Picture Retouching. Digital Chainsaw

Picture Retouching A Digital Chainsaw

How picture retouching enabled an uncluttered view.

I remember first being at this location photographing this tree high above Lyndos town in around 2004 when I was still capturing the world on film.
13 years later I found myself once again in the same spot admiring the same tree and the amazing views that this ancient citadel offered of the stunning coast below.
I couldn’t resist capturing the scene again but I soon remembered as I composed the image through the viewfinder the same problem I had experienced all those years ago it was very cluttered.
To capture the tree and wonderful view meant a messy composition consisting of branches from adjacent trees and there was no other angle or option despite my efforts.
I decided to capture the scene and reconfigure a few elements later in post-production to get the image I had visualised.

The picture retouching work was pretty straight forward consisting mainly of removing the obtrusive branches and replacing the sky which was the only element not from the original scene but captured a mile or so away on another day.

Before-image-photo-retouching-of-tree-lyndos-greece

Original Scene

After-image-of-photo-retouching-of-tree-lyndos-greece

Scene Post Some Trimming.

Arches Of The Palace

Arches Of The Palace

I hope this post finds you all well at this very challenging time.

March was an incredibly busy month with me out shooting nearly every day for a new travel accommodation company. Of course, this came to a sudden halt with the travel restriction came into place which was definitely needed.I must admit I’ve not been bored. I’ve used my time in my home office to take some advanced training courses to add to my existing skills and do some other things that seem to have been pushed to the back of the to-do list.

This week I completed the lifestyle image below titled Arches Of The Palace.
The models Emma & Nathan were captured back in chilly November outside my studio and the background is Rhodes in slightly warmer weather!
Thanks to good planning and care the retouching came together both seamlessly and in good time.

Commercial-lifestyle-photo-arches-of-palace-rhodes

Commercial Lifestyle Photographer, A Perfect Moment – Capturing A Greek Summer In Grey November

Commercial Lifestyle Photographer, A Perfect Moment

I’m going to state the obvious..winter is never an ideal time of year for a commercial lifestyle photographer to shoot summer lifestyle in the U.K!
Unfortunately, that was exactly what was required on one chilly November morning with two brave Welsh models Emma James and Nathan Scola.

Behind-the-scene-lifestyle-photoshoot-somerset

The backgrounds for this shoot were all captured in the warmer months of August in Greece and required my models to be dressed for the summer.
To make the composite work seamlessly I required many elements to work together including natural light even if it was the grey type!

Commercial lifestyle photography can be tough but Nathan and Emma were true professionals and used their vivid imaginations to bring the greek summer into the shots despite the biting November cold. I’ll be sharing more from this shoot in the next few weeks.

Commercial-lifestyle-photoshoot-perfect-moment

Centaur

I captured and retouched this for the pure fun of it and because Ive loved the Greek myths since I was a kid.
This image involved a lot of transplanting of hair for the horse and adding a beard and longer hair on my model as it would be ridiculous to have a clean shaven centaur with short gelled hair!

Centaur-composite-photo-retouching

Pre Production For Post Production. Composite Lifestyle Shooting.

Tomorrow I have a location lifestyle shoot planned with a couple of models so I thought I’d give a glimpse on how I prepare for some of my shoots.

It can be surprising to some people just how much pre-production can go into even the smallest shoots especially if they are on location.
My shoot tomorrow has it’s own particular added elements that need careful preparation and close attention and that is because the backgrounds have already been captured several months before.
When I travel I often will go out capturing my chosen locations before dawn or dusk for the best light (depending on what I’m after).
If I have a choice I prefer dawn not because I love to get up at 4am (in the summer) but because there is less likely to be any tourists around especially in popular city locations.
Saying that having been a retoucher for 21 years I know some clever techniques to very simply remove people from images in post without the need for any stress while on location if needed.

My models will be captured either in my studio or as is more often the case outside in natural daylight and supplemented with lighting if required.

So for this shoot to be captured and be successfully blended realistically in post-production there are many things that need careful attention. Here are just a few of the basics.

The light quality
Light angle
Light temperature
The surrounding elements and their colour
Camera height
Camera angle (perspective)
Lens focal length (this can be tweaked a little)

As I said these are just a few things that I’m carefully looking at.
To help me with this I create a markup image for quick reference (shown below).

Here are a few samples from a previous shoot.

