Again With The “Which Camera…”


Mike H. – one of the 5 Mikes at work – stopped by and saw one of my pictures. In quick succession he asked the following questions:

  • Did you Photoshop it?
  • What kind of camera do you have?
  • How big is your camera?

I gave some superficial and light hearted answers that in retrospect…well, I should have panned on. One of the questions is vaguely insulting, another is simply factual and the final one is…a complex one to answer.

Photoshop. Using PS to work with your pictures invokes very different responses from people. Mike B. is particularly threatened by the idea of “photoshopping” a picture. He believes that whatever comes out the camera is the real McCoy. The truth’s way more complex than that, but Mike B. likes simple answers. He doesn’t ever want to hear “it’s a complex issue” – he wants a “Yes/No”, “Good/Bad”.

If you photograph with film, the final output depends not only on the choices you make when you push the shutter, but the film you use, the chemicals you use, how long you develop the picture, the paper you print on etc. etc. These are all personal choices and each one of them makes a significant impact on the final feel. Want a gritty look to your pictures? Try high ISO Tri-X. Want incredibly saturated colors and vivid, vivid greens? Use Fuji Velvia. Want a certain look for portraits? And so on…

I believe what matters is your personal vision. Does a black and white print accurately represent a world of color? No. But it invokes an emotional response that’s different from a color photo of the same subject.

With digital cameras, Photoshop is our darkroom.


The truth is, I’d rather not argue with Mike. Often I reach the point of apathy. Given the choice of trying to answer a complex question in two or three sentences or working on something I enjoy, I choose the latter. Besides, I don’t want to get into a discussion of why if he chose X P&S cameras and used them to take a picture of the same scene, he’d get X different interpretations of the same setup.

Which one’s real?

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