A new version of Photoshop was launched yesterday in the guise of Photoshop CS5 and the demonstrations of what the new software can do have been impressive. One of the more useful new features added must be the content-aware fill option that helps the photographer remove items within a photograph with ease. Take a look at the demo video above to see how simple it is.
Clever stuff. Only a few years ago, a photographer or an image retoucher would need quite an amount of skill to remove a road (see the video to see how easy that is) from an image. Many hours of work would be needed to create a finished print. Now it can take minutes and the work is completed to a high standard of quality. Skill is still needed to use Photoshop to its full potential, but it's certainly getting much easier to drastically manipulate a photograph out of all recognition. Is that a good thing or a bad? I'm not sure really.
My first real taste of Photoshop was using Photoshop 3 on my HND photography course. Every Monday morning, 9am, my documentary class would all sit in front of our Macs and manipulate our photo of choice. Back then it was a labour intensive effort to get a photo looking right, and although i didn't enjoy it at the time, i did learn an incredible amount about manipulating photos. All these years later, we are getting to the point where many technically challenging processes can be automated to the point where my Mother could do it.
Are we slowly removing some the skill from photography? Or are we creating opportunities for new talent to emerge who would have otherwise been daunted by the complexity of early photo editing software? More tough questions that i don't have the answers to, but i have the feeling that it could be a bit of both.