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The demystification of... Vogue colour?

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  #1  
Old 12-15-2011, 06:50 AM
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oneredpanther oneredpanther is offline
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The demystification of... Vogue colour?

Hi guys,

Let me share with you my principal, number one, sleepless-night inducing, thorn-in-my-side, aching, frustrating retouching problem.

Colour.

Vogue colour.

It's my last bastion between happiness and self-loathing, if you will. What I'm talking about is The Look. The look that magazines like Vogue have, and everyone else's photos do not.

You know what I mean. It's not about lighting (we all know how to light) and it's not about dodge and burn (we all know how to do that) - there is something going on with the colour in these magazines that defies my explanation.

Have a look here, here, here, here or here for example. Heck, do a google image search for vogue italia and look at the colours.

What is this? I cannot seem to logically explain it. I'm not even necessarily talking about individual images. Wouldn't you agree that there is something common between them in colour grading, something separate from your everyday retouching skillset that is purely colour?

It's not just your common yellows-in-highlights/blues-in-shadows split toning trick either, but I can't put my finger on it. Everything has some kind of sheen, as if you can tell it's been printed on glossy paper. I find this notion ridiculous because pixels are pixels, and anything that looks a certain way after having been scanned-in, can necessarily be made to look that way beforehand. It's all just pixels. after all.

In my imaginary perfect world, there is some precious nugget of colour grading information that I'm missing. Something universal that explains what the heck is going on here, because I just cannot seem to replicate this look or feel in post, and I've been photoshopping for 12 years.

Before you leap in with comments like "oh, that one is just a warm white balance" or "oh, that one is just some cross processed sky", step back and look, feel... think about the examples. There is something self-similar between them all...

What is it?

Panth
www.barringtonrussell.com
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  #2  
Old 12-15-2011, 01:02 PM
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John Wheeler John Wheeler is offline
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Re: The demystification of... Vogue colour?

Hi oneredpanther,

I did some basic color analysis of the images and saw some consistencies.

I am not so sure you can just separate out just colour to demystify Vogue images. Not all Vogue images have the exact same characteristics.

Yet since you asked, here is what I have found from my analysis of the images you provided from a color standpoint.

I do not know "the" answer yet here is some basic analysis of the luminosity, color, and saturation. Here is what I noticed overall.

1) Hues, Saturation, and Luminosity are in quantum chunks. Groupings of Luminosity, groupings of Saturation, groupings of Hue

1) Hues in the image are very limited and relative narrow in Hue degrees with coordination of Hues across many elements in the scene (my guess is some from setup and some from post processing)

2) Saturations come in groupings as well.

The above tow items indicate very few colors in use and a lot of color coordination.

3) Many yet not all images are quite low in saturation. For the images that do have some saturation, it is in contrast with a lot of lower saturation parts of the image.

Note: Definition of saturation has many definitions. I am referring to Max(R,G,B) - Min (R,G,B) being relatively small.

Even the luminosity seems to come in groupings.

With luminosity, hue, and saturation all coming in groupings, it seems to make it easy on the eye/brain and a pleasing effect.

Well, that's a lot of guessing yet based on some basic analysis of the images.

Here are some basic analysis of 3 images you linked. In each panel it goes from:
a)Original
b) Luminosity (many show just a little color added to this luminosity)
c) Saturation Level (as defined above - this is just a gray level representation)
d) Pure Hue with low saturation masked out. Note that the Hues are quite limited and smooth across the image.

Hope these give some clues

Low Sat Example
mariano_vivanco4_panel_SFW.jpg

Reasonably Low Sat
valentina_zelyaeva3_panel_SFW.jpg

Slightly higher Sat example
rosie_huntington_whiteley2_panel_SFW.jpg

Couple high Sat areas with others quite low Sat
doble5_panel_SFW.jpg

It was quite interesting to analyze. Most images that I have analyzed has this quantization of Hues, Sat, and Luminosity nor the uniformity of all three even when viewed separately.

This may have something to do with "The Look", however this does not tell you what retouching steps to achieve that look. I have some ideas yet those are not fully baked. So, this may not help with all of your mentioned symptoms:
Quote:
Let me share with you my principal, number one, sleepless-night inducing, thorn-in-my-side, aching, frustrating retouching problem.
If it does not, I might suggest 1/2 kilo of solid chocolate. It solves a lot of problems. Happy Holiday Season
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  #3  
Old 12-15-2011, 02:44 PM
eraanexact eraanexact is offline
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Re: The demystification of... Vogue colour?

Color is a tricky thing. In my experience, an understanding of color is one of the most difficult skills for a retoucher to develop, and ironically, one of the most powerful tools at our disposal to make a good image into an extraordinary one.

I've learned that "S" curves are the best way to make an image come to life. I've also learned that two points per curve is really the maximum it should be pushed.

scurve.jpg

That's a fairly typical example of an S curve. The positions of the points and the severity of the "S" will vary between each image, of course. The overall color can then be further adjusted by manipulating each individual channel's curve to, for example, make the darks cooler and the highlights warmer, or vice versa.
There are many ways to affect the color, but I think that starting on the basis of a good S curve will make all the other adjustments that much easier.

