Questionable uses of Photoshop

* Does “råfiler” mean “raw files”? If so, cool. I’m always a fan of the “a with the little hat.”)

14 thoughts on “Questionable uses of Photoshop

  1. Hi John,
    Great post today. This really drives home something I teach – there is a difference between a retouched Photograph and a Photo Illustration. There has always been th need to realize that with the immense power of Photoshop, there can be ethical implications in its use. I really like the Times report suggestion that they should list the retoucher under the credits.

  2. Yes, John, “råfil” means — both in Danish and Norwegian — “raw file” (“råfilER” is the plural). We have lots of words with little hats here — Scandinavia is a linguistic haberdasher’s dream!
    [Hah! –J.]

  3. Yes, Råfiler means the very raw files in danish. However, english glossary are getting into the language. Like in german where the word Harddisk nearly has replaced the german “festplatte” – which in danish translates to “party plate” in the sense of food on a plate.
    [Is a really big server HD known as a smorgasbord? 🙂 –J.]
    The clash og languages are funny – also some of the photoshop translations into danish are quite, well, silly.

  4. Hey John,
    I’m from Denmark – and yes! Råfiler is raw files. And what do you mean “hat”? It’s a halo.
    Thanks for a great blog! I read pretty much everything you post.

  5. @ Government in action
    Well, it’s like everywhere else, too. Everyone gets the news they want…
    In this case it’s people getting erased, in another it’s global warming…

  6. I agree with Epstein’s request that retouchers be given credit. That alone would achieve 90% of her goal, simply by adding a virtual asterisk such as we’ve become accustomed to after things like “Everything on Sale!*” and “4%APR*”.
    But indicating the degree of retouching on every image is simply unworkable. Better that someone establish a service mark for “unretouched” similar to “organic” or “Energy Star”. Then anyone abusing or misusing the mark could be taken to court.
    However, if we do ever find a solution to clueing in the public about unrealistic photos, perhaps we can then apply that same template to movies with happy endings and pop star vocals.

  7. You may recall (or not) that I’ve frequently promoted the idea that raw files be provided with an additional metadata field for a hash value based on pixel location. The vast majority of complaints against retouching are about compositing images or distorting images. Those concerned about such things (evidence photographers, news associations, etc.) could simply demand that this hash field be preserved so it could be compared to the hash of the final image. Crops and tonal adjustments would have a predictable but minor affect on hash values, and obviously compositing, cloning, and warping would completely change this hash value.
    This falls apart if the hash value is not preserved, so it would have to be consciously preserved and specified as required by those that need such a thing.
    This could provide additional value for the DNG spec, and considerable 3rd-party developer opportunity.

  8. Benny – we rely on contractors for some translations, and don’t always have native speakers handy to check all 10 thousand localized strings in Photoshop. We try though.
    If you find errors in our translations, let us know, and we’ll correct them.
    There is a bug report form at
    (just type up the strings and information outside, then paste it into the bug area). If you include your email address, we can contact you for more details.
    Or if you’d like a more public discussion you can post in the user to user forums ( ) and we’ll read it and add it to our bug database. We have found in the past that sometimes different industries have different “ideal” translations for some concepts, which leads to conflicts (do you use the printing word for gradient, the mathematical word, or the photographers word?) Getting several native speakers to review and discuss it can help resolve those cases.
    (BTW – the forums are primarily in English, but there are lots of other languages posted there, and always somebody else who can read your language)

  9. I surely think retouchers should have credit in mags, also because photographer raw work is often far away from the result achieved in print, which is a team work. but retouching a people already very photogenic making her or him perfect is, in my view, nothing so out of the moral and whatever: it’s creating an ideal of beauty, it’s just like showing the inner image that the lover has of the beloved. when the heart is touched, the brain idealized, and that is the job of the retoucher. then a problem could be that fashion is strongly ruled by men loving men that do may have a distorted vision of the idealized beauty of the woman, simply because their heart is not in it. and that is the kind beauty clients usually follow.

  10. I don’t think it’s so much overuse of PShop per se. Rather they (the images) look like they have been put through Photomatix’s PShop plugin.
    That plugin uses a tonemap scheme to manipulate color (in these instances, excessively), in lieu of the HDR which uses bracketed images to expand the dynamic range.
    Quite often, as John has shown, the HDR enhanced images are significantly better than the original.
    Not quite so in these examples.

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