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  • Critique Requested

    Hello~This is my first post on your web site and I was thrilled to find nice people who share my passion. I am the only Restoration Artist in my area. The only feedback I get is from satisfied customers who have nothing really to compare my work to. I am never satisfied with my own work and am constantly seeking new and better ways of completing these precious tasks.

    The client's photo attached had a sudden death in the family. Their last family photo was five years ago. She wanted me to add the most recent photo of the deceased into a new family portrait. I can tell, but the client was thrilled. I charged her $120.00 for this project. (6 hours @ $20.00 per hour)

    The photo of deceased was 800 speed 35mm film (a lot of grain when enlarged to fit into family)

    The family portrait was digital (grainless)

    To combine them I had to make the whole thing very soft.

    The backlighting in the family portrait posed some believability problems.

    So, honestly, how do you think I did? I am not fisshing for compliments, so please spare the politeness. I want an honest critique. If I should do things differently, I want to know.

    Thank you for your time,

    Kathleen
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  • #2
    larger image than above ~ sorry!
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    • #3
      To start with I am not one of the list pro's nor anywhere near one. Now that I have gotten that out of the way..

      Which person is the one inserted? I would quess the lady with the jacket on the bottom row, second from the left. The only reason I picked her is because she has more detail than the rest of the people. She seems more there, un washed by either the film speed or the lighting. Can't really say its just a feeling. If it isn't her you have done a wonderful job !!

      And yes your location is close to heaven. I love the appalachian mountains.

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      • #4
        You are right!

        Any ideas that would make it more believable. I use Silverfast and PS 7.

        I only do this for pay because no one else will. I started doing it for myself and then one thing led to another. I have never had formal training. I think this is what has my confidence in short supply. I just needed to quit giving the stuff away, (it is very time consuming) so I rented a booth at the neighborhood craft shop hoping I'd make some mad money for more equipment while learning more. The local portrait photographer is sending me all of his restore business that he used to send out. I am slammed, working 12 - 16 hour days, but the guilt for my prices! Ugh!

        I don't FEEL QUALIFIED!

        Is their a college degree I can get for this job?

        I love it and want to do it 24/7!

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        • #5
          Now is the time for the pro's to chime in. And they will, this is a great group. Stay with them, they will take you far. Get the book Photoshop Restoration and Retouching by Katrin Eismann.

          I, like you, give away alot of stuff. I am never satisfied with my work. If people do not like your work and they are paying for it they will tell you. Keep on doing the work and feel fortunate you have a hobby that pays instead of taking money from you like most do.

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          • #6
            Hi Kathleen,

            First off, welcome to RetouchPro! I'm glad you've found your way here and hope that you stay a while.

            Before giving you feedback, I need to let you know that I don't consider myself an expert at this. 80% of what I know, I've learned right here at RetouchPro! The rest of my learning came from Katrin Eismann's book (which Lacto already mentioned) and a seminar with Ben Willmore. And I'm still learning new things every day!

            You don't say how long you've been doing restorations, but I think you've done a really good job with this one - esp. the "cutout" of the woman. You blended her in quite nicely! That said, when I looked at your image before reading which person you had inserted, and I picked the same one as Lacto. The reason is because that woman has more contrast than the others in the photo. Or perhaps I should say the rest of the photo looked a little washed out compared to the woman you inserted. By "washed out", I mean that the darkest area of the picture was dark gray rather than black, i.e. there wasn't enough contrast.

            So, I tried a couple of things. First, I selected around the woman so that I wouldn't affect her with my adjustments. My goal was to try to make the rest of the picture look closer to her contrast than the other way around, since I felt the big picture was the one that needed the adjustment. I used both a levels adjustment and a curves adjustment to try to match the contrast of the big picture to the woman.

            Then, I wanted to create a highlight from the sun in the woman's hair in an effort to match the other's in the picture. To do that, I created an empty layer on top of everything and changed the blending mode to overlay. Then I painted with a white paint brush at about 30% opacity just over the area of the hair where I wanted the highlight to be. I went back over areas where I wanted a stronger highlight. Then, since the highlight looked "whiter" than the warm tone of the other highlights, I Ctl-clicked on the highlight layer in the layers palette to load the selection for the highlight. Then, used a Color Balance adjustment layer to add a little yellow and red tones to match the other highlights.

            Hope this helps!

            Jeanie
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            • #7
              One other thing (and now I'm getting really picky, because I'm critiquing my own work )... Looking at the shading on the faces in the photo, it looks like most of the shading is fairly even - because it's in shade. If you look at the shading on the woman's face who was inserted however, it looks like the right half of her face (as you look at her) is darker than the left. So, I used the same overlay layer method to even out the shading on her face to match the others in the photo.

              Like I said, this is a really picky point and very subtle change, but hopefully it will give you an idea of things to look for in future projects.

              Jeanie
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              • #8
                Jeaniesa.....Super, excellent your pix just shines on my monitor.

                Everyone looks crisp and in focus, great highlights on the details!!

                Thanks for such detailed steps.....

                My only comment would be......

