Discussion: How Much Photo Editing is Too Much?

Both Photoshop and Lightroom (and any other photo editing software, for that matter) are incredible tools in the hands of photo editors. They help us to clean errors and adjust minor imperfections and in general produce a better image than the one that was captured in camera. But as with all technology, there is a flipside. Software has the ability to produce images that are far from the truth. Tony and Chelsea Northrup wonder how much editing is too much:

The Northrups evaluate different scenarios where a photo has been edited. Some of these edits are superficial corrections of minor imperfections which ultimately result in a better photo. Others have fundamentally altered the composition.

should you edit your photos

Some of these image have been shot by world famous photographers, works of whom have inspired countless other photographers over the years. On the other hand, there are other images shot by unknown photographers that have been edited by someone to create bizarre images which definitely smell like bad Photoshop jobs.

is photoshop cheating

There are instances when people use different editing techniques to blend exposures or to alter the dynamic range of their photos. This is often the case with astrophotography or HDR imagery. Should that also be considered as fundamentally altering the nature of a photo? And if someone is arguing that purists don’t edit their photos, the great Ansel Adams, widely considered to be the greatest landscape photographer of all time, regularly edited his photos in the darkroom.

how much photo editing is too much

And finally, what about the use of different gear, such as a polarizing filters and ND filters? They also change the way a photo is captured, which is not the way the human eye sees a scene. Should that be considered cheating, too?

What do you think about photo editing and the general technique of post-processing? How much is too much?

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