Photo Editing and Re-touching - Complete Guide

Ever look at those perfect magazine photos and wonder what they actually looked like before all the insane Photoshop-makeup they received? Well, it's definitely not just about applying a simple Instagram filter. You have to work on a number of important details that might be easily missed by a common observer. In this first blog post of ours, we will show you a sneak peek to our editing and re-touching workflow and some of the editing tools that we always use and love.

Looking at this before-and-after of an image taken at Kariya Park in Mississauga, it's obvious that the lighting needs post-processing, my hair has some fly-away, and of course my dress strap had to get in the way. But we never worry about it because Photoshop will come to our rescue! See below for a step-to-step guide to the editing process.

Seeing the shot straight our of camera our first reaction is obviously, "Wow, totally need to set aside some time for this."

Let's first do some general improvements in Camera Raw: adjustments to colour temperature, tint, exposure, contrast, highlights, shadows, whites, and blacks. There is no set formula for this. For each photo you have to experiment to find out what works best. Over time this will become a very efficient process taking only seconds. You can see that this picture below looks brighter and more vibrant in colour than the original.

Now that the general settings look fine, we concentrate on other specific adjustments such as brightening of skin and face, graduated filtering on the wood, and slight vignetting, as well as some sharpening and luminance adjustments. These changes will look minor to a naked eye but they will make quite a big difference for large format printing.

Next up is some serious stuff! Retouching in Photoshop is the most critical and time-consuming part but it's well worth it. First, we remove all the distractions like flyaway hair, the dress strap sticking out of the dress on the torso, and veins under the eyes. Then we move on to spot healing on the skin and around the eyebrows, brighten the eyes and smooth out some other minor distractions. The most important rule at this step of editing is to know when to stop because you want to keep the image authentic and honest (because Photoshop should be to used to improve your photography, not the subject of your photo!). As a final touch to the editing we also make levels and curves adjustments to bring out the blacks and whites, and increase colour presence.

And voila! The final photo below is clean, vivid, and pleasant to the eye.

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