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Friday, 14 December 2007


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Wow .. i guess the photographer just has to push th button with the camera set on auto . Pretty sad .. some of the "before" pictures show some photographers lack of skill and attention to details . I think that if you're not a pro you better stop acting like one. If the "photographer" relies on Adobe PS for this kind of changes .. no comment .

Lots of useful info's on this blog . I wish you luck .

That's some pretty nice retoucing work. I have to wonder if the amount of effort put into a $100 job would match the examples on their portfolio.

Personally, I'm not so big on the whole retouching thing. While I've certainly engaged in some minor fixing here and there, my interest is in seeing things as they are, or as how the photographer saw them. The idea of completely restructuring someone's nose or the size of their arms makes me scowl.

But then, I'm clearly more in the "documentary" school than in the glamour department.

I think you mean "get your photos turned into digital artwork by the pros", right?. A lot of the changes I see go way beyond what I'd consider "retouching". Often the results don't even look like the same person.

Is Mr Johnston throwing petrol on the fire ?
Via-a-vis previous posts these processed images on the one hand are lies and on the other hand are images/pictures of 'Nice' people. Artists have always flattered their patrons. Lord knows what the Habsburg lip looked like in real life.
Nevertheless the skill and artistry involved here is very high and is probably best appreciated by photographers.

Hi Mike,

Love it. You just can't leave it alone, can you?


I like the one on the left.

> Pretty sad ... some of the "before" pictures
> show some photographers lack of skill and
> attention to details . I think that if
> you're not a pro you better stop acting
> like one.

Sorry ... but if photoshopping after the fact gets the desired result cheaper and quicker then a pro would never waste precious time and effort just to avoid some retouching work. In fact, NOTHING is 'real' in these images anyway; all of them are artificially staged set-ups to begin with. So who cares about a bit (or a lot) of retouching here? Photo-journalism or documentary work would be a different story.

By the way, some of the 'before' examples look at least as photoshopped as their 'after' counterparts. Honi soit qui mal y pense ...

-- Olaf

Like I said:

More like painting.

I hope people don't get too bent out of shape (hehe) about this stuff.

Sure it's a big fat lie. Doesn't bother me one bit really. I'm not buying what this stuff is likely selling and can just as easily ignore it.

I do however tip my hat and raise my glass to those at RetouchShoppe for some really excellent work. I love the dude on the couch who lost his date.

Relax it's OK

Photos have been retouched, airbrushed and otherwise manipulated since day 1 of photography. Everything we see in print advertising, TV etc. has been changed to some degree.
I think looking at these transformations is a great teaching tool as to how much better a photo can really be when photoshopped. Reality, I have 3 round objects in a row. Taken with a wide angle lens the center one will be round and the one on either side will be egg shaped or elongated--is that really the reality of the subject or the camera. When you saw the subject you had 3 round balls, when you made a print the viewer will see 1 round object and 2 eggs. Actually if you looked at the print from the same distance the lens was from the objects, assuming a (1:1) print size then they would all be round. We don't all see the same thing when we take photos, Thats what make photography interesting and fun. Explore the medium and have fun.

Why the hand-wringing? Why not just call the final work a collaboration? Collaborative art is ok, isn't it? (Not saying that photo is art, but I'm not saying it isn't either.)

What if you like taking pics but hate sitting at computers and you meet someone who likes computers and post-processes in a manner that exactly matches your "vision"?

You never hear authors losing any respect because editors fixed their spelling, grammar, checked the facts, or suggested improvements/deletions/additions.

Who says that photographers have to be good in the darkroom/computer?

Who is making up all these rules anyway?

I love it! So many tools. Such little time. The power to modify our perceptions of "reality" at your finger-tips.

You can choose your path to photographic enlightenment. Create the image all "in camera" or touch-up after the fact. Whee...

I must say, much of the work looked excellent and clearly the product of some skill. Often, it is quite subtle yet dramatic in effect.

The thing that worries me most about this kind of work (several examples are shown) is how already attractive, well proportioned women are having pounds taken off by the work.

Yeah, what Olaf said!

