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PS O/D
Old 12-23-2005, 07:50 PM   #1 (permalink)
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As a relatively junior ranker on GG I've been waiting for some of the bigger guns to comment on excessive PS work on several images posted on the various GG forums. As nobody has spoken up and many hide behind the 'maybe it's my old monitor' or 'this old laptop screen' cop out statements, I thought I should start a thread and see if it takes off.

To qualify myself I will admit I have been shooting models only since March this year and am very happy with what I have learned and the work I have done, and I know I've made a few models happy, too. I am by no means a glamour veteran or PS expert but I know the basics and I don't think an understanding of photography or PS techniques is required to pass judgement on whether an image looks fake or overdone. I have always tried to keep my images 'real' with the limited PS skills I have picked up this year. I've been fortunate enough to work with some skilled MUA's who can hide some flaws and what I have learned about lighting has helped with others. I also admit to owning Jeff Black's awesome PS DVD and to having paid attention to people I've been fortunate enough to work with including the amazing Robert Sanders at the Supershoots workshop, and to studying various books and articles about retouching. This is how I learned my PS skills thus far. Enough about me.

I am seeing more and more images of plastic, smooth, poreless skin, over whitened and oversharpened eyes, strange coloured skin and other signs where retouching has gone completely overboard, yet all I read in the threads is how great the pictures look. Am I missing something? I used to be constantly inspired when I logged on to GG. Now I often find myself frustrated when I see these way overworked images and nobody is saying anything. I expect constructive criticism when I post an image and I learn from that. I have gone back and reworked images based on peoples suggestions.

So. What happened? Are standards changing? I saw a cover shoot of Leanne Tweeden a month or two back that was so overwoked it looked like a CGI babe from a video game. I didn't get the mag so I'm not sure if that was the intent but it ties to this post.

I'm interested to see what others think. I also don't think we're doing models a favour by overworking them as they get hired many times based on their books and if all their shots are perfect and they show up and they're not, you're going to have at least one set of unhappy people.

Comments please. The Emperor has no clothes.

MG

Here's Dani. If you've worked with her you know she doesn't need much PS.

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Re: PS O/D
Old 12-23-2005, 09:37 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I can't say if it's getting more popular or not but I certainly see a wide variety in PS retouching on GG. To me, the best retouch is the one nobody notices. Poreless, glowing skin is a typical giveaway... same goes for the shots without a single strand of hair out of place.

I only shoot glamouresque images of my girlfreind Beth (who doesn't like to wear much makeup), and I haven't been doing that for more than a year or so, but I've worked with Photoshop since version 2.1 Mac and done tons of restoration, retouching and compositing on all sorts of images. I really hate trying to make a mediocre image into a good one using PS. The place to make the image is first in your mind, then the camera, then the post processing.

On the other hand, there are photographers who prefer to interpret an image artistically using digital technique. Realism or natural appearance isn't the goal. Michael Rosen is one of my favorites.

Another thing, like you mention, is the quality of the light. Low angle, late in the day sunlight is particularly nice on skin.

I like a natural look but I also like to remove blemishes, puffiness under the eyes and skin folds that result from twisting the torso or locking knees or elbows. I don't do a general smoothng on the skin. That's just me. I bet you'll get different answers, at least in degree, from almost everyone.


Chip
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Re: PS O/D
Old 12-23-2005, 09:49 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I feel your pain about overworked photos... there's this hair style magazine I see at the local Kroger every once in a while, and the cover always has a well-known celebrity on it, but the image is so obviously overdone, it almost doesn't look like them -- month after month -- I just cringe every time I see them...

It does kind of annoy me when I see people saying "maybe it's my monitor" or something too... Unless your monitor is just a piece of crap, It's really not gonna be that different. In addition, I can look at an image on my desktop monitor and my laptop monitor, and they look almost identical.

But back to the over-PSing topic, I admit when I first started I way overdid it too, but I learned quickly that plastic skin is bad, and now almost all I use to clean up an image is the Healing Brush. That way there's no blur involved, no texture has been lost -- the only thing gone is the wrinkle I want gone, or the dust spot that showed up in the scan.

