moderated Case Study: Veiled Bride

Dan Margulis

By popular demand, more or less, we’ll try another one. Choosing a particular exercise is nuisance because no one image is interesting to everyone, nor does every image illustrate every possible technique. So I chose ten. to illustrate a variety: three portraits (one from an iPhone), three scenics, two night shots, one flower, and even a restoration of a faded color print. About half of these are pretty hard, IMHO.

Of course we’ll do them one at a time. If people continue to contribute, and I’ve got the availability, maybe we’ll get through all ten eventually, otherwise we’ll cut it short when appropriate.

Four of the exercises come from my own files but six, including this first one, come from the MIT study of 5,000 images, about which I’ve posted several times in my blog, beginning with

As you may remember, the images are supposed to represent those typical of professional work. Five intermediate retouchers were hired to attack them. Of course, I’m going to post their versions along with yours. This may help boost your spirits. Some of the people who entered the Carnival case study are not known to me but several are notably fine technicians. On a more difficult image than that one, some might get quite discouraged when comparing their efforts to those of these sharks. That won’t be a problem here, believe me; a couple of these hired guns did a particularly putrid job.

This first image is a wedding shot, a portrait of the bride. The challenge is that half the face is covered by her veil and the other half is not. You can take a look at the new photo album,

The retouchers were given raw (well, .dng actually) files, which our Photos section doesn’t support. One of the JPEGs in the album is a default open in Camera Raw, the other a flatter version of the type I prefer to start with. You’re welcome to work with either. If you’d like the .dng, you can download (which also contains the two versions above) from our Files section,

If you do use the .dng, be sure to remove its internal crops, and to resize it as needed to match the supplied JPEGs.

Also, DO NOT APPLY UNSHARP MASKING. These retouchers weren’t allowed to so the comparison would not be fair.

Remember: the files should be sent to me personally. 

The image attached here is low-res, not for reproduction!

Appended are the rules for this case study, and a thumbnail.


*In the study, no instructions were given as to what the client wanted. Here, let us assume that it is for placement in a wedding album.

*You can use whatever methods you like to improve the picture EXCEPT AN UNSHARP MASK filter or similar, because the original retouchers in the MIT study were not allowed to.

*Please keep clear records of what you did for discussion. List members find these very valuable.

*In the Photos section, Case Study: Veiled Bride, I have uploaded a version opened with Camera Raw defaults, and another where the settings were much flatter. You may use either, or fetch the .dng as below.

* does not allow .dng format in the Photos section. If you want the .dng, you must download a zipped file from the Files section. NOTE: the zipped file contains the two default images as well, you don't need to download them separately.

*The designated size of this exercise is 3504 x 2336 pixels. If you use the .dng image you MUST remove the existing crops, and open into the correct size. Do not crop, rotate, or alter the sizing.

*Your final file is to be sRGB with a proper tag. If you work in a different RGB you must Edit: Convert to Profile>sRGB before submitting the file.

*When finished, save in JPEG form, quality level 9. E-mail it to me, dmargulis@..., with a brief explanation of how you produced it includingwhat file you used for your original. DO NOT POST IMAGES TO THE LIST!

*Entries close Monday morning, 1 June, at 06:00 Eastern/11:00Z, 12:00 ora italiana.

*Rather than confirm every entrant I've received, I will periodically post the initials of everyone whose file I have.

*As soon as convenient after the deadline, I'll post all the entrants in a random order. Names will not be revealed except for those entrants that I or somebody else has declared to be particularly good, which will come later.

*A discussion will follow within a few days after posting the final files. 

Join to automatically receive all group messages.