Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Final Paper

The Revolutionizing Effect of Photoshop on Digital Photography

In the past, photography, as a profession, could be extremely difficult: you had to have the patience and talent to use a camera to freeze time into a nice, memorable image. If you wanted to catch something spectacular you were required carry your camera everywhere. Even models had tough times getting a great shot for a catalog. They could spend hours in the makeup room just to make their appearance look flawless. Highlights of the world’s athletes could not be caught on camera because the events occurred so fast the human eye could not capture them. All of these things changed instantly when photos became digital. From the creation of digital photos, creativity in our modern culture blossomed. This new form photography, best epitomized through the program Photoshop, has been developed on most personal computers. With this program ordinary users can have a sense of ownership, with the ability to manipulate digital imagery to their desire and satisfaction.

Adobe Photoshop is a program that enables users to modify digital photography. One can transfer photos to different files, duplicate, and resize images. And, with its multiple painting tools, users will be able to manipulate images and perform adjustments to contrast and color balance. Sometimes when people take pictures, the eyes of the person in the portrait come out red. The Photoshop program can correct this problem and give the user advantages to adjust the layer transparency. Photoshop is the leading digital software in the country. “It is embraced graphic artists, print designers, visual communicators, regular people like you and me.”(“What is Photoshop,” 4/23/11). In today’s imagery, almost every picture you see in billboards, magazines, and other advertisements have been ‘Photoshopped’. Before, we used to admire paintings and portraits from the great artist of the past decades. Nowadays, when we look at an amazing photo or image our first impression is still astonishment, but a second thought comes to mind: “that has to be ‘Photoshopped’, but it’s so realistic!” This program took analog to digital conversion to a whole new level.

In terms of Photoshop’s interface, most computer programs come with a way for users to interact with the software. A well developed interface of a new program is key; the controls and the counsels should be easy to comprehend while still remaining stylish. “Most old programs offered nothing more than a rather frightening and intimidating text-based command line interface which required you to know awkward commands to be able to use it.”("Adobe Photoshop Interface Tutorial," 4/23/2011). The Adobe Photoshop program controls are user friendly and have easy commands to tell the program what you want it to do. The basic tutorial for the program makes all its users life so much easier as soon as you activate the program.

This simple layout interface carries so much informational context. Lev Manovich, the author of the book The Language of New Media states, “today, as the computer is starting to host very different applications for access and manipulation of cultural data and cultural experiences, their interfaces still rely on old metaphors and action grammars.” This program incorporates similar computer diagram layouts, so the user will not be intimidated by a new look. The menu bar resembles most computer application such as Microsoft Suite and many other popular programs. Looking at the image below, the menu bar, located at the top of the screen, contains the standard options to open, close, save, and print.

Photoshop is no different to other past programs, but there is something that is uniquely special and that is their ‘options’ bar. Evidently, Photoshop has a lot of tools to work with, so they integrated all of its new features into their Options Bar. “So Adobe has taken a great approach with the Options Bar and made it dynamic and context sensitive.”("Adobe Photoshop Interface Tutorial," 4/23/2011). Also, on the tool bar on the left hand side, “when you select one of the tools in the Tool Bar, you'll find the options specific to that tool up in the Options Bar at the top of the screen.” Putting some of these tools to play, the regular person can do some extraordinary things.

Photoshop changed the way we see the world. Every photo on a digital screen, no matter the texture of the paper or the size of the photo, is changeable. Digital artists and manipulators which are people like you and I can take an ordinary photograph and turn into something completely different. The possibilities are endless. You can take a boring photo, and change it into something that is abstract that is an eye catcher. For example, this diagram expresses one’s creativity, the limitation in human, what we cannot do. In a busy high way contractors are playing Tic Tak Toc by engraving it on the road. People do crazy things such as this to give you a new perspective on the world. This makes you question reality, is this really real? Can someone do this to a road, the logic question is no, but Photoshop gives you the opportunity to put your thoughts to reality.

