PDA

View Full Version : Retouching


positivespace
01-16-2006, 02:38 AM
I'm a photographer-by-luck at best, but on the rare occasions that I'm able to produce something good I'll often go in and "help" a cosplayer out by blurring out blemishes, cloning out stray wig hairs, etc. Does anyone else out there do the same?

I wonder sometimes if cosplayers mind at all or if there is some societal standard that I'm playing to by cloning out that zit on a chin. As a cosplayer, I don't mind if a photographer does that for my photos, but would any of you argue that by doing so I'm stripping away the "realness" of the subject?

I'd like to hear your thoughts on the subject!

Wage
01-16-2006, 03:25 AM
On pro photoshoots, after they get the film out of the dark room, and scanned in, they do allsorts of cleaning up, right? I don't like it when a photo is mega airbrushed, but, getting rid of redeye, or a blemish seems fair. And let's face it, at a con, the wind has blown your hair around, you have not gotten as much sleep to look your best, you are maybe sharing a bathroom with others, etc. So you can't always look your best. As long as you are not changing the costume itself, then it's okay in my books.

Wage

Ami Yuy
01-16-2006, 03:51 AM
I've started taking out black circles under eyes and blemishes if they're really obvious, but that's generally only on photoshoots or when I spent time taking the image instead of just snapping the photo.

staereo
01-16-2006, 05:10 AM
Interesting thread, something I've often contemplated.

Here's my take.

I touch up an image no matter what the subject. It's part of imaging, and thats what I do. HOWEVER, these touchups are usually picture-wide touchups, contrast, saturation, WHITE BALANCE. As far as retouching a model, in a cosplay sense, I do not do what *I* would consider to be retouching.

When I retouch a picture properly, it takes a lot of time. I can happily show examples of retouching on a person, but the fact is, beyond blemish and stray hair removal, to make someone's skin look beautiful takes a couple of minutes.

The fact is, on 'professional' shoots that I've done, or even any model specific shoot that I do, the model must sign a release. In the release, they authorize me to do post processing of any sort on the images of which they are captured. The reason they sign this release is because it gives me freedom to 'change their appearance'. In a non editorial photograph, where your model is a subject, it is best to get their (written) permission to modify their appearance. Otherwords things *could* get messy.

This is a field standard when using a model, even if the pictures are being done for the model, and even if they are going to make the model look BETTER than real.

Do I think you *have* to get this release signed by the hordes of cosplayers at a con in order to modify their appearance by retouching? Nah, probably not. You could make a case of the pictures being editorial.

But, I have been known to take pictures of people at cons, that I recognize from cosplay.com, and I've sent PMs requesting permission to retouch the pictures.

Sooo, use your discretion. I can tell you now, though, if I did a photoshoot of a cosplayer, I can guaruntee they would sign that same release as any other model would, authorizing me or any deisgnees to modify the image, so that I could be artistically free to make them look their best.

Bruce

Godly
01-16-2006, 10:59 AM
I'm rather whimsical so I don't know which I prefer. I mean, I really hate seeing the flaws of a costume I'm wearing come out in a photo, but at the same time it's a necessary indication to do better next time. However, there are times where I feel like just retiring it due to the task of completely redoing something and having a photo with the flaws hidden can fill that void I feel at times. It's always better when someone else does it. If I edit out a flaw in a photo of my own costume, I do feel a bit guilty. However, if someone else did it then I feel more appreciation than guilt. I think this applies to most people. If someone makes your costume look good, then you're happy.

I actually don't take the time to hide flaws in photos I take, except for occasional noise reduction to smooth out the skin now and days. I wouldn't feel very comfortable editing costume parts like straightening things out or editing wigs to look accurate, but I will hide unfortunate zits and whatnot that really aren't fair for the cosplayer to have in their photo.

But then again I've only started really taking photos so we'll see.

stefaniecat
01-16-2006, 01:08 PM
I see nothing wrong with minor retouching to a small detail that intersected the shot - whether it be someone's foot just stepping into the frame accidently, or the way the light shifted and threw and odd shadow across someone's face, or even that annoying pimple that couldn't quite be covered with make up.

OH, and i found that information about the model releases for touching up (and the logic behind them) facinating...

staereo
01-16-2006, 01:15 PM
Thanks, i wish it were my own creativity. Just something I learned by doing from other photographers that shared the info with me along the way.

I'm glad I could pass it on.

And you're absolutely right with editing out your own mistakes as a photographer. After all, that was your error and youre allowed to corrected.

