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Photoshop – what is it? Do I need it?

14 March 2010 886 views


What does “photoshop” mean?   You hear it all the time – “This picture has been photoshopped”,   “we can just photoshop it”.

Photoshop strictly speaking is a particular brand of photo processing software.   It is more generically used to talk about any kind of computer image processing.

Almost every photograph you see printed will have been “photoshopped” in some way – it is part of the digital photography process – the equivalent of the old dark-room of film days.


 Before:  straight from camera it’s fine, but a little dull.

This is essentially what comes out of the camera and why there is always a need some for basic post-processing.






After basic post-processing:

Much “snappier”.   It’s been processed to enhance the colours, add shine to the hair, and bring out the detail in the heavily patterned top.

Even the background has had a tweak to bring it up to a pure white ready for cut-outs.

There’s been no “manipulation”, just basic post-processing that every digital image needs.




What gets people excited is the possibilities of manipulating the image, so instead of showing reality it’s showing something more…

There’s really two types of manipulation you might see, the first is general clean-up and tweaking, often characterised as “air-brushing”:

For people:
– Removal of spots, zits, wrinkles, etc.
– Skin smoothing
– Tummy tucks, leg lengthening, general body sculpting

For products:
– Removal of dirt spots, thumbprints etc
– Adding shine or focus
– Adding lighting and colour

For locations:
– Removal of distracting background elements
– Adding logos
– Adding sunshine
– General clean-up


The second, more advanced stage is where images are pretty much created in the computer.  This is called “compositing” and the most obvious example is putting a model photograph onto a new background.

Compositing Examples:
– New background
– New location
– Adding props
– Adding special effects
– Putting several models into one picture
– Full computer generated backgrounds
– Complete background removal to white background for cut-outs.

Now of course there are hundreds of variations from a little to a lot!!

When we work through a photoshoot we will always include:

– Basic image enhancement
– Skin toning (zits, smoothing)
– Body sculpting (to a certain extent)
– Product clean-up
– Background clean-up

But of course we can take the images so much further if you want us to, just discuss what you need in your images and we’ll create whatever it is you are looking for.

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