As you will see in the second picture in the bottom row if possible I’ll always take a snap of myself in the scene.
You have probably already guessed that this gives me a great reference when I shoot my models to how the light in the scene should be interacting on them even if it’s not a pretty picture!

So one question you may ask is why go to so much trouble why not shoot the models in situ like many photographers?
Well, I first should add I’m definitely not against doing it all in camera and often do however there is a multitude of reasons why it might not always be possible.
The main one is simply the logistics of getting models, stylist, makeup artist and the many other people that make up a production crew to a particular location at a certain time.
For me, it’s partly the above plus, of course, the substantial costs involved as some of these images are purely self-funded portfolio pieces so budgets can be naturally tight.
The other more personal reason is it enables me the luxury of more time to concentrate on capturing the changing light and various angles the locations has to offer with more flexibility.

It was interesting to read that Lord Litchfield towards the latter end of his career shot in a similar way.
As far as the post-production is concerned there is, of course, some work (and cost involved)  pulling all the elements together but then how often these days does an image not have some retouching applied before being published? If planned and executed correctly the image can often come together remarkably quickly.

As I said above I’m quite happy working and doing it all in camera and have done so many times but for me working this way provides a flexible alternative providing it’s planned accordingly.

A Lifestyle Portrait, Keeping The Ambience The Dark Art Of Weaving The Withy

A Lifestyle Portrait, Keeping The Ambience The Dark Art Of Weaving The Withy

While on a shoot capturing some images for my personal project Life In A Somerset Landscape at Withy growers P.H Coates I came across this very dark but atmospheric room.
In it three guys where busy working in the dim light and plenty of banter was being exchanged in their strong Somerset accents especially when I was introduced to them followed by the words photographing you where mentioned!

It wasn’t a Landscape… but the room had a rustic historic charm and bags of atmosphere and I could visualize the final lifestyle portrait image complete with Matthew Godfrey one of the guys who skillfully weaved wicker fences in the room.
The image was going to be a tricky one to attempt to capture in one frame due to the dim light and the fact there were elements I wanted to be visible to help tell the story without over lighting and killing the whole ambience of the place.
It’s one of those moments when seeing the final image and having extensive knowledge of photo retouching techniques allowed me to harvest all the images I would need then combine them in post-production without a huge amount of system time.

Lifestyle-photographer-bristol-somerset-willow-weaver

Photo Retouching Contentment, Bribing Children & Blending The Soul Of A Place

Photo Retouching Contentment, Bribing Children & Blending The Soul Of A Place

As well as being an advertising photographer I also offer high-end photo retouching services.

This means even when not working on an assignment I will often challenge to myself that even on a family holiday I return with at least one killer image that represents the place and my experience of it.
There was a time in my younger years where I would never relax when away and I’d be running around every day at dawn and dusk shooting like a man possessed.
Over the years my way of working has changed (to the relief of the wife) and I often feel the need of a more challenging and unique way of creating that requires a little more of a planned approach.

Photoshop-professional-photo-editing-contentment
This image (well some of it) was shot on the Costa Del Sol in Spain during one such family holiday. I had been out with my camera a few times during the week but mainly scouting for inspiration for the killer image.
Was struck me about the area was the amount of people out at both morning and night walking their dogs, running, cycling or on rollerblades simply enjoying the beautiful coast and its climate.
The coast was dotted with these striking looking lifeguard towers and clusters of exotic looking Palm trees along the beach that provided shade and a perch for the large colony of Parakeets.
Inspiration was gained and I decided I would venture out at daybreak later that week and capture some of these elements and create the image below titled Contentment.
The model is my youngest and cheapest child to bribe for a shoot Ava with my neighbours very photogenic dog Barney who were both captured upon my return home.

Photo Retouching For A Seamless Hair Transplant “Surveying The Moor”

Photo Retouching For A Seamless Hair Transplant “Surveying The Moor”

This image came out of doing a favour for a friend who was setting up a business for house sitting dogs and needed some promotional images of herself with her dog Barney.

Life-0001

It was while on location shooting the portraits that we passed this huge fallen tree and Barney decided to climb on top and the image simply announced itself in front of me. Unfortunately Barney had a bright red harness on and due to sheep being in the vicinity it could not be taken off so using some careful photo retouching it was removed in Photoshop making sure to add suitable fine hairs for a seamless result.

The background was a landscape captured on Exmoor and proved a perfect fit with the correct colour grading.

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