My Photo-Lab in 1960 by Wolfgang Luft

“Dodging and burning are steps to take care of mistakes God made in establishing tonal relationships.” – Ansel Adams

It’s easy to ignore the fact that landscape photographs were being “post-processed” long before Photoshop. And while great film photographers like Ansel Adams were always careful not to ruin their images, they also spend entire days at a time in the darkroom making the imperfect perfect — “taking care of God’s mistakes” so to speak.

In the video below, created in honor of Photoshop’s recent 25th birthday, Lynda’s Konrad Eek takes you on a 10-minute tour of Photoshop before Photoshop, demonstrating the darkroom techniques that us children of the digital age know only as certain tools within Adobe’s famous photo manipulation software.

If you’re a digital-only photographer who has never spent time in a dark room, even just the little bits about where tools like dodge and burn got their icons from is fascinating. If, on the other hand, you’re a darkroom veteran who has left your analog days behind, be ready to get a bit nostalgic.

But wherever you land on the spectrum, remember that there is no shame in post-processing. Whether you’re dodging and burning in the darkroom or making adjustments in Lightroom or Photoshop. Or, in the far more elloquent words of the late Mr. Adams:

“No man has the right to dictate what other men should perceive, create or produce, but all should be encouraged to reveal themselves, their perceptions and emotions, and to build confidence in the creative spirit.”