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Is a plugin a sin?

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  • Is a plugin a sin?

    Hey guys!

    Totally new here and this is my first post so bear that in mind if I accidentally offend

    I'm a photographer who has an interest in retouching (as another string to the bow), and I've been practising for 2 years now, trying to incorporate the proper techniques (split frequency, pixel level dodge & burn etc). In this time I've come across a few plugins for skin retouching and natural curiosity has had me try them out. Rubbish! Plastic skin etc.

    Now, I'm just wondering if, as professional retouchers you would deviate from the path of intensive hours-long dodging and burning IF there was a plugin that could cut out some of the work?

    The reason I ask is, i was told about a plugin - Totally Rad Pro Retouch 2.0 - by a friend. Rolled my eyes as per usual but tried it out. Really surprised. Seemed to get me from stage 1 to stage 5 in 10 minutes with all skin looking really good and toned and with a small amount of d&b to do to bring it somewhere near very decent.

    Now, I'd prefer not to unintentionally rubbish the techniques that have got retouching where it is and I can spend 8 hours on an image trying to get it just right. And I enjoy it. Just wondered if you thought cutting a few of them hours out was a good idea or a cheap shortcut?

  • #2
    Re: Is a plugin a sin?

    Hi, and welcome to the forum!

    To answer your question, I believe there is nothing illegal about using an external plugin for retouching work (provided that you pay for it...).
    As long as retouching is your hobby, your main drive should be quality and fun. If you can save a few hours while keeping the same quality, why not? But if the plugin results are worse, then you should stay away.
    The reasoning is different when retouching is your job, and work hours count. You may decide to compromise a little on quality if the job gets cheaper and quicker done. All depends on the requirements and expectations of your customer of course.

    Just my five cents...

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Is a plugin a sin?

      The problem with plug ins is that you will be just as dumb about how to actually do the work in five years as you are now, because you relied on, essentially, an action somebody else spent a lot of time creating. And, when Photoshop 12 is released in 2023, probably the plug in doesn't work on that OS, or maybe this plug in company is defunct because the guy who started it sold out to some other company because he wanted to go live on a beach somewhere for the rest of his life.

      It's good to know the basics.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Is a plugin a sin?

        Thanks guys.

        I like your point Benny! I already know the basics and am at a fairly good level of retouching without blowing my own trumpet. Only because I've put the hours in practising and researching techniques. I suppose the hardest thing is knowing when to stop.

        It just seems this plugin can take hours off the job and i wondered if using a plugin as part of the process would be obvious in the final product of a high-end retouch?

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Is a plugin a sin?

          Originally posted by Martin B View Post
          It just seems this plugin can take hours off the job and i wondered if using a plugin as part of the process would be obvious in the final product of a high-end retouch?
          I haven't seen one yet, but, when I do, that's when I stop thinking about making a living in beauty retouching.

          Of course, "high end" is a relative term. Most wedding and portrait photographers would benefit from present plug in products. Cover of Vogue? Not yet.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Is a plugin a sin?

            I am still training, too, but in my experience, most of the things theses "skin smooth" plugins do, can be achieved with an action, as it is mostly based on blurring the underlaying layer while keeping the high frequency intact.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Is a plugin a sin?

              Benny makes some very good points in particular knowing the basics. And as genf said knowing your customer requirements and the standards required.

              From what I have seen on the website cannot say that I would want to spend $89!

              From what they say these are a series of PS Actions so why not create your own set of actions and save some money .

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Is a plugin a sin?

                Originally posted by Tony W View Post
                From what they say these are a series of PS Actions so why not create your own set of actions and save some money .
                I'd love to create some actions to help me but I've been that regimental in learning the proper techniques that I wouldn't even know how to shortcut the process!

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Is a plugin a sin?

                  Totally Rad Actions (TRA) are aimed at wedding photographers. Wedding photographer needs to edit thousands of pictures in short time and these kind of actions come in very handy.
                  These are not Vogue cover pictures and nobody expects them to be.
                  The reason I use them on my wedding pictures and the reason I paid dollars for them are
                  - I don't know to make them.
                  - Even if i did, it would take me too much time to do so. Actully, TRA are cheap.
                  But, Martin, this is the wrong place to fave actions. It's like opening thread about Nikon on Canon's forum.This place is meant to help us learn retouching skills and it's doing great job at it. Actions are doing exactly the opposite. There is a great place to discuss wedding photography actions called DWF.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Is a plugin a sin?

                    P.S. You'll find that what time it takes for you to get a good result is going to get less and less. Simply because you'll develop your skills further.

                    Also, there is no plug-in for local color adjustments, nor is there an plugin for local density, so it may even mess the image up, where you least expected it to.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Is a plugin a sin?

                      Originally posted by Pics2 View Post
                      But, Martin, this is the wrong place to fave actions. It's like opening thread about Nikon on Canon's forum.
                      I wasn't implying or suggesting people use actions or plugins, i was simply wondering if part of the secret of retouching could infact use one of these as a time-saver. Like i said there was a risk of upsetting the pro's but that wasn't my intention.

                      Thanks everyone for replying though, i'll stick with the proper method of retouching and if i do find any little time savers or new methods i'll be sure to share them!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Is a plugin a sin?

                        The photographers have their purists as well; many eschew strobes or staged lighting, preferring only "available light" -- meaning only the light that already exists. But the legendary photojournalist, W. Eugene Smith, retorted "Available light is any damn light that is available! " Meaning, he'd use whatever tools were at his disposal to get the shot he wanted.

                        I say use whatever "damn" PS tools give you the effect you desire, be they plugins, actions, etc.

                        The only downside is that if you start retouching outside of your personalised machine you may find you're lost without those devices. If you do buy the actions be sure to decode what they're doing by running them step-by-step from the action pallet so you know how to recreate their effect on your own. Then you have the best of both worlds, the convenience of their use and the understanding of how they work.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Is a plugin a sin?

                          Originally posted by Martin B View Post
                          I wasn't implying or suggesting people use actions or plugins, i was simply wondering if part of the secret of retouching could infact use one of these as a time-saver. Like i said there was a risk of upsetting the pro's but that wasn't my intention.
                          I know you weren't, don't worry. And this is an interesting topic, thanks for starting it. By the way, welcome to RetouchPro!

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Is a plugin a sin?

                            Originally posted by Pics2 View Post
                            By the way, welcome to RetouchPro!
                            Thanks man, loadsa knowledge on here!

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Is a plugin a sin?

                              You're getting caught by something that is common amongst younger photographers. That is you're used to making adjustments from an abstract level. Set up lights, set up reflectors, etc. When it comes to sitting in photoshop where you are essentially painting on a canvas, it is not the same. I looked at the site. The plugin smoothed certain things out to a minor degree through different types of averaging and increased the contrast slightly by bringing out highlights. The reason that looks good to you is that you assume they should all be averaged to some degree when that isn't necessarily the case. It should be surgical, and typically you would pick out the things that are jumping out as problematic.

                              It's also important to point out that 8 hours is a very long time. It sounds like you don't know where you're going with it, and you were sucked into more bad habits, such as zooming in too far. Try not to go past 100%. It's forgivable when drawing a path. The rest of the time it's not generally necessary. If you're using a small tablet, that can be more difficult. In that case I would macro something like 100% and 200%, then map them to keys. You should not be in way too far. The steadiness of your hand should be what provides precision, which is why some drawing ability helps.

                              Last thing, if a plugin can do something in a few minutes that takes you a few hours, who would really pay you to do that? I did test a few of them some time ago to see what they did. None of them would have saved me any time, including that one judging by the site examples.

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