All that being said, color alone isn't what makes the "Vogue" image pop. It's also the styling, the model, and of course, the lighting...along with a little post production that make those images what they are. If the photographer didn't know how to light as well, if the clothes were standard fare, and if the model does not know how to pose, then even with the Vogue color treatment, it won't be as powerful of an image. Just sayin.
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Old 12-15-2011, 10:50 PM
Flashtones Flashtones is offline
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Re: The demystification of... Vogue colour?

What's with the water color in this one (hard line on right)? It's like someone screwed up a mask.

http://imagesgonerogue.com/images/20..._whiteley3.jpg

I'd assume most colors in these images are not there by accident.

John did a nice job revealing how limited the pallet is in most shots.
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Old 12-16-2011, 12:37 AM
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Re: The demystification of... Vogue colour?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Flashtones View Post
What's with the water color in this one (hard line on right)? It's like someone screwed up a mask......
John did a nice job revealing how limited the pallet is in most shots.
Thanks for the comment and good catch on the image. I had not even scrolled down that far. Sure looks like a masking error yet a real blooper by whomever let that one through no matter the cause/source.
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Old 12-16-2011, 11:18 AM
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Re: The demystification of... Vogue colour?

John,

I'm very interested in your overall analysis and think it's something worth taking further. What do you mean by the terms "groupings" and "chunks". Could you show that diagramatically?

ps so chocolate is your secret - i wondered where you got all your energy from.

AK
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Old 12-16-2011, 02:14 PM
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John Wheeler John Wheeler is offline
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Re: The demystification of... Vogue colour?

Quote:
Originally Posted by AKMac View Post
Could you show that diagramatically? ...AK
Partially. I do not have a large database for comparison. Just my own experience. Some of this can be seen by looking at the histograms of the various image decompositions

Here is the original image and the RGB histogram. Nothing too unusual:

Original-Histogram.jpg

Breaking out the Luminosity here is the histogram. Notice that a good amount of Luminosity is grouped in two peaks:

Luminance-Histogram.jpg

Breaking out just the Saturation the histogram shows three distinct groupings. The two peaks on the right is the Saturation of the two colored coats. The tight tall peaks indicate very high amount of uniformity in Saturation:

Saturation-Histogram.jpg

The last image is a Hue map while suppressing low saturation parts of the image. I have not created the Action to turn the Hue map into a grayscale equivalent (turn 0 to 360 color degrees into 0-255 grayscale) that would then show the groupings. Your eyeball can see that the pallet of colors is quite limited however even without the histogram:

Hue-no-Histogram.jpg

These are characteristics that I just noticed with the sample images. It just struck me as interesting that this occurred across Luminosity, Saturation, and Hue. It made me think that just maybe this was part of "The Look."
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Old 12-16-2011, 04:35 PM
kav kav is offline
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Re: The demystification of... Vogue colour?

The histograms won't totally help in reverse engineering something like this. It's just a bad idea as they're likely to add to the confusion given their global nature.

When you look at the image, you want to attempt to pick out global characteristics from localized ones. There may be a few global adjustments in there, but quite a lot of it is localized. Just go from largest details to smallest. Some light curves to get a general flow to some of the midtones. Make sure your starting exposure isn't clipping highlights or overly saturating skin, and then then make some tweaks to get the color in that direction, not exactly that. Sometimes independent curve adjustments will help in this regard if something has a distinct cast in its overall highlights or shadows.

Next I'd try to get the overall lighting of the piece to flow in a similar manner. By this I mean everything from the density of various background elements to the way light hits eyes and cheeks.

Now move in, start to balance out the color of the skin locally. Do the lips separately. Do the eyes separately on color/lighting. Do the water separately. Do the sky as its own element.

It's just breaking stuff down. Trying to do too much at once is where it becomes a problem. Just start with larger details and move in to refine it without overdoing the contrast or color adjustments.

Edit: just remember if you process the skin out too bright, you'll never get that look. Unless the highlights are way out there, I'd balance your processing exposure to where the highlights can retain detail.

Edit Edit: Keep printed copies nearby when you're working on something. If you're trying to match a look, you need reference material. No one tries to match something without that, and you need to refer to it while you're working.

Last edited by kav; 12-16-2011 at 04:40 PM.
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Old 12-17-2011, 06:33 AM
insmac insmac is offline
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Re: The demystification of... Vogue colour?

kav mentioned something I had in mind earlier when reading this thread. Let's call it 'the deep look' that you may observe when looking through all these google images thumbs. Apart from some deliberately harsh looking grayscale shots, Meisel tends to retain a lot of detail in his images, including skin areas and background set designs. I can think one of his photoshoots, studio set, dim lighting, seemingly from kinoflo banks or something closely related. The mentioned session appeared through syndication (trunkarchive or so) in one of polish magazines. Because of poor prepress and colour management images were looking dull and almost flat, in a direct opposition to the very first appearance in vogue some time earlier.

Paper does not have any backlight nor shining. That way you may have a feeling that these images look deep, preserve a lot of detail and are - in a way - three-dimensional. GrafiLite provides calibrated desktop lamps - usually their sets include a kind of stand where you can put a magazine for colour reference no matter how innacurate is your room lighting.

