Photo-Shoppe! Photo-editing for 1934.

If you have a passing familiarity with Adobe Photoshop, you've probably noticed that some of the tools have icons and names that are not descriptive or otherwise indicative of the tool's function. You may be given to wonder "Why the fuck, in this time of Great Understanding and Intuitive User Experience, are some of Photoshop's tools so abstruse? What the precise fuck?"

Well, there is a reason. It's because some of the more basic tools in Photoshop are derived from darkroom techniques that date back to.... well, from a really long time ago, is all. When Adobe first created Photoshop (in like 1987, sheesh!), it was designed pretty much for scanning editing photographs. And so, its tools were named for the traditional darkroom techniques they emulated. As Photoshop evolved, the names were left a sthey were to keep from confusing long-time users, while completely baffling newbies.

This article (scroll down) from a 1934 copy of Popular Science gives us a clue as to the origins of the DODGE tool, which is used to lighten areas of an image.

But first, let's see where we are, so we can understand where we came from.

In the tool bar, the dodge tool looks like this. You may have mistaken it for a magnifying glass, but nope, it's just supposed to look like a "shielding card" on a stick. In the article, you'll see that, back in dinosaur times, you'd use pretty much whatever you could find to allow more or less light to fall on an area of the negative during the process of making a copy. This allowed the photographer to selectively brighten or darken areas of a photo during exposure of  a print during duplication. See?

Anyway, the dodge tool is used to brighten pixels. It has an opposite partner, called the BURN tool, which will darken image pixels, and it looks like this (see left).

If you're using the most recent version of Photoshop - Photoshop CC, or "creative cloud" (ugh) - both of these tools have been tossed into a single catch-all icon in the tool bar that looks like a set of ellipses, as in "here's the rest of them". You'll have to click and hold on those dots to make Photoshop show you all the useful stuff they threw in there, as if they were ashamed of them.

If you have an older version of Photoshop, the dodge and burn tools probably have their own spaces on the tool bar and are visible all the time.

So, if you're a dinosaur, here's how you edited your photos back in 1934. Complete article follows. But first, the cover of the magazine.

Cool worn paper, huh? This magazine looks like it spent all eighty-three years at the bottom of an ocean in that weird tractor thing. You could probably use a transparent image of all that scrubbed paper and worn edges for all your future image-ruining adventures, couldn't you? Coming right up.

Here's the article. You know the drill: Click it to big it, baby. Hey, at the end of the article, be sure not to miss the stunning science news about suction cups. Hoo boy.


Jack_Dayton_72 said...

Awesome post! And a super thank you for the scrub-layer from a guy that collects scrub-layers :)

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