Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Photoshop Pro - of sorts

Just for fun, I wanted to show you what knowing some Photoshop can do for you.

Here we have the photo I showed the other day, of splorp! and I on my birthday.

LadyCiani and splorp!

It looks pretty good. Smiley people, looking at the camera, showing teeth, and everything.

For comparison, here's the original with a slightly different crop:

LadyCiani and splorp!

This is not so fun - yes it's the same photo, but we're amazingly red here, and very shiny on or cheeks, nose, and foreheads! We're not actually sunburned, it's just what the "auto" setting on a camera will do to you when you're in poor lighting, and the camera is actually held by one of the photo's subjects. splorp! was elected tripod duties, as his arms are a bit longer than mine. Compare not just our faces, but the color of the wall in the background, and you'll get a good idea of how much I cleaned up this photo.

Basically what I did was color correction to get rid of the worst of the red, and and a little bit of cloning to remove some of the shine on my cheeks. I left the shine that was buried in my eyebrows. Not because I wanted to look shiny there, but more because I couldn't remove the shine from that spot without removing part of my eyebrow. Yeah, that would be an attractive look - a half-missing eyebrow. I'm naturally a little red all the time - kind of like I'm blushing or warm, so I didn't want to over-correct. Doing that would make me look greenish or bluish.

You can see that some of the glare on splorp!'s glasses is gone in the second picture, though most of it is still there. There are ways to remove it entirely, but not with the format I shot in with my point-and-shoot camera.

Can you correct for glare in Photoshop? Enh, somewhat. Some people recommend shooting two photos - one of the person wearing the glasses, and a second of the person in the exact same position, but with the glasses removed. Then the process involves cropping the eyes from the photo without the glasses, and pasting them into the rims of the glasses, and blending the edges to make it look like it was always one piece. Time consuming to the average Photoshop newbie, but effective, and it goes faster if you've done it once or twice already.

For most people (people not taking their own photo), it's easier just to prevent the glare in the first place. Position the lighting source (usually the camera flash) above the subject's head, and aim it down at the subject, trying for a 45 degree angle. Since the camera flash is usually attached to the camera, this may involve stepping back away from the person, standing on a chair, and then using the zoom feature to zoom in. Usually the person in the photo will instinctively look directly at the camera, but you want to make sure it looks natural (no craned neck), so by standing fairly far back and zooming, you accomplish two things:

1) Person's neck isn't bent at an unusual angle to look up slightly at the camera.
2) Putting the flash further away and shooting down at about a 45 degree angle removes a lot of the glare from the person's glasses.

Trust me, it works quite well.

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