I had to try it.
While at Saturday’s San Xavier Mission shoot, I commented to the other photographers about how unsightly some of the signs on the outside of the building were. (Whenever possible, I’d actually moved portable signs before pressing the shutter release.) All of the photographers I was with at the time agreed, but one of them went on to complain that they were a pain in the neck to remove in Photoshop. When I asked whether he actually did that, he replied that he always used Photoshop to remove signs he didn’t want in his photos.
Of course, I knew this was possible and, in all honesty, I’ve done my share of Photoshop editing. Still, I was amazed that someone would go to all that trouble to remove elements photograph of a photograph in post processing.
You see, I’m a bit of a “purist.” I believe that a photograph should be created in the camera. The photographer should photograph what’s there, carefully framing the shot to create his image of what’s in front of him. Creativity comes with exposure, depth of field, composition, choice of lens, point of view. What the camera records on digital media — or film, for that matter — is the photograph. Editing beyond the removal of specks and scratches or minor adjustments to exposure or color balance is — to me at least — not photography. It’s image editing.
You could argue that a real “purist” wouldn’t edit at all. I’d have to agree with you. I didn’t say I was an absolute purist — although I’d love to be one. My photos, unfortunately, sometimes need a little help. Like most other photographers these days, I turn to Photoshop or another image editing application to get that help.
I think the difference is how much help I get from Photoshop. I draw a line before a lot of other people do. Maybe it shows — for good or bad — in my photos. I don’t know. But I’d rather get it “right” in the camera than “fix it” in Photoshop.
But after the shoot, when I went back to my camper to relax for the afternoon, I started wondering what kind of difference sign removal would make and how well I could pull it off. So starting with the photo you see above, I used the brush and clone tools to remove the three signs that were visible. You can see the end result here.
I’m not sure how this would hold up if printed as a large photo. I’m confident that the closest sign, which appeared on a stucco wall, was neatly removed. The far sign was too small to be noticeable in the first place. But that middle sign…well, who knows?
Would I do this all the time? No way. I’d rather find creative ways to keep the signs out of the shot in the first place.
What do you think? Use the Comments link or form to share your views.