Introduction to Retouching

I often get asked about my retouching techniques. I believe that in retouching, just like any other art form, there’s a million ways to do the same thing. Even with hours of practice and learning there’s no “one size fits all" solution to apply in retouching. Every image, model, garment is different, so we need to approach retouching in different ways.

Over the years of doing this I've also realized that while knowing the basic tools and techniques are important, it's even more important to develop your artistic eye and find your own style - what I'd call aesthetics. Every artist needs to learn the basics, but once you have a good understanding of how your tools work, you can start to focus on seeing your style emerge. And this takes hours after hours of practice just like any other art form.

Let’s jump in to equipment and software required before for technical retouching. Here's what you'll need:

Computer

Tablet - I personally prefer Wacom Intuos Pro

A good monitor (generally Mac monitors are ok but if you can afford to buy EIZO that would be nice)

Monitor Calibrator - I prefer X-rite

Keyboard with Number Pad - makes it easier to adjust in Photoshop

Photoshop

Photo Mechanic - not a need but would be nice to have one

Capture one / Lightroom - photo processing software

It’s easier to learn retouching if you have a photography background with an understanding of lighting. If you think about it, texture is created and affected by light. In retouching, we are concerned with manipulating the highlights and shadows as components of light that affect texture.

While anything is possible with photoshop, having a great image canvas to start with is always better. You don’t want to be wasting 5 hours of your time removing a strand of hair that could have been avoided by simply fixing the hair before taking the shot! I've made the mistake of saying “I’ll fix that in post later.” Taking 3 seconds to arrange the subject the way you want in person can save days of fixing it in post. Trust me, I've been there.

You'll also want to make sure that you retouch with raw files. Raw files contain more details, and often you'll need to manipulate these “details” while retouching.

Let's Start Again

I really want to be more consistent with blogging but I find it so hard to find time for it, specially these days that there are so much to do or so anythings to keep us from doing anything.

This morning Facebook reminded me of a video of me that was taken 6 years ago. Watching it brings joy to my heart, made me think about the past and simple it is.

I am now living in Canada, some of you might not know that I was born and raised in Philippines, spent 24 years of my life there. I grew up in the country side, life is simple and happy. My family's there, I have good friends (that I really miss), I had a good community that I was really involved in (I even thought maybe I'll be in politics one day haha). Anyway back to my facebook story, as I was watching the video I started looking back at some of the old photos of me and photos I uploaded.

This is me (Guy in black top) with my new DSLR, this is my first experience with SLR

This is me (Guy in black top) with my new DSLR, this is my first experience with SLR

Photo that kept me interested in photography -- Because I won 2nd place. (Sorry about the watermark didn't really know what I was doing)

Photo that kept me interested in photography -- Because I won 2nd place. (Sorry about the watermark didn't really know what I was doing)

My first ever photoshoot (I know, the quote is cheesy)

My first ever photoshoot (I know, the quote is cheesy)

I thought this is so cool and mind blowing back then.

I thought this is so cool and mind blowing back then.

Looking at my old shots I start to realize that the feeling of" I'm not good" enough as a photographer, "I don't know how to improve my craft", "I don't really understand how things work" will always be there. I believe this is essential to success (what ever that means to you)

 

 

 

 


 

Shooting with Film

I recently purchased a medium format film camera from a friend of mine. I was a big fan of film photography before, never really understood why people still chose to shoot film until my friend showed me the difference and lend me his camera for a week.

There are multiple reasons why I was convinced to get the camera.

1. I can't afford to buy a medium format digital camera right now but I want a bigger sensor
2. Colours, I believe that nothing beats the colour of film, I am sure some photographer/retoucher can replicate it, but it's not easy.
3. Shooting with film camera made me more aware of what's in my shot.
4. I am forced to understand light better.
5. It feels nice to go in the lab and develop your film and the excitement of seeing your images.
6. "Rolls" sounds better than CF/SD
7. Dynamic range is incomparable with digital.
8. Leaf shutter!!
9. The "organic" feeling using the camera

I am sure there's more but these are the main things I like about shooting with Film.