Last edited by insmac; 12-17-2011 at 06:38 AM.
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Old 12-17-2011, 08:21 AM
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Re: The demystification of... Vogue colour?

I was going to ask whether one of the reasons for the similarity of look was to do with physical paper and ink, and whether the look of the digital imagery was influenced by that.
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Old 12-17-2011, 08:50 AM
insmac insmac is offline
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Re: The demystification of... Vogue colour?

Also keep in mind vast part of these images is scanned on cheap flatbeds, lacking shadows and vibrance.
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Old 12-17-2011, 08:58 PM
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Re: The demystification of... Vogue colour?

FYI.
There is no special Vogue look, just high quality photographes taken by some of the top photographers in the world. The real secret is in their printing which is on a par with the finest 'art' books produced today. That & quality paper can make or break a photo. Along with this they also employ some of the worlds beat Art Directors. who have total control over the layout & positioning.
I've had some photos published in Vogue UK and know most of the 'staff photographers of the 60's &70's People like David Baily, Helmut Newton, Etc Etc Etc.
Vogue has a 'look' because its a first class publication, not because of any tricks with the photography.

derek
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Old 12-17-2011, 09:47 PM
kav kav is offline
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Re: The demystification of... Vogue colour?

Quote:
Originally Posted by crimper View Post

Vogue has a 'look' because its a first class publication, not because of any tricks with the photography.
Every first class publication has its own aesthetic which is driven heavily by the art direction. It's part of the branding. In this case the OP referred heavily to the style of color grading. Some of it can be reverse engineered. If you light it the same way and just as well, then use post to carry it the rest of the way, you can emulate the feel of the lighting and color. Just saying it's only good photography is meaningless when even the photographers that shoot for these publications understand the aesthetic of one publication versus another. My point being that magazines don't all look identical when comparing top tier publications.
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Old 12-19-2011, 04:13 PM
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Re: The demystification of... Vogue colour?

Quote:
Originally Posted by kav View Post
Every first class publication has its own aesthetic which is driven heavily by the art direction. It's part of the branding. In this case the OP referred heavily to the style of color grading. Some of it can be reverse engineered. If you light it the same way and just as well, then use post to carry it the rest of the way, you can emulate the feel of the lighting and color. Just saying it's only good photography is meaningless when even the photographers that shoot for these publications understand the aesthetic of one publication versus another. My point being that magazines don't all look identical when comparing top tier publications.
As I previously said, they have great Art Directors at Vogue who set the tone of the magazine, That plus great photographers makes the 'look'

derek
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Old 12-20-2011, 11:31 AM
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Re: The demystification of... Vogue colour?

Quote:
Originally Posted by oneredpanther View Post
Hi guys,

Let me share with you my principal, number one, sleepless-night inducing, thorn-in-my-side, aching, frustrating retouching problem.

Colour.

Vogue colour.
The basis of this look is the Soft Light blending mode. Soft Light gently increases contrast and saturation.

Copy background, then set new layer to Soft Light. If you want a touch of the dream look, blur the Soft Light layer. If you want more, duplicate the Soft Light layer. If one layer gives you the right contrast but too much saturation, flatten the curve of the base image and start over. And after that you can do whatever tweaking you want.

And FWIW, the bleach look also uses Soft Light. Copy background, desaturate, set to Soft Light.

Of course, all these fashion photos begin good photos, before the affect is applied.
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Old 12-20-2011, 07:03 PM
adtechniques adtechniques is offline
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Re: The demystification of... Vogue colour?

When you say "blur", is that "filter >>blur? How to blur soft light layer while keeping the details?
Do you have samples we can view?
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Old 12-20-2011, 07:26 PM
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Re: The demystification of... Vogue colour?

Oops. Sorry. I mean filter|blur|Gaussian blur. The level of blur would be low enough that you can make out features (eyes, nose, etc.) in the little preview screen on the filter. And at the same time you can also see the result by looking at the picture on the work area.

Edit: I figured out a way to demo this. Attached are two versions of a photo I found elsewhere on this forum. I first did a quick color correct. Then I made a blurred version. This will give you an idea of how much to blur. Pull these photos into your software, with the blurred one on a layer above the regular one. Set to soft light. You can also try it with two copies of the unblurred one, set the top to soft light. See the result. Then try to blur it yourself. You either blur or not blur depending on the need.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Portrait-Bara-cropped.jpg (50.9 KB, 106 views)
File Type: jpg Portrait-Bara-cropped-blur.jpg (17.8 KB, 105 views)

Last edited by Andrew B.; 12-20-2011 at 07:45 PM. Reason: added more info
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Old 12-21-2011, 05:11 AM
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Re: The demystification of... Vogue colour?

Thanks to everyone for your detailed responses, particularly John Wheeler for your detailed analysis. There are some interesting points here to consider; I think it will still take a long time for me to understand this problem however, since I don't believe we've approached a convincing workflow to explain it yet.

Since it's christmas I'd like to give a special mention to Andrew B. above, whom I fear has lost his mind :P

A blurred soft light layer is functionally equivalent to just adjusting Contrast, as far as I can tell. Out of curiosity I did some comparisons of using varius radii blurred softlights and comparing them to various strength contrast adjustment layers and I couldn't tell the difference to be honest.

