    Hers another Avedon picture that is relevant to the subject.

    http://www.richardavedon.com/#mi=2&pt;=1π=10000&s;=27&a;=0&p;=4&at;=0

  71. Borna Cavrag November 17, 2009 at 12:22 pm #

    The bottom line is – who really gives a f#$%? You are paid to make pictures according to your style and clients' demands. If your customer likes it and you like it too, than I really don't see a problem with what a person flaming on a discussion board thinks

  72. Ian Lozada November 17, 2009 at 12:41 pm #

    Da Vinci would have killed to get his hands on a copy of Photoshop CS4.

  73. Nanfius November 17, 2009 at 12:43 pm #

    Well, what is to be a purist anyway? I do like a more photjournalist approch to photos where you have to catch what is going on, the "real" or "pure" action, but that doent not mean that you cant touch the photo a lil, as long as you dont transform it in something different. What if you shoot i raw? there is always something to do with a raw image.

    I guess in France there is a law that required that people tell if they used photoshop to an image, i guess allof them are, isn it? to some degree…..

    anyway, i am thinking out loud…..

  74. Anonymous November 17, 2009 at 1:27 pm #

    I don't understand the "Purist" concept. If you think of Group F64, Weston, Adams, Cunningham etc. Those who felt that being faithful to the strength of the photographic image, sharpness, clarity and tonal purity etc. which was a response to the dreamy pictorialism in vogue in the early part of the last century. Even their methods allowed for a great deal of dodging burning cropping and toning to achieve what was considered the straight photography esthetic. In the Avedon picture its just dodging and burning instructions to enhance the image. Its not manipulation its enhancement.

  75. Fred November 17, 2009 at 1:36 pm #

    Oh how true!…

  76. Anonymous November 17, 2009 at 3:52 pm #

    Any time you take a photo you are manipulating reality through the exposure settings and lens selection. Depth of field, over/under exposure, blur, grain/noise all change the look of a photo. Purist – pure pucky indeed!

  77. Kevin Alex November 17, 2009 at 4:37 pm #

    How long before we resurrect the "HDR or not HDR" feud? There are those who never took a shot with a film camera, and there are also people who never used a phone tethered to a wall jack. It is what it is. Just Shoot. This coming from a guy who mourned when Polaroid folded. Prove your point with you images.

  78. RA.Sullivan = Sully November 17, 2009 at 7:13 pm #

    Purist, true purist will love this example. "Purist" will not understand the strange markings. For me a purist actually is one who has seen the silver in a print slowly awaken from the blank piece of paper into an image. The smell of the "vanilla" scented stop. That brings me back.

  79. Aimee Greeblemonkey November 17, 2009 at 8:09 pm #

    EXACTLY. I used to dodge and burn in the dark room just like I do now in Photoshop. Just get a whole less less messy.

  80. Vince Gonzales November 17, 2009 at 9:05 pm #

    Bravo!

  81. IAN AITKEN November 17, 2009 at 10:45 pm #

    I have showed this exact image to a few people in different circumstances, to illustrate different things.
    1) to an up and coming retoucher, so I could illustrate that this has been going on for a while and it is not a new phenomenon.
    2) to a photography student, to show the amount of thought and work that goes into getting a great print after the shutter has been released.

    cheers

    Ian

  82. IAN AITKEN November 17, 2009 at 10:50 pm #

    Also want to note that my great grandfather was a pretty well established photographer (was still doing aerial shots in his 80's) he had a whole studio full of people, doing stuff from printing to hand colouring and hand retouching (removing wrinkles,inproving bone structure ets)

    This is was at the beginning of last century!

    cheers

    ian

  83. Joel Cummins November 18, 2009 at 12:10 am #

    I loved the darkroom and the results- like so many people i talk to I pretend i'm going to do it again someday… a bit like going back to steam after internal combustion. The pioneers of old gave us alot. Today we are truely standing on the shoulders of giants… What a great place to be!

