Yes, I’m still alive! I know it’s been a long time since my last update to this blog but rest assured, I haven’t fallen into a volcano. I recently picked up a day job to cover my bills and it’s kept me pretty busy, too busy to really shoot in fact.
However, I have been getting more and more focused on retouching. What’s retouching? Basically, it’s the professional term for editing photos in fine detail. That Cosmo cover model? She’s been retouched. Your aunt’s photos that she ran through the Kodak print machine at CVS? Not so much. Retouching goes beyond simple global adjustments for contrast and color – it gets into the fine details of skin smoothing, dodging & burning, cloning and reshaping etc.
Although I’m not going HAM on my edits to the degree of most major print magazine studios, a bit of retouching here and there doesn’t hurt. There is a fine line between making a person look good and making them look artificial. Sometimes I straddle that line, but I do my best not to cross it.
Retouching isn’t just done on people though. It’s heavily used in product and advert photography as well. If you’ve seen a full-page ad for a watch or a bottle of perfume, chances are that image has been gone over with meticulous detail. A single image can take hours or even days to finish and even then, there’s always more to do.
Retouching takes a certain understanding of the image; where the light is coming from, what kind of highlights is a surface going to produce? It’s important to be accurate but also freely artistic.
If you want to get into retouching, there are a few good places out there that are a huge help. This fstoppers article on frequency separation is invaluable. I also highly recommend Jonas W’s youtube channel, there’s a lot of great videos that go through retouching techniques in real time with great narration.
Best of luck in your retouching and photography journey!