Color Management.

I have been working in RGB for nearly two decades. The latter half included RGB print color management from camera to proof, with CMYK conversion at the press. Utilizing calibrated monitors, proofers and embedded profiles, this workflow is very efficient at keeping color-fidelity through the entire process.

But, then there's the internet... Since everyone's monitor displays color differently, it's crucial to start from a calibrated system, and keep profiles whenever possible. 

To gif or not to gif?  

I like animated gifs as a quick way to show before-and-after for retouch on images, but the color can be wildly inaccurate. Crunching millions of colors down to a maximum of 256 without losing anything would be impossible. It's as a challenge to represent near accurate color, and is really only useful for showing relative or mechanical changes.


Annie on Location.


Less can be more!  

Light retouching, and removing the extra length of belt, was all this image needed beyond color-cast and weight correction. Both gif and jpeg files started as Adobe '98 converted to sRGB with color profile embedded. However, only the close-up (jpeg) is accurate post color.


Featuring a Great Expression.

This image needed some of the clutter removed and a little pizzazz to match that smile! 

One of my favorite tools for image editing is to use subject matter that's already in the shot. Here you can see how the left side of the chair was mirrored, to help remove the table. Birds were borrowed from other spots, and a second sleeve was created. It's important to work with mirrored sections until they are not identical reflections. Close can be iconographic, but identical is distracting. 

Compensating for dim lighting is common practice for retouchers.  The real trick is to enhance shape while brightening, without losing the highlight areas.

Image for my short film “Shadow of the Wolf Puppet”.

Click the still image for larger view. This is from a one day video shoot working with photographers, sharing tips on how to use the same equipment to shoot video. I came up with fairytale concept that gave us a wide variety of setups to work with. Multiple shots were composited together to create this image.


Lifestyle and Product Images.

Often a retoucher's job is simply to clean and color correct in post. But when a retoucher is an integrated part of the team, photographers, and art directors are free to explore more options.


(click for larger image)

Image compositing for a variety of prop options, reflection removal, color alterations, and general retouching are represented in this shot. As with all good retouching, good masking is key. Especially when editing areas that transition between soft and sharp focus.



This patio set needed a few things. The table and chairs were darkened into a product color-match while the background was lightened and adjusted. Both moves helped provide contrast, to pop the furniture in the shot. Cushion colors were changed as per art direction, flaws were retouched, and peripheral equipment was digitally removed, giving more latitude for final placement. 



Farmers in Alaska

The tractor wasn't going anywhere, but why miss an opportunity?  This shot needed a little sunnier feel, and some background replacement work.

I've worked on a lot of farmers, fishers, and people who work with their hands. Even rugged folks don't mind if you shave a few years off. But just like working with studio models, there's a line you don't want to cross into over-retouching. 

I try to treat images with respect to the people in them, and the story being told.  

There are hundreds of common 'rules of thumb' to consider when retouching.  I'm not sure they are all written down anywhere, so experience plays a big part.  

I think it is important for retouchers to be able to provide insight to the process, and be able to offer a variety of solutions.

Punch It Up!

This Christmas Card had to get to the press ASAP!  But if you're going to spend all that money on postage, give it some color first! A little vignetting softens the hard-horizontal nature of this composition. Color and lighting tweaks add a lot of interest. Cartoon bolts of electricity aren't always what you want for the holidays, but in this case seemed appropriate.