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Too much Photoshop. Is it a good thing or a bad thing?
Old 05-05-2006, 06:55 AM   #1 (permalink)
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I thought I would open a can of worms with the Photoshop topic this morning.

In my core I am prety much a purist at just about everything I do. I still feel like using Dreamweaver to build a web site is cheating because I use a text editor to do it. I feel the same way about photography. I would like to get everything the way I want it straight out of the camera. Unfortunately, I have not always found this to be possible. I have looked at the work of some who have exceptional images and when you ask them what they did in Photoshop they say they just adjusted the curves or levels. So far, I have not been able to duplicate what they do without some photoshop involved.

With that said, a few weeks ago I purchased a PS plug-in from Kodak that basically airbrushes an image for you and you decide how much coarse, medium, and fine detail to leave in the image. I have been using this on occassion especially when I am in a hurry and don't have time to deal with multiple gaussian blur levels. I just create a top layer with the airbrushed image and generally set the opacity to about 50%. (If anyone is interested in the plug-in and doesn't already know about it, you can find it here: Airbrush Plug-in

So is it good, or right, or wrong. Does it then turn photography into graphic arts work? I don't know. My preference is to provide a model or client with the image that is not airbrushed, but every one I have shot over the past couple of weeks, models, female portrait sittings, some male portrait sittings, and even family portraits have all prefered the airbrushed image. Most of the time with non-model subjects I just put in some of the airbrushed images along side the non-airbrushed images and I don't say anything about either. All of the women have gone for the airbrushed images even for family portraits. I do tell models which images are airbrushed or not.

So, I guess, at least with my clients lately, graphic artistry is okay in their photographs. But personally, I prefer the images that are not terribly gaussian blurred or airbrushed. Then I have to answer the question whether I am shooting for what I like or the subject likes.
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Re: Too much Photoshop. Is it a good thing or a bad thing?
Old 05-05-2006, 07:37 AM   #2 (permalink)
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I've read about the plug in on another site, several people mentioned using it. I try not to over photoshop images, but do and have done some skin smoothing type stuff and that plug in seems to do a good job.

Does this image have to much?

She liked it? I feel it may be a little to much.

But I agree that most people seem to like some degree of smoothing.
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Re: Too much Photoshop. Is it a good thing or a bad thing?
Old 05-05-2006, 08:28 AM   #3 (permalink)
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I think this is always an interesting topic and there will be as many opinions as there will be people who respond to this post.

For me, I use every available skill AND tool to create the image that I want. I strive to create the best lighting scenario and to produce an image in-camera that is as close to my vision as I can get. That is one of the primary reasons that I shooth tethered... so I can ensure the image is what I want. I then will use any and every tool and Photoshop skill I can acquire to transform the vision the rest of the way.

I never ever think that I'm cheating. Unless someone is paying me to shoot a specific type of image, I create the image that is my vision.

As for the Kodak smooth skin tool, I think it works pretty nicely and is a quick substitute for soft/smooth skin. I developed my technique long before the Kodak plugin and I kinda like the look of my technique over the plugin (just a personal prefererence.)

jcochran, Too much? Not for my. This is a nice image. For me, too much is when you can't distinguish skin detail anymore (i.e., no pores... a smooth flat image.) That would too much in my opinion.

Best regards,
John
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Re: Too much Photoshop. Is it a good thing or a bad thing?
Old 05-05-2006, 10:32 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jcochran
I've read about the plug in on another site, several people mentioned using it. I try not to over photoshop images, but do and have done some skin smoothing type stuff and that plug in seems to do a good job.

Does this image have to much?

She liked it? I feel it may be a little to much.

But I agree that most people seem to like some degree of smoothing.
Well, I wouldn't set myself up to be the arbitrar for how much is too much. Very beautiful model and nice image.
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Re: Too much Photoshop. Is it a good thing or a bad thing?
Old 05-05-2006, 10:33 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johne
I think this is always an interesting topic and there will be as many opinions as there will be people who respond to this post.
...
As for the Kodak smooth skin tool, I think it works pretty nicely and is a quick substitute for soft/smooth skin. I developed my technique long before the Kodak plugin and I kinda like the look of my technique over the plugin (just a personal prefererence.)
Best regards,
John
Hello John,

Can you share your technique?
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Re: Too much Photoshop. Is it a good thing or a bad thing?
Old 05-05-2006, 12:32 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Well, I guess this begs the question "How much is too much?" Almost all I did up until now was really nothing more than using the healing brush. I never do an overall smoothing (except for when I first started -- whenever I think about how I did my first skin-smoothed image, I cringe. ) Another reason is that since I use film and scan, if I did an overall smoothing, all the film grain would be gone, which I want to preserve as well.

Using almost nothing but the healing brush is time consuming, but it kept the pores intact, which I liked. Now, well, I pretty much still do it that way, but I'm trying a new-to-me technique I learned for removing darkness from underneath the eyes from a book I've had forever, but I just now decided to look through it again. (The book is Adobe Photoshop CS for Photographers by Martin Evening, btw. Highly recommended, and there's a new one for CS2 out too, I think.)

