Thursday, July 9, 2009

Tutorial: Photo Retouching Phoenix's Eye

Over the past few days I have been talking about my photography with a few friends and family and I wanted to stress that although I do take good photos they would not be nearly as good without the blessing touch of Photoshop. So I thought I would take one of my recent photos that needed more cleanup than most so I can show you a little behind the curtain what I do to a bad photo before I post it.

First you need to start out with a high quality image. There is no amount of photo-shopping magic that can fix a photo that is not good to start out with. My original shot is good but there are some issues. First of all it is a little washed out and good god look at all the dirt on her sweet little face. Did I tell you that her wonderful new hobby is to dig up my cacti. But that is another story for another time.

Here is the original 'straight out of the camera shot' of Phoenix’s eye that I took for my Photo Phriday last week.


I opened up the image in Photoshop and I first like to edit the levels of the photo. Basically it just color corrects and brings the photo closer to the true colors of the actual subject.


Then I went through and using the clone tool I retouched all the dirt out of her fur which is a super meticulous and long process. Fur, expecially in an extreme close-up like this, is one of those things that if you do not get every shaft of hair just perfect it is glaringly obvious. But look how amazing Photoshop is. It is masterful, powerful and wonderful. If I was not already married to the “most wonderful man in the world”, hi Mr. Rogue did I tell you today that I love you, I would marry Photoshop today.


For the next step I thought that the image was a little bit fuzzy so I used the un-sharpen mask filter on the photo which basically means that it takes the image and sharpens it (makes it less blurry). The trick here is to use a very light hand if you start changing things to much it starts looking fake and that is NOT what I am going for here.


Then I did something even more stubble with this step I just increased the brightness and the contrast of the image slightly. Most of the tricks with this program do better with small subtle changes than grandiose huge modifications.


Then because this image was all about the “eye” in the shot I decided to punch up the focus and draw your eye there. To do this I decided to jack up the saturation of the eye making it more rich in color.


For the last step I took the burn tool which basically just darkens the area you paint. I wanted to subdue some of the harsher highlights on the fur so the focus of the photo was even more on the eye.


Whew that is all for this photo. All in all I think I spent about 2 hours on just this one picture. Most shots however require much less work and time. It is only the ones that have more issues like the dirt that require a lot of time. I do however retouch almost EVERY SINGLE photo that I have uploaded on this site. Here is a comparison of the before and after. As you can see there is a HUGE difference between the shot that I originally took which was good to the final product which I think anyone can argue is MUCH MUCH better.



myLA said...

Love the diva! And, her mama is even better. I love that you gave us a glimpse behind the curtain only an amazing woman would do that. :)

Inzodda said...

Love it!! Love it!!

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