Plus, accidents and mistakes happen. It's the pro's job to fix them-- the client wants photographs, not excuses. But the client does not care how. It's easy to say, "If a photo turns out badly, then remake it." In practice, this is often going to be just what the client does NOT want, when it means more time and expense (direct or in-) for them.

One of the reasons the ad business used dye transfer so much was the degree of post-camera work that could be done. Major changes could be effected locally and globally to correct deficiencies in the original photo. Nobody thought this in the least unprofessional.

Twenty years ago I did a product photo session for a little 'pocket' computer. It was all close work-- not macro range, but very little depth of field, so everything had to be photographed stopped down at least a coupla stops.

When I developed the film that evening, I discovered the restoring spring on the aperture-control lever in the extension tubes had snapped. Half the session was photographed wide open. Not predictable, not detectable on-site (even if I'd done trial Polaroids) and in no way reflected ill on my professional skills. Of course they didn't get charged one red cent for rephotographing-- that's my responsibility as a pro. The client was nonetheless not at all happy having to bring the gadget back to the studio and spend their time setting up the demo screens all over again.

What I'd have given for Adobe's 'computational photography'!

pax / Ctein
-- Ctein's Online Gallery http://ctein.com
-- Digital Restorations http://photo-repair.com

It's all about the final image.
If it pleases you and/or pleases the client, that's what really counts. How I arrived at it is none of your business.
Why is it that so many cognoscenti go gaga over Mann Ray's 'photos', yet as soon as we do something creative it's all like 'Ooooohhh... he improved his photo after he took it... (sneer)"

Dear Robert,

As one who does custom printing for other photographers, I gotta say "Amen!"

I print all my own work-- I can't imagine anyone else printing my photographs.

I print other people's work-- sometimes, they can't imagine anyone else printing their photographs.

This "real photographers do all their own work, from soup to nuts" is just another bit of photomachismo-- silly and ignorable posturing.

pax / Ctein

Hmmm, might as well spend that $100 in some books or video tutorials, and learn to do it yourself. Might even be fun, if you have a fast and responsive computer.

In the photojournalist's world it wouldn't fly and rightly so. But in the world of fashion and beauty this kind of process is a must.
Happens all day every day. Has this been a good thing or bad thing is a discussion for another time, but just so you can see the whole process compressed down to 1 minute check this out.



I think I just spotted a flaw in the matrix. Notice the 5th or 6th picture, the one with the pimp and the cloned-out girl. The reflection on the floor matches the "after" photo, but not so the "before" one. Make me wonder...

Very interesting, and certainly a long row of good jobs. Many of these things I do routinely, many of them I wouldn't do, but I am an artist and they are working for people who pay for exactly that. So, obviously, in that context it can't be anything but OK anyway.

Why I wouldn't do some of these things, that's another story. It is not at all about ethics, it is simply that I consider it wasted time. I enjoy post-processing good images, but if an image is so much off of where I want it to be, I am very much inclined to drop it altogether. I am in the fortunate position to be able to do that. It is only onder very rare circumstances, that I feel the need to "recover" an image at all cost. A certain image from Florence is such a case. I was down there to meet Ted Byrne (http://imagefiction.blogspot.com/) while he was in Italy, and we had a session together, but around noon, when we had already parted and I was ready to leave, I took an image of a beggar on the street that impressed me greatly. Upon arriving home, I found that I didn't like many aspects of it and absolutely loved others, but this situation is simply not repeatable.

I still have not tackled it, but this is a case where I will make more than substantial modifications to an image. In may other cases I would simply go back and re-shoot it.

Dear Lucien,

Wow, good eye! Yeah, pretty obvious the 'before' isn't 100% before, more like version 1.01. Close enough for jazz, but it's interesting to see a bit of the work in progress.

Thanks for pointing that out.

pax / Ctein

Lucian - Good catch!
The 'before' is not a 'before'.
The leg of the couch is nowhere near it's reflection in the 'before'.

"Retouching"? More like "embalming". I get the feeling this is like a visit to the Waxworks.

With the exception of a few washed out facial tones, I generally preferred to look at the originals. Proper exposure or at least modest editing would could have solved this.

I am bored of edited photos trying desperately to seem dramatic and sensational.


Oh come on. Nobody else wants to explain the couch? Photoshop 101. Just take the right side of the couch, flip it and merge it to cover stuff on the left.

