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Blog // Thoughts
August 17, 2010

Technology Supervenes

In the comments for a recent post, Toni asked a great question, “I wonder, a little bit, whether the software shapes the way you adjust your images. Whether, because it offers particular tools or because it does certain things especially well, you end up adjusting the image to suit? I think software is so often […]

In the comments for a recent post, Toni asked a great question,

“I wonder, a little bit, whether the software shapes the way you adjust your images. Whether, because it offers particular tools or because it does certain things especially well, you end up adjusting the image to suit? I think software is so often like a guitar, rather than like a keyboard: a guitar plays very differently in different places on the neck, where a keyboard just has a bunch of keys, all in the same patterns, all with the same spacing. One guides what you do by it’s very nature while the other is like a blank canvas.”

My feeling is that technology always supervenes on possibility. What a technology allows us to do always shapes what we imagine we can do.

There’s no doubt that, for me, I do certain kinds of photo editing because the software lets me do them. As soon as I started using Lightroom I began adding vignettes (darkened corners) to many of my images because a) I like vignettes and b) Lightroom makes it easy to add them. Version three of the software gives more options for vignetting and, not surprisingly, I’ve getting more creative with the kinds of vignettes I use.

Cameras and photographic software, guitars and keyboards, even the humble paper and pencil are all technologies – they are the application of scientific knowledge about a set of tasks and the problems associated with completing those tasks.

And, it is the engineering that goes into those tools that creates a range of possibilities for us. As that range increases (or if it should decrease), we will adapt and adjust our creativity accordingly.

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