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Retouching - Then vs Now
Old 03-25-2007, 06:49 PM   #1 (permalink)
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This is, I think, more a question for those pro photographers who have been in the business since well before the digital revolution.

Back in the days of film only, was there as much retouching done on your pictures as there is now or did you pretty much work harder to get it right in the camera? And, if there is more retouching now, have you gotten "lazier" with getting things right in-camera because you know you can usually fix it with post processing?
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Re: Retouching - Then vs Now
Old 03-25-2007, 07:00 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I rarely sent images out for retouching in the "old days." Retouching was generally expensive, and my clients were more accepting of images "out of the camera" ... AND, I spent a lot more time making sure my film images were the best they could be without retouching.

Today, I do all my own digital retouching, and I shoot faster with the understanding that I will be retouching ALL my images. I don't worry about powerlines, blemishes, stray hairs, etc. because I know I can easily remove them in Photoshop. Does that make me "lazier?" I don't think so. I think it just says that I know where to focus my time and resources ... and that retouching today is a very important part of my photographic workflow ... and it's expected by all my clients.
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Re: Retouching - Then vs Now
Old 03-25-2007, 07:20 PM   #3 (permalink)
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i've shot a lot of film in my day. personally, i rarely performed any retouching, altho a lot of what i shot was retouched by an editor/graphic deisgner.

i wouldn't say i'm lazier as a shooter. i do shoot more images in a sitting. and i'm sometimes more willing to go out on a limb--usually with the lighting--since i went digital. and that's probly because of the things i know i can do in post. i also shoot for post, i.e, there are things i do that are specifically intended to help out with the post process. for instance, i use more rimlighting than ever before. that's because with so much of what i shootm, the model will be cut out of the BG. Rim-lighting helps the post-processing people accomplish that.
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Re: Retouching - Then vs Now
Old 03-25-2007, 07:27 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheGoldy View Post
This is, I think, more a question for those pro photographers who have been in the business since well before the digital revolution.
Well, I don't want to be a party crasher, since I'm not a pro, but i did do some post processing when I was a kid in my dad's darkroom, and the bathroom when I lived with my mother. Dodge and burn at the enlarger was what I did. My dad might do some work on a negative, but it was time consuming. And d&b might take a few prints to get what you wanted. So, it was time consuming and wasteful aswell.

Basic post processing now is so easy and non destructive that anyone can and should do it.
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Re: Retouching - Then vs Now
Old 03-25-2007, 09:42 PM   #5 (permalink)
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"... was there as much retouching done on your pictures as there is now or did you pretty much work harder to get it right in the camera?"

Back then, if we didn't 'get it on the negative' and get it right then it was pretty much gone. Retouching could be done on either the negative or print, but was expensive, very expensive. I developed the habit if doing all I could to 'get it on ethe negative' and to get it right.

".. have you gotten "lazier" with getting things right in-camera because you know you can usually fix it with post processing?"

No, life long habits are hard to break. I still do all I can to get it right in the camera.
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Re: Retouching - Then vs Now
Old 03-26-2007, 03:16 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Wow. You're bringing back a flood of memories! I think there has always been retouching of some kind, and it's always been more or less labor intensive. I may be dating myself, but I remember hand coloring portraits with special oil paints I did as a kid before color processing was available for amatuers - and I guess that was a form of retouching. I remember using a soft pencil to get rid of dust specks on prints, also, and physically scraping emulsion off the print to add catchlights to the eyes! And Cut and Paste were exactly that! Most portrature and glamour photography was done using 4x5, 5x7, and 8x10 negatives (ever seen a Gowlandflex camera?) and prints were most often contact prints or minimal enlargements (I had a 5x7 negative condenser enlarger in the early '60s) so dust specks were not that much of a problem. You have to realize that the move to the 35mm camera was almost as important a revolution in photography as the transition to digital is today. Along with the miniturization of the negative came the issue of having to enlarge the image, and hence magnifying any imperfections in the negative (i.e., dust, grain, etc.). To get rid of those imperfections I used a piece of cardboard with a hole cut out and some stocking material stretched over it. When I made a print, I would wave the cardboard under the enlarger lens for a few seconds of the exposure which diffused the light slightly and softened the image and got rid of the grain, dust specks, etc. It was an early form of Gaussian Blur (we called it "Doris Day" after the obvious use of this technique in her publicity pictures)! Ah, those were the days!

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Re: Retouching - Then vs Now
Old 03-26-2007, 05:57 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Surprise !! ! ! Post was always done in the labs. Density, contrast and levels was always adjusted some way or the other. In one hour labs it is automatic. in production labs it was too. Color correction was also automatic in most labs. Post is done now by you instead of in the print process. We never had the ability to get rid of spots dirt etc as easy as now but most of it is the same only different.

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Re: Retouching - Then vs Now
Old 03-26-2007, 12:39 PM   #8 (permalink)
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I think things go in cycles. When glamour was being shot in the 30's and 40's by the like of Hurrell, there was an immense amount of retouching being done directly to the negatives. But is was very expensive to do, but almost every glamour shot by the "masters" was retouched. Naturally the fact that large 5x7 or 8x10 negatives were being used made it a little easier. 35mm changed all that. But now with the 35mm film going away, we as digital photographers are back cycling back to the age of retouching.

Its important to do what you can in the camera, but not to obsess over it. Some people say to crop everything exactly in the camera (for example), but I tend to say, shoot a little looser and give yourself some wiggle room.

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Re: Retouching - Then vs Now
Old 03-26-2007, 02:04 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Sure, there were lots of darkroom tricks we all knew and loved. I had clear filters onto which I applied vasoline for difusion and a coathanger bent int a rectangular shape with a piece of black nylon stocking stretched out, also for diffusion. For darkening small areas, there was blowing hot breath while developing or briskly rubbing a wet print in the developer to add density to small areas on a print. There were lots of 'tricks', but I consider them to be part of normal processing. "The concept of post processing" had not yet been invented. What lots of youngsters who entered photography in the digital age need to remember is that almost all of the P'shop tools, with the exception of of cloning type tools, had their origin in the old fashioned 'darkroom'.
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