I don't think papers or scanners comes into it either, since I'm talking about how these images look on screen, rather than on the page.

My quest continues!
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Old 12-21-2011, 08:28 AM
Fostercat Fostercat is offline
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Re: The demystification of... Vogue colour?

You people need to spend more time examining our having examined, your own heads. There is no 'look', it's some random guy or girl sitting in front of a computer working with the photographer and/or art director until they get something that they approve of. Then, when it all goes to press, it's the press persons subjective tweaking here and there which never looks just like it did when it left the post production house or the match print. There's no magic and nothing to analyze. Every photo shoot is different and it's done by someone different 94.78% of the time.

BTW, YOU don't know how to light and you don't know how to dodge and burn. You're all wannabees. You don't understand what it means to be a "retoucher" in the slightest. And you know what, you never will. It's your mindset, what's asked of you and what's put in front of you that is the problem. You have no basic understanding of the process because you've not done it for 10,000 hours. You may have done something for 100,000 hours, but you're not doing it. There is no subjectivity in your suppositions because you don't have the experience and your thinking is wrong.
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Old 12-21-2011, 08:43 AM
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Re: The demystification of... Vogue colour?

Your attitude is disgusting. You make sledgehammer judgements about a community of people who are trying to get ahead in a skillset for which there is no established starting point, no training school, no educational ladder, no training schemes and no accreditation and where every person's route is different and every story is unique.

Simply because we do not all find ourselves interns at agencies for years, does not mean we should stop learning new things and exploring whatever we choose. Some avenues are dead ends, others not. To stop being inquisitive is to die.

Your attitude and personal outlook are personal, they are not absolute. You seem to believe that someone who has not yet found the world's greatest piano teacher should simply stop learning the piano, keel over and die because evidently they will never reach your world class standards by any other possible means.

Write a book or column about the troubles you took to get where you are, instead of condescending to those who might actually admire your work.

Merry christmas.
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Old 12-21-2011, 09:56 AM
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Re: The demystification of... Vogue colour?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fostercat View Post
There is no 'look', it's some random guy or girl sitting in front of a computer working with the photographer and/or art director until they get something that they approve of.
Actually, there are standard looks that get used (and overused) again and again. Some even have names. Some go back to darkroom photography.

But you are right about many people here not being at a pro level. That's why they are here asking questions and trying to learn. That's why they practice in the retouch challenges. And any answer is going to be brief and oversimplified. Its the nature of the medium. It's impossible to give any explanation that is applicable to every retouch situation.

I will add something though. IMO, the best way to get started on this stuff is to sign up at Lynda.com and watch some online classes for a month or two. It's much cheaper than buying DVDs, and much easier than reinventing the wheel.
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Old 12-21-2011, 10:01 AM
ShadowLight ShadowLight is offline
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Re: The demystification of... Vogue colour?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fostercat View Post
You people need to spend more time examining our having examined, your own heads. There is no 'look', it's some random guy or girl sitting in front of a computer working with the photographer and/or art director until they get something that they approve of. Then, when it all goes to press, it's the press persons subjective tweaking here and there which never looks just like it did when it left the post production house or the match print. There's no magic and nothing to analyze. Every photo shoot is different and it's done by someone different 94.78% of the time.

BTW, YOU don't know how to light and you don't know how to dodge and burn. You're all wannabees. You don't understand what it means to be a "retoucher" in the slightest. And you know what, you never will. It's your mindset, what's asked of you and what's put in front of you that is the problem. You have no basic understanding of the process because you've not done it for 10,000 hours. You may have done something for 100,000 hours, but you're not doing it. There is no subjectivity in your suppositions because you don't have the experience and your thinking is wrong.
you funny

if you were right, then YOU won't make a difference between the images in Vogue and METRO (your friendly free subway newspaper)... so enough said.

re:colours, in the examples you see that all those are toned differently; The skin-texture is clean (good skin of the model, makeup, skin cleanup), and the skin hues do not vary too much... maybe this is what you are after?

ps: pick some other fashion magazine and you will see the same "look"

do you see much difference?
between this: http://goo.gl/jz2Zv
and this: http://goo.gl/4L5lf

(so there isn't much uniqueness here)
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Old 12-21-2011, 11:47 AM
Fostercat Fostercat is offline
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Re: The demystification of... Vogue colour?

{Sigh} You don't get it. Oh well. Carry on.
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Old 12-21-2011, 01:31 PM
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Re: The demystification of... Vogue colour?

The way I see it, this is just an open message board. There is no door policy nor it is Studio54 back in 70s kicking out Frank Sinatra and Woody Allen from the club. Hence, this site is free to join for everyone and as such far from being overcrowded with folks from top retouching houses all over the world.

I find curiosity one of the greatest personality traits and would consider myself a jerk for bashing someone just for showing it.

Regards
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Old 12-21-2011, 06:56 PM
adtechniques adtechniques is offline
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Re: The demystification of... Vogue colour?

