Old-School Editing

In the age of Photoshop, it is not an uncommon thing to doubt any picture that presents itself. It seems to take so little to change something. ┬áBut, while it might not be as instantaneous, just about anything one can do with a photo editor was once – and sometimes still is – used with film, too. Hardly a print comes from my darkroom that I do not retouch with my handy spot-toning inks to get rid of dust specks and distracting highlights. Likewise, I add highlights, remove phone wires and bits of dark distractions with a little bleach. Cropping is a must if I want to fit the image into a particular paper size. I make things darker here and lighter there, or make things disappear completely, all by manipulating how much light reaches the paper while I’m printing. With a little plastic wrap, I can make a sunny day into a foggy one. ┬áThat’s just the tip of the iceberg compared to all the lovely ways pre-digital commercial photographers routinely “improved” upon the prints on their desks! Check out these tricks from a manual published in 1946.

About heather

A third-generation, informally trained photographer, Heather Siple has been taking pictures since she was old enough to hold a point-and-shoot steady. Her work has appeared across the US and internationally in museums, galleries and publications. Siple is the founder of the photo group ArtLane PCG .
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