Forums > Digital Art and Retouching > The "Golden Rule" for Not Retouching

Retoucher

alberta86

Posts: 64

Orlando, Florida, US

Do you have a "Golden Rule" for NOT retouching something?  If so, I would love to know what it is?

Mar 18 13 06:32 pm Link

Retoucher

Peano

Posts: 4106

Lynchburg, Virginia, US

Mine is: "There are no rules."

Mar 18 13 07:08 pm Link

Photographer

GER Photography

Posts: 8295

Imperial, California, US

Mine is, " if it ain't broke, don't fix it! "

Mar 18 13 07:16 pm Link

Retoucher

alberta86

Posts: 64

Orlando, Florida, US

Peano wrote:
Mine is: "There are no rules."

Okay.  So I just need to stay open minded.

Mar 18 13 07:18 pm Link

Retoucher

alberta86

Posts: 64

Orlando, Florida, US

George Ruge wrote:
Mine is, " if it ain't broke, don't fix it! "

Yes! smile  I like that one.

Mar 18 13 07:20 pm Link

Photographer

NewBoldPhoto

Posts: 4946

PORT MURRAY, New Jersey, US

I have more of a golden question:"Does this strengthen the image?"

Mar 18 13 07:27 pm Link

Photographer

AMCphotography2

Posts: 475

Los Angeles, California, US

Mine is, will it be noticeable or distracting?

Mar 18 13 07:32 pm Link

Retoucher

Peano

Posts: 4106

Lynchburg, Virginia, US

alberta86 wrote:
Okay.  So I just need to stay open minded.

Not necessarily. You can set strict standards and adopt hidebound preferences till the cows come home, if you please. But I think it's a mistake (and a common one at that) to convert one's standards and preferences into rules that are somehow supposed to govern others.

Mar 18 13 07:35 pm Link

Retoucher

Gary Alan

Posts: 410

Esperance, Western Australia, Australia

mine is

"why should i change this"

if I cant find a reason i dont change it..

Then of course the client comes back with "why didnt you change this?" o_O

Mar 18 13 07:42 pm Link

Photographer

NewBoldPhoto

Posts: 4946

PORT MURRAY, New Jersey, US

Gary Alan wrote:
mine is

"why should i change this"

if I cant find a reason i dont change it..

Then of course the client comes back with "why didnt you change this?" o_O

And if you do they ask "why did you?" Catch 22

Mar 18 13 07:48 pm Link

Photographer

Leonard Gee Photography

Posts: 16705

Sacramento, California, US

alberta86 wrote:
Do you have a "Golden Rule" for NOT retouching something?  If so, I would love to know what it is?

Photojournalism - exposure & adjustments only

Mar 18 13 07:49 pm Link

Retoucher

alberta86

Posts: 64

Orlando, Florida, US

Peano wrote:

Not necessarily. You can set strict standards and adopt hidebound preferences till the cows come home, if you please. But I think it's a mistake (and a common one at that) to convert one's standards and preferences into rules that are somehow supposed to govern others.

My problem is that I'm so new I don't have any real standards or preferences.  I'm trying to find my way and am curious as to what other retouchers' standards are.  I have so many questions but they usually all boil down to "Did I go too far with that?"  And then sometimes I shy away from retouching things because I say to myself, "Who am I to change it?"

So in short, I guess I'm looking to just govern myself and reduce some of this turmoil in my head while retouching an image.

Mar 18 13 07:55 pm Link

Photographer

rey sison photography

Posts: 1805

Los Angeles, California, US

Maybe it's different for a photographer who does his own retouching, but the only thing I am thinking during the entire process from casting models, securing a location, acquiring wardrobe, setting the camera and lights, choosing modifiers, and retouching is.... what is it I need to do to achieve the image and endpoint I have visualized in my head.

Mar 18 13 08:16 pm Link

Photographer

NewBoldPhoto

Posts: 4946

PORT MURRAY, New Jersey, US

alberta86 wrote:
My problem is that I'm so new I don't have any real standards or preferences.  I'm trying to find my way and am curious as to what other retouchers' standards are.  I have so many questions but they usually all boil down to "Did I go too far with that?"  And then sometimes I shy away from retouching things because I say to myself, "Who am I to change it?"

So in short, I guess I'm looking to just govern myself and reduce some of this turmoil in my head while retouching an image.

The key (well maybe not the key but perhaps a hint) is to have a goal and idea of what the final image will look like. so you have a context , a framework to help guide your process. It might also be helpful to set some limits at the beginning of an image like "this image will appear natural when I'm done" or" this image will be obviously altered but still appear to be a result of "normal darkroom processes" have a goal and a limit and don't be afraid to follow a tangent.

Mar 18 13 08:31 pm Link

Photographer

JoshuaBerardi

Posts: 620

Davenport, Iowa, US

alberta86 wrote:
Do you have a "Golden Rule" for NOT retouching something?  If so, I would love to know what it is?

"touch everything a little bit, but nothing too much."