Quote:
Originally Posted by ShadowLight View Post
you funny

if you were right, then YOU won't make a difference between the images in Vogue and METRO (your friendly free subway newspaper)... so enough said.

re:colours, in the examples you see that all those are toned differently; The skin-texture is clean (good skin of the model, makeup, skin cleanup), and the skin hues do not vary too much... maybe this is what you are after?

ps: pick some other fashion magazine and you will see the same "look"

do you see much difference?
between this: http://goo.gl/jz2Zv
and this: http://goo.gl/4L5lf

(so there isn't much uniqueness here)
By the way, I have to ask what may be a naive question. I'm not works in "high end" industries, so I don't understand these things. What is difference in style of Vogue, Bazaar? What are the main points?
between this: http://goo.gl/jz2Zv
and this: http://goo.gl/4L5lf
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Old 12-22-2011, 01:50 AM
ShadowLight ShadowLight is offline
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Re: The demystification of... Vogue colour?

Quote:
Originally Posted by adtechniques View Post
By the way, I have to ask what may be a naive question. I'm not works in "high end" industries, so I don't understand these things. What is difference in style of Vogue, Bazaar? What are the main points?
between this: http://goo.gl/jz2Zv
and this: http://goo.gl/4L5lf
no difference! that was my point

the same fashion photographers (usually in a pair with own retoucher) with their own style may be shooting for either magazine.

so you can't separate Vogue from the other fashion magazines

same goes for all others ELLE, Vogue, Harper’s BAZAAR, Marie Claire, Numero, W, Tatler, Vanity Fair, L’Officiel, Cosmopolitan, etc.

Last edited by ShadowLight; 12-22-2011 at 11:04 AM.
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Old 12-22-2011, 07:12 AM
fraiseap fraiseap is offline
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Re: The demystification of... Vogue colour?

Leaving aside petty squabbles, the point made by John Wheeler about histogram peaks is crucial. We must remember the role of stylists (who choose the wardrobe) and makeup artists (who choose a look to compliment the wardrobe). The choice of set is not an accident either.

I have attached 2 images from Vogue editorials which demonstrate how the look is achieved by choice of colors. Note how in the first one the wall on the left matches the color of the models pants, also the color of the drumstick matches the shoes, the brass on the instrument on the wall as well as the underside of the drum. In the second picture the rug is chosen to match the dress, hat and pants worn by the models. Also the skin tones are darker but a similar tone to the background colors.

In summary, the Vogue look is not about a retouching style, it is about an approach to color which Steven Meisel is renowned for.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg page0132_medium.jpg (60.9 KB, 278 views)
File Type: jpg Vogue by Steven Meisel Feb 2009.jpg (41.2 KB, 287 views)

Last edited by fraiseap; 12-22-2011 at 09:47 AM.
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Old 12-22-2011, 09:23 AM
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Re: The demystification of... Vogue colour?

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Originally Posted by oneredpanther View Post
A blurred soft light layer is functionally equivalent to just adjusting Contrast, as far as I can tell.
Did you try it with the photos I posted?
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Old 12-22-2011, 07:08 PM
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Re: The demystification of... Vogue colour?

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Leaving aside petty squabbles, the point made by John Wheeler about histogram peaks is crucial. We must remember the role of stylists (who choose the wardrobe) and makeup artists (who choose a look to compliment the wardrobe). The choice of set is not an accident either.

I have attached 2 images from Vogue editorials which demonstrate how the look is achieved by choice of colors. Note how in the first one the wall on the left matches the color of the models pants, also the color of the drumstick matches the shoes, the brass on the instrument on the wall as well as the underside of the drum. In the second picture the rug is chosen to match the dress, hat and pants worn by the models. Also the skin tones are darker but a similar tone to the background colors.

In summary, the Vogue look is not about a retouching style, it is about an approach to color which Steven Meisel is renowned for.
Thks you, it's helpful
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Old 12-22-2011, 07:33 PM
kav kav is offline
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Re: The demystification of... Vogue colour?

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Originally Posted by Andrew B. View Post
The basis of this look is the Soft Light blending mode. Soft Light gently increases contrast and saturation.

Copy background, then set new layer to Soft Light. If you want a touch of the dream look, blur the Soft Light layer. If you want more, duplicate the Soft Light layer. If one layer gives you the right contrast but too much saturation, flatten the curve of the base image and start over. And after that you can do whatever tweaking you want.

And FWIW, the bleach look also uses Soft Light. Copy background, desaturate, set to Soft Light.

Of course, all these fashion photos begin good photos, before the affect is applied.
Sorry but this is an absolutely awful approach. I've seen people do this many times, but trying to narrow things down to a single blending mode is just a terrible idea. I'll admit sometimes I spend too long tweaking one curve trying to get it just right, but you can't tell someone to achieve a nice product by what you just stated. I can pick out a lot of details in any one of the photos linked by the OP. It's relatively evident where lips were balanced to a specific color, as well as other minor things.

If you try to reducing these things to simple global adjustments, you'll either end up with mediocre quality, a high level of frustration, or both.


Quote:
Originally Posted by fraiseap View Post
Leaving aside petty squabbles, the point made by John Wheeler about histogram peaks is crucial. We must remember the role of stylists (who choose the wardrobe) and makeup artists (who choose a look to compliment the wardrobe). The choice of set is not an accident either.

