Photoshop is NOT a Four Letter Word

I can remember growing up always having a camera in my hands, always taking pictures.  In fact, once, when my camera broke, I thought I was going to die, while waiting for it to be repaired.  I still get that way when I have to send my D300 in for repairs. Thank goodness for my backup camera body.
I started out shooting film and then slides.  With film, I was never happy or satisfied being at the mercy of someone else (or more often than not, some machine’s) interpretation of how my shot should look.  With slides, what you shot is what you got.  I loved that because I could get a realistic representation of what my camera and I saw thru the lens, good or bad.  The only negative (sorry, no pun intended) aspect of slides was that if I really liked an image and wanted to get a print made from it, I had to send it to a lab for someone else to interpret.  That defeated the purpose of shooting slides!  I grew increasingly frustrated by prints that did not convey what I wanted to show the world.  So I sought out a professional lab here in the area, one that “all the pros” used.  Still not happy with the outcome, as my prints never matched up to my vision when I took the image.. 
Finally the dawn of the digital age came to photography.  I entered, reluctantly, dragging my heels the entire way, swearing “I’ll never give up my trusty film camera”.  I was even guilty of being one of those folks who proudly claimed that film was superior to digital.  This was before I had really even tried digital, much less knew anything about Photoshop.  I remember my mother telling me, “You really should learn how to use Photoshop”.  I also remember thinking to myself, “Now why on earth would I want to do that?  Are you crazy?  Don’t you understand I shoot film?”.  I laugh when I think back about that.
My first digital camera was the Nikon D70.  I loved that camera.  There was so much to learn about digital photography.  I have not picked up a film camera since, although I did pick up a used Hasselblad, but the desire to shoot film just isn’t there for me anymore.  I don’t have the patience to wait for film to be developed before I can see what I shot.  I know, I know, you’re probably thinking, well, you used to do it, so what’s changed?  I’ll tell you what’s changed.  I started using Adobe Photoshop. 
Now, I’m not a graphic artist, but a photographer.  I strongly believe in getting it right in the camera.  I don’t use Photoshop as a replacement for what my camera did not capture.  I use it as those with the knowledge and expertise to manipulate exposures and finally, the prints, in a darkroom did and still do.  In fact, for me, Photoshop IS my darkroom.  I now have the knowledge and ability to visualize, create, manipulate and display my art, from start to finish. Yes, I am a photographer in the digital age, and I proudly say to anyone that I use Photoshop, and I actually own my own license, and have paid for every single one I have ever used. (since Photoshop version 5 was released, May 1998).  I am also a proud member of the National Association of Photoshop Users.
When Adobe came out with Camera RAW, I was initially intimidated at the thought of having complete control over the settings of my image capture.  I had no idea about different file types, ie: JPEG, TIFF, PSD, GIF, PDD, PDF, BMP, nor did I know that before RAW files, the camera manipulated the image.  When shooting in RAW, the camera does not manipulate the data, just like when shooting slides.   Ohhh, I like that concept.  So, when Camera RAW came onto the scene, that’s the file format I shot at, and is still my file type preference, simply because I want to have the say in how my image is created.  For my purposes, shooting in Jpeg is out of the question.

The last thing I want to say is this.  I strongly believe that knowledge in one’s equipment is key for success, among other things.  That also includes one’s post processing tools.  If you are going to shoot in RAW, you need to know how to manipulate the data your camera captures.  And for me, Photoshop is just the tool. 

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