Photoshop

Picture Perfect?

That gorgeous fashion model on the billboard? Not quite so gorgeous in person. The extraordinary science photo of our galaxy? The original was less dramatic. That Facebook picture of your brother-in-law golfing with the President? They’re not actually fairway buddies.

From fashion spreads and films to product packaging and news images, Photoshop helped transform our view of the world—and our trust in what we see.

Impact

Seeing is Believing

“Who are you going to believe, me or your own eyes?” snaps Groucho Marx in Duck Soup.

The film quip was prophetic. In the Photoshop era, your eyes may mislead.

Even knowing that images are easily manipulated, it’s natural to believe what we see. Photoshop introduced an unprecedented tool for shaping emotions, opinions, and actions, from art and advertising to propaganda, from science to selfies.

Left: Credit: © Newsweek LLC Right: Credit: © Time Inc.

Newsweek and Time covers, June 27, 1994

Newsweek and Time hit newsstands on the same day with the same cover image - a mug shot of former football star OJ Simpson, but with one glaring difference. Many accused Time of altering its image to make Simpson “darker” and more “sinister” in a racist ploy to sell magazines, a claim Time vehemently denied. The difference was especially noticeable next to Newsweek’s untouched cover.

A New Normal

What happens when perfection becomes the norm?

By erasing blemishes and flaws in the images we see daily, are we creating a new, unobtainable standard of beauty? Is there a connection between the Photoshop era’s perfection and increasing rates of anorexia and plastic surgery?

Left: AP Photo/Leanne Italie Right: Credit: © Seventeen

Left-Protesters outside Seventeen’s headquarters, New York, May 2, 2012 Right- Seventeen “Body Peace Treaty” spread, August 2012

Seventeen’s editor-in-chief Ann Shoket issued the “Body Peace Treaty” in response to teenager protests against the magazine’s Photoshopped models.
Fillipa Hamilton for Ralph Lauren, 2009

Credit: © Ralph Lauren

Fillipa Hamilton for Ralph Lauren, 2009

A botched Ralph Lauren ad featuring Fillipa Hamilton (left) ignited controversy over the excessive use of Photoshop. A true image of Hamilton appears on the right.

Photoshop Software Makers and Users Banner

Photoshop Software Makers and Users

La Vida Corsets ad by Weingarten Brothers, 1902

La Vida Corsets ad by Weingarten Brothers, 1902

Before Photoshop, advertisements targeted women with the latest body-shaping products and trends.

Senior picture photography services ad

Senior picture photography services ad

Corset, ca. 1900Makeup, 1950s

Corset, ca. 1900Makeup, 1950s

<em>TV Guide</em>, 1989

TV Guide, 1989

Blurring the Lines

We expect news photos to be authentic. We accept that advertising images are doctored. Between those extremes lies a hazy middle ground in which fantasy and reality sometimes overlap.

What are the political and cultural implications as photo manipulation gets easier…and separating truth from fiction gets harder?

Center: © Ken Light Right: © Owen Franken/Corbis

Left-Composite image made from 1971 Kerry photo and 1972 Fonda photo, February 2004 Center-John Kerry, Mineola, New York, June 13, 1971 Right-Jane Fonda, Miami Beach, August 1, 1972

This Photoshop forgery was released during the 2004 presidential election. It was made to look like an old newspaper clipping and even had a phony Associated Press photo credit.

Left: Official White House Photo by Pete Souza Right: AP Photo/Seth Wenig

Left-White House Situation Room, mission against Osama bin Laden, May 1, 2011 Right-White House Situation Room doctored photo in Di Tzeitung, May 9, 2011

Orthodox Jewish newspaper Di Tzeitung was called to task when it printed a doctored photo of the White House Situation Room missing female members of the national security team, including Hillary Clinton and Audrey Tomason.

Tweaking Images to See More Clearly

Doctoring photos can distort reality. But it also can sharpen reality, an invaluable tool in labs, police precincts, medical offices, and elsewhere.

Forensic photography “ages” missing children, projecting how they might look today. Manipulating images can reveal cell structures, enhance satellite photos, or help plan plastic surgery.

<strong>Left</strong>-Jaycee Dugard, 1991 <strong>Center</strong>-Age-progression image of Jaycee Dugard, 25 years old, February 2006 <strong>Right</strong>-People magazine cover of Jaycee Dugard, October 26, 2009
Left and Center: Courtesy of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) Right: Credit: © Time Inc.

