Monday, January 11, 2010

some notes on post processing portaits/fashion photographs

Lately I've been seeing a lot of works of "photographers" that look like, well, uber-edited. These photographs are those usually edited using photoshop 3rd-party actions... with the photographer or the one who post process the photo not exerting any effort to make the photo look like it was not edited/post processed. I've seen a lot of photographs of people having skin that looks very... unnatural... reminds me of photos of Mariah Carey and that Madonna for Louis Vuitton Ad Campaign.

I used to work for a magazine publishing company as a photo editor (long before I started taking photos myself) and learned a lot from my former boss about post processing photos of models/people. Being able to know what photo editors do, I always try to shoot photos now that requires little or no post processing at all because we all, well, most of us know that the more you photoshop a photograph, the more you destroy its pixels.

We've always been told that nobody is perfect. Physically, even models have flaws... pimples, wrinkles, scars, etc etc. What most people do when editing photos is like what I mentioned earlier, use 3rd party actions. These actions usually take the details off the skin of the subject by blurring off those details making the skin look smooth. Downside is, the skin will look unnatural... like the texture of a mannequin.

When editing off skin imperfections, I use the healing brush and stamp tools, making sure that my brush size is not bigger than 10 (for a photo from a 12 or 15 megapixel camera). This helps to retain the texture of the skin and as much as possible I keep some little imperfections to make the photo look unedited. It usually takes me 2 to 4 hours editing a 12-15MP photograph. A li'l practicing with the healing brush tool and you'll be able to master using it.

(click images to zoom in)

original image

edited using the healing brush and stamp tools

with Imagenomic's Noise Reduction in Portrait setting

I have nothing against using "skin perfecting" 3rd party applications in photoshop. It really depends on how you want your final photo to look like. But if you want natural-looking skin texture in your final photo, I suggest editing using the healing brush tool in 10 brush size.

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