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The Difference Between Retouch and Restore

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  • The Difference Between Retouch and Restore

    In a response to one of the challenge entries, Nick Carter just asked the $million$ dollar question. I'd really like to hear everyone's opinions on it

    I am in a quandary, for these restoration challenges, where is the line between, restore, and retouch.

  • #2
    To the casual observer (that being me) who doesn't do much in this area at all, the difference is that retouch would be just a levels adjust, for instance, or a sharpen, or maybe curves - something that a few minutes of work would accomplish. A restore, on the other hand, is removing cracks and tears and masking tape and whatever else is on the picture or that has removed part of the picture and that takes hours instead of minutes.

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    • #3
      Good question Jak!
      To me, Retouch means enhancing or manipulating - such as removing blemishes, telephone wires, removing or adding people, changing backgrounds, etc.

      Restore, would be fixing cracks and tears, reconstructing missing pieces, repairing damaged areas, etc.

      Retouch - change or enhance the original
      Restore - return the image to it's original state

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      • #4
        I agree with Vikki.

        In my opininion, Restore repairs damage to an image without altering the elements of the original image. Dust and crack removal, contrast adjustment, noise removal, etc. are all OK but artistically adjusting the image is not.

        Retouching allows removal of facial blemishes, elimination of elements, or anything else that enhances the original image.

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        • #5
          Good topic!! I've been wondering about the difference between these two words myself. Thank you all for clearing it up for me.

          Of the two, I prefer "restoration" it brings me more satisfaction. I can work on a restoration project for hours without becoming impatient, but retouching (levels adjustments etc.) are very boring to me.

          Margaret

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          • #6
            To me restoring is a subset of retouching (hence our site name).

            For our Challenges, however, I make the differentiation of restoring meaning adding or replacing missing or corrupted information, with retouching meaning correction or artistic refinement.

            This is purely arbitrary and artificial, though. I had to draw a line somewhere, and even I don't always pay attention to where the line is.
            Learn by teaching
            Take responsibility for learning

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            • #7
              My brother-in-law made a decent living doing retouching of negatives. When I was a kid, I used to watch him do some of his magic, and I guess that's where I got my understanding of what retouching is. To me, it's eliminating or softening bags under the eyes, removing acne, eliminating loose hair strands, that type of thing. Restoration, on the other hand, means something different to me. Restoration is, as has already been said, returning the image to it's original state. I do think there are different kinds of restorations. The type we do here on this site would probably not be a restoration at all when it comes to restoring museum quality documents. That type of restoration would, in my opinion, require special skills in different areas, unlike doing the Photoshop thing.

              Ed

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              • #8
                Great answers, guys!

                What about those photos we've gotten where the client wants it put back to its original state, but it's missing a lot of info that has to be rebuilt? What about ones that you borrow body parts for? Does it depend on whether you borrow body parts from another photo of the same person, or from an entirely different one? Is it a retouch or a restore?

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                • #9
                  Well that sounds like a manipulation.
                  Blatant manipulation!

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                  • #10
                    I agree. It's neither a retouch or a restoration. It has to be a manipulation.

                    Ed

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                    • #11
                      Ok, more great answers...

                      Now here's the $million$ question...

                      Does it really matter at all whether you call it restoration, retouching or <gasp!> blatant manipulation as long as it's what the client wants and they are happy with it...??

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                      • #12
                        Well, that was my thought Jak. No - I don't think it matters what you call it as long as the client is happy with the image!
                        Jeanie

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                        • #13
                          No, it doesn't matter.
                          The client would probably just call it "fixed".

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                          • #14
                            In most cases it probably wouldn't make a difference. But if you give anything in writing, such as a receipt, and you call it a restoration, it could make a difference. For instance, if you did a manipulation on a photo that could have historical value, even to one family, that could be cause for concern. What I'm getting at here is things being genealogical or historical in nature. Although I'm not heavily into genealogy, it has been noted that falsehoods pertaining to genealogical information have been encountered for many years. Some people have actually made family histories, where they have traced your ancestors to the throne of whatever country. Then they sell these histories to unknowing clients. Many times people have been ripped off for huge amounts of money. So any photo that changes history should not be called anything except a manipulation in my opinion.

                            Ed

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                            • #15
                              ....and that's why I simply call my business "Photo Fixing"

                              Margaret

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