“It’s not what’s in the mirror-it’s what’s left inside.” ~ Stevie Nicks, Sometimes It’s A Bitch
The lure of Image Editing Software is subtle, seductive and self-indulgent. Nothing reinforced this like the recent event of taking my own passport photo. The purpose of a passport photo is to give a reasonable likeness of yourself to identify you when traveling abroad or attempting to gain reentry to your homeland. After taking the photographs of my wife and I in the most flattering light I could find, the temptation to touch us up a bit was overwhelming. Long story-short, I maintained control and did only the most minimal of retouching so that our photographs wouldn’t be too far from the truth.
The following exercise is not as indicative of self control.
|I took this self portrait while working out a lighting set up for an upcoming shoot. I used a Canon 100 MM F2.8 Macro-a lens too sharp for traditional portrait work. I decided it was a little harsh and needed softening. I used some varied techniques to ‘Hollywood Up’ my image.|
Most of my retouching skills were learned in books and seminars. Katrin Eismann’s book, Photoshop Restoration and Retouching is a great place to start. It has many techniques that can be applied to all image editing software packages. I used Corel PhotoPaint in today’s exercise for example.
One of my latest workflow operations is to evaluate what I have done through the lens of time. I find that I am over exuberant in editing an image because I am caught up in the adrenaline rush of the process. After leaving it sit for an hour, a day, a week, and then revisiting the project, I find I can often dial back my editing a bit and achieve a more realistic and ultimately more pleasing result.
I liked the image even though it was just a lighting test and my expression is a little wide-eyed. One of the tricks Hollywood and tabloids us to make celebrities larger than life is to enlarge the eyes slightly-only a 102% or so. I had done this in my original retouch but forgotten to take it back when I did my final blend. So I did it again.
You can see now the eyes are subdued and not as large as in the original retouch. I am happy with the final product and feel that it represents me well. It is what is inside but perhaps not what is in the mirror. After all, the goal of portraiture is to give the rendition we expect of our loved ones and ourselves. If we have to sit on it a day or two and then dial it back to reality – the delay is worth the effort.
Rikk Flohr © 2008