It Can Always Be Better

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Ask The Retoucher No. 52 - Is It Retouched?


In this article I share some insight about how to identify if a photo has been retouched.

My wife showed me an advertisement that claimed, “No retouching.”  The ad says: “Easy and affordable. It’s your time to look younger and younger.” Looking at the ad, the before and after picture has the model wearing a different blouse against a different colored background. The edge of the chin looks too sharp against the background to assume no retouching.

In the larger photo, the same face is against a different, obviously false background. Retouching is defined as doing anything to change or adjust the picture, even the background. Most likely the ad legitimately represents the true look of the person after surgery, but everything points to a retouched photo, at least as related to the background.

Photo restoration continued from article #51

1. Duplicate the Background Layer. This is an important step in all retouching work. It can save a lot of time.

2. Make a new blank layer and name it “Hard.” Use this one to work on cleaning up the big spots with the clone stamp. Apply the Grid function to the photo (to learn how to use the Grid function, visit the Downloads section of the Photo Grafix University section of my website). Use the Healing Brush as appropriate.

3. Make a Black and white Adjustment Layer to rid the image of any color. Not only does it remove odd colorcasts, but also it sets up the image for simpler color replacement in cases when you might want a “sepia” tone appearance in the photo.

4. Use a Curves or Levels Adjustment Layer to check highlights and shadows. Pull down the mid-tones to darken or lighten the overall image.

5. Use the History Brush and Palette to enhance the eyes. This is an advanced Photoshop-only technique. You can accomplish similar results with the Burn and Dodge Tools. The Layer Mask function with the Paintbrush Tool will help you separate the man’s face from the dark background.

—Edited by Judy Bond for Photo Grafix University

Please send your questions and problem photos, your location—and genealogical society affiliation if appropriate—to Eric for future "Ask The Retoucher" columns. Visit Photo Grafix online for more information.

Eric runs Photo Grafix, a humble photo-retouching studio in Evanston, Illinois (USA), making photo illustrations and improving photos for hundreds of people and companies worldwide. If he doesn't know the answer, he won't rest until he finds it. Eric Basir is at your service: With each "Ask The Retoucher" article, he'll help you successfully tackle your digital photographic problems. 

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