Color Correction, Retouching, and Manipulation #1

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Cover Girl Retouch

Here is my debut blog entry numero uno. I decided to post a shot of a beautiful woman I photographed a while back. (Thanks Cindy!) If I recall correctly the lighting was setup as follows. 60" umbrella high camera right and left, large gold reflector on a table near her waist for lower fill. A kicker hair light above with a grid. Nikon D200 f/10 105mm Micro, speedotron blackline lights sync'd at 1/200 second. I have posted an animated gif file that is limited in color depth (256), but handy for showing the various layers in action.

Original Layer: You can see some bad default settings on the RAW file. WB, exposure, detail, etc.

Figure 1
: The following were done in CS4's ACR 5.3 RAW editor. I have adjusted WB, exposure, sharpening, selective clarity (pos & neg via the adjustment brush). Also in the tone curve tab I have made a curve that adds pleasing contrast.

Figure 2
: Now in CS4 I created a new layer and did the following.
Dodged the background to white. Using curves I added additional contrast making an S-curve. Used the healing brush to minimize moles, creases, and wrinkles. Air brushed on darken mode the unwanted highlights. Cloned in some additional eye lashes. Using the color saturation adjustment I selected her teeth and dsat -10% and brightened 10%.

Final: I created an additional layer for these final tweaks. Manipulation via the liquify tool to shape and sculpt. Cloning for additional fill of weak spots in the hair areas. Masked off the necklace and diamond to brighten and color correct in curves. Made selections in her eyes to darken the centers, brighten the color of the iris, and control the light reflection spill-overs. Burned in additional weight in the eye lashes, eye brows, and cheek areas. Applied a curve that opened up the shadow area's via the history brush. (Using curves open the models skin in the mid-tones and shadows, set this as your history state to brush from, go back in the history palette prior to the move, and with 1% flow, begin brushing in the effect.) Using the air brush on 70% fade, I created a starburst catchlight for the diamond. I know much of this retouch on the final is "over the top", almost cartoonish. My intent is to show you a little bit of what is possible with various tools and adjustments.

Notes: First and foremost proper lighting and camera technique is a must for decent results of any subject. Secondly good masking (or hand technique with a digital brush) is crucial for top results. Third, your monitor must be calibrated accurately for professional results. Premedia color correction, color manipulation, and color retouching take time and lots of practice. Like many things in life, the more you do it the better you get. Finally have fun and experiment.

I hope you have enjoyed my first blog entry. Stay tuned for more...

Reference Tags: Color, Retouching, Color Management, Color Manipulation, Prepress, Photography

Topics: Creative

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