Mar 18 13 09:26 pm Link

Retoucher

alberta86

Posts: 64

Orlando, Florida, US

NewBoldPhoto wrote:
The key (well maybe not the key but perhaps a hint) is to have a goal and idea of what the final image will look like. so you have a context , a framework to help guide your process. It might also be helpful to set some limits at the beginning of an image like "this image will appear natural when I'm done" or" this image will be obviously altered but still appear to be a result of "normal darkroom processes" have a goal and a limit and don't be afraid to follow a tangent.

Thanks!  This was very helpful for me.

Mar 18 13 09:33 pm Link

Retoucher

Matt Barr

Posts: 246

Richmond, Virginia, US

It all depends on what the client wants. Some may ask you to go farther than you would normally when given free reigns. Others will ask for a bare minimum of correction. You have to be adaptable. So, follow your instructions as well as you can.

Mar 18 13 09:58 pm Link

Photographer

PhotoHive

Posts: 61

Constanța, Constanța, Romania

My only rule would be to leave the face geometry alone; no resizing the eyes, no change to the nose shape or ears, jawline etc... I can remove blemishes, skin overlapping under the eyes and so on, but not make someone look completely unrecognizable.

Body is a different issue; no qualms there.

Mar 19 13 02:33 am Link

Retoucher

alberta86

Posts: 64

Orlando, Florida, US

PhotoHive wrote:
My only rule would be to leave the face geometry alone; no resizing the eyes, no change to the nose shape or ears, jawline etc... I can remove blemishes, skin overlapping under the eyes and so on, but not make someone look completely unrecognizable.

Body is a different issue; no qualms there.

What kind of photography do you specialize in?

Mar 19 13 08:21 am Link

Photographer

Downtown Pro Photo

Posts: 1565

Crystal Lake, Illinois, US

I'll fix whatever the client wants within reality and is willing to pay for.
If a size 40 wants to become a size 2....No, it's beyond what anyone looking at the image who knows the person would accept.  If some one wants $200 worth of work for $10, that's not happening either.
Double chins, smoothing some wrinkles, dropping a few pounds...no problem.  If they want something unrealistic I suggest a fantasy art shoot where it's fine to be unrealistic.
I have done some teeth straightening for clients that wouldn't be correct for the person, but it was to show some teens what they would look like if they did go in for braces.  I checked with my dentist to make sure it was accurate before showing them.  They liked the way it looked so much they went and got braces.

Mar 19 13 11:07 am Link

Retoucher

alberta86

Posts: 64

Orlando, Florida, US

Downtown Pro Photo wrote:
I have done some teeth straightening for clients that wouldn't be correct for the person, but it was to show some teens what they would look like if they did go in for braces.  I checked with my dentist to make sure it was accurate before showing them.  They liked the way it looked so much they went and got braces.

That's cool to use retouching to make a positive change in people's lives.  I never thought of that and would love doing something like that.

Mar 19 13 05:34 pm Link

Photographer

Revenge Photography

Posts: 1868

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

For clients I retouch whatever the hell they want.

For my own shots, there are no rules. Sometimes I leave it untouched. Other times I use photoshop to reveal my what my minds eye see's to others.

Mar 19 13 05:39 pm Link

Photographer

AJ_In_Atlanta

Posts: 12885

Atlanta, Georgia, US

When I shoot food, never touch/retocuh the product.  Actually you can't fake anything directly with the product.  Sure you can use Lucite ice cubes in the soda in the background and even add some fake beads to it in post, never the product being shot.

Mar 19 13 05:58 pm Link

Photographer

M Barnes Photography

Posts: 219

Palmerston North, Manawatu-Wanganui, New Zealand

If you're trying to learn, then maybe don't worry about rules? You may develop your own as you go along - either by your skillset (you might be sub-par at background replacement, for example, so you might avoid it on paying jobs until you're better at it), or by the images you are trying to create.

For me, it comes down to the final look. I tend to like to do quite a lot of retouching with the objective that the image doesn't look retouched. Then sometimes I do a project with a more fantasy concept where realism is not the goal. The 'rules', if I have them, are on a project-by-project basis.

Mar 19 13 06:28 pm Link

Retoucher

alberta86

Posts: 64

Orlando, Florida, US

Wouldn't you say that a photographer has more creative freedom than a retoucher who is not a photographer does?
A retoucher will always be limited by what the photographer sees.  Is that a correct statement?

Mar 19 13 06:52 pm Link

Retoucher

Peano

Posts: 4106

Lynchburg, Virginia, US

alberta86 wrote:
A retoucher will always be limited by what the photographer sees.  Is that a correct statement?

No.

http://imageshack.us/a/img841/4199/example1a.jpg

http://imageshack.us/a/img842/389/example2u.jpg

http://imageshack.us/a/img542/7429/example3.jpg

http://img11.imageshack.us/img11/4663/example4l.jpg

I could go on . . .

Mar 19 13 06:54 pm Link

Photographer

Brian Clark Photos

Posts: 147

Marion, Iowa, US

Rule #1 - Never retouch an image without first saving it unedited.  You can never re-create the original.

