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technique

Manipulating a picture with software is quite simple. Remember not to do too much; techniques should be serving the story you want to tell, not take over your idea.

Realism says that we will all go digital. Film will be reserved for very high quality professional reproduction, large formats, and purely experimental imaging. There always will be a place for people who are interested in the craftmanship of photography (playing with different kinds of papers, exposure times, etc.). Playing with these materials is an art in itself, and I think that there will be no PhotoShop plug-in or filter which can do what people achieve out of experience.
I for myself am not interested in this craftsmanship — that does not mean that I do not appreciate this craft, to the contrary. And, I advise to start out learning photography with a simple film-camera. Let’s say an instamatic, if they still exist. Anyway, something with fixed focus, fixed lens and normal film. In this way you force yourself to a fairly big lap between stage two and three, and you really have to think about the composition. See also ‘Equipment’