Image: "Cow at the Homestead" copyright Mary Lee Dereske
I've heard it before, and I bet you have too. It's usually a photographer explaining to a non-photographer (or sometimes another photographer), "If Ansel Adams were alive today, he'd use Photoshop."
Or this: "Using Photoshop is just the same as what Ansel Adams did in the darkroom, burning and dodging and cropping."
Those two sentences and their ilk? They're what I call the "Ansel Excuse." And frankly, I think it's a copout and time to quit using it.
Ansel Adams was a master at his work during the film days. As was Jerry Uelsmann. And Dorothea Lange. And Evelyn Cameron. They told their stories and expressed their vision with the tools they chose to use. For them it was a camera, a darkroom, a travelogue, a diary. I am not sure, but I doubt any of them said "If Rembrandt were alive today, he'd choose to use a camera." They stood proudly by their work.
Does it matter if Ansel would have used Photoshop, or any of the plethora of image processing software available today?
Isn't it much better if photographers look only at their own work and proudly say "This is what I've created. This is my vision of the world. I hope you enjoy it."?
I think so. Create what you want, using whatever methods you wish, and stand by it proudly and say
"This is my vision of the world. I hope you enjoy it."