The way we view history changes with the Photoshop imagery. When you think about history, you think about something that is dull, old, and a lack of color. The quality isn’t that great because the technology was different back then. Now, we have high tech digital cameras, while in the 1800s the cameras were very old fashion. Photographers went from developing their photos in a dark room in their basement, to all types of people being able to view, distribute, and save their pictures on their desktop computers. This is a huge change in new media. In order to have a black and white photo in the early days, you were require to assemble your pictures in something you call a dark room. Whereas in today’s society, you can incorporate modern pieces and put it into your history. The diagram below shows you an image of Abraham Lincoln and some of his followers in black and white. Someone used the Photoshop program to plug in a character from the Stars Wars movie. He placed a hat on his head to blend the image with the rest of the people in the photo. This photo is now lifelike; a person that doesn’t know the possibilities of this program will be fooled by this innovative image.

New visual media achieve their cultural significance precisely by paying homage to, rivaling, and refashioning such earlier media as perspective painting, photography, film, and television. They call this process of refashioning "remediation," and they note that earlier media have also refashioned one another: photography remediated painting, film remediated stage production and photography, and television remediated film, vaudeville, and radio.”(Mavorick book) People use this program to eliminate photographic limitations, putting two pictures and merging it into one photo. This is what new media is, the idea of information exchange through the medium to produce a powerful application. The personal computer is the medium that made it all possible for users to do such creative work. Taking the old, and mixing it with the new.

It is remarkable how much time people spend into their work to recreating an image on Photoshop. Some spend hours, while others spend days on a photo. Once finished, the resulting photo gives the impression that it has been done in ten minutes. You get lost in the virtual representation of the photo completely immersing one’s self in cyberspace. You don’t have to make any physical movement, only typing on the keyboard and moving the mouse to command your computer on what to do. “In this form of cyberspace participants see actual graphic space and computer operators interacting within that space as “avatars” or characters. One can walk, run, fly, create objects, buy virtual real estate, shop for clothes or items the avatar can use, develop a business, build a home or art gallery, talk with other avatars, go dancing, or do any number of other activities. Virtual reality realms, such as offered by Second Life, are so compelling, many people find them addictive.”(3)

Photoshop has changed advertisers’ prospective on photos as well. Instead of a company hiring photography to take a photo of a product, you can design your own photo on a Mac or PC computer. Manovich commented, “Old media involved a human creator who manually assembled textual, visual and/or audio elements into a particular composition or a sequence. New media, in contrast, is characterized by variability.” (Manovich) Photoshop does just that: the ability to alter. Because of the many copyright laws, businesses were only limited to using original photos. The Photoshop program is so hard to copyright because the slightest alter creates a new image. Here is an advertisement of a video game. The original photo was just a male standing in front of a mirror, nothing spectacular about that. But, with the Photoshop adjustment, the user had complete control to cut the man’s head off and place it in the sink, while still having the reflection of the man showing on the mirror. Users want complete control to do anything with their work, to be able to express themselves freely as possible.

Even regular sports fans dabble in this remix culture. NBA superstar LeBron James is a player who won the MVP award two consecutive terms. He is a player that is considered one of the best to ever play the game of basketball. Last year his contract to play for his previous team, the Cleveland Cavaliers had expired making him a free agent. Big money markets such as the New York Knicks, the Boston Celtics, and the Miami Heat were all making arrangements to sign this phenomenal superstar. Before LeBron can make his decision, sports fans already started manipulating his past photos to make it seem that he played for their favorite team. People wanted to turn their inner desires of LeBron playing for their team into reality.

the orginial


The funny thing about all these images, are that LeBron James never put on these jerseys in his life. LeBron’s fans wanted to experience being a GM for the NBA, and pick who they want to play for them.

Furthermore our expectation for the ideal person is too high to achieve. Photoshop helps us reach that goal. Before, photographers were demanding our models to have a skinny stomach, with perfect pure white teeth, and flawless skin. Photographers will consistently search for people that fit these descriptions. With Photoshop, it gave other people the opportunity to become a model. With this program, as long as you have one of these attributes, you will be able to make it in the modeling industry. Manovich said, “New media also allows us to create multiple versions of the same object which differ from each other in more substantial ways.” (Manovich) In this diagram below, this is a picture of a regular person who edited her picture on Photoshop to have that super model quality. Everybody is doing this now, adjusting their photos. In today’s society you will rarely find a photo that has been unmodified.

The third and fourth photos are pictures of Hilary Duff. A professional photographer took this photo, but Hilary incorporated her style into her image. Without actually dying her hair, she was able to take a photo, and add highlights to her hair without the hassle of buying hair products to have a new look. Make-up and all can be implemented on to the Photoshop program with the paintbrush interface.