On the other hand, the picture with the girl lit from above (third?) is totally wrong. Light travels in a straight line. The ceiling would only be getting bounce (totally diffuse) from the floor and the walls and hard line of the direct light should fall only on the floor.

If they are trying for a so-called "God ray" light effect, the edges would be completely soft (due to the smoke or fog needed to cause such an effect), not hard-edged.



Please don't dismiss etymology so quickly.

See the discussion forum on the web site RetouchPro retouchpro.com/forums/photo-retouching/12038-definition-retouch.html) for discussion on the definition of the word "retouch" as applied to still images.

After considering other more restrictive definitions, "byRo", the moderator of the forum, proposes this one: "To alter an image, in accordance with the client's instructions, in such a way that the image produced shows no visible signs of being altered."

Viewers often want to know whether an image reasonably documents the lens capture. By this definition, there is no casual way to know that an image has been retouched unless the image is so labeled by a credible source.

What shorthand designation is best used to communicate that an image does or does not meet the current photojournalism standards of a documentary photograph?


This does seem to be useful technology. How long do you suppose photographers will be needed for this kind of work?

There's an important distinction to be made between fixing other's work, and enhancing you own. Limiting the discussion to commercial images, which seems to be the purpose of this web site, it's clear that some submissions needed very little work, while others, like the one featured, required quite a bit.

(How much input does the client have? Do they mark up a hard copy? provide color numbers? . . . just curious.)

For most of us who don't shoot commercially, the point that's hard to miss is that many of the things that needed fixing could have been done simply and cheaply during the shoot, and it is this (dare I say it) sloppiness that photoshop seems to encourage. The young lady above can't shed thirty pounds overnight, but she could have been positioned further from the backdrop and been instructed to position her left arm more precisely.

first off I'm not a photogragher. I only have a FinePix S6000, which I can't use well yet. That being said, out of the 24 photos, 17 of the befores are much more pleasing to look at than the after's. Just my opinon.

Ctein said, "I print other people's work--sometimes, they can't imagine anyone else printing their photographs."

My father, who shot only monochrome 35 mm, would send his film to a man in Japan to print. No one else would do. When that printer retired, Dad found another, also in Japan (Dad was an expert on Japan). I could see that the prints made by this new person were good, but lacking some quality apparent in the old ones.

When the second printer retired, Dad quit taking pictures.

The purpose of retouching is often not to improve "the photograph" but to make it more suitable for a specific use. For example, if your'e advertising fashions clothes the model needs to look perfect otherwise she detracts from the clothing. It's got nothing to do with "photography" or "art" but only business. Companies try to avoid paying millions of $$ for magazine space and then plunk in damaging imagery. Damaging in the sense of less than perfect in the minds of your intended audience only - not in the minds of photographers.

If these retouches reflect the current aesthetic of skin with an almost metallic sheen absent a natural texture with considerable boost to the blue why don't I get it? I somewhat understand the almost plastic texture changes, the skin fold corrections, and the digital lipectomies, but the color, to a freckled guy who assesses health by skin tone for a living, passes me by. I focus on it. This in no way addresses the question of the politics of retouching vs untouched just the final goal. I guess I need to get out more and look at some of the hard work done for advertising.... for business.

Sorry to beat a dead horse, but I saw something different going on.

I had automatically assumed the “before” images to be of the “what the lens captured” type, the same way I would view a newspaper photo. Ha, whether I like it or not, there's a part of me that wants to look at a photograph, and know that it's representing what the lens captured with no post-human/digital intervention.

I guess this illustrates just how easy it is to take advantage of the digital image, and how easy it is to be fooled (referring to the couch leg reflected on the floor in a “before” image, where there is no object casting the reflection).

Of course, this is advertising, and the context is a little different than viewing photojournalism or fine art. I just found it was interesting to witness myself getting fooled, especially given the rather rigid opinion I have on the subject. Time (for me) to loosen up a little...

Thanks for sharing that Mike!

It is quite amazing how these photo retouching skill could do these days!

Critics have small minds, don't they?
Seems a big dose of bitter jealousy as well.

Too bad.

Life is as sweet as we let it.


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