at the center of things / 16 May, 2005 [click for previous image: the last light]
at the center of things / 16 May, 2005 [click for next image: Photo Friday: Space]
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Title • at the center of things

I mentioned yesterday that I'd say a bit more about manipulating images with Photoshop, but first ...

Isn't photography itself a form of visual manipulation? Photographs are never what we see – i.e. the mechanics of photography are not the same as the physiology of perception. For example, I don't perceive depth of field in the same way that it is captured by a lens, I can't visually compress the distances in a shot by using a telephoto eye, I can't freeze-frame a busy scene in my mind, my vision isn't monochromatic, and so on. So what counts as an image that isn't manipulated? One that comes straight from the camera? No, because it's already been subjected to the manipulation of photography. What I think is at stake here is not manipulation versus no manipulation, rather I think it's conventionalism versus digital processing. And leaving aside the fact that most of the things I do to my images could be replicated in a dark room (which rather negates the "no manipulation" argument anyway) I really don't see this as an issue.

For me, manipulation – i.e. altering an image in Photoshop after it's been taken – is an integral part of producing an image. I'm not interested in literal, objective or representational photography, that's not my aim. Rather, I'm trying to capture something of the way I see the world – the vibrancy, the colour, the texture, the patterns, the life, and so on – and Photoshop is a tool to that end.

So, I guess it depends on what you're after. If you want some sort of objective record (a conventional photograph) of an event or thing then I can see why "manipulation" might be seen as a bad thing, but if your photography is more interpretive then I guess you'll be more favourably inclined. For example: if you look at today's shot you might think that the sky probably wasn't quite that blue, and that maybe the rust wasn't quite so vibrant, and so on. But so what? This shot is about colour, and texture, and shapes, and the post-processing is my way of accentuating those aspects of this scene that I think are of interest.

I do have more to say about this – it's a subject that's quite dear to my heart – but perhaps that�s enough for now.

Oh, and this is the hub of the big wheel on Blackpool's Central Pier, and while I think the rust is aesthetically appealing it doesn't exactly inspire me to take a ride ;-)

8.35pm on 12/5/05

Canon 20D

100mm f/2.8 Macro USM



aperture priority






C1 Pro


shutter speed
shooting mode
exposure bias
metering mode
image quality
RAW converter

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