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Is this too soft?

Discussion in 'People' started by Jim Strathearn, Jul 9, 2007.

  1. I had an opportunity to photograph two young women on Saturday. This young lady needed some skin smoothing to remove some blemishes. Did I go too far? If not, should I also add a little skin smoothing to all of the other visible skin so the difference between the smoothed and un-smoothed skin isn't so drastic?




    Here are two of the other young lady. Let me know what you think of these please.


  2. Steve S

    Steve S

    Feb 1, 2005
    SE Florida
    Great poses and smiles from 2 very attractive ladies, but ya Jim, these were over processed by quite a bit, esp the 1st one. As Woody and Stu will tell you most of the PP work is done with the Healing Brush, etc, before any skin smoothing tech is applied. I also notice that your Octa is positioned a bit too low. I've read that the ideal catchlight should be at the 10 or 2 position.
  3. Thanks Steve. I can't seem to get good, consistent results from the spot healing brush. Sometimes it works like a charm, and other times the result is worse then what I started with. I guess I need some help with that... The first girl's skin had some significant blemishes; at least it was significant for my PP skills. I'll go back and see what I can do with them. I didn't think I went too far on the second girl. She has quite a nice complexion to start with. It sounds like you thought that one was too much too, correct?
  4. Steve S

    Steve S

    Feb 1, 2005
    SE Florida
    I can't get the hang of the Spot Healing Brush either. I always use the regular Healing Brush. Of course, resampling often is needed. You really need to get the hang of this tool. Can't get great retouching results w/o it! The 2nd shot needs to have some skin pores showing to be more natural and not so much like a China Doll. Let's see what the other experts have to say.
  5. There is a regular healing brush??? Where?
  6. Steve S

    Steve S

    Feb 1, 2005
    SE Florida
    Click and hold on the Spot Brush. It's there along with the Patch tool.
  7. In Elements, the Spot healing brush is a band-aid icon on the left side of the screen. When you click on it there are then two band-aid icons that appear up in the bar....one is spot healing, one is regular healing.

    My understanding of the spot healing brush is that it takes an average of all the are around what you're clicking on (with the circle). Thus, if the area you're trying to fix is right near a distinct "border" (i.e. edge of nose), the averaging is going to make some funny results.
  8. Thanks Steve!

    Yup, that's what I get; funny results... Thanks!
  9. In that case I try making the circle smaller (less pixels) and then stay away from the border/area of distinct contrast. Sometimes I can get around it, other times I end up having to carefully clone.
  10. Nice effort Jim, to me nr.4 is the best of the bunch and it does look very good in general too - nr.1-2 are way overdone for my taste, and - as you said - you should smoothen all visible skin otherwise the smoothing effect becomes brutally evident. Nr.3 would look great if you just smoothened a little her shoulder as well, nr.1-2 to me needs some redoing overall.

    Thanks for sharing, and keep trying - great skin is among the toughest things to get right :biggrin:
  11. Hi all,

    First, I agree with everyone about the over processing of the first two shots, with images 3 and 4 being much better.
    Second, I understand the need to "play" with pp to learn how to better pp...However, these are two portraits of beautiful women, with beautiful skin, and none of us are perfect. Therefore, why try to improve on "nature" unless these are professional models/cover girl type shots or you are fixing a nasty scar, etc? I believe that our minor imperfections (blemishes, etc) are what makes us uniquely beautiful. As a photographer of predominately nature subjects I revel in nature's blemishes and uniqueness. Am I missing something? If so, please explain it to me so that I understand where you are coming from.

  12. Steve S

    Steve S

    Feb 1, 2005
    SE Florida
    Blemishes beautiful?

    These ladies do not want to see their blemishes. They want to be seen as perfect as they imagine they can be.
  13. Yea, the Healing Brush can be frustrating at times. Just remember that you are replacing texture, use the smallest diameter you can and be patient. Sometimes a simple click will work, other times you need to drag. Watch for repeating patterns and camouflage them by sampling in different places and randomly spotting the affected area.

    Personally I don't these are THAT much overdone. Yes, you can back off the opacity of the blur layer a bit more but I can plainly see texture in what you have here so you're on the right track.

    To me the most jarring issue here is the fact that you've only done the faces. I think you'll be happy if you did all of the visible skin. Get in there and HB out those lines on their necks and get that skin texture to match the face.

    You're REAL CLOSE... It takes a lot of practice so don't be discouraged. You have to sense it, there is no mechanical way to do this.

    EDIT: I believe I may have made the false assumption that you are using this method:

    If not, you may want to give it a try.
  14. Ottrott's Human

    Ottrott's Human

    May 21, 2006
    Hey Jim,
    Nice work overall! The biggest issue with the first image is the disparity b/w the face and the neck. Did you add the blur layer to the neck also? It doesn't look like it. If you are adding blur you should add equal amounts to all exposed skin. I agree with Woody that these seem only slightly heavy handed, but the difference in texture makes the face look overly smoothed. Does that make sense?

    Heal away the line on her neck first, but then add a blur layer to that area.

    When a subject has skin issues you want to resolve you should take care of *all* of those with the healing and cloning tools and then add a subtle blur layer to kind of tie or blend it all together.

    A general...loose.....rule of thumb is to need no more than a 20% blur layer. For certain looks I will sometimes go as high as 30%, but that's my limit.

    Basically when you complete the skin work...before adding the blur layer.....there should be no blemishes etc...left......only natural skin texture and any permanent features such as moles or scars that you are intentionally leaving.

    EDIT: I just read Woody's response so mine is basically redundant. That's what I get for not reading the entire thread before posting!:redface:
  15. Thanks for the reply Kevin. As we were looking at the RAW shots of the session, the young lady asked me if I could get rid of the blemishes. Once she asked, I felt I had "artistic license" to do so. Ultimately, she loved the images as it. However, I know they could be much better. I guess it was one of those things that I thought looked OK when I did it, but the longer I looked, the less I liked it. Hence this post...

    There is no comparison between wildlife and portraits of women. (I've found that out... Trust me on this!)

  16. Thanks Woody. You are correct; I am using your methods. Once I saw the images after leaving them for a few hours I thought that I should have done the other skin as well. I'm off to do that now...
  17. Ottrott's Human

    Ottrott's Human

    May 21, 2006
    Yeah Kevin....what Steve says is the truth of it. Interestingly I have found that when I look at high resolution images of models after a shoot I always see "imperfections" that I did not notice when looking at them in person. Some of this is probably because the camera and PP sharpening emphasize blemishes, but I also think that it is because when we are engaged face to face with a person we don't typically stand or sit there critiquing the person's appearance and studying every detail of their skin.

    Using techniques to perfect skin is my way of making a person look in a photo the way I see them when photographing or talking with them in person.

    And....as Steve says.....models want this work to be done. Leaving skin un-retouched would most likely be a sure way to have most models never want to work with you again!:biggrin:

    It may be more "artistic" to just present people as they are and many photographers do that, but for this style of portrait what *makes* the photographer....in many ways....is his/her ability to correct the skin in a way that is pleasing and natural looking.
  18. Thanks Stuart! No "edit" necessary. Repetition only reinforces what I need to do.

    I'm off to try the other skin as well...

    Thanks again!
  19. Jim,

    Thanks for the reply. However, I still beieve that less (more subtle) PP would have been better and appear more "natural."


  20. Am I on the right track?

    Is this any better or did I still lose too much texture? (Or what???)

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