To continue on about appearances, people want to be able to see how they are going to look when they get older. No one wants to age. People try to eat healthier, and exercise daily so they won’t look older. Everybody asks themselves a question when they hit middle age, “I wonder how I’m going to look when I’m seventy years old.” On Photoshop, you will be able to do that too, but it takes talent and patience, but it’s is certainly possible. You will have to take the original photo, and each and every line on the face should be sharpened. Photoshop equips its user with the proper ingredients needed to produce such real life-like photos. But, will you really look like this? And the answer is yes, you won’t look exactly like the image that you produce, but you will be able to find a trace of resemblance to the elderly photo.

Apple Inc. are leaders when it comes to advance innovated technology. They see how people are reacting to this phenomenon, and are now equipping their high tech products like the iPad, the iPhone, and the iPod with the Photoshop programs calling it the Photoshop Express. Manovich also noted that, “the logic of new media thus corresponds to the pos-industrial logic of production on demand and just in time delivery which themselves were made possible by the use of computers and computer networks in all of manufacturing and distribution.” (Manovich) With Apple, users are able to put Photoshop on their portable devices. It’s a free application on your device, so we as users will be able to take a picture and be able to edit it on the go. Our culture is so accustomed to editing photos it’s not a special thing to anyone who can do so. “Modern software application can periodically check for updates on the Internet and then download and install these updates, sometimes without any action from the user.”(Manovich) Apple is a company that also updates all their applications through iTunes, making sure its users have the latest, newest version.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. In other words people tend to see things differently than others. For example an object that may look beautiful to one person may seem grotesque to another. So in terms of designing, many different styles may surface offering a range of flavors that can appeal to many people. The beginning of chapter 3 in Mavorvick book “The Language of New Media”, he talks about how new media designer approaches the computer through many different cultural filters. Manovich expresses his understanding of the language of new media; software programs enable new media designer and artists to create new media objects, and at the same time realize another filter that shapes their imagination of the possibility of what an artist can do with a computer. The diagram below is the image of a tree. Look closely; the branches along with the sky serving as the background create an image of a skull.

Despite all the images that take after real life manipulation, people are adding graphics to turn their fantasy into reality. Images are created to summon our imagination. Growing up as a kid I always wanted to have superpowers. I wanted to be able to fly around, and save peoples’ lives like Superman. This was a fantasy that was fiction, obviously I can’t fly, and I don’t have superpowers. According to Manovich “a new media object can exist in numerous versions, in the case of a digital image, we can change its contrast and color, blur or sharpen it, turn it into a 3D shape, use its values to control sound, and so on.” (Manovich) People are using digital objects to express their fantasy onto this Photoshop program. Looking at one of the pieces below you will be able visualize their innermost desires coming to reality. The books says, “Where the user can freely explore the virtual space of the display from different points of view, and with such extension of computer graphic technology as virtual reality.

I personally have experience with using Photoshop. I currently am a publicity executive for Student Life at Fairleigh Dickinson Teaneck campus. My job requires me to come up, and design all flyers for all on-campus activities for organizations. I’m a person that doesn’t have any experience in drawing, or graphic design all I have is a creative mind, and the Photoshop program. “What before involved scissors and glue now involves a simple click, cut and paste. And by encoding the operation of selection and combination into the very interfaces of authoring and editing software, new media legitimizes them.” This is exactly what I do with the Photoshop program. I find an image from Google, and cut and paste images into the interface; customize it to cater to the event or the organization I’m making the flyer for. It is as simple as a mouse of a click, no physical actions required. It’s fast, and an easy effort that anyone can do.

Last but not least, Photoshop has the ability to repair old pictures. If an image was burned, or torn in an accident, a user will be able to digitally take the pixels in the portrait, and rearrange them to fill in the spaces where the image has been torn. In this diagram below will show you a representation of someone that fixed an old picture.

Moreover Photoshop helps normal people create and design web pages. People pay billions of dollars to hire someone to design their webpage. Now, Photoshop gives the HTML option to add your image, or images onto the Internet. This is great for users to share their creativity with each other. The diagram below is a sample of a web page that was designed on Photoshop.

In conclusion, this is what new media is, remediation. Manovich noted, “Greatly eased the practice of relying on old media content in creating new productions. It also made media universe much more self referential, because when all media objects are designed, stored and distributed using a single machine-computer-it becomes much easier to borrow elements from already existing objects.” (Manovich) Photoshop is a fast efficient way to achieve the same output as other professionals without purchasing expensive equipment that cost up $1,995 for a programmed called Color Studio while Photoshop is less than 1,000 dollars. Today Photoshop is in every home PC.

