Digital Manipulation

Digital Manipulation And The Flair Of Subtlety – Digital Photo Pro |

Digital photography has transformed the fine-art world. Beyond merely allowing commercial photographers to produce more efficient and cost-effective imagery, the digital revolution presents artists with new tools to create broad-reaching, high-impact images that can be seen around the world, instantly, with the click of a button. The potential of the digital image is tremendous, but it faces a challenge in the art world of being cast aside as amateurish, simplistic or even mechanical rather than being driven by true artistic inspiration. It’s a hurdle that professional digital photographers and fine artists have been struggling with since the onset of this vast and potent medium—where communicating the effect of the work isn’t hindered by the effects used.

One of the greatest fallacies of digital photography is that it’s a replacement for traditional wet photography. These two are so different in the capabilities of capture, manipulation and reproduction that a strong argument could be made that they’re each a discrete medium. Each requires a mastery of specific skills and techniques, and the ultimate art created by each can vary greatly.

The concept of what constitutes fine art deserves some consideration. Those who would criticize digital photography for the way in which it’s created lack an understanding of the impetus behind fine art, as well as the diligent craft, skill and vision that’s needed to create any fine art—digital image-making included. Fine artists are individuals who choose to convey a specific statement utilizing the tools at their disposal, which are inherently those skills, techniques and mediums that they have mastered in the pursuit of visual communication. Choosing the right tool for the job is a requisite step in conveying a fine-art message, and professional digital photographers are demonstrating time and again that their craft, approach and tools meet those same requirements.

The best artists working in every medium understand the potential of their process and utilize their medium to maximize the potential of their statement. These individuals choose the tools of their trade and create images that demonstrate their unique vision and commentary because they understand the strengths of the medium that they chose to employ. The digital fine artist can alter an image in an understated fashion, optimize a complicated set of variables for perfect results, use the interfacing capabilities of modern technology to enhance their vision or even employ the traits of the digital medium to comment on the modern art world. Over the next few months, these techniques will be discussed in several focused articles, but it’s important to remember that each expresses one possible tool in an arsenal for visual communication. How each artist chooses to use a single tool, or a combination of several, to convey his or her vision is what sets him or her apart as a fine artist and ranks him or her among the digital pros of the fine-art photography world.

Among critics, art collectors and gallery owners there’s a common misconception about digital fine art that images will be vastly manipulated simply because the possibility exists that they can be. Even though there are instances where immense postproduction manipulation can be an effective communication tool, it’s simply that—a tool that should be evaluated and chosen based on the desired effects of the final artwork. Changing something in the final image with photo-editing software simply because you can is an amateurish approach to the subject and tools at hand. Changing something because you want to change the influence, the statement or the atmosphere of the final image in an attempt to elicit a certain response from your audience establishes a fine-art sensibility. This approach is how fine artists hone their skills, their message and their presentation in harmony. Just as painters have no need to use every brush in their collection or paint on their palette, neither must digital fine artists employ every type of postproduction device at their disposal. In many cases, the more understated use of the tools available creates the more effective and significant imagery.


Mathew Zucker Studio Still Life Product Photography

Mathew Zucker Studio Still Life Product Photography

Mathew is a New York City photographer specializing in still life product photography. He is adaptable, easy going and understanding, and especially enjoys working with small to mid-size companies.
When not shooting he enjoys canoeing and martial arts. He attained ni-dan (black belt) in Shorin Ryu Karate and is currently studying Aikido at Shin Budo Kai in NYC.



Todd creates compelling, genuine images that are driven by a high degree of concept, forethought and calculated planning. He plans on ‘being at the right place at the right time’, or preferably, about 20 minutes early. The effort Todd expends prior to pushing the shutter button yields images that are minimally processed, visually pure and well balanced. As he says, “Its akin to really good food. The better your raw ingredients, and the less you manipulate them, the better the finished product. I do love all the tools we have available in digital imaging, but I always use them with restraint and respect paid to the original image. I think when you become overly obsessed with the tools, you forget the art.”

Carlos Tarrats

Carlos Tarrats

“Tarrats’ message is so important that he refers to these plant photographs as “portraits.” He adds that these are not primarily self-portraits in any metaphorical sense, but rather more general investigations into life’s brief but extraordinary moments of being. He asks,, “What if all of those moments were compressed into a single frame? How do you visually represent the sum of those moments?”

Tarrats prints digitally and organizes his work in a series, with 10–25 prints in an edition.

Based out of Los Angeles, CA, Carlos Tarrats does both commercial and fine art photography. He received a BA in Art Studio at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and a BFA in Photography at the Art Center College of Design, Pasadena, CA. His work has been featured in both exhibitions and print media nationally. He is the winner of the 2006 International Photography Award for Fine-Art Still Life.


The current direction of my work is based upon isolation. There are good and bad things to take away from the whole experience of isolation — it can be lonely, yet empowering. I often ask myself why we go through life feeling like we have to fit in somewhere, with someone, or need something to complete us? This innate feeling of isolation or yearning for compatibility is what I constantly wrestle with, stretching my own concepts of identity and association.

The work that I am currently developing is exploring the idea of people being on islands – isolated at sea, independent, and self-sufficient. Not only am I exploring isolated singles, but also isolated couples. When people are coupled, the honeymoon phase tends to isolate people from their friends and family, meshing the two entities together. In this new addition to my isolation series, I have combined topography and photography together –topophotography: three dimensional, image-layered, topographical island models. Just like in life, experiences (or layers) are never erased, but they are there to build upon for future experiences or relationships.

Rodger Pictures

Rodger Pictures

Peter Rodger grew up looking through a camera lens. As a teenager, the award-winning British director and photographer honed his skills by assisting his father, George Rodger, the renowned photo-journalist and co-founder of Magnum Photos.

After completing his education at England’s Maidstone College of Art, his skill with the lens made him one of the most sought-after talents in the European and United States Advertising Industry, shooting numerous car, clothing and cosmetics companies’ print and commercial campaigns in over forty different countries. He has shot for such diverse clients such as Mercedes, Save the Children Fund, City National Bank, Coca Cola, Toyota, Microsoft, Infiniti, Lexus, Buick, Acura, Honda, Volvo, Land Rover, Fendi, Xavier Laurent Perfume, Apple Computers, University of Houston, Kodak, Freizenet Champagne, General Electric, Audi and Canon Cameras.