  84. Bill Pruitt November 18, 2009 at 12:42 am #

    I'd bet anything that Ansel Adams would be using any software he could find to make his photos look the way he wanted.

  85. Lin Zhaowei November 18, 2009 at 3:01 am #

    Does anyone believe there is a value to images that are not manipulated in Photoshop?

    I think Nanfius made a good point that photojournalistic work is where this applies. (indeed, it's part of their code of ethics, AFAIK)

    I don't see myself as a purist but I feel quite attracted to capturing images as they are, be it candid or not.

    Of course I acknowledge there are great images among the deluge of photoshopped stuff we see all over the web nowadays. Nothing wrong at all.

    But I simply don't understand the argument that even adjusting aperture and shutter speed or choosing a particular film or capture setting — for the raw capture be it on film or on digital — is a form of manipulation.

    Manipulation to me = post processing, ie. after the image is captured. Or am I missing something?

  86. Jason Lindsey November 18, 2009 at 6:29 am #

    I agree completely. We have always wanted more control and used the tools we had available.

  87. Todd November 18, 2009 at 6:56 am #

    Know who talk like this? Those that don't know what the heck they're doing in PS. And old schoolers that hate on the digitally based "photo witchcraft" all of us "youngins" are practicing. Blah blah blah – talk is cheap. Maybe they can't do it, perhaps they've attempted to, so naturally they talk crap. Either that or they're too lazy to try and learn.

  88. aepoc November 18, 2009 at 7:23 am #

    Lin – I agree on manipulation. Seems to me that starts AFTER the photo is captured. Great discussion here.

  89. Jason November 18, 2009 at 7:38 am #

    Jealousy is a bitch

  90. Ryan Conklin November 18, 2009 at 10:18 pm #

    Manipulations are different than transformations.

  91. Brett Gilmour Photography Inc. November 18, 2009 at 11:40 pm #

    So what's a Purist?

    At the Ansel Adams museum in Jackson Wyoming they have a large, 3'x4' or so, print that Ansel had marked up for his printer. I used to convert a slide to print so I cold mark it up for my printer who then made beautiful cibachromes. The printer hand cut masks for each of the dodge and burn areas and kept them on file for 1 year, after that I had to pay storage fees on the masks. At the time I was considered a Purist because I didn't use coloured filters. As a purist it was permissalbe to use 1a and polarizing filers.

    Thankfully and can now keep all of my masks right on the hard drive and backed up on the server and DVD's.

  92. Gerald November 20, 2009 at 6:59 am #

    Amen. It never fails to surprise me how ignorant the 'purist' is of traditional photographic processes and the printmaking practices of the 'masters'.

  93. Les Wilcockson November 20, 2009 at 8:40 am #

    I discussed this very subject on my own blog a while ago under the heading 'Which one are you?'
    17/December/2008 18:24

    I’ve been reading yet more sad rubbish from the ‘traditional’ versus ‘digital’ brigade.

    ‘Of course traditional photography, using film, is pure!’ I read somewhere. What a bunch of cobblers! How on earth can anything taken on film, or digital for that matter, be ‘pure’?

    We stand in front of our chosen scene or object, we then peer at it through a little window or small screen, and then we commit it to memory card or film. Some sad ‘digital’ people will spend days photoshopping it to death, they’ll say ‘I’ve created 32 layers and spent 3 days doing this so it must be good.’

    The ‘pure’ film people will have only used film, you know, that ‘pure’ stuff made of stuff coated with ‘pure’ chemicals which is then dunked in various other ‘pure’ chemicals for different amounts of time. The residue is usually washed down the plughole, maybe there is such a thing as a ‘pure’ plughole! Then, we get out the ‘pure’ chemically coated paper!
    Yet more stuff down the plughole.
    So now Mr Digital and Mr Traditional, study each other’s work…

    Mr Digital says to Mr Traditional, ‘You took a photograph of a stunning vista that stretched as far as the eye can see in all directions and you’ve printed it on a piece of paper just 5” by 7”. The real scene was in glorious colour now it’s just in black, white, and differing shades of grey. Don’t try to tell me it’s ‘pure.’ ‘

    Mr Traditional says to Mr Digital, ‘Don’t talk to me about my work, what about yours? It doesn’t look anything like anything, it’s had more work done on it than Joan Rivers!’

