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Life Before Photoshop: Rubbermaid Outdoor Furniture

Look ma, no Photoshop

Look ma, no Photoshop

I often wonder what kind of photographer I would have turned out to be had there been Photoshop way back when. Way back when Adobe was a type of house in the Southwest part of the US. What would I have done differently? It’s always a topic talked about with my online students at the BPSOP, and in my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops I conduct around the planet.

Remembering back when whatever you did in terms of creating a photo that the client would buy, had to be done in the camera because way back when there weren’t personal computers.

The big companies were just starting to use computers, and these giant behemoths I was occasionally sent to photograph took up an entire floor to generate the power that can now be found sitting on my desk in my iMac 27 with 32 GB of RAM, a 4.0 GHz processor, and a three terabyte Fusion hard drive…maybe? Close?

In my opinion, I wouldn’t be near the photographer had I had access to Lightroom, Photoshop, and all the plug-ins that one can find out in the geek-produced/induced digital market. I would have wound up with a sore butt from the hours that would have been needed sitting in front of a computer to achieve what I did in the camera.

In terms of my imagination, and my eye, and always thinking about “coloring outside the lines” these things would not have been any different. It’s using that imagination and my ‘eye’ instead of digital help that I’m talking about. Using the Elements of Visual Design and composition, and being a student of the Light is what made me whatever I am today, and not a computer.

I even know how to focus manually!!!!


Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a purist in any sense of the word. I love Photoshop, and I use it on every photo I take to some extent…why not!! I just personally like the challenge of getting it in the camera.

In the above photo, I was shooting for Rubbermaid outdoor furniture, and had two truck loads of their entire line that followed me down the California coast. We were in Big Sur at the Ventana Inn. Actually, we were on the roof of the Nepenthe restaurant and it was mid day.; not the ideal time to shoot as the light was hot and harsh.

I needed the light to be soft so it might replicate the period of time we were going for; it wasn’t going to happen without help.

If this would have been shoot in the digital age, creating that feeling in front of the computer would have been easy, but it wasn’t. Instead, to get that feeling I set up my 20X20 silk to diffuse the harsh light. coming from a sun that was directly above us. As you can see, this isn’t a small item, and it took an hour and a half just to set it up in the wind.

Think about a 20X20 piece of silk…that’s 400 square feet of sail, and if not tied down correctly on huge stands that were held down with sand bags, it would take my assistants over the ocean and deposit them in really cold water inhabited by things that can eat you…or maybe just play with you until you drown.

400 sq. ft. of sail.

400 sq. ft. of sail.

The good news is that it wouldn’t take me ( as I would be the only one left) near as long to break down what was left of the set.


Visit my website at: www.joebaraban.com, and check out my 2105 workshop schedule at the top of this blog. come shoot with me sometime.  July 26th will be my 27th year at the Maine Media Workshop…the granddaddy of them all. I’ve always picked this week as it’s the week of the Lobster Festival down the road in Rockland. It offers a completely different set of photo ops: color, motion, people, energy, light, and design. A great way to break up photos of the beautiful coastline, fishing villages and lighthouses that Maine is known for.

BTW, happy birthday America…live long and prosper.


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