PetaPixel

How Photographers ‘Photoshopped’ Their Pictures Back in 1946

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Retouching and manipulating photographs is done with fancy photo-editing programs these days, but back in 1946, making adjustments required a lot more than a computer, some software, and some pointing-and-clicking skills. Retouching required a whole box of tools, a very sharp eye, and an extremely steady hand.

Last year, Gene Gable of CreativePro came across a retouching book from 1946, titled, “Shortcuts to Photo Retouching For Commercial Use.” In it, retoucher Raymond Wardell explains the basics of the techniques at the time–think of it as a “Photoshop 101″ book for photographers who came more than half a century before us.

Gable decided to scan a number of the illustrations for our enjoyment.

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Here’s the cover of the book:

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The equipment needed for retouching included pastes, rulers, brushes, cotton, palettes, rubber rollers, and more:

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Want to ‘shop a product photo of a watch dial? You’ll have to put it under a magnifying glass and use a fine-tipped brush:

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To crop a photo, you actually mark off the area you don’t want and cut it off:

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An explanation of what “halftone” is:

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The book offers some practical tips for how to best retouch photos:

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Finally, here are some before and after examples showing photos that have been retouched:

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Adobe Photoshop was released in 1989, 24 years ago, and 43 years after the publication of this book.

You can find more scanned illustrations from the book over on CreativePro.

The Old Way of Photo Retouching [CreativePro via Fstoppers]


 
  • Glen Berry

    I’m just waiting for the Photoshop-hating “These are no longer photographs!” crowd to chime in!

    Also, since fingers are referred to as “digits”, and these retouching tools are held and operated by the retoucher’s fingers, I’m amazed that Michael Zhang didn’t refer to this as “digital trickery”! :)