Avoiding Retouching

The best martial arts choreographer and philosopher of my generation, Li Xiaolong, espoused the "art of fighting without fighting." Bruce Lee's approach works equally well in the photographic realm. The most effective way to retouch an image is to avoid the need for it in the first place. Here are some tips to help you minimize your retouching efforts.

• Work with "clean" images. Use your digital camera's best resolution and optimum ISO speed setting to produce images with the least amount of noise and artifacts that will need to be cleaned up. If you're working from conventional photographic images, use a lab that won't add dust to your negs or slides. If you have your lab convert your images to digital format, let them do the scan on the first visit, before your film has had a chance to pick up dust and dirt. If you scan your images yourself, clean off the print or film before scanning, and make sure your scanner glass is clean.

• Watch your lighting when you take a photo. High contrast lighting accentuates defects in your subject, as does light that comes from the side. You may not always want to use soft, front lighting for your images, because of creative reasons, but keep in mind that high contrast effects can mean extra retouching later.

• Check out your background and other parts of the picture before you shoot. One of the most frequent needs for retouching arises from "mergers" where a tree or some other object appears to, say, grow out of the top of someone's head.

• Double-check your composition. If you have everything arranged the way you want, you won't need to move things around in Photoshop.

Many of the things we'll work on with our Mardi Gras picture could have been avoided if the photographer hadn't been looking specifically for a bad photo to use as a "before" picture for this book. The original image is shown in Figure 4.8. There is an entire panoply of things to fix in this picture, most of them easily discerned by the unaided eye. We'll tackle them one at a time.

Figure 4.8. A bad background is only one of the problems with this photo.

Figure 4.8. A bad background is only one of the problems with this photo.

0 0

Post a comment