Thursday, November 29, 2007

Retouching all the life out of it


I worry that sending an image to the retoucher sometimes takes the life out of a picture that is better off left alone. It is not the retocuher's fault. Maybe an image is better the more imperfect it is. Maybe it is more alive.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

Dude, you gotta reign in that bidness. All the beautiful light is gone in the retouched image, and the sky is plastic. Reminds me of Loretta Lux sky, and not in a good way. If you kept the color cast and the warm light of the original with the clean up of the retouched image, it would look great.

ThomasBroening said...

I think this is good advise and I will pass it along to the retoucher though I am not sure why the comment needed to be anonymous. That u mom?

Jeff Singer Photography said...

I agree... the light is so much better in the original. The retouched version looks like a perfectly color corrected digital image... i.e. boring.

I'm no purist by any means, but when I look at your work and the work of say, Erik Almas... the overly retouched, composited and manipulated pictures are my least favorites... I like the straight shots like a lot of your portraits and Almas' nudes and fashion stuff. Every picture in your "Gentleman's Club" section is perfect and I'm guessing there isn't one composite in the group.

In my not-at-all-valuable opinion your work like this and the SF airport series should be left alone. Leave the compositing, fake skies and liquifying for your big time ad jobs.

But what the hell do I know... maybe I'm just jealous because I can't afford a retoucher for all my work and have to do it all myself.

Jeff

mom said...

I like the retouch version myself.

timothy archibald said...

Hmmm....the one on the left looks like Atget, the one on the right looks like it is appealing to the commercial photography marketplace. I think it comes down to what you are trying to do with this shot. Can something be both? I think probably not. What you all think?

Bruce DeBoer said...

There is something organic about the original that was lost in post. I don't think it was the light but rather the moodiness. Bring the warmth back, darken the edges, make the sky more ominous and I'll bet the character of the original comes back.

Thomas - listen to your Mom.

Darrell Eager said...

Often when I look at some photography I always wonder whose work I'm admiring. The photographers or the retoucher. I prefer your image just as you present it. It has the rawness of a Polaroid and it's film!

Matthew Reamer said...

I wish the idea of retouching was never conceived. I enjoy the imperfections of my images and hate feeling like I need to perform heavy manipulations in order to make them viable. I agree with Jeff - save the retouching for the ads, let the rest of 'em just be photos.

Matthew Reamer said...

Upon thinking more about what I just wrote, I do some times enjoy composited images as non-ad artwork, but usually when the retouching/compositing is more obvious. Speaking of which, Thomas, the people in your Bethlehem Steel images weren't shot on location, were they? I love those images. I've always wanted to go in there. B-MORE!

broening.com said...

Yes we shot models on locaton in Bethlehem

Kee Photography said...

"Bring the warmth back, darken the edges, make the sky more ominous and I'll bet the character of the original comes back."

I agree with Bruce. It was all about the warmth. It's not like you've done irreversible damage... just have the retoucher go back.

The sky composite doesn't bother me either. Just think of it this way: "Maybe" those clouds were really there, "maybe" ya were shooting neg film, and burned down the sky say, 400% to pull detail (after all you can overexpose a color neg 5 stops and still find some detail in there). That is all stuff that could have been done in the dark room. I think we forget that sometimes.. and granted, making a film mask for the sky in order to pull it off would have been a pain in the...

What I'm getting at is... Photoshop is all based off of darkroom technique. If applied properly to an image (eh hem, a non commercial image) there is no reason why it can't be acceptable... even to purists' standards. Retouchers are just the modern day equivalents to the printers of yesterday. Do you think Ansel's "Moonrise" neg looked like that when he pulled it out of the fix? No way. He worked his darkroom magic and turned it into the masterpiece you see it as. Was that "unpure" of him?

The strong blues in the retouched image are what "took the life out of it." Just tell your "printer" to crank the blues in that color head a couple points in the opposite direction... I bet it perks back to life.

. . . and sorry for the ramble. Not sure where that came from.