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Photo Manipulation

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Old 08-28-2003, 07:45 PM
Jimmy's Avatar
Jimmy Jimmy is offline
Join Date: Aug 2003
Location: Texas
Posts: 37
Question Photo Manipulation

I am working on a project involving 4 different subjects.

1. A background.

2. A picture of me when I looked my best.

3. A picture of my brother when he looked his best.

4. A picture of my dad.

The problem is all four subjects are photographed at a different time of day and a different time of year. What do I need to do to make the lights, shadows, midtones, and highlights of all four subjects look as if they were photographed at the same time of day and the same time of year?
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Old 08-28-2003, 08:04 PM
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Toad Toad is offline
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Location: Vancouver, BC, Canada
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Wow - great question. I have done a lot of this type of thing, and unfortunately - there is no single answer - depends on the photos involved.

Some general hints - I am afraid that these are PhotoShop-centric. If you use some other manipulation package - not all of these may apply.

1. Do your placement and defringing first. I suggest taking all 4 things and placing them in different layers - the background being the "bottom" layer. Place them in the picture, scale and rotate them until you are staisfied with the basic composition of the photo - do not flatten the photo. Make sure that you have defringed the people to your satisfaction - so that the selections placed in the photo do not look like they were cut out with scissors.

2. Start with your background layer only, and adjust levels and curves until they suit you. Typically, the background will set the tone as far as where the light sources in the picture are and what the time of day, season, etc. should be. Be sure to set your black and white points with levels - the points should be at the ends of the histograms - unless you do that, it will be really hard to match up the "look" of the total photo.

3. Individually adjust each person layer in the photo using levels and curves - be sure to set the white and black points. You may also have to work with saturation, and contrast individually to roughly make each photo look the same "solidity".

4. For each person, you may have to use the lighting effects filter to make the lighting look more natural - faking in a light from the same direction as the background lighting. Consider flipping your individual person photos to get the original lighting as close to the directions of the background lighting as possible before you begin.

5. Save your work.

6. Flatten the image and adjust the overall contrast, levels, curves, etc. to make the photo look more uniform. One of my favorite tricks is to apply Buzz simplifier to the whole picture at this point, and fade it back to maybe 10-15%. If you don't have Buzz - sometimes Smart Blur will work the same way (sometimes not). This tiny bit of blurring will cover a host of little sins and mistakes.

7. You may then want to use USM to sharpen and polish the whole picture and unify the look - try settings of 20, 50, 0 but be prepared to experiment.

8. Save you new photo as a different name than your "working" photo.

As I say, It is hard to be more specific without seeing your exact photos - but this is my typical workflow on this kind of thing. Feel free to repost or PM me if you want other info or want to bounce an idea off me.

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Old 08-28-2003, 08:24 PM
Jimmy's Avatar
Jimmy Jimmy is offline
Join Date: Aug 2003
Location: Texas
Posts: 37


Thanks for replying.

Wow, I had no idea this was such a complicated issue. However, perfection is not a necessity at this time because it is only a personal project. I am new to Photoshop and I have found that, to my surprise Photo Manipulation, Restoration, and Editing are my stong points.

My Dad is always saying he wants updated photos of me so I thought this would make a nice little surprise for him. He knows it will not be perfect, however, I want it to be as impressive as possible.

I do have one question. What is USM? You mentioned that at the end of your reply. What is that?
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Old 08-28-2003, 08:54 PM
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DannyRaphael DannyRaphael is offline
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Location: Near Seattle, Washington, USA
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Hey Jimmy:

Welcome to RetouchPRO. Toad's given you some very good advice. He's one of the best.

USM is frequently used as shorthand for Filter > Sharpen > Unsharp Mask.

For something different consider creating a black and white (grayscale) image. That might spare you some of the challenges regarding color.

Also, for light direction you might be able to get away with flipping an image on its vertical axis giving the appearance of light coming in from the right instead of the left. This doesn't work if there's a printed message on a hat or shirt, a part in ones hair or something of that nature that would give this away. Just depends on the image.

Good luck. No matter how it turns out, your dad will be grateful not only for the output, but because YOU did it for him.

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Old 08-28-2003, 10:12 PM
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Toad Toad is offline
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Location: Vancouver, BC, Canada
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All correct (except for me being one of the best - enthusiastic dabbler only I'm afraid). Please post your first attempts, and we will be happy to help you with advice and pointers to make this project the best that it can be.

Nobody will laugh here or criticize harshly - I have learned a ton from forums in the past, and sometimes you need to post something to find out where the flaws are and the techniques to make them better.

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