Thursday, February 11, 2010

How we learned to love Photoshop

RT @mediaguardian: How we learned to love #Photoshop #media #art #digital #journalism 


How we learned to love Photoshop

Photoshop, the ubiquitous photo manipulation program that is 20 years old, is now so popular it's a verb in common usage

Keira Knightley pre- and post-Photoshop manipulation

Keira Knightley pre- and post-Photoshop manipulation. Photograph: Splash News

You're browsing the online catalogue for Heine, the German interiors-and-­everything-else shop, when a "secretary table" catches your eye. The white one looks hideous, but there's a brown one – so you click the picture to see it in more detail. It looks nice, but there's something unsettling about the picture. The table looks fine, but the chair behind it somehow manages also to have a leg in front of the table. It's ­interior design, as done by MC Escher.

Except this isn't the fine artwork of Escher – it's lousy gruntwork by someone using Photoshop, the image ­manipulation program that turns 20 next Friday. The image is just one of a whole stream that have been sent to the ­Photoshop Disasters blog since it started in March 2008. An eerily ­unreal, doll-like Ashlee Simpson graced its first post.

Photoshop has, like Google, transcended its origins in the world of ­computing, and become a verb. But whereas "to Google" is almost always used positively to express usefulness, Photoshopping is almost always a term of abuse: "That picture was Photo­shopped" has become a shorthand way of saying it is untrustworthy and misleading (Adobe, the company that sells Photoshop, decries its use as a verb: "It must never be used as a common verb or a noun," it tuts. Too late.)

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