I have attached 2 images from Vogue editorials which demonstrate how the look is achieved by choice of colors. Note how in the first one the wall on the left matches the color of the models pants, also the color of the drumstick matches the shoes, the brass on the instrument on the wall as well as the underside of the drum. In the second picture the rug is chosen to match the dress, hat and pants worn by the models. Also the skin tones are darker but a similar tone to the background colors.

In summary, the Vogue look is not about a retouching style, it is about an approach to color which Steven Meisel is renowned for.
That's actually the best response I've sen in the thread. The reason I suggested not to get too into the histogram is that you aren't going to necessarily get there by tweaking global curves. As you pointed out the points in the histogram reflect elements in the actual shot rather than global adjustments.
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Old 12-22-2011, 08:45 PM
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Re: The demystification of... Vogue colour?

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Sorry but this is an absolutely awful approach.
Not really. Giving someone one bread and butter method to get started with does more good than endless messages about how it's impossible in one thread to teach someone everything they need to know. We all already know there is no magic switch to throw; and I stated as much when I recommended one place to get training.
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Old 12-23-2011, 03:14 PM
kav kav is offline
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Re: The demystification of... Vogue colour?

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Originally Posted by Andrew B. View Post
Not really. Giving someone one bread and butter method to get started with does more good than endless messages about how it's impossible in one thread to teach someone everything they need to know. We all already know there is no magic switch to throw; and I stated as much when I recommended one place to get training.
It's not a "bread and butter" method. What you suggested is something I've seen used before, and it can produce some really ugly results. There are much better starting points than that.
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Old 12-23-2011, 06:24 PM
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Re: The demystification of... Vogue colour?

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It's not a "bread and butter" method. What you suggested is something I've seen used before, and it can produce some really ugly results. There are much better starting points than that.
I'm not interested in having a methods pissing contest, so I'm dropping out of this thread now.
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Old 03-05-2012, 08:13 PM
mr.f mr.f is offline
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Re: The demystification of... Vogue colour?

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Originally Posted by oneredpanther View Post
Hi guys,

Let me share with you my principal, number one, sleepless-night inducing, thorn-in-my-side, aching, frustrating retouching problem.

Colour.

Vogue colour.

It's my last bastion between happiness and self-loathing, if you will. What I'm talking about is The Look. The look that magazines like Vogue have, and everyone else's photos do not.

You know what I mean. It's not about lighting (we all know how to light) and it's not about dodge and burn (we all know how to do that) - there is something going on with the colour in these magazines that defies my explanation.

Have a look here, here, here, here or here for example. Heck, do a google image search for vogue italia and look at the colours.

What is this? I cannot seem to logically explain it. I'm not even necessarily talking about individual images. Wouldn't you agree that there is something common between them in colour grading, something separate from your everyday retouching skillset that is purely colour?

It's not just your common yellows-in-highlights/blues-in-shadows split toning trick either, but I can't put my finger on it. Everything has some kind of sheen, as if you can tell it's been printed on glossy paper. I find this notion ridiculous because pixels are pixels, and anything that looks a certain way after having been scanned-in, can necessarily be made to look that way beforehand. It's all just pixels. after all.

In my imaginary perfect world, there is some precious nugget of colour grading information that I'm missing. Something universal that explains what the heck is going on here, because I just cannot seem to replicate this look or feel in post, and I've been photoshopping for 12 years.

Before you leap in with comments like "oh, that one is just a warm white balance" or "oh, that one is just some cross processed sky", step back and look, feel... think about the examples. There is something self-similar between them all...

What is it?

Panth
www.barringtonrussell.com
This may sound a bit...silly at first. But here me out.

I moved from Australia to New York about 7 months ago now and the one thing I notice more than anything is that New York gets a different sunlight. I'm talking about the colors here.

Almost all of the photos you've linked to were shot in NY.

I've traveled to quite a few places and I've never seen such a warm yellow sunlight before.
In contrast, Australian sun is much brighter and whiter. But there is no 'yellow' to it...

Could be something to think about.

that..or maybe I'm home sick
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Old 03-05-2012, 10:19 PM
sehmuzb sehmuzb is offline
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Re: The demystification of... Vogue colour?

I guess I was busy during Christmas I did not see this thread until now. Fashion is all about the color palette. It is all about how everything goes together. Someone pointed out in the thread as well. Fashion shoot is all about the production. And the production manager/assistants number one job is to make sure color palette of the production is clear for editorial shoots. Clothes, make-up, models, background, lighting, movement and gestures all have a purpose and usually planned before the shoot itself.

Almost all the shots in the OP's post are natural light type shots, if there is any flash it is a fill flash that does not take over the ambient. There are 3 layers you should look at:

1. Clothes: This is a fashion shoot, the hero is the clothes and the accessories. Most of the shots you can see they are masked out and processed separately. You need to keep the color and texture and accentuate them as much as possible. Most shots have them separately sharpened and colored.

2. Skin: Skin is toned based on the ambient or the mood. You can see separate skin masks and coloring. Also skin is softened and sometimes blurred/diffused compared to the clothes

3. Everything else : Background is naturally soft or artificially blurred and desaturated not to take over the clothes, they are usually similar, complementary or opposite colors to bring attention to clothes.

