What I'm Watching: Before Photoshop

In 2015 Adobe spent a month patting themselves on the back, celebrating 25 years of their precious and severely overpriced software: Photoshop. You're probably thinking "Wow! 25 years, that's a long time." Well, as Einstein said, time is relative, so let's not let this accomplishment get the best of us. Before diving into the beautifully made darkroom video (embedded below), here's the backstory on Photoshop, per Adobe:

In 1987 people were rocking out to Walk Like an Egyptian, falling in love with The Princess Bride, and were just meeting the Tanner Family from Full House. It was in this pre-digital world—a world almost impossible for us to imagine now—that Thomas Knoll dreamed up and created Display, a pixel imaging program. Display was acquired by the then nascent software company Adobe, and in 1990—25 years ago—was released under a new, now famous name. “Photoshop” was born.

There you have it...another brilliant invention pried from the creator's hands using corporate money magic. But let's get back to the basics: darkness, light, enlargers, chemicals, photosensitive paper, human touch. In support of Adobe's back patting, LinkedIn released a video on their learning network to show "just how photo editing went down in the film days." The video starring Konrad Eek is nothing short of magical.

Here are a few terms you'll hear repeatedly:

Contrast: difference between light and dark values (i.e. An image with no grey values, just black and white, would be considered high contrast.)

Burn: to darken a specific area of a print by giving it additional printing exposure

Dodge: to lighten an area of a print by shading it during printing exposure

As Konrad mentions in the video, there is no comparable Photoshop tool to mimic the experience you will get in the darkroom. The darkroom is a tangible process. Each picture produced is unique...irreplicable. There are no undos or automatic applications of some fine-tuned preset.

If you're just getting back into film photography, a film veteran, or simply appreciate the film process, you can access Konrad's virtual courses here.

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