Left-Jaycee Dugard, 1991 Center-Age-progression image of Jaycee Dugard, 25 years old, February 2006 Right-People magazine cover of Jaycee Dugard, October 26, 2009

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) uses Photoshop to reconstruct what a missing child might look like as they grow older.
Joe Mullins Video Poster

Joe Mullins, Forensic Imaging Specialist, National Center for Missing & Exploited Children

NCMEC’s Joe Mullins, January 7, 2011

Courtesy National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC)

NCMEC’s Joe Mullins, January 7, 2011

Photoshop is also used for skull reconstructions, which help identify skeletal remains.

Eagle Nebula's &ldquo;Pillars of Creation&rdquo; <strong>Left</strong>-Hydrogen Light, Sulfur Light, Oxygen Light <strong>Right</strong>-Final composite image, retouched 2014

Eagle Nebula's “Pillars of Creation” Left-Hydrogen Light, Sulfur Light, Oxygen Light Right-Final composite image, retouched 2014

Zolt Levay Video Poster

Zolt Levay, Imaging Group Lead, Space Telescope Science Institute

Photoshop scale bar (detail of red blood cells)

Photoshop scale bar (detail of red blood cells)

Marx Barnes, 1977 (Recovered/Located)Morgan Nick, 1995 (Missing)

Marx Barnes, 1977 (Recovered/Located)Morgan Nick, 1995 (Missing)

Unlocking Imaginations

Visual artists reinterpret the world around them, capturing reality—or creating new realities.

Which is also what Photoshop does.

The ability to manipulate images easily and effectively gives us a powerful new artistic tool. Today, if we can envision it, we can probably portray it.

Erik Johansson, <em>Iron Man</em>, 2008

© Copyright 2012, Erik Johansson. All rights reserved. Image Courtesy courtesy of Erik Johansson.

Erik Johansson, Iron Man, 2008

Playful optical illusions can be easily executed by artists—even ironing your own pants while they’re still on you . . . or are they?

The <em>Real Milkshake</em>, by DDB Helsinki, Finland, April 2009

Credit: © McDonald’s

The Real Milkshake, by DDB Helsinki, Finland, April 2009

Advertising agencies around the world use Photoshop to create original, eye-catching, and sometimes humorous images to sell all kinds of goods and services.

Artist Jeff Huang working on <em>Ice Like Fire</em>, 2015

Ice Like Fire © 2015 The Fifth Order/Jeff Huang. Commissioned by Harper Collins. Photo courtesy of Jeff Huang.

Artist Jeff Huang working on Ice Like Fire, 2015

Photoshop artist Jeff Huang works on the cover of Ice Like Fire, the second book in author Sara Raasch’s young adult fantasy trilogy.

Kodak KLI-6003 Trilinear CCD sensor array, 1993Better Light digital scan back, ca. 1994
Kodak DCS 460 camera, 1995

Kodak KLI-6003 Trilinear CCD sensor array, 1993Better Light digital scan back, ca. 1994 Kodak DCS 460 camera, 1995

Bert Monroy, <em>Times Square</em>, 2011

Bert Monroy, Times Square, 2011

Stephen Johnson, <em>Trees, Fitzgerald Marine Reserve, Moss Beach, California</em>, 1994

Stephen Johnson, Trees, Fitzgerald Marine Reserve, Moss Beach, California, 1994

Technology

How Does Photoshop Work?

Photoshop was an inspired marriage of math and art.

Digital pictures—like all computer data—are simply coded series of 1s and 0s. Numbers. Manipulating those numbers changes the way the computer draws the image.

The calculations involved are complex, but Photoshop's user-friendly interface lets people alter an image without ever seeing the math behind it.

Photoshop layers panel (<em>Times Square</em> detail, by Bert Monroy)

Courtesy of Bert Monroy

Photoshop layers panel (Times Square detail, by Bert Monroy)

Layers allow multiple images to be individually edited and combined to create the perfect composition and enable flexibility and customization. Artist Bert Monroy’s Times Square piece has over 750,000 layers and is an astounding 54,000 x 10,800 pixels!

Bert Monroy Video Poster

Bert Monroy, Artist, Creator of Times Square artwork

Photoshop 1.0 code, 1990

Photoshop 1.0 code, 1990

Gregg Wilensky, United States Patent No. 8,605,940 B1, December 10, 2013

Gregg Wilensky, United States Patent No. 8,605,940 B1, December 10, 2013

No Computer Needed

We have been doctoring images since the birth of photography.

In the pre-digital age, people used many techniques, from airbrushing printed pictures to overlaying film negatives, from double exposures to literal cut-and-paste jobs. But no technique was as simple to use as Photoshop. Or as hard to detect.

