Retouching That Looks Like Retouching

After having preached yesterday about the superiority of preserving people’s natural beauty with little wrinkles and all, I went crazy on my own portrait, and I doubt that anybody would ever think that the final image did not go through post-processing. Sounds like a contradiction, but I think that if used for specific stylistic purpose, some fakeness has its place and even on this image, I did not change my facial features, or do any specific skin blemish removal.

But starting from the beginning. My studio has been converted back to its original intended purpose – a guestroom – due to long visits of my parents and sister and an upcoming visit of my mother-in-law, and I’ve really missed the ability to go down there and play around with photo ideas. So yesterday I took advantage of my baby boy’s naptime and went down there to try a few slow shutter speed shots. Not planned, wearing no make-up, and with my hair kind of messy and undone. I had bought a piece of light colored tulle fabric and I thought of covering my hair with that, and perfect skin often doesn’t matter with slow shutter speeds anyway, since it adds a tiny bit of blur to images, which makes skin look much better than it is. There was a lot of sun coming in through the big window in the guest room and since all the walls in that room are white, it looked very bright in there; yet I realized after a few shots that my side opposite of the window was still too “contrastingly” dark, so I ended up using a silver reflector to even out the shadows on the other side. And that tulle fabric over my hair just looked stupid so around my neck it went instead.

Already after looking at the first few images on my camera I got the idea of getting them even brighter and whiter in post and removing a lot of the color. I ended up taking down saturation to -74, bumping vibrance to +14, darkening blacks to -43, boosting whites to +19, and changing the color temperature to 3191k in Lightroom plus changing the luminance and saturation sliders of some colors separately on the color panel in addition to working on specific areas and overall skin tone in Photoshop. The resulting image is definitely not natural, but my face and skin are not changed per se. I like the mood in it.

Here’s the straight out of camera (although cropped) image:

(100mm, ISO 400, f/3.5, 1/4 sec + silver reflector on camera right)

Retouching that Looks Like Retouching Original

And here’s the after:

Retouching that Looks Like Retouching


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