Slightly altering reality

May 29, 2008 at 5:55 pm (Photoshop) ()

Yea!! I finally got the good Raleigh photos photoshopped over the weekend and I’ve sent them to you (Andrea, Mom and Dad), so look for them in the mail on Saturday. If you want jpegs of anything you see, let me know and I’ll send the hi-res versions. I had so. much. fun. doing these. I’m open to suggestions anyone has about the aesthetic qualities or other improvements as I now feel I will photoshop any portrait of myself or one I take of my loved ones. Call me vain, but I like the slightly fuzzy altered reality look. It’s better for my self-esteem.

I give you the Before and After:

Wow! Subtle, I hope, but a vast improvement. Want to know what I did?

  • Color balance the raw picture
  • Applied an Action Pack from Pioneer Woman and then toned it down
  • Applied a “twinkle” affect to the eyes to make them pop
  • Used a Healing Brush to remove blemishes from Andrea’s skin and repair some skin tone
  • Applied a skin softening affect to both mom and Andrea
  • Brightened Andrea’s teeth

Cool huh. I live the effect. It’s soft, but not too soft, and it smooths out some of the harsh lines, and let’s admit it, mom looks 5 years younger. Next….

Doesn’t this just look awesome? How pretty does mom look, with the sun hitting her just right? So pretty!

For this one, I used the same Action and skin smoothing technique, and then I cropped it quite creatively because in the original there was a trash can in a most unfortunate position. Also, the cars in the background were very distracting, so I applied a blur to the background, more heavily over the cars and less heavily on the grass behind mom. And I didn’t even notice the stone turtle until I cropped the photo. Overall, I’m pleased with this, and unlike many of the other pictures we took, this is the only one of this particular shot/location. Go me!

The next photo….

Again, this used similar techniques; I applied the Action, the skin softening, used a healing brush to touch up the dark circles under my eyes and put a little sparkle in our eyes.  Comparing the two, I don’t think I can look at myself without some “enhancement” ever again.  Check out another one of my favorite photos:

I played with the color on this a little more since there are some bright spots and some dark spots.  Additionally, once I got me and the dogs looking the way I wanted, the sand behind us was way too dark, so I selectively brightened that up.  I haven’t figured out how to ‘wash’ Lola, but I think this keeps it real.

And guess what…even though Casey did some work on my wedding photos, I managed to improve this one:

I softened the look a little, and then blurred the background a little so that it wasn’t so busy.  Then, in the original, there was a really, really distracting flash spot on Tom’s forehead and the tip of his nose, so I toned that down considerably.  Then I noticed a few beads of sweat on his upper lip, so I corrected that, along with some really dark purple circles under his eyes.  My makeup held up flawlessly.  I’m thinking the colors are too bold on this after I was done, but the advantage is that it also looks great as a black and white.  No shiny distracting spots!

I’m sure you think that with all my enthusiasm that I won’t welcome criticism, but I will!!  I really have to learn to pull back and let some things go because I’m working on a 19 inch monitor with excellent color.  I can see every pixel if I wanted.  Obviously, when it comes time to look at a 4×6, or even the size above, it’s all about the subtle tweaks to improve the image as a whole.  I think what I enjoy most is taking photos that have some meaning or are special and then making them look really memorable – something I can look at and it evokes the memories and feelings, instead of another “here’s me and the dogs on the beach” shot, and I think I can get that through vivid color (or lack thereof) and focusing through blurring and cropping.

That being said, I’ll continue to work on this stuff.  After going through my collection of photos, I realized I have very, very few of Tom that are in any way decent, so my goal is to get some good ones of him/me this summer.  That may be a difficult undertaking but I need to round out my collection.  And if anyone wants me to take a stab at their photos, I’m willing to give it a try.   The camera makes a huge difference, I was playing around with some taken with my old camera and while I was able to improve them some, nothing like what I did to these.


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