In addition, I've never met someone that was upset they lost a pimple from their picture. Heh, I suppose theres someone out there that values those blemishes in their photos, but just as you say, shouldnt ever have anyone give ya grief over clearing up their acne issues. ^.~

positivespace
01-16-2006, 06:37 PM
I don't think heavily editing a costume has ever come to mind because you can never be too sure what was meant to be there and what was a mistake on the cosplayer's part, you know? I too feel like it's "cheating" if I edit out mistakes in my own costume in a photo. My mistakes make me human, right? (That's what I keep telling myself, anyway.) ;D

jtnishi
01-16-2006, 06:58 PM
My thought has always been that since this is outside the true journalistic realm, where integrity would require edits to be non-destructive, I've always felt free to touchup to my hearts content. This is portraiture, and so I've always thought a little bit of looking through rose-colored glasses is okay.

Like Ami Yuy, I spend a quantity of time working through things like dark circles under the eyes when they're unusually prevalent, and light skin touchup. Photoshop's patch tool, combined with layer opacity, btw, is a godsend for this type of work. Between that, the standard airbrush tool, and the dodge tool for the dark circles, there's a lot that can be done. It's so easy to go overboard on editing, though. Not to mention the fact that with enough photos, this type of stuff gets time intensive fast (think 20-25 hours minimum for about 300 photos).

Ami Yuy
01-16-2006, 07:06 PM
My thought has always been that since this is outside the true journalistic realm, where integrity would require edits to be non-destructive, I've always felt free to touchup to my hearts content. This is portraiture, and so I've always thought a little bit of looking through rose-colored glasses is okay.

Like Ami Yuy, I spend a quantity of time working through things like dark circles under the eyes when they're unusually prevalent, and light skin touchup. Photoshop's patch tool, combined with layer opacity, btw, is a godsend for this type of work. Between that, the standard airbrush tool, and the dodge tool for the dark circles, there's a lot that can be done. It's so easy to go overboard on editing, though. Not to mention the fact that with enough photos, this type of stuff gets time intensive fast (think 20-25 hours minimum for about 300 photos).

I myself am in love with the healing brush. ^_^

Yeah, the only problem with doing the touch-ups is that it does take so long. Granted, the more I do it the faster I get, but it still adds a good several minutes to each photo. That's why I mainly stick to photoshoots. But, since I'm not sure about how people other than my friends would feel, I haven't ventured into editing anyone other than them. Heh, which also saves me time. XD And heaven knows it takes me long enough to get out finished con photos. *looks saddly at her AX, Comic Con and PMX galleries*

ZiggyB
01-16-2006, 11:36 PM
I usually don't do anything like that. but if there's a blemish or there's something in someone's teeth like, lipstick or something that really stands out and bugs me, I'll go ahead and remove that.

But considering how slow I am *already* posting photos, it's probably best I keep that down to a minimum. :>

The-Real-Link
01-17-2006, 12:24 AM
Hmmm this is something I've wondered a lot about myself - if that it is something I should spend the time to correct and enhance a photo or not. Surely there are benefits and hinderances to either method but as others have stated before, it is nice to at least get permission if it is your intent to do some fixing to the photos down the road.

I suppose because I am starting to do so much coverage and that I am also a little behind on my galleries, I have just personally felt that the photo should capture the authenticity of the cosplayer if you will, and that sometimes as previously stated, that it can be hard to tell what is done on purpose or not. Although I myself or anyone else probably wouldn't mind basic adjustments that only accentuate the photo, it's just my philosophy that I will not alter the photos I take to create a new "final", or just create something that didn't exist when the photo was taken. Now, I love CGs and cool effects, don't get me wrong... I just enjoy keeping the photos primal if you will for sake of the cosplayer.

...But then that's just my style. Again, I think everyone has good ideas and touchups do seem to be well warranted in many cases to fix things that are clearly mistakes. I just suppose I don't tend to be a photographer that fixes them. If I did, gosh...my pics would never see the light of day ^_~.

positivespace
01-17-2006, 01:16 AM
The-Real-Link, I definitely wasn't getting into the heavily CG'd effect when I was talking about retouching, but like many people mentioned, editing out blemishes, dark circles under the eyes, etc.

While I do think some of the effects some photographers do (oversaturation, blurry shoujo stuff, the high contrast no-nose stuff) is cool, it's definitely one of things that I think should be used in moderation. I think we've all seen our fair share of hyper contrasted photos where the person basically looks like they're made out of plastic for the sake of looking like they have "perfect" skin.

staereo
01-17-2006, 09:35 AM
Yes, high contrast is definately the wrong way to do that.

I can easily make someone skin 'perfect' without going that route. And I would be more than happy to share my method by editing any photo you point me to, then Ill post the result back up here.

Ill gladly share my method if you like it.

