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Self-Portrait First Retouch Attempt Ever. Opinion?


Jbknight3

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Hey there guys/girls. New to the forum, not new to photoshop or photography. :)

When I say first attempt ever, I mean that before this, I have never really tried going all out on making a portrait look good. I have done edits before, but the were either super unrealistic results, very contrasty or grainy on purpose, or I didn't do as much as I should have.

I made an effort this time and wanted an opinion.(or a bunch of opinions would be awesome!)

Here is the Before picture:
Before.jpg
Here is the photo that took 3.5 hours to edit. I know it seems like a long time, but like I said, this was a first actual attempt. I didn't know how to do this, so I had to mess around to figure out what works. I know it's a tad overdone in terms of skin smoothing. But I like it the best of the few edits I did:
Favorite.jpg
Last but not least by any means is a more realistic approach. I didn't remove nearly as much detail in the face, resulting in a more realistic result:
Realistic.jpg

Please tell me what you think! I love to hear all types of opinions! :)
 

Jbknight3

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Now that I look back at it, I really like the skin in the 3rd. What would you think of the idea on adding just a tad more warmth and contrast to the last one? I don't mean like over-do it like the 2nd picture, but just catch the eye a bit.
 

ibclare

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I agree with both those points Jon. I was going to remark that the first retouch smoothed away too much: plasticized skin. The second is a little too flat, even lost some of the vibrance of the original. But the skin quality is much better. So yeah, what you said!
 

egosbar

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something in between maybe copy the second on top of the third at 20-30% opacity

looks too dark under your eyes now imo and too much contrast between shadow and light , portraits are so tricky , im not a fan of harsh light in portraits so also id tone down the harsh light in your hair

but thats only my limited opinion lol , another 3.5 hours and youll be happy haha and then if your like me probably not
 
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Jbknight3

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Lol. My latest version of this pic(the one on my deviantart) is pretty much perfect I'd say. I took the advice of egosbar and think it turned out great! :p

Edit: I realllllllly love the contrast on yours though! F'ing awesome! Please excuse my letter. :p
 
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Inkz

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There's a fine line between realistic and plastic lol..

The last one is the better of the two. Good work fella.
 

Tom Mann

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Unless I have a specific request or instructions, or am intentionally trying to achieve a gaunt, hollow-eyed look, my knee jerk reflex is to avoid deeply shadowed eyes and completely blown highlights at all cost. In my default style, I prefer to see contrast between the subject and the background, between the sides and front of the face, etc. I strongly prefer to achieve this using lighting, not in PP.

If I want a high contrast face, I prefer a classic portrait hatchet lighting setup that doesn't leave dark shadows under the eyes, but instead, a large left-right brightness difference, grazing incidence reflections off of the shadowed side of the face, etc.

To be honest, I just didn't feel like putting the effort in to try to simulate hatchet lighting in PP. Nor did I feel like reconstructing the blown highlight on your nose, so I decided to go with a relatively simple PP approach, one that I consider "safe" -- non-moody -- but one that the largest number of portrait customers (ie, not just the guys themselves, but their wives and their relatives) are likely to accept. As part of this, since your eyes were slightly OOF, I sharpened them as well as brightened them, removed some of the imperfections in the sclera, brightened the irises, etc..

Unfortunately, I have no idea just how ruddy (vs. yellow) your skin is, so I held my nose and guessed that it is more on the ruddy side.

Attached is what I came up with in 10 or 15 min. See what you think.

Cheers,

Tom M
 

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Jbknight3

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OMG Tom!!! O.O

That is really amazing! It's so different from anything I have tried, as you took out most of the shadows. I really notice the difference under the eyes for sure!

You made several great points that I never really thought of trying. I thank you for opening my eyes a bit to more to the possibilities of how stuff can turn out with less contrast, which has been my entire style. Not saying I'm going to stop my style but now I have two ways of doing things to see which I should use for the shot in question.

Lastly I have to ask: Was that all made from the original un-edited version??? :eek:

-Jon
 

ALB68

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Comment- Damn your ugly! :rofl: Otherwise I like what u did!
 

Tom Mann

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Hi Jon -

I'm glad you don't mind us taking some liberties (ie, having some fun) with your fine self-portrait.

Here's another possibility: If you ever feel like a career change and becoming an old Greek fisherman or a Welsh coal miner, here's a preview of what you might look like (courtesy of the Dragan effect). Obviously, once you get into "effects", the possibilities are endless, unless, of course, you have to consider what mom and grandma are going to say. LOL.


re your question: "Was that all made from the original un-edited version??? :eek: "

The answer is, yes.

Also, in case you are interested, I made the Draganized version from my tweaked version, not from an earlier version. I did this because it's a lot easier to add heaps of local contrast if you aren't fighting major global contrast issues.

Best regards,

T


PS - Larry (ALB), thanks, but all your kind words (in the other thread) are making me blush. LOL.

PPS - Sorry about the halo behind your head in the Draganized version. I'm too lazy to take it out.
 

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Tom Mann

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PS #3 - FWIW, after staring at my 1st tweaked version and especially my later Draganized version, I've completely sold myself (grin) on the importance of bright, sharp uber-penetrating eyes rather than the original softer eyes that are hidden by dark shadows. You know, "Windows to the soul", and all that. ;-)

T
 

ibclare

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Tom, the only thing about your first version that bothers me a bit, is the softening of the bottom of the face. It looks blurry compared to the rest of the features.
 

Tom Mann

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Hi Clare -

Yup. Thanks for raising the issue.

I didn't want to get into a discussion of this in my earlier post, but I saw the same soft areas and was fighting them right from the start.

The OP shot this with a 50 at f/1.8 on a crop frame Canon body. Assuming a range of around 3 feet, the Barnack calculator gives a depth of field of a bit less than an inch . It looks to me like the plane of best focus passed through his eyebrows and the camera was slightly tilted so that his chin was around an inch or a bit more in back of the plane of best focus.

I actually had to use quite a bit of convolution based deblurring (ie, "Focus Magic") to bring his image up to the current level of sharpness (which I like, but others may not). The reason is that 50 has quite a bit of spherical aberration when nearly wide open. It also has a fair amount of curvature of field.

I tried to add more de-blurring in areas that were more OOF, but it made things in those areas look harsh, not realistic, so I gave up.

Personally, I never shoot a head shot at such a wide aperture. Some photographers love the look of paper-thin depth of field, but I'm not a fan of that. To me that's a holdover from film days. Since the advent of fairly realistic lens blur algorithms, these days, I always stop down to around f/5.6 or 8 for headshots and then add blur, if I need it. It's much easier to add blur than it is to de-blur an image.

Cheers,

T
 

Jbknight3

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Once again, awesome job Tom! I really like it! :p

Now as for the original shot, yes, I chose f/1.8 which was a mistake on my part. It made editing in post much more difficult. :/ Also a higher f-stop would have prevented the blow outs.

I'm going to try and take a better shot to begin with and work on that. I need a little more practice in this area of editing and before I take on this blurry photo again, I'm going to try something a little less issues to fix.

Thanks for all of the advice from everyone. And thanks for all the time spent helping me understand more about what goes into editing this type of photo. :)
 

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