Roll over the image to see the before.

Task: Bring emphasis to the floral centerpiece, the focal point of the photograph.

We begin this section with an image that illustrates the difference a subtle change can make. The beautiful floral design becomes the focal point of the photo by simply adding a fill-light effect to the centerpiece then darkening the bottom right corner and area behind the table. Variation in values draws the viewer's eye to the main subject of the photo.

The expansion in the color contrast (turquoise/orange) makes the photo more pleasing because it is cleaner & crisper. It is probably why the stylist paired the coral roses & melon with turquoise bottles & green glass.)

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Task: Improve color and lighting taking into account tonal compression that occurs in the printing process

Left unaltered, when this image hit the press it would have become a sea of black ink with little detail. I suspect the location's tight quarters made it impossible for the photographer to setup supplementary lighting.

The goal of the retouching corrections was three-fold: re-lite the image to bring out color and detail, showcase the table décor, and create a file that would hold-up on press.

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Task: Improve color and lighting; remove distracting objects

Similar in nature to the previous image, the artistry of the floral design and table decor is hidden in shadow. In its "Before" state the most prominent area is the dark tree against the blown-out sky. Such are the perils of location photography.

The Photoshop retouching brought out all colors and detail. Through a series of Photoshop curve adjustments the ideal lighting design was created and distracting objects removed. The rich and tactile feel of the fabric and surfaces are now visible and the artistry of the decor becomes the center of attention and can be fully appreciated.

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Task: Improve the lighting, contrast, and color

The Photoshop work done to this image can best be described as "lighten and brighten." Creating tonal & color variation helped to subordinate the background, placing the viewer's focus on the table.

Before the retouching work, the greenery in the tabletop and base were obscured. By expanding the tonal contrast and enhancing the color, the viewer can now see and truly appreciate the design of the table décor. The final touch was to remove debris from the sidewalk and lawn.

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Task: Improve lighting, remove wrinkles and other distracting elements

Because of how very dark flowers photograph–absorbing most of the light and reflecting little back–the calla lilies in the center of the photograph became a black hole in the middle of the frame. Not a good thing compositionally, and certainly unacceptable for revealing the beauty and color of the flowers.

Localized color correction applied to the lilies and the other elements of the floral décor brought out the reds, greens, and pink colors and also gave shape and dimension to the objects.

Additional work was performed to remove the wrinkles in the fabric and debris on the ground. Finally, the wall on the left was darkened to help direct the viewer's eye towards the subject of the photo.

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Task: Lighten the photograph to make it suitable for print reproduction

When the lighting is the subject of the photograph, and it is dark and moody, it's a particular challenge in the initial photography and in prepress production. The mood of the lighting design must be maintained while at the same time the image can't be so dark that the three-quarter tones and shadows completely fill-in when printed.

This photograph in its "Before" state would never hold up on press. It is much too low in contrast, the subtle transitions between the blues and greens were lost and the couches are barely visible.

The retouching work essentially "opened–up" the image while maintaining the mood and quality of the lighting décor. The "After" photo provided a solution that met the criteria of the pressroom while offering magazine readers an inviting photograph from which to appreciate the lighting design and interior décor.

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Task: Manipulate tone, color, and contrast to bring emphasis to the floral arrangement

The florist who created the centerpiece chose this photograph for a full-page magazine ad. In its original state it would have been completely ineffective as a marketing tool. The available lighting under which the photograph was taken was not suitable to bring emphasis to the floral arrangement. Moreover, the purple, blue, and magenta lighting over-powered everything else in the image.

Through thirteen adjustment layers in Photoshop, corrections were made to lighten, brighten, and shape the floral arrangement. The psychedelic colors were reduced to pleasing blue and purple to create a harmonious palette.

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Task: Improve contrast, while taking into account tonal compression that occurs in the printing process

Whether it's a still-life arrangement of flowers or a fashion shoot, the criteria for lighting is almost always the same: to create shape, dimension, and contrast. In its original form, this photograph lacked contrast. By increasing the contrast throughout the tonal range, specifically, by lightening quarter-tones and mid-tones while darkening three-quarter tones and shadows, shape and dimension were accentuated, thus creating a dramatic image. To complete the picture, a few wrinkles were removed from the female model's gown.

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Task: Create a more "fashion shoot" like image

Photographed on location for the eveningwear feature article in Wedding Style magazine, the photographer was constrained by time and space. Limited to a corner of the designer's showroom with little time to shoot, supplementary lighting was not an option.

Drawing on my knowledge of portrait lighting, I re-lit the subject, which accentuated the shape and contour of the model's face and brought out detail in the dress.

The final step was to remove the evidence of the cramped corner. By obscuring the baseboard and corner, and softening the cast shadow on the wall, a more "studio like" environment was achieved.

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Task: Perform subtle manipulations to fine-tune the photograph

Many subtle tweaks took this image from good to great. Weight was added to the nearly blown-out sheets and the curtain was darkened. The shadow on the male model was softened. And most important of all, lightening the female model's face and eye completely changed the drama of the photograph. The model was now looking back at the viewer.

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Task: Create shape and dimension; correct red color cast.

Through the reshaping of the light in this photograph, the goal was to visually convey the wonderful experience of getting a massage. (Don't you want to be that woman right now?)

Approaching the image, I considered how I would have handled the lighting had I been the photographer. Making the hands of the massage therapist and the granular texture of the scrub the focus of the image, the viewer identifies with the experience. Care was taken to ensure that the lighting looked natural and realistic for the environment.

With the lighting perfected, the final step was to color correct the image. Much too red, the women looked like lobsters. Flesh tones this red would have been a disaster on press, as well. Bringing the skin tones to a natural and pleasing color-balance completed the photo.

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