Works Cited

"Adobe Photoshop Interface Tutorial." Tutorials and Training for Adobe Photoshop. 23 April 2011.

Botler, Jay David and Grusin, Richard. “Remediation” The MIT Press. February 2000. 23 April 2011.

Campbell, Steve. “10 Ways How Photoshop changed the History of Photography.” Makeuseof. 2 April 2010. 23 April 2011.

Kayne, R. "What Is Cyberspace?" WiseGEEK: Clear Answers for Common Questions. Ed. O. Wallace. 24 April 2011.

Manovich, Lev. The Language of New Media. Cambridge: First MIT Press, 2002.

"What Is Photoshop?" Learning & Scholarly Technologies—University of Washington. 23 April 2011.



  1. Photoshop and other mediums that people use to alter and amend photos really have changed the way we think about photography. Gone are the days when one could take a photo and only change it in an art studio. Today we all have access to the world of changing photos which I think is a good thing. Like you said Rich, we now have the ability to see a different world through manipulation of photographs.

  2. Yes, I agree that Photoshop is a very representative example of where technology has taken us. It is a new way of expression, like those photos of LeBron James. Plus the range of features the program includes is close to infinite. I dare say that there are very few people that can utilize all of what Photoshop has to offer. But I think Photoshop has partly reduced the romantic aspect of photography. Plus it personally annoys me greatly when I have to figure out if something has been photoshopped or not. But I guess I should not be asking that since almost everything is photoshopped nowadays.

  3. Photoshop has become so integral in the media be it sports magazines, news photos, and even online articles. Its so ingrained that its almost expected be used in the work place.

  4. Rich, I love the pictures you posted. Photoshop is truly amazing but presents some problems. First thing, it has become too easy to alter photos to make anyone look like they are doing anything. In many cases this is hilarious, but it could ruin someone's reputation. Secondly, the art and craft photography may diminish because of photoshop. Pro photographers used to have to make sure the lighting and lens was perfect, but now you can photoshop all those details in post. That second problem is also one of the real advantages of photoshop, especially when shooting outside where you can't control the lighting. New media has changed the world of picture taking. Remember 1 Hour Moto Photo, more like a few seconds and I don't have to leave the house. I'm happy those places are out of business. I'm convinced they were going through my picture and analyzing them. Privacy at last.

  5. I have never understood photoshop or been able to use it but I see my friends using it all the time. I love taking pictures, it is one of my favorite hobbies so you can see why I enjoyed your essay. In some aspects I think that photoshop is fine when it comes to innocent friend pictures but when it comes to digitally editing pictures just so they can sell is where I draw the line. I respect photojournalists but there have been many cases where the photojournalist has altered images of war and battles just to make them sensational.

  6. Owning a makeup business, I am pretty familiar with photoshop. Although i dont use it to alter makeup, I do use it to enhance the images so they look more appealing. Sometimes if i do makeup for a wedding, the pictures that are sent to me sometimes are to photoshopped for me to use. This paper was very interesting for me. I also remember a very controversial Ralph Lauren advertisment where the model was photshopped to look horribly thin. Here is a link to the image. The first side is the actual model's size...the second is the photoshopped ad.

  7. I love photoshop, especially using it myself to play around with mostly landscape or scenic photos. However, I do hate the trickery involved in almost every photo we view in magazines, billboards, or any advertisement. I actually am familiar with the photo Libby addressed, and how controversial it really was. It makes me think how people REALLY look, instead of just how they look in photos.

  8. As an artist, I find Photoshop to be extremely useful in creating unique works of art and editing images. Although, many people use it to fool reality, I find that it is an easy way to turn something simple into a piece of beauty. As a user of Photoshop, I have used this program as a source to create advertisements.This program has allowed me to take advertisements to the next level. I can make a simple picture and turn it into a 3D work of art. I find that Photoshop is an easy way to express your imagination. With one click you can take an image in your mind and create a piece of art. We must also give credit to this program for keeping many of our images up to date. With Photoshop we can take an old black and white image and modernize it. I also have enjoyed the fact that this program allows you to create webpages. Photoshop is a phenomenal tool that can create something out of nothing with a few clicks of a mouse.