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  • "retro" editorial skintones

    hi, guys
    aiming for the retro skin tone editorial look, like in the 70-80s magazines like vogue
    reference - http://imgur.com/a/REDjn/all
    photographer bruce weber
    from my point of view - the pictures have red shadows, yellow highlights and something orangyy in the midtones. also the colors seem saturated yet vibrant

    any hints on the process of achieving such skin tones and how it used to be done in the old days/is done nowadays? do they apply local skin color grading? should the model be tanned in the first place or is the skin gets color treatment despite of the model's skin tone anyway?

  • #2
    Re: "retro" editorial skintones

    Black and white adjustment layer to luminosity, pull the red down a bit. Then saturation up or down if needed.

    Maybe blue curve down a bit.

    If they look tan, they were tan.

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    • #3
      Re: "retro" editorial skintones

      Originally posted by washyourcat View Post
      any hints on the process of achieving such skin tones and how it used to be done in the old days/is done nowadays? do they apply local skin color grading? should the model be tanned in the first place or is the skin gets color treatment despite of the model's skin tone anyway?
      You can do a small amount with makeup if they're already pretty tan. If you want the people to look truly tan, you want a tan model. A bit of it can be achieved in post, but it's can be nightmarish to get the look just right depending on the shot, model, and lighting. I think Skooby posted a decent example of making someone more tan in another thread. If you're after something very specific, you should absolutely plan on the fact that you may need to rely on masking and specific grading of that area.

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      • #4
        Re: "retro" editorial skintones

        In the '70s and '80s we didn't have Photoshop and any kind of digital retouching was 'hellishly' (pun intended for those who have been around long enough to understand it) expensive. Transparencies were drum scanned and then the film separations made from that scan. Retouching was mostly done by making a 10" x 8" dupe and then hand retouched with dyes. Again, every expensive hence the demand for a photographer to get the pic right in camera. No 'fixing it in post' back then.

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        • #5
          Re: "retro" editorial skintones

          The fact is while digital output is relatively flat, all negatives have a signature tone curve specific to a certain type of material. Hence, you can think of these photos as having pre-applied a kind of color/contrast correction, you cannot get an image like this straight from the digital camera.

          From the retouching standpoint, I think the major difference is the "average" editorial skin tone that changed across the years. And also, keep in mind the models nowadays (the good ones ) tend to retain very pale skin as tanning is not recommended if they work on runways, fashion shoots etc. Hence, it is a bit more difficult to get this "lifestyle-golden look" which was a signature tone 20 years back. I usually do the black and white layer blended multiply + adjustment S-curve to get the deeper tones first and then bring back the saturation.

          You have to look for photographers who work on mixed mediums (digital+film) and still, the results look fairly consistent: Alasdair McLellan and Matteo Montanari to name a few:

          http://syndication.artpartner.com/Co...d/AP078200.jpg
          http://syndication.artpartner.com/Co.../1/AP12418.jpg

          The skin is very yellowish, warm and golden, shadows are warm, no popular magenta/blue color casts etc.

          Having said that, I own both a medium format camera and a modern DSLR with good quality primes. And to tell you the truth, I prefer the negative at all times.

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          • #6
            Re: "retro" editorial skintones

            Um... yes models are pale today, but with all the washable bronzers and spray on tans, you can make her as tan as you need for the shoot, and she'll be pale again after she washes the make-up. So, there is a choice.

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            • #7
              Re: "retro" editorial skintones

              Originally posted by skoobey View Post
              Um... yes models are pale today, but with all the washable bronzers and spray on tans, you can make her as tan as you need for the shoot, and she'll be pale again after she washes the make-up. So, there is a choice.
              Agreed, a very good makeup artist can cut the retouching time in half. Sadly, all this have to be done on-location and when the OP is presented with a finished image to be thrown into certain direction, options are limited.

              I'd say trying to mimic the negative as close as possible is a dead end if you cannot control the process from start to the very end.

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