Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Asian Beauty Retouch

Beauty headshot by Andrew Missisippi Ng.
© 2013 Andrew Mississppi Ng.

Today we're going to talk about something different which is post-production retouching. The beauty headshot shown above is taken by my photographer friend, Andrew Mississippi Ng. It was retouched by none other than myself, of course. Shouldn't it be the photographer himself who post-processes his own work? You might ask. Well here's the little story behind this little project...

The other day I was suggesting to Andrew of doing something fun and interesting which is, to exchange each other's RAW image file and to post-process in our own way to compare results between my rendition and his.

This kind of exercise or project is not new. In the older days of film photography, in case some or most of you do not know, film photographers would exchange negatives where they would print the other photographer's negative on 8x10 paper in their own wet darkroom. Thereafter they would gather to discuss and learn about each other's printing skills and interpretation. This exercise serves a good way to practice and hone darkroom printing.

Fast forward to this modern digital photography era, I believe we can use this form of exercise to practice and hone our Photoshop skills as well as learning more about lighting, be it under natural sunlight or use of flashlight and strobes. Most importantly, to have fun. In this century, film photography is pretty much alive and active and so it doesn't matter whether it is film negatives or digital negatives (RAW files), I strongly recommend fellow photographers to do this exercise. You'll be amazed at how your fellow photographer would interpret your work.

So eventually Andrew sent me this headshot image of a beautiful young Asian woman. The image is untouched RAW file straight out of the camera. After spending a few hours (on 2 separate nights) retouching blemishes, wrinkles and color-correct skin tone, hair, eyes, eye brows, lips and teeth, this is the final result shown above. I would not go into details on my retouching process/steps here.

I love doing headshot myself and instead of retaining the original composition, I enlarged to crop in a way to make the image or subject more appealing and engaging to the viewers (I hope).

For comparison of the Before and After results, here's the original image on the left and the retouched on the right. I tried to keep the overall as natural as possible, taking into serious considerations of not over doing. There are times when I would think I'm like a Photoshop Digital Make-up Artist, doing make-over images that would otherwise regarded as superficial. But not so in the commercial industry where images have to look perfect

Now let's play Spot The Difference game, shall we? Or how about Guess the Lighting, if you will? No prize for the winner though. Well, in case some of you are interested to know what is the lighting set-up. Here it is.

Image courtesy of Andrew Mississippi Ng.

Last but not least, here's the comparison between Andrew's and mine. I'll let you be the Judge. Mind you. Photography, like art, is very subjective and there are no rights or wrongs here. But hey it wouldn't cost a penny or any harm to know what viewers think about the images, right?

So let me know what you think about the 2 retouched images above by posting comments below. Would love to hear from you readers.