But anyways, I guess all this was a roundabout way of saying I agree with John -- if you can't see pores, you've gone too far.

Sam
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Re: Too much Photoshop. Is it a good thing or a bad thing?
Old 05-05-2006, 12:58 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dman65
Hello John,
Can you share your technique?
CAVEAT... If you're looking for a quick way to do smooth skin... this isn't it. It's just the way that I like to do it and is the way that gives me the most flexibility. :-) That said...

I first crop, saturate, set contrast and perform ALL other image adjustments first. (The skin softening is one of the last things that you want to do with this technique.)

I have created the following PS action to help me automate some of the work.

Here's how I set up and use the the action...

Create the action:
1. Open an image and do all post-processing first.
2. Start a new action, name it (i.e., SoftSkin) and assign it a hot key (if desired)
3. Duplicate the background layer and name it (i.e., GBlur15DrknOpac40)
4. Set the new duplicated layer as the current layer (click on it)
5. From the Filters menu, select Gausian blur and set radius pixels to 15
6. From the Layers palette, set Opacity to 40%
7. From the Layers palette, set Mode to Darken.
8. Duplicate the layer that you just created and name it (i.e., LghtnOpac60)
9. Set the Opacity to 60%
10. Set the Mode to Lighten
11. Select the 1st layer created (click on it.)
12. Stop recording (you're done)

Here's how I use the action..

1. Finish all of your touchup work. If you have several layers, save your work in PS format, just for safety sake.
2. Flatten the image
3. Invoke the action. It will create two new layers and the image with look slightly blurred.
-Now you have to remove the blur from the detail areas (i.e., remove the blur from most everything except the skin.)
4. Zoom into an area (i.e., the face)
-the last line in the action already puts you on the first duplicate (blur) layer.)
5. Select the erasure tool with a soft edge (Mode=Brush, Opacity=100% and Flow=100%) and set the size appropriate to control your work.
6. Use the erasure to remove this layer's blur from the eye's, eyelid, eyebrow, lips, teeth, jewelry (rings, earings, piercings, etc.), hair and the very outer edge of all skin areas (to remove the "glow" caused by the blur effect.), and all non-skin areas. Don't forget her fingernails.
7. Select the 2nd duplicate layer
8. Again use the erasure tool (same settings) to repeat on this layer, what you did to the previous layer
9. Finally, on this layer, run the erasure around the nares (nostrils) edges/creases of nose, chin, ears, fingers so it brings the fine detail back in (that way it doesn't look too plasticy.
10. You're done.

If it sounds like a lot of work, it really isn't (at least not for me.) I've tried so many different actions and purchased tools for this. This one seems to work the best. I figure it takes from 3 minutes to 10 minutes per image.


You should still be able to see sink/pore details. If not, just reduce the amount of opacity in the 2nd layer.

I hope this helps.

Best regards,
John


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I worked for a Pro studio. . .
Old 05-05-2006, 01:04 PM   #8 (permalink)
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and this question was never resolved in those years. Now, retired, I'm not interested in pleasing a customer. My work is intended to be art and whether or not it is "photographic" depends on what I'm trying to portray. sometimes i think Photographers look at themselves as historians rather than artists. I don't know how else to explain why they never attempt to learn good composition, lighting and posing techniques. Because of this their work is never elevated beyond that of an interesting snapshot. Many Pro studios are staring to offer "painterly images" as part of their line up. Only the computer makes such a thing possible. If the costumer is satisfied, or in my case if I'm satisfied, It ain't too much.
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Re: Too much Photoshop. Is it a good thing or a bad thing?
Old 05-05-2006, 01:57 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Kind of interesting timing. I've re-kiindled my like of film lately and am trying to re-learn some MF photo skills a bit. I was at the Carlsbad flower fields with my wife, trying to do some macro shots. During one of the shots I sat waiting for a bee to make his approach to a flower I was looking at and a guy walked up and asked how long I was going to wait. I mentioned I was in no hurry, to which he simply replied..."just photoshop it in and call it a day".

This made me realize the willingness of folks to do this level of manipulation. The individual had a Canon 1 series body and bag of gear strung over his shoulder as he ran off to capture some other pics. I just couldn't go to that extreme in PS. Not saying its wrong, guess I'm a bit more of a purist than I thought.

Scott

A few from that day..... and...BTW the bee in this photo was not PS'd in...hahaha

http://www.pbase.com/snj/carlsbad_flower_fields
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Re: Too much Photoshop. Is it a good thing or a bad thing?
Old 05-05-2006, 02:07 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SnJPhotography
During one of the shots I sat waiting for a bee to make his approach to a flower I was looking at and a guy walked up and asked how long I was going to wait. I mentioned I was in no hurry, to which he simply replied..."just photoshop it in and call it a day".
Just goes to show you how lazy and impatient people have gotten. If you're using PS to do something that physically or feasibly can't be done that's one thing, but geez!
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