Does he wish his hand to show?

My rant about HDR and tilt-shift reminds me of earlier this year when I went to see the “TruthBeauty: Pictorialism and the Photograph as Art” exhibit at the Vancouver Art Gallery. When I sat down at one of the rest stations and started flipping through one of the art journals that was sitting on the coffee table, I was pleased to discover an article that chronicled the early history of debates over photographic post-processing, debates that go back to the 1850s (It’s here if you have access to JSTOR). I’ve heard people defend photoshop post-processing on the grounds that it’s a practice that has a long history (e.g. “Ansel Adams was the king of post-processing, and he’s the best photographer of all time”), but they tend to overlook the debates about post-processing that were raging even well before Adams’s time. If anything, citing the history of the debate makes me more steadfast in my anti-post-processing position, because after all, if people haven’t come to a conclusion after 150 years of debate, then why should we reach one now? On a related note, don’t get me started on free will.


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