Mar 19 13 07:00 pm Link

Photographer

JoshuaBerardi

Posts: 620

Davenport, Iowa, US

NewBoldPhoto wrote:

The key (well maybe not the key but perhaps a hint) is to have a goal and idea of what the final image will look like. so you have a context , a framework to help guide your process. It might also be helpful to set some limits at the beginning of an image like "this image will appear natural when I'm done" or" this image will be obviously altered but still appear to be a result of "normal darkroom processes" have a goal and a limit and don't be afraid to follow a tangent.

Well stated.

Mar 19 13 07:17 pm Link

Retoucher

Natalia_Taffarel

Posts: 7665

Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires, Argentina

alberta86 wrote:
Do you have a "Golden Rule" for NOT retouching something?  If so, I would love to know what it is?

As you realize, there are no general rules.

Mine:

* Not because you can do it means you should

* Not because it looks better means that it looks good

* Don’t fix it if it ain’t broken


Then other things to take into account like when you alter something in the image you need a reason other than “I think it’s going to look better” - Basis for your aesthetic decisions

Everything you do to a model shot should be to enhance composition, you don’t slim her down to slim her down but to make her fit better in the frame, make the shape more interesting, to have more elegant lines. The same with clothing, eyes, arms or nose. When you change the lipstick/eyeshadow tones, you do it to take attention from them or drawn attention to them.

Your job as a retoucher is to create an interesting image with no distracting elements.

Enhance composition and depth in terms of Color, light and texture and guide the viewer through the image.

Don't forget about how perception tricks you:

When you zoom in for too long you are so concentrated on details you can't see shape.
Like this "illusion" http://www.wired.com/medtech/health/mag … _alphageek

Also, perception of colors http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Color_constancy

One more thing about perception in general... taste.
Even tho there are no rules, there are, most of them intrinsic to traditional art principles. There for, the more you consume great art (Photography, Film, Architecture, Drawing, Painting, etc) the more you will develop an eye for retouching.

Also, if you're starting I wrote this and hope it helps you https://www.facebook.com/notes/natalia- … 5785528265

Good luck!

x

Mar 20 13 06:26 am Link

Photographer

Fotographia Fantastique

Posts: 17328

Lebanon, New Hampshire, US

I won't retouch photos without permission.

Mar 20 13 07:14 am Link

Retoucher

alberta86

Posts: 64

Orlando, Florida, US

Peano - thanks for sharing your work.  Very nice!

Natalia - thanks for the wisdom and articles.  I read them all and they were very helpful.  I need to consume more art.

Mar 20 13 07:32 am Link

Photographer

Bare Essential Photos

Posts: 3474

Upland, California, US

Well, as a hobbyist I got into model photography to please myself and not others. My motto is "Keep it simple and genuine." As such, I don't retouch. At most I crop, but not very often. If I like the picture I took, I post it. It's that simple for me : )

Mar 20 13 07:48 am Link

Retoucher

Mike Needham Retouching

Posts: 369

Cheltenham, England, United Kingdom

It depends upon the brief I find.

Mar 20 13 04:20 pm Link

Photographer

PDF IMAGES PHOTOGRAPHY

Posts: 4604

Jacksonville, Florida, US

George Ruge wrote:
Mine is, " if it ain't broke, don't fix it! "

I tell models this all the time tongue

Mar 20 13 04:28 pm Link

Model

Big A-Larger Than Life

Posts: 33422

The Woodlands, Texas, US

Peano wrote:

No.

http://imageshack.us/a/img841/4199/example1a.jpg

http://imageshack.us/a/img842/389/example2u.jpg

http://imageshack.us/a/img542/7429/example3.jpg

http://img11.imageshack.us/img11/4663/example4l.jpg

I could go on . . .

Wow!!! How'd you make the sky like that?!   That's awesome!!!!

Mar 20 13 08:31 pm Link

Retoucher

Peano

Posts: 4106

Lynchburg, Virginia, US

Big A-Larger Than Life wrote:
Wow!!! How'd you make the sky like that?!   That's awesome!!!!

If you mean the last one, hue/sat layers to darken and tint the sky. Gradient at the bottom to create the glow on the horizon.

EDIT:

http://i1005.photobucket.com/albums/af171/retouch46/Forums/sky_zps22420a97.gif

Mar 20 13 08:39 pm Link

Photographer

robert b mitchell

Posts: 1717

Surrey, British Columbia, Canada

I will retouch until it starts to feel wrong. Then I backtrack...and start all over again. tongue

Mar 20 13 08:40 pm Link

Retoucher

alberta86

Posts: 64

Orlando, Florida, US

robert b mitchell wrote:
I will retouch until it starts to feel wrong. Then I backtrack...and start all over again. tongue

I guess you're in the same boat with me then smile

Mar 21 13 01:45 am Link

Photographer

PhotoHive

Posts: 61

Constanța, Constanța, Romania

alberta86 wrote:
What kind of photography do you specialize in?

I don't really specialize in any kind anymore.  I do lots of portrait; not really for fashion.  A good part of what I do doesn't fit on ModelMayhem (3D virtual visits, journalism, stock)

Mar 21 13 01:38 pm Link

Photographer

Mark Laubenheimer

Posts: 8885

Seattle, Washington, US

Mar 21 13 02:52 pm Link