bad lens/aperture choice or just overdone in photoshop?

Discussion in 'Portraits and Fashion' started by anda_m, Oct 8, 2010.

  1. Hi all
    I am really new to photography, but willing to improve quickly :) and I believe is the best place for that.
    I shoot recently some portraits (sample here:
    trying to respect all the rules and advice I got from this site and from various books: used a long lens, f/11 for a great DOF, get closer, careful lighting, etc. Then, for the first time, I tried to retouch the pics with a book on photoshop by S.Kelby, I followed step by step his advice (selective sharpening, blemish removal, skin softening), but the result, although better than my previous tries, still looks disappointing (overdone) as everyone tells me she doesn't look natural and it's obvious the portrait was retouched. What am I doing wrong?
    Thanks a lot for your comments!
  2. What's the original look like?
  3. i dont c anything so unusual in the pic to say that the pic is 'overdone' in ps. only cropping is a bit too tight..
  4. ...but the result, although better than my previous tries, still looks disappointing (overdone) as everyone tells me she doesn't look natural and it's obvious the portrait was retouched. What am I doing wrong?
    over retouched here? hopefully you have work on a background copy (if Kelby didtn advice you of doing that stop following is book!) so you can just reduce the opacity of the retouched layer and get back some original skin and *problem* ... it will look more natural.
    When you retouched children, 2min should do.. little zit here and there, some redness, some face clean up nothing more...
  5. First, quit trying to follow all the rules. There aren't any.
    Second, quit trying to please everyone. The French have a saying something like "On, c'est un idiot"--Patrick may be able to supply the proper maxim.
    Third, your portraits of the little girl sucking the straw are well exposed and focused, nicely lit, sharp as a tack, and quite expressive, and the activity she is engaged in is perfectly natural. I've never seen your subject and the portrait had a very candid quality, so I did not notice your "obvious" retouching.
    I did notice you're still cropping quite closely, which gives these pictures a feeling of intimacy and in some cases tightness that some people may not be comfortable with. Your catchlights are mostly in the pupils, and conventionally they're placed between pupils and irises, though that's a matter of the psychological impression you want to convey.
    Scott Kelby's advice to hobbyist photographers is generally well-regarded and you seem to have implemented it well. Patrick, as a practicing professional, is correct in saying that you can make a new copy layer, which is easily turned on and off to check your work and faded in and out to vary the effect from glamour to nitty-gritty. In fact, many retouchers work in an empty layer which contains only the retouching.
    How idealized a portrait should be is a matter of personal taste, and "natural" is an adult impression of how a little girl looks, or should be allowed to look. It has nothing to do with the reality in front of your lens. Some very well-regarded painters of young people's portraits make a practice of shutting parents out of the process after explaining that what they portray and what the parent sees are often very different things.
  6. The portrait has an innocent candidness about it. Did you do something to the nose though? I have to say that a child's portrait often gets away with much that an adult portrait would not get away as we expect a sort of naivette.
  7. Thank you all for your replies. I asked the mother of the girl why she believed the pic is overdone and she told me that the girl had a few zits and they were gone...Hahaha, and I have almost lost my sleep over it: indeed I have purposedly removed the zits! But Starvy is right: I have also painted with the adjustment brush (for softness) over her right nostril, which, according to Kelby I should've avoided- and let it be sharp. (tu vois Patrick c'etait pas la faute de Kelby :)). Charles, I couldn't stop but smiling when I saw your message: indeed I am obssesed with rules (of thirds, golden, you name it :)) and I don't know them well enough to break'em- not yet. And, indeed Umesh: I have a problem with tight cropping- it was worse before, but I am trying to avoid clutter and I have them look boxed. I am working on the cropping thing. Thanks again for your time.
  8. Well that's a bit silly. Who wants to preserve zits for posterity? I tend to preserve moles, scars, and other permanent features (even if I diminish them a bit), but zits I don't retain at all, because they're temporary; gone tomorrow.
    If the mother complained that you had removed a beauty mark or something, that would be one thing. But to complain about pimple removal is peculiar.
  9. "They're not really rules, more like guidelines." Pirates of the Carribean. I agree with Patrick, that opacity slider is very helpful to getting it where you want it. I would like to have seen a bit more skin texture. In this tight, I would expect more to be visible, but I havent seen the subject. This is bordering on looking plastic. Just a bump back of the slider on the softening layer til it comes back. Its one of those things that over correcting then fine tuning and bringing back to the right level with opacity is helpful. I wonder if this is what is bothering the mother rather than missing pimples and that's just how she describes it. Same applies to older ladies and wrinkles- take them out completely and it looks unnatural, reduce them and leave some and you are enhancing and making the image more flattering.
  10. Thanks Bob! I think you're totally right, it's not the missing scratches in fact (not zits) that bothered the mum, I think you nailed it: her skin looks like plastic! Thanks so much for your time and comment! Besides the tight cropping, the painting over the nostril, I think that was what bothered her mum (and myself, I just couldn't see it). That's a great site, you learn so much.
    I put the original here,
    there's not much skin texture either. I'll see what I can do (we have a local photo club workshop next weekand a guy will explain how to retouch pics, I'll bring this pic with me, see what he thinks). I am definitely not an adept at retouching, I did it the first time with Kelby's book on my lap :)... Thanks a million.
  11. IMO, first learn the rules, respect them, understand them, appreciate them.....then you'll be ready to start breaking them.
    Working on adjustment layers and adjusting the opacity to taste is the simplest answer to your problem. PS takes a good while to learn and get proficient with, consider joining NAPP.

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