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3 Questions on retouching digital photos
Old 09-10-2003, 08:26 AM   #1 (permalink)
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I realize my first question may be so broad it's ridiculous but I've done alot of reading on various things you can do with photoshop to make your pictures more profesional looking but I'm just finding myself kind of overwhelmed with all the options. I have yet to produce anything I'm really proud of out of by using photshop. I want to send out several images for professional printing but I'm at a loss as to what I should and should do to them and where to begin.

1.) Do you have a checklist you go through when you retouch an image before printing that go through in a certain order? If so what do you check and what do you do to an image if needed. I realize it would be ridiculous to assume you are going to do the same thing to every image but maybe for example you look at an image and first determine if it needs a level correction, then color balance, then covering blemishes on the model, etc.

2.) What is your preferred method for converting a color image to black and white

3.) What is your preferred method for increasing the depth of field effect behind the model?


Hope my questions aren't too broad. Thanks.
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Re: 3 Questions on retouching digital photos
Old 09-10-2003, 11:03 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Hey man, no worries. When learning there is no such thing as a question that is too broad. That is one of the things I love about the crowd here, everyone understands that at one time they were also clueless. This isn't case on many other forums.

Anyway, in answer to your first question, I personally don't have a checklist per se. At least nothing written down and followed in order. However, what I do for almost every image is;

- Check sharpness. If it isn't sharp then I'll work some Unsharp Mask on it.

- Check for proper levels. You want Black to be black and White to be white, even there are only four pixels of each. Sometimes I'll bring up the midtones but I rarely have to sit back and wish I knew how to use Cruves properly! Brightness and contrast are what this step is all about, making sure everything I want visible IS visible.

- Color correction. I don't usually do much with this aspect but if the shot needs it I'll do it.

- Kill flaws. I will blow the image up to 100% and slowly scroll through an image looking for scars, scratches, lint, stains, electrical cords coming out of backs and so on. I get rid of these issues and then view the image in full to see if there any larger issues such as discoloration on one side of a model's chest as opposed to the other. If there are larger issues I fix them as best I can.

- Check cropping. All the previous stuff I do on the out-of-camera image and then I set up my crop tool. Depending on the shot I may crop for 16 x 24 or 8 x 12 (using the aspect ratio from the 10D). I always crop to 300 DPI regardless of the physical print dimensions.

- Usually this is where my processing stops. If I want to give the image a certain feel beyond these then I will continue to work it from this point on doing things like soft focus, color removal/saturation or any other effect I can come up with. The reason for this is that things such as blurring work differently on a large scale image than they do on a lower resolution image (a 10 pixel blur is dramatic on a small web image but hardly noticeable on a 16 x 24 300DPI image.)

As for my preferred method of converting to B&W, I like to use a plugin by The Imaging Factory called Convert to B&W Pro. It's $99 from their web site.

Lastly, for increasing the DOF behind a model, use a longer lens and wider apperture. 200MM at 2.8 is sweet and at 1/125 can still be handheld if needed. If you want to do it in photoshop you can but it's more difficult. You have to cut out your subject then blur the background. That's a lot of involved masking unless the Extract tool can pull it off.

I hope that helped. Sorry if these seems short but I'm at the day job and have to run.

Cheers!



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Thanks for the info. Reminds me of another question...
Old 09-10-2003, 11:14 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Cropping for standard photo aspect ratios. Nothing that comes out of my camera is a nice 4x6 or 8x10 or any of the other common size. If I'm looking for an 8x10 I usually take the image straight out of the camera which around 11x15" native at 144 dpi resize without resampling (which boosts the dpi to 210) and gives an 8x10.66 image. I then crop off the .66 inches using the "show rulers" feature and save it to genuine fractals format and boost it up to 300 dpi. Then save it back to tiff or whatever format and print or send it out for printing. Is this the preferred method? Is there an easier way? When you submit stuff [to a client] in digital format do you usually leave it at the native size of the camera or do crop it to a standard size OR do you crop however you think looks best?

