Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Before There Was Photoshop . . .

There is probably not a photographer out there who has not heard about or has used Photoshop - or another digital imaging program.

Indeed, it is amazing what can be done – and what magic can be created – in the digital darkroom.

Sure, there are a ton of creative and fun effects in Photoshop. For example, you can hand-color a black-and-file, add a vignette to an image, and desaturate an image for an "old photo" look. You can add type – in any font, size and color – to an image, and place it wherever you like in the image.

The above example illustrates all of these techniques, but it's not an image that was enhanced in Photoshop. My mother, in 1943, hand-colored the black-and-white print of my dad in Central Park. She and my dad developed the negative in their wet darkroom. My mother also added the vignette and the text. And . . . the print survived!

Image makers today still use these creative techniques, which I think is kinda cool.

I found the picture while going through my Dad's stuff today. He passed away in April of this year - as readers of my blog know. (Thank you for all your notes and cards. Means a lot.)

Here is the original print.
The next time you are working and playing in Photoshop, keep in mind that some of the totally cool effects are not totally new.

Explore the light,

Here is another thought: Save your family photos and keep them in a safe place . . . for future generations.

It's good to have a link to the past.

Here's a picture of my parents taken during WWII. Now that's a cool dress!


Rob said...

Nice shot Rick.

Makes me wonder if in a hundred years time we will no longer have boxes full of old snaps to browse through. The majority of people these days don't print photos & professionals on Blogs (like DPE) tell us to be selective on shots we take and more so on shots we keep.

Sometimes we should just take snapshots & print them for the fun of it. A whole generation of history is likely to disappear on hard drives and never be seen by kids in the future.

Worrying & more than a little sad.

Thanks for sharing

Valerie j said...

Beautiful image of you father with a simple window light, right? I am going home this Summer and I am taking lots of family pictures.... Plus go through all the old family slides and have them scanned. Thank you for the important reminder Rick.

onegoodphotographer said...

My mother died two years ago and my father four years before that. My mother was very good at putting many of her photos in albums ( from the 40's and 50's), but there is also a box of photos and a lot of slides. We have them all and cherish each one. The photo of your father is great, I am jealous!

Marco said...

A friend of mine was clearing out his mother's house after she died.
He came across a box with (mediumformat) black&white negatives. At the time they were taken his parents thought it was too expensive to have all the negs printed.
So now he has brand "new" childhoodphotos.

I recently found some prints of relatives that I took some twenty years ago. I have scanned them and try to keep a familyrecord (together with a a genealogyfile) on my computer.
I mailed them the pics and they were really surprised to see what they looked like back then ;-]

But what if the fileformats we use today will be replaced someday?
Will we remember (and have the discipline) to convert all our files to the new standards?


tim dobbs said...

Wow, You are the spitting image of your Dad...Tim

Ken Toney said...

Rick, I just used Scan Cafe to can about 900 slides my dad took and that was so cool. I found a picture of me (it's on my blog)at age 10 in 1965 with me holding a Brownie Starfire camera. I'm so glad to get that done. I shot photos (amateur) for about 35 years before I got serious 10 years ago and all I had was film (no darkroom) and things are so much different now!
I hope I live long enough to wee what is next for the photographic world!!

Ron Martinsen said...

Thanks for posting this Rick.

I was just having a discussion last night with one of my blog followers about the very subject of how some people poo poo Photoshop enhancements, but Ansel Adams and Jerry N. Uelsmann were masters of darkroom manipulation in the film days.

People sometimes need to be reminded that what we do today in Photoshop is just an evolution of what photographers have done for years.

Marek Mularczyk said...

Hi Rick,

This is a great post! I am going to add a link to your post on my blog -

Thanks for your post.