You can see all of the above in the photoshoot : http://fashiongonerogue.com/maria-palm-adina-s-moda/

It is one of the worst editorials I've seen, retouching is very clear, and not very consistent. I wonder who shot and retouched it. Although styling is very cool. BTW it is not for Vogue.
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  #36  
Old 03-06-2012, 05:24 AM
erikhatt erikhatt is offline
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Re: The demystification of... Vogue colour?

Quote:
Originally Posted by oneredpanther View Post
Hi guys,

Let me share with you my principal, number one, sleepless-night inducing, thorn-in-my-side, aching, frustrating retouching problem.

Colour.

Vogue colour.

It's my last bastion between happiness and self-loathing, if you will. What I'm talking about is The Look. The look that magazines like Vogue have, and everyone else's photos do not.

You know what I mean. It's not about lighting (we all know how to light) and it's not about dodge and burn (we all know how to do that) - there is something going on with the colour in these magazines that defies my explanation.




What is it?

Panth
www.barringtonrussell.com
I looked at the pictures you linked to. Some was, for me, just plain digital photos with no special colour look. But some was very pleasing, and when i go for colours like that, i shoot Portra film and expose a bit over and carefully colorbalance in my drumscanner and a new balance in post prod. I have added two snapshot of how quick colorbalance of filmshot is. One is outdoor in extreme hard and not pleasing nordic light....
Attached Images
File Type: jpg 4.jpg (82.0 KB, 156 views)
File Type: jpg yg1_us.jpg (73.0 KB, 126 views)
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  #37  
Old 03-06-2012, 05:46 AM
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Re: The demystification of... Vogue colour?

Hi All,

Interesting thread. I'm a photographer (not fashion but commercial/adverts) and can attest to what fraiseap and sehmuzb said when they mentioned all the other things that go on before, during and after the shoot to make sure that colors work together and are planned.

Ideally (but not always) in the commercial sphere the photographer, art director, production guys, retoucher and sometimes the client get together to discuss the look and feel of the shot (not to be confused with the earlier process of deciding WHAT should be in the shot). Magazines, artwork, films and TV Ads are pulled in, dissected, digested, argued about and hopefully at the other end, a mood board is born. This becomes the look and feel 'gospel' of the pre-production, shoot and post-production and ensures everyone is working towards the same goal. Art directors often stress the importance of matching the 'lovely subtle deep purple shadows in November's Vogue cover' or similar!

P.S. @mr.f: I totally know what you mean about the colour and quality of light in NYC. I always put it down to all the tinted glass and reflective metal adding fill and colour to the shadow areas. That was what I thought at the time anyway. It is truly unique though.
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  #38  
Old 03-07-2012, 12:11 AM
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Re: The demystification of... Vogue colour?

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Originally Posted by Flashtones View Post
What's with the water color in this one (hard line on right)? It's like someone screwed up a mask.

http://imagesgonerogue.com/images/20..._whiteley3.jpg

I'd assume most colors in these images are not there by accident.

John did a nice job revealing how limited the pallet is in most shots.
The hard line might be the "step" or the seat of a swimming pool. The raised part of the pool where you sit on it or dance.. whatever haha.
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Old 03-07-2012, 12:35 AM
kav kav is offline
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Re: The demystification of... Vogue colour?

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Originally Posted by salivashake View Post
The hard line might be the "step" or the seat of a swimming pool. The raised part of the pool where you sit on it or dance.. whatever haha.
I agree with you there, but I'm unsure how anyone considers these colors a mystery. If you can get the lighting correct, and you know how to mask, you can get an image to look like this. The water shouldn't provide any kind of challenge. There are many ways to adjust it separately, even via selective color given the lack of other similar colors. It should be obvious that the colors don't really span 0-255 as they need to eventually fit within the appropriate cmyk profile. There really is no mystery here. Adjust overall lighting, create masks, balance background elements, balance skintone and hair, make final color tweaks. Getting perfect masks and properly matching the lighting are likely to provide a higher level of challenge than the other stuff.
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  #40  
Old 03-02-2013, 12:11 PM
gangbeng gangbeng is offline
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Re: The demystification of... Vogue colour?

oneredpanther
as i can see nobody can answer
just usless bla-bla..
i saw the same shit on other discuss
but what i can find - is similar thread with some examples of magazine look
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  #41  
Old 03-13-2013, 11:09 AM
GarethJB GarethJB is offline
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Re: The demystification of... Vogue colour?

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Originally Posted by John Wheeler View Post
Hi oneredpanther,

I did some basic color analysis of the images and saw some consistencies.

I am not so sure you can just separate out just colour to demystify Vogue images. Not all Vogue images have the exact same characteristics.

Yet since you asked, here is what I have found from my analysis of the images you provided from a color standpoint.

I do not know "the" answer yet here is some basic analysis of the luminosity, color, and saturation. Here is what I noticed overall.

1) Hues, Saturation, and Luminosity are in quantum chunks. Groupings of Luminosity, groupings of Saturation, groupings of Hue

1) Hues in the image are very limited and relative narrow in Hue degrees with coordination of Hues across many elements in the scene (my guess is some from setup and some from post processing)

2) Saturations come in groupings as well.

