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A "re" - Touching subject ...
Old 08-23-2007, 04:13 PM   #1 (permalink)
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In keeping with some our recent discussions about how much retouching needs to be made outside the camera and when does that retouching go too far, I found an interesting historical example of typical retouching done by George Hurrell, one of the master Glamour photographers of the last century (wow - what a sentence). I was reading a book titled "Hurrell's Hollywood Portraits" by Mark A Vieira and found a before and after shot of Joan Crawford on page 56. I then looked on the Internet and found a link that shows both of these shots on the same page so you can compare them. Here is the link:

http://www.joancrawfordbest.com/31_14.htm

In looking back at some old Movie Magazines of that era, I find that this appears to be more or less the norm for retouching. Naturally it was harder then because they were doing the retouching on the negative (8x10 often). The one in the example above was said to take 6 hours. Now days in Photoshop we could do the same work in 2 or 3 minutes.

In addition to any comments you all might like to make about this subject, this would also be a good thread to show examples of your own before and after retouching efforts.

By the way, in my search for examples on the Internet, I found another before photo of Joan Crawford, but couldn't locate the after. What would you do with a photo like this?

http://i135.photobucket.com/albums/q.../1930-paid.jpg

Cheers,
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Re: A "re" - Touching subject ...
Old 08-23-2007, 05:17 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by R_Fredrick_Smith View Post
What would you do with a photo like this?

http://i135.photobucket.com/albums/q.../1930-paid.jpg
Interesting subject.
I think that image would end up in most peoples trash folder, after it wouldn't get any critique on this board. Maybe a couple of the hair is blown, it's soft
too dark, cropping is off comments.
Same way Paris Hilton wouldn't be in the news today without her famous video tapes.
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Re: A "re" - Touching subject ...
Old 08-23-2007, 08:07 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by gaborm View Post
Interesting subject.
I think that image would end up in most peoples trash folder, after it wouldn't get any critique on this board. Maybe a couple of the hair is blown, it's soft
too dark, cropping is off comments.
Same way Paris Hilton wouldn't be in the news today without her famous video tapes.
Maybe this is the difference though of yesterday and today. Maybe our photographic interests have changed. Good or bad. Maybe our abilities have diminished or become better. Or maybe we are accepting less. Paris Hilton may be a celebrity- but not a quality one.
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Re: A "re" - Touching subject ...
Old 08-24-2007, 10:20 AM   #4 (permalink)
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I wonder if Hurrel would process his images similarly if he had the benefit of PS? Certainly, hand-working those negatives was tedious work, with less of an ability to apply the effects with subtlety.
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Re: A "re" - Touching subject ...
Old 08-24-2007, 11:58 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Sorry but I just do not believe the before and after shots show Hurrell's retouching. In my view the after shot was clearly done in P'shop. Hurrell's retouching was done on large negatives and was masterfuly donbe. This 'after' shot shows the typical overdone photoshop skin smoothing and over sharpening we see so much of on the net today.
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Re: A "re" - Touching subject ...
Old 08-24-2007, 12:37 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Doug_Lester View Post
Sorry but I just do not believe the before and after shots show Hurrell's retouching. In my view the after shot was clearly done in P'shop. Hurrell's retouching was done on large negatives and was masterfully done. This 'after' shot shows the typical overdone photoshop skin smoothing and over sharpening we see so much of on the net today.
Well you are probably right that Hurrell did not do the retouching since at this point in his career he had a team of retouchers that had been assigned to him. He didn't physically have the time to do the retouching. But it was astonishing what these early retouchers could do, especially with an 8x10 negative. They would also make copy negatives by various darkroom processes and then retouch those. These included unsharp masks that they would then retouch and integrate with the original negative.
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Re: A "re" - Touching subject ...
Old 08-24-2007, 02:18 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jimmyd View Post
I wonder if Hurrel would process his images similarly if he had the benefit of PS? Certainly, hand-working those negatives was tedious work, with less of an ability to apply the effects with subtlety.
When I started shooting digital and started learning photoshop I thought allot about the "Truth" in our business. I took a look at what we had to contend with in the "good old days" and thought about the amount of changing you can do now and it scared the bejesus out of me as I got more and more into it. I thought will we ever see a real photo ever again? Then I took a long hard look at "Art" over the years. the paintings, photographs, and decided that art is the ultimate end we all try to achieve. I thing that if you want to use as much or little ps it is your final decision and i can garountee you folks that if you get the right audience for your work you will find allot of people that will put you down and just as many that will love what ever you do. We do to a point need to follow certain guidelines to achieve an image, but we can also do about anything we want to and wind up with something someone will like and some will hate. ALWAYS try to be true to yourself and you will find an audience. Picasso did. And I feel sorry for him if what he painted is what he really saw in life. Yet he is rich and I am pore so who is right.
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Re: A "re" - Touching subject ...
Old 08-24-2007, 02:47 PM   #8 (permalink)
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"...art is the ultimate end we all try to achieve."

Well said.
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Re: A "re" - Touching subject ...
Old 08-24-2007, 07:41 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Doug_Lester View Post
Sorry but I just do not believe the before and after shots show Hurrell's retouching. In my view the after shot was clearly done in P'shop. Hurrell's retouching was done on large negatives and was masterfuly donbe. This 'after' shot shows the typical overdone photoshop skin smoothing and over sharpening we see so much of on the net today.
well, i thought the second shot was a representation of the retouching performed by hurrell or his team when the image was originally processed. my mistake. my bad.
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Re: A "re" - Touching subject ...
Old 08-24-2007, 08:49 PM   #10 (permalink)
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The second shot is one that was retouched by Hurrell or his team. At least that is the representation of the book that I quoted from and it is considered by many to be one of the best histories of Hurrell's work. The abilities of these retouchers was certainly quite extraordinary and in combining them with a plethora of darkroom techniques they often equaled or surpassed modern retouching with Photoshop. In my opinion, the shot is retouched by Hurrell or his team.
So I don't believe you did make a mistake.
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