Up to you, just here to help.
Bruce

jtnishi
01-17-2006, 10:19 AM
Yeah, even I don't strive for absolute perfection. Besides the fact that it would be time-consuming as all hell to do so, at some point, it just doesn't look natural. I used to be really bad about overdoing the effects (and still might be, though I think I'm better), and when I look back sometimes at my older editing, I honestly wonder what the heck I was smoking.

In things like these, there's a careful balance that needs to be struck between authenticity and reality. Cosplayers aren't idealized characters made up of digital paint. They're people. That said, the camera is a harsh mistress, and has a habit of being a bit too realistic at times. Especially true of many modern digital cameras, which is why I'm partial to the look of film photography at times. There's that area between realism and abstraction where portrait photographs reside. The idea isn't always about capturing exactly what was there. Sometimes, it's about capturing what you want to remember.

The-Real-Link
01-17-2006, 01:23 PM
^^ True. I suppose that's what's so great about using digital cameras and/or photoshop. Everyone has their own style and no one is any more wrong for doing it one way or another.

KaineMaxwell
01-17-2006, 06:18 PM
Any advice or tips?

tfcreate
01-17-2006, 07:25 PM
I retouch as little as possible. I try to solve as many problems as I can with make-up, lighting and filters (diffusers are a godsend) just before the shoot and during if possible. My last resort is post-production alterations.
TFC

positivespace
01-17-2006, 07:56 PM
KaineMaxwell, tips regarding retouching tools/software? Methods?

tfcreate, unfortunately the luxury of make-up and specific lighting rigs are a luxury at conventions. Not every cosplayer you run into will realize the importance of make-up (regardless of how gorgeous their costume may be) and on average indoor con lighting is very very close to the description known as "asstacular." :)

deleriumx
01-23-2006, 05:15 PM
a long long time ago i used to be of the philosphy that no photoshop made me a better photographer.. or some such nonsense. but.. after years of experience i have realized that NOT using photoshop is complete nonsense. Very rarely will a photo ever be the best it can be coming straight out of the camera. Don't get me wrong, do your absolute best with lighting and makeup to ensure your edits in post processing are minimal, but there is always something that can be improved. The trick is to make sure your post processing appears as though you did none at all.. that your model has naturally clear skin, white teeth, etc. If it is done right it will look natural. and no cosplayer will argue with that.

Ollie
01-26-2006, 02:07 PM
Since I'm still pretty much a beginner photographer, of the maybe eight hundred or so pictures I take at a con, I get maybe 40 or so I feel are particularly good or worthwhile, and these are the ones I give a manual treatment to. Everything else gets sent through an automated process (for customized level correction, color correction, saturation correction, resizing, and sharpening). Since I post 3.8 MP images, close-ups in particular can really emphasize imperfections. It'll take me about twenty minutes to do what the automatic process does in about one, but after than I'll easily spend up to another hour working on the photo.

Most of that time is fixing imperfections and such. I work on a separate layer using the "regular" tools and blend it into the original to make sure it doesn't look too fake. Among the things I will touch up are teeth, eyes, irises, pupils in the case of red eye, lips, blemishes, and sometimes even seams on costumes (important since you can sometimes count the stitches, or if props have suffered scratches). Again, all corrections I make are blended in, since I don't want anything to appear fake.

My goal is to portray the cosplayer and their costume. Some defects (make-up mistakes, rabid monkey in the background) just distract from this. I think it's fair to "camoflauge" distractors like this by making them significantly less pronounced. It's not to the point of making them really look different, which can happen when you try to make somebody look prettier, handsomer, or sexier than they really are. I aim to do it just enough so that the viewer sees what I was trying to photograph.

(That being said, I think I may experiment a bit with overdoing contrast and such to see what I can achieve. Then again, I still can't get a decent "soft focus" effect dispite a number of tutorials from the web.)

Miyu
02-14-2006, 04:31 PM
for the ultimate in retouch perfection, there are a variety of tools and methods that should be used, depending on the needs of the given photograph. my favorite tools for this are the heal tool, the clone tool, and the (believe it or not) the lasso tool. the airbrush tool, if used properly, can be a huge asset to your arsenal of retouching; however i rarely see it employed correctly. in the wrong hands, using the airbrush tool can make your photos look far too plastic and fake. i like to take the natural approach and put the heal tool to good use when it's necessary.

as for the finishing touches, i'd highly recommend playing around with your selective colors and levels.

Christy McGrath
02-20-2006, 12:51 PM
It all depends on your subject, their feelings, whether it's a commission, etc. If you feel that a subject is more 'real' with imperfections, then go for it. If, as a photographer, you've taken a dud, but it's the only useable shot, then photoshop it! Get rid of the stray hair, the dandruff, etc :)