Okay bear with me. This is kinda weird. First, on Thursday afternoon I get a Google Alert for an article called “What Did We Do Before Photoshop?” (I have the word “Photoshop” set up on Google Alerts). It’s an article dealing with, among other things, an exhibit at The Metropolitan Museum Of Art called “Faking It: Manipulated Photography Before Photoshop”. I read the article and it had some really cool stories and facts in it about photography and it’s manipulation before Photoshop was ever even conceived or existed. More on that in a minute…

Now, in a totally and seemingly unrelated incident yesterday (the same day I saw the article), I get an email from Lightroom Product Manager, Tom Hogarty, with the following photo.

Tom went on to write that he’d seen my book featured at the Faking It exhibit back in October when he was in New York. Holy crap! I’m right next to Stieglitz and Uelsmann! How cool is that? It was just very weird timing. I’m not sure if Tom saw the same article yesterday, which made him think about seeing my book at the exhibit, but either way I was really excited to see my book at The Met.

Back To The Article On What We Did Before Photoshop
As I read through the article I became enthralled in reading about all of the different things photographers used to do to manipulate photos. One of them that really struck home with me, as a landscape photographer, was something that Mia Fineman, an assistant curator of photography at the Met, said:

In the 19th century, photographic emulsions were much more sensitive to blue and violet light than to other colors on the spectrum, which meant that blue skies almost always appeared blotchy and overexposed. To overcome the problem, many landscape photographers would make two separate negatives — one exposed for the land, the other for the sky — and print them together on a single sheet of paper.

The article links to some photo examples that you should definitely go check out. Here’s an example though:

I found it amazing that, with all of the technology improvements that we’ve had since 1867 (when this photo was taken), nearly 150 years later we still use similar techniques. HDR… layers… bracketing… multiple exposures and merging in Photoshop. It’s all still here today. We still can’t reliably capture the foreground (land), and a bright sky in one photo. We do exactly the same thing with our outdoor photos, that was done back then. Amazing huh?

Here’s a link to the full article. It’s a great read and has links to many really interesting topics and photos. Definitely worth some time to check out this weekend. Have a good done!