Thanks again for the info.
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Re: Thanks for the info. Reminds me of another question...
Old 09-10-2003, 12:08 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I just use the crop tool. Set your dimensions and your DPI, draw out the bounding box and hit enter. I've printed up to 16 x 24 from my 10D and it's beautiful. Not mention takes far fewer steps than your method. I've been meaning to try Genuine Fractals in regards to printing but I haven't had the budget to do the print sizes I want to check. One day.
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Re: Thanks for the info. Reminds me of another question...
Old 09-10-2003, 01:11 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I would think if you use the crop tool without resizing to something close to your desired output you would loose a significant amount of your resolution and perhaps parts of the image you wanted to keep - or am I misunderstanding?
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some things to think about.
Old 09-10-2003, 01:20 PM   #6 (permalink)
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If you are uploading or taking your digitals to a processor in a CD you might be able to save time by not, that's NOT cropping to 300 dpi. If your resized print yields a file size larger that the native file. I say this because the upsamplers owned by the large processors are far superior to the built in Adobe bicubic. You will have to crop to size but resampling may be a waste. Talk to your processor before doing this however. We do a lot of uploading on line to an out of state processor and find our cropped but native dpi file yield just as good if not better large prints. Saves a bundle on upload times.
Several gurus recomend a slight sharpening of out of camera files but only enough to clean up some of the inherant fuzziness of digital capture. I haven't tried this but the idea is out there. As for sharpening the final image this should be the last step before processing and there are some good Actions and software for this. I use Fred Miranda's Intellisharp actions. check out his sight for a bunch of goodies: (http://www.fredmiranda.com/)
As for B&W conversions there are several free actions on Adobe's sight that are quite good. I use one called Dmax B&W. The addy for this is http://share.studio.adobe.com/axBrow...ctType.asp?t=5 however you might not beable to log on directly to this page without first registering on to their expert center but thats free and anyone using Photoshop ought to at least go and see what they have to offer.
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Re: some things to think about.
Old 09-10-2003, 01:46 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I dont' think i was clear in what I was saying. I don't use adobe's resampler at all bicubic or otherwise. I was talking about the scenario in which I want a smaller print (say 8x10) than the native file that comes out of my camera (which is around 11x15 at 144 dpi). What I would do is resize the 11" side of the image (constrain proportions checked) to 8" which is 10.66" on the other side. This automatically raises the DPI to 210 because you are keeping the same amount of pixels for a small image (thus higher dpi) the file size remains the same and there is no upsampling or down sampling. Then I just shave off the .66" with the crop tool and send it off...
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Re: some things to think about.
Old 09-10-2003, 02:16 PM   #8 (permalink)
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See, I've been doing it this way for a couple of years now. I've always been happy with the results but if someone can show me why I SHOULD NOT be doing it this way then I'll gladly start using another method. But like I say, I've been happy with the results and I am unable to see any problems. That doesn't mean problems aren't there. Maybe I can get sharper images using another method, but then again, would the difference be noticable or would it just be "another way of doing something"?
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Re: some things to think about.
Old 09-10-2003, 03:03 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Dave,
You are right, find what works best for you and stick with it unless someone can show you a lot better way. There are a lot of opinions on how to use PS none of them bad, but the reality of PS is that there are a lot of ways to get the same end result.
You mentioned that you wanted to try genuine fractals, also take a look at Fred Miranda's step interpolator, in either an action or a plug-in. It is about $14 and worth it. I have tried both and the SI seems to give cleaner large images.
Nick
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Cropping...
Old 09-10-2003, 07:02 PM   #10 (permalink)
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All cropping does is cut off the outside of the cropped area. You will not gain or lose anything by cropping before you do your retouching workflow. If I know I'm going to crop, I always crop before I do any other work, because I only want to see what the retouching is doing to the part of the image that's important to me. If the crop is significant, it also speeds up my work, because the computer has that many fewer pixels to do calculations on. (This is much less of an issue than it used to be: I have a G4 with 800MB of RAM.)

Sometimes I don't know if I'm going to crop, and then I might leave it, because what I do might affect where I'm going to crop. I usually crop by eye for (in my opinion) best esthetic effect. If I know the print has to go in a frame or a matte, I use the defined-aspect-ratio crop tool in Photoshop. I have Geniune Fractals, but I don't usually resize very much so I usually just use the Print Size resize function if it needs tweaking for final output, and I do that last, right before printing.

St. Marc
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