Post-processing vs. Photoshopping

Post-processing and Photoshopping are two different types of photo editing. These editing modes are often mistaken for one another and the fact that both use the same program, Adobe Photoshop, does not help matters. This confusion between the processing has led to the “straight out of camera” movement on Instagram and Facebook groups.

Post-processing is the editing process that many photographers use. This includes color-correcting, sharpening, noise reduction, and cropping. All of my photos are post-processed. I shoot in RAW which means that they are not in a conventional photo format, to begin with. RAW images give a lot more versatility for correcting lighting and color issues before converting the photos to JPEG or another format. Cropping can also have a significant impact on the end photo. This is especially true if an animal is perched on something that you want to get rid of or is far away from the camera. Ultimately, post-processing focuses on making your photo great without altering the original subject.

Photoshopping, in contrast, is all about altering the original subject. The most well-known instances of this are found in advertising and magazine covers. Photoshopping does not just occur with human subjects though. Landscape photography has many examples of images with the sky replaced or added details like sun rays or radiance. In general, the most Photoshopping that I do is to remove unwanted background elements from wildlife photos.

This image though is clearly Photoshopped as I have taken elements from multiple photographs to create this composite. This image is not meant to be true to what I photographed other than in how the different fireworks appeared in the sky. I am not opposed to Photoshopping images as long as they are not portrayed afterward as being true to life.

Do you feel the same way or have a different opinion on the subject? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

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