The above tow items indicate very few colors in use and a lot of color coordination.

3) Many yet not all images are quite low in saturation. For the images that do have some saturation, it is in contrast with a lot of lower saturation parts of the image.

Note: Definition of saturation has many definitions. I am referring to Max(R,G,B) - Min (R,G,B) being relatively small.

Even the luminosity seems to come in groupings.

With luminosity, hue, and saturation all coming in groupings, it seems to make it easy on the eye/brain and a pleasing effect.

Well, that's a lot of guessing yet based on some basic analysis of the images.

Here are some basic analysis of 3 images you linked. In each panel it goes from:
a)Original
b) Luminosity (many show just a little color added to this luminosity)
c) Saturation Level (as defined above - this is just a gray level representation)
d) Pure Hue with low saturation masked out. Note that the Hues are quite limited and smooth across the image.

Hope these give some clues

Low Sat Example
Attachment 89487

Reasonably Low Sat
Attachment 89488

Slightly higher Sat example
Attachment 89489

Couple high Sat areas with others quite low Sat
Attachment 89490

It was quite interesting to analyze. Most images that I have analyzed has this quantization of Hues, Sat, and Luminosity nor the uniformity of all three even when viewed separately.

This may have something to do with "The Look", however this does not tell you what retouching steps to achieve that look. I have some ideas yet those are not fully baked. So, this may not help with all of your mentioned symptoms:


If it does not, I might suggest 1/2 kilo of solid chocolate. It solves a lot of problems. Happy Holiday Season
I'm sorry to revive an old post, especially as my first one, but how did you separate out those different elements to analyse?
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  #42  
Old 03-15-2013, 01:33 PM
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Benny Profane Benny Profane is offline
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Re: The demystification of... Vogue colour?

Holy jeebus, doesn't anybody know how to work an adjustment layer around here?
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  #43  
Old 03-15-2013, 02:51 PM
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Re: The demystification of... Vogue colour?

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Holy jeebus, doesn't anybody know how to work an adjustment layer around here?
Adjustment... layer? :S
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  #44  
Old 03-17-2013, 06:17 PM
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Re: The demystification of... Vogue colour?

Yeah. It's a way to correct or just change color in Photoshop. If you get really good at it, you can imitate any of the hundred different color effects seen in Vogue.

Thank You, and my new retouching video can be seen on RetouchPro Live soon. Stay tuned!
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Old 03-19-2013, 11:42 AM
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Re: The demystification of... Vogue colour?

So what's really better about the average, let's say Vogue image, and any old rubbish? Well a few things really ..

1. You have pretty good makeup, good hair person and and an excellent photographer. And someone making the tea. With that all in place, sorry to say there are roughly 4,000 retouchers out there that can do it. Hundreds of images on a shoot. Of which to be honest, a few are happy accidents. Which are then dutifully all chopped to together from bits and pieces. Not as clever as it looks now is it? It's more about making sure you don't screw up than anything else.

2. Subtle, not crude, grading is probably the most important thing about retouching, certainly in fashion. It's the most 'creative' bit actually. And there is no formula really, pointers only. For example, whopping a huge curve that blows all the highlights and shadows off an image, is rarely the answer. (As an example, check out if you will, the image of the car which is currently advertising video rentals on this site. Which is a fine example of very whack-it-over-the-head, not so successful colour retouching in my not-so-humble opinion).

3. Good photography is more than anything about light. It's all about light, and shooting with decent equipment of course. Qualitative things such as processing the raw properly, and the ability to discern the difference. It's like any craft, Some can see exactly why and what it is technically about an image that makes it of of a higher quality, some can't. You also learn a vast amount, really huge, from experience.

It's not all about retouching either, very far from it. Some look at a nice image and say 'great photographer'. Some say 'great retoucher'. Hate to burst your bubble folks, but the 'great photographer' folks are nearer the truth on this one. To quote my grandmother, bless her soul, "you cannot make a silk purse out of sows ear Son. And please remember to shave before you go out with that Sharon. I'm making no comment, but I've no idea what you see in her!"

A lot of what has been said on this thread about some formula for grading an image is twaddle. For example, the idea that one standard curve or blend (the same thing actually), can produce 'a look', is quite obviously technical nonsense.

Last edited by Markzebra; 03-19-2013 at 11:59 AM.
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Old 03-22-2013, 02:54 AM
Gratin Gratin is offline
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Re: The demystification of... Vogue colour?

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1. You have pretty good makeup, good hair person and and an excellent photographer. And someone making the tea. With that all in place, sorry to say there are roughly 4,000 retouchers out there that can do it. Hundreds of images on a shoot. Of which to be honest, a few are happy accidents. Which are then dutifully all chopped to together from bits and pieces. Not as clever as it looks now is it? It's more about making sure you don't screw up than anything else.
Ashamedly very true. And these days not screwing up seems to fall into ever expanding parameters.

That said I appreciate the ability to craft a photograph that would have been all but impossible to do in camera. When you can use the retouching to enhance the image rather than rescue it.
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Old 07-02-2013, 04:08 AM
gangbeng gangbeng is offline
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Re: The demystification of... Vogue colour?

http://www.retouchpro.com/forums/pho...-jean-roy.html
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