Here's a decidely "underworked" image:



Other than some contrast adjustments after the initial scan, and some selective digital burning, the only retouching here is some healing brush cleanup for dust specks.

But if somebody else's work looks too overworked to me, I usually just keep my mouth shut. Maybe I should start speaking up? [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/tongue.gif[/img]

Sam
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Re: PS O/D
Old 12-23-2005, 10:44 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Good input so far. I should also qualify that I'm not talking about artistic representations or distortions of photographs that are done deliberately to create a specific look. Just where a person has been shot, either badly or otherwise, and then made to look overly plasticized through blurring, over smoothing and sharpening or whatever the weapon of choice is. Michael Rosen seeks the look he is after. Max V does the same, but I'm seeing guys create fantasy characters while they are attempting to make someone look 'good' and appear 'normal'. I bet many of the models, if they are truly models and take care of themselves, would look pretty good with minimal PS work as long as lighting and MU is done well. At least they'd remain 'real' looking.

MG
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Re: PS O/D
Old 12-23-2005, 10:57 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I guess I've been looking at different photos than you on GG, because I haven't seen that many photos that were over done in Photoshop. There are several factors, however, that one should take into consideration:

1. Was what appears to be over sharpening really a problem with JPG compression and even the extra compression that sometimes happens when posting a too large image to the portfolio?
2. Is the viewer seeing the image on a large monitor or a small monitor (I've noted considerable difference in the image between resolution and monitor sizes)?
3. How much is really photoshop and how much is really the lighting style. For example, when Rolando shots with black scarf, the shot can look photoshopped in some cases, when it is not, the softness is due to the scarf.
4. Is the photo PSed to a particular magazine style? If its what the magazines are buying, then shouldn't the photographer learn to do it and freely show it?

These are just a few observations.

Here are some examples from recent work I've done. Which are highly photoshopped and which are not?









Cheers,
rfs
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Some topics just need to be avoided...
Old 12-23-2005, 11:11 PM   #6 (permalink)
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It's not like people don't notice or don't care, but the topic has been beaten into the ground so many times nobody wants to resurrect it for the umpteenth time.

Those that overdo the processing will continue to do it, those that complain about it do so until they realize it's not going to change anything.

Come back in a year and see if you still want to talk about it. [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif[/img]

<center>

[b]Lots of processing in this image, but ask if I care!





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Re: PS O/D
Old 12-24-2005, 02:06 AM   #7 (permalink)
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I think that it comes down to the intent and personal taste of the photog. Just as one might really like a style of lighting (or photography in general) another may not feel that it is all that good.

I too have Mr. Black's DVD (and have had the pleasure of working with him one on one) and really like a lot of his techniques. However, I have learned to experiment with slightly different ways of doing things than he describes (keyboard shortcuts, slightly different tool usage, more subtle effects etc).

Overall, it comes down to taste and personal preference as well as client goals and requirements.

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Re: PS O/D
Old 12-24-2005, 08:20 AM   #8 (permalink)
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That montage is beautiful Mr. Smith. Nice going.

Excellent points too. Monitors, display resolution and JPEG compression really do affect images, sometimes dramatically.

Chip
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Re: PS O/D
Old 12-24-2005, 09:26 AM   #9 (permalink)
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I commented on exactly this topic a few days ago in another thread here. I agree with you completely and I don't understand what the appeal is of skin that only Barbie and Ken would regard as natural. Getting rid of a zit in one thing, but skin has TEXTURE and eliminating it makes the model looks like she was molded in a factory out of thermoplastic. The only people who would find that sexy would be those photographers who prefer blow-up dolls to real women.

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low angle light
Old 12-24-2005, 01:44 PM   #10 (permalink)
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[ QUOTE ]
Another thing, like you mention, is the quality of the light. Low angle, late in the day sunlight is particularly nice on skin.


[/ QUOTE ]

this is a subject unto itself. personally, i shoot a fair amount of low angle lighting in the studio. but then there's guys who seem to prefer their key light being high angle for just about everything. i really don't get it. shooters avoid, as a rule, shooting outside when its the middle of the day and the sun is high. but then they go into interior situations and what do they do? they put their key light high like a mid-day sun. go figure.
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