                She seems out of aligment with the rest of the group.....she is pictured a bit too high in the line she is in....... sorta blocks the young girl just above. Perhaps even moving her to the row above at the end, if she is going to be that tall.

                Just my observation....

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by GOLDCOIN
                  My only comment would be......

                  She seems out of aligment with the rest of the group.....she is pictured a bit too high in the line she is in....... sorta blocks the young girl just above. Perhaps even moving her to the row above at the end, if she is going to be that tall.

                  Just my observation....
                  Yes, I agree with this comment. The positioning of her shoulders compared to others can't be helped really, but I would try to move her down some so that she's not obscuring part of the face of the girl above her. I spent a lot of time looking at her placement - I guess because something "felt" a little off. But, I couldn't decide what it was, so chose not to say anything. I think that I would try to put her at the end of the front row, but wondered if perhaps there were a reason she was placed where she was.

                  Kathleen, don't forget that the most important thing here is that your client was happy with the picture! The feedback we're giving will give you some idea what to look for in future projects - and remember that different people see different things. It seems like there's always something more I could do to make an image better, but the bottom line is whether the customer is happy with the result. (And I'm saying this more for my own good than anything else - I tend to forget that sometimes! )

                  Jeanie

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                  • #10
                    I agree with the other comments about contrast and shadow on the face. What stands out to me are the fact that she's wearing a jacket on a sunny warm day -- which you can't change -- and she appears smaller than the other folks. I'd be tempted to just enlarge her, move her down slightly, lighten the shadow on the face, etc., and print a new version for the family...

                    Good job!

                    Scott

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                    • #11
                      Thank you all so much for your responses. When your out here in the boonies working all alone it is hard to really "SEE" when you've looked at something for 6 hours.

                      I do own a copy of the book by Katrin Eismann.

                      I was not aware of the highlighting technique and I am so happy that you not only critque my work, but also give step by step, very clear instructions on what to do differently.

                      I knew something was wrong, but I could not quite figure it out, now I can "SEE" what your saying and your work is fabulous. I thought I had done the best I could do and delivered the proof to the client. I guess their eyes are not as critical as ours, so we see more than your regular snap shooter sees.

                      I have difficulty in solving some of these problems. Next time, I know where I can ask for assistance. Thank you again for your wonderful web site and such prompt responses.

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                      • #12
                        Hi Kathleen, everybody!

                        ...welcome to RP! And let me say that I agree with everybody here on the fact that you did a really nice job!

                        I think your 'selection' of the subject is superb: clean, not too soft and not too sharp either.

                        As for everybody else, contrast, face shadow, size, and position, were what made me pick her out immediately....

                        ...so, what I did here was a loose selection around the lady after which I copied and pasted her in her new place (third from the left on the top row). ....(this new position helps also a bit in hiding
                        ...the fact that she's wearing a jacket on a sunny warm day....
                        .... as Scott has pointed out).

                        After adjusting hair and face shadows with an Overlay Layer, (got it right this time...Jeanie... ), I toned her down to match the rest of the picture, by decreasing contrast.

                        After merging down, I slightly sharpened the whole picture.
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                        • #13
                          I still think she is a little smaller than other adults in the photo -- compare size of their heads...

                          Scott

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                          • #14
                            Hello kstein,

                            First off, I am an expert at this kind of thing.
                            You did a nice job overall. Others have already pointed out some minor flaws, but some of them, such as size of person, in your case, can be forgiven. You did a good job with that.

                            Speaking digitally, one of the best and simplest ways to see the flaws of fakes (or uncover a fake) is to bring up the contrast/brightness dialogue box and play with the sliders. It's about the only useful thing I can think of for this tool. And if you do this with your original faked pic you'll see immediately see your mistakes.

                            Contrast is a problem here. She's more contrasty than the others.

                            Another problem, more minor, is in hue/sat. If you bring up the Info pallette and run your cursor over the people, their faces, etc, and read the measurements in the info pallette you'll see subtle differences.

                            You'll have problems making this a real good fake, but it can be passable if you read over the explanation I wrote in the fake for the HEADS challenge. I can't recall where it is on the site, but if you look under the challenges you'll eventually find it.
                            For this picture the procedure would be to make a loose selection around the woman, then go into each channel one at a time and use the curves tool. Manipulate the curve until what you see in the grayscale channel for red, green and blue (rgb) matches the other people or things in that channel. Go from channel to channel until you've done all three (in rgb), then return to the layer. You may have to make some minor changes in hue/sat at this point.

                            When you're done, you need to do a levels or curves adjustment to fix everything else in the picture in one big swoop. That was something you neglected to do that no one mentioned.
                            All in all a good job though.

                            Mig
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                            • #15
                              Hi Scott, Mig!

                              Scott

                              ....I see what you mean .... actually I played a lot with the size since the new position was close to a man, whom I took to be taller, and above a very strong-built girl, whom I took to be bigger ... but, now that you've pointed it out, I see it as well ..... I'll retry it .... Thank you for your comment!

                              Mig

                              ..good job! .... and thank you so much for your great tip about working on the single channels to match contrast! I'd never thought of that....

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