    ‘Ha ha!’ says Mr Digital, ‘It’s not finished yet, I just need to add some more adjustment layers and import some sky from a photograph that came on a free disc on the front of ‘Destroy Photogaphs Weekly’ . You’ll be more than impressed when I’ve done that!’ (smug grin on his face at this point)

    ‘Will you print it out once you’ve done all of that?’ says Mr Traditional.

    ‘Not yet,’ is the response. ‘I’ve got 6,745 other ones to print first..once I’ve fixed my computer!”

  94. Michael Movsyesov November 21, 2009 at 3:14 pm #

    I hear this crap all the time and it pisses me off beyond belief. I think those who call themselves "purists" are people who are afraid to step out of their box and explore something new and different. They are afraid of being eaten alive by modern day technology; therefore, they continue to run their mouths about how "pure" they are.

  95. rob November 23, 2009 at 10:34 am #

    Not that I can prove it, but I predicted this. When I was in art school 30 years ago, the easel artists said photography wasn't real art. Now, the darkroom artists say digital photography isn't real art. Some things never change.

  96. Jason Collin Photography November 24, 2009 at 11:10 pm #

    Wow, that is one complicated print order! Maybe someone should make their Nikon video entry a video of handing a print order like that to the local Walgreens photo clerk!

  97. David November 25, 2009 at 8:38 pm #

    I have a question.
    You reserve the right to delete off topic, spam or mean spirited comments or personal attacks. It appears you recognize that such remarks shouldn't be worth report.

    So does this post qualify as a personal attack or mean spirited comment?

    Just curious how you would classify it.

  98. Chase Jarvis November 26, 2009 at 1:43 pm #

    @ david hopefully your question has it's roots in good place and not otherwise. Because I take this stuff seriously, I'm going to answer your question seriously.

    This post is a theoretical discussion. no person is identified, so it's not a personal attack. and it's not mean-spirited, I even used the words horse and pucky to add levity.

    the post is targeting a couple pretty specific/mingled concepts, namely a) that the term "purist" is a slippery slope, and b)that despite the change in technologies to achieve photo manipulation, the times have not sugstantially changed from those of the "masters" to now.

    the aim is to encourage critical thinking and lively discussion.

  99. Chase Jarvis November 29, 2009 at 10:23 am #

    Btw, Avedon is showing at San Francisco MOMA right now…

  100. Julia Z December 2, 2009 at 1:41 pm #

    This is a classic example of old school technique going new school. We used to do this in the darkroom for hours…dodging and burning. The only difference is that now we can dodge and burn and layer and add effects at our desks with the lights ON.

  101. waynoman December 2, 2009 at 11:56 pm #

    Amen brother. Go to the Photo Antiquities Museum in Pittsburgh and look at the examples of various stages of photography. There has been and always will be advancements in photography technology.

  102. Nathan December 8, 2009 at 10:49 am #

    If you restrict the tools you use and the techniques that you incorporate you are restricting and limiting your creative freedom and expression…my philosophy is use what ever tools you need to get the job done!

  103. Abe Froman December 17, 2009 at 6:24 pm #

    I wouldn't call myself a purist photographer. I don't like using photoshop much more than tweeking white balance or exposure. I would say that this is just my style. I think this guy is one of those people that like mock what they don't have the ability to do themselves. Say that it is cheating just because he isn't doing it.

  104. Unitacs Boon Photography December 24, 2009 at 6:22 pm #

    Horse pucky squared. From day one its been about the final image not the process or the tools you use. If and when you find your images start become sucky then it is high time to vet thru your process to find the weak liknk. Art is about the end result not the path taken to get there which can be multiple. This is a visual medium.

  105. Anonymous December 30, 2009 at 12:41 pm #

    what kind of glasses do you wear in your iphone picture video switching something?

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