Left: Photo by Fine Art Images/Heritage Images/Getty Images Right: RIA Novosti/AFP/Getty Images

Left: Kliment Voroshilov, Vyacheslav Molotov, Joseph Stalin, and Nikolai Yezhov, Vyacheslav Molotov, 1937
Right: Voroshilov, Molotov, and Stalin (censored)

Censorship was common throughout the former Soviet Union and communist China. When Nikolai Yezhov fell out of favor with Joseph Stalin, Yezhov was arrested, executed, and removed from photographs.

Trick photo, ca. 1930

Courtesy of George Eastman House, International Museum of Photography and Film

Trick photo, ca. 1930

Before Photoshop, photographers used manual photo editing techniques, like photomontage, combination printing, overpainting, and retouching, to alter reality.

Elise Wright, <em>Alice and the Fairies</em>, July 1917

National Media Museum/Science & Society Picture Library

Elise Wright, Alice and the Fairies, July 1917

Cousins Frances “Alice” Griffiths and Elise Wright maintained until the 1980s that the fairies in this photograph were real. Really, the fairies were constructed by Elise and secured in the ground with hatpins.

Darkroom Equipment, ca. 1985

Darkroom Equipment, ca. 1985

Agfa Kamerawerk AG Isolette II camera, 1950–1960

Agfa Kamerawerk AG Isolette II camera, 1950–1960

A Power Tool

Digital images are made of tiny picture elements (“pixels”). Photoshop lets users manipulate these almost limitlessly.

Photoshop’s strength springs from a user-friendly interface that lets people easily harness million of lines of complex code, and hundreds of powerful algorithms based on mathematical concepts such as the bi-harmonic equation and vector space color model.

Corepics VOF/Shutterstock

Traditional darkroom

Darkrooms are used to process photographic film. The red glow seen in many darkrooms comes from the “safelight,” a light used to illuminate the workspace without affecting the photographs being processed.

History

Creating Photoshop

John and Thomas Knoll grew up developing photos in their dad’s darkroom. So when Thomas got a Macintosh II in 1987, it was natural for him to try improving its photo handling abilities.

The result? A program called Display, which he and brother John (employed at special effects pioneer Industrial Light and & Magic) expanded into Image-Pro, forerunner of Photoshop.

<strong>Left</strong>-John Knoll <strong>Right</strong>-Thomas Knoll
© 1996–2007 by Jeff Schewe. All rights reserved.

Left-John Knoll Right-Thomas Knoll

In 1987 Thomas Knoll was working toward his PhD at the University of Michigan and writing graphics code on the side. Brother John Knoll was at the groundbreaking special effects firm Industrial Light and & Magic (ILM). From the beginning, Photoshop was a collaboration of engineering and art.
ILM team members working on <em>The Abyss</em>, 1988

© Industrial Light & Magic. Used with permission.

ILM team members working on The Abyss, 1988

Early champions of Photoshop include filmmaker James Cameron, who used a pre-1.0 version in his 1989 movie The Abyss. The movie was awarded an Academy Award for Visual Effects in 1990.

Photoshop Founders Video Poster

John Knoll and Thomas Knoll Co-Creators of Photoshop

Display, ca. 1987Barneyscan 35 mm slide film scanner, ca. 1989

Display, ca. 1987Barneyscan 35 mm slide film scanner, ca. 1989

Adobe Photoshop 1.0, 1990

Adobe Photoshop 1.0, 1990

From Prototype to Professional

The Knoll brothers’ photography program was promising…but not profitable. They licensed one version to a scanner manufacturer.

The big break came when Russell Brown, Adobe’s art director, became interested. Brown persuaded Adobe to help refine the Knolls’ software. Adobe released the expanded product—Photoshop—in 1990.

Russell Brown as Shakespeare, ca. 2015

Photo by Joel Grimes/Courtesy of Russell Brown

Russell Brown as Shakespeare, ca. 2015

An early promoter of Photoshop, Russell Brown quickly became known for his theatrical tutorials, touting the program as an essential design tool for professional publishers, photographers, designers, and artists. He fostered a uniquely playful relationship unique interplay between developers and users that has greatly contributed to Photoshop’s popularity and success.

Photoshop Rivals <strong>Left</strong>-Aldus PhotoStyler 2.0, 1993 <strong>Right</strong>-Letraset ColorStudio 1.0, 1989
Right: Courtesy of Bert Monroy

Photoshop Rivals Left-Aldus PhotoStyler 2.0, 1993 Right-Letraset ColorStudio 1.0, 1989

Early Photoshop competitors, like Letraset ColorStudio and Aldus PhotoStyler, tried to corner the image-editing market in the 1980s and early 1990s, but proved too limiting, complex, or expensive.
Evolution of the Photoshop toolbar

Evolution of the Photoshop toolbar

Photoshop Mix Poster

The Making of Adobe Photoshop Mix, 2013-2016