Photo Enhancement & Creative Imagery


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Why Digital

Posted on July 17, 2015 at 8:00 PM

Before Photoshop, changes were made directly on photos and negatives.  Chemicals, inks, paints, airbrushes and small paint brushes were often used.  Manipulating photos was a skilled craft using artist tools and darkroom tricks of the trade.  Retouching was commonly thought of as "airbrushing" as images were usually edited and enhanced with thin layers of paint.  And, it wasn't that long ago!

With digital restoration and retouching your original photo, most often your only copy, remains intact and untouched.  After creating a high resolution scan, all work is done non-destructivly on a digital file allowing unlimited options for enhancement or repair.  Digital changes can ALWAYS be reversed or adjusted.  Can you imagine if they couldn't?

Note:  Even with careful conservation, your photos will continue to deteriorate over time.  Digital files are a great way to share and safeguard your memories for future generations. I recommend digitally archiving ALL your photographs, preserving your originals, using local services (after verifying your collection remains onsite and isn't shipped overseas).  They won't worsen and are easily organized, labeled and ready for repair if needed.

* Image from unknown original source on Pinterest shows extreme humorous before and after airbrushed photo from an episode of NBC's sitcom Seinfeld.  Used without permission through fair use as a related pop culture reference.

Changing Relationship History - Removing People

Posted on November 25, 2014 at 10:05 PM

There's an (over) abundance of photographs all over the internet that have been altered to remove an unwanted person.  Some results are good, you would never even know they had been in the picture in the first place.  BUT some "fixes" end up badly composed with odd arrangements.  For example, take the following reenactments below based on actual "retouching" as seen on the web:


Prom Date Before and After:


It's clear there's something missing in the "restored" version.  Who says the photo has to remain the original dimensions and size?  Why have prom guy all by his lonesome off to the side when you can just crop the date out and turn it into a portrait?  Now the big question, why does mom not like her? 


Wedding Party Before:



Wedding Party After:



If this one's absolutely necessary (and who am I to judge the removal of a bride in an obvious wedding portrait?), I would think that eliminating the negative space by bringing the other people closer together would have been a help.  How about making separate, smaller pictures instead? 

Of course, there are photos that benefit from extracting someone.  Maybe it's unflattering, it could be only a portion of the person, or you might want to feature the other as more of a formal portrait.  The trick is to create a finished picture that doesn't look obviously tampered with or leave the viewer with unanswered questions.

Removing a person and recreating the background isn't cheap or quick, especially if it's done right.  In many of the samples, the backgrounds didn't line up and some were left with weird spotting.  When having retouching done, it's important to think about all available options and know that you're not limited to the restrains of the original photograph.