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Digital Photo Retouching and Compositing

Consumer Photo Retouching Examples
Commercial Photo Retouching Examples

How we see the world is influenced by the images around us. Just look at the difference between these historic black and white photos and the colorized versions. From the Reddit Colorized History project. Or these hand retouches from the collection of British Photographer Tony Richards.

It seems that everyone has played at putting a dogs head on a photo of their ex or something equally amusing. Thats not what I'm talking about here. Retouching is the subject of much discussion these days after some poor decisions made over the years. There is even an entertaining website called Photoshop Disasters. Enter it at your own risk.

Technically these digital processes all entail using some technique to alter photo elements. If there is a line between retouching, restoration and imaging, its a blurry one.
The general definitions are:

    Restoration - Removing damage and rebuilding missing elements (non taxable)
    Retouching - Enhancing and removing unwanted photo elements or cosmetic flaws
    Imaging, Compositing or Illustration - create one or more new images by Adding or Combining elements

Imaging is much more extensive. It can be used to create things and people who don't exist. We create the future and alternate worlds. We use it to describe things to others. We show others what it would be like to walk in building not yet constructed, interact with products or go to foreign places. these are important services. But beyond commercial uses, images are our history, our memories and our legacy to future generations. The collage above memorializes a favorite pet. But one of the most comon uses is reversing the ravages of time...

Some film types fade more than others. Restoration is about returning them to something closer to what was intended without losing their history.

Can you tell which pieces above are the originals and which were changed for the jewelry sale flyer? It's easier to remove color than add it... but when its easy we dont have a job.

It takes drawing and painting skills to pull images out of thin air... adding elements the camera missed, changing the nature of elements or literally painting with photo parts. There can be a thin line between Retouching and Illustration.

The pieces that went into the birthday card shown above:

More examples in the Illustration section of the Portfolio.
Restoration Samples, Information on restoration techniques, storage, and conservation of materials can be found in the Data sheets, Links to related resources, and some Conservation suppliers.

The images and data on this site are the property of sandra ragan/plum grafik, clients thereof, and others as noted. Please respect their hard work and creativity by following the "Golden Rule,"
Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

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