Seated in Grass: Comments on individual versions


Dan Margulis
 

Here are comments on the individual submissions in this case study. As with a couple of others, there were so many good versions that nobody should take my quick choices for the par version too seriously, as there are around ten versions that could reasonably have been chosen.

I also suggest that if you are going over this list you download them and compare some versions by toggling back and forth, using Apply Image or similar. Some of the differences are quite subtle and hard to detect otherwise (which doesn’t make them any less useful).

Dan Margulis
***************

1001 This person did a series of blending maneuvers with the objective of adding contrast and detail. That certainly shows up in the face, but also in the grass. The question is whether the model will like the exaggeration of her freckles. Nevertheless the color is excellent, in my view it’s better in that respect than the par. 

Part of the reason the color is so appealing is that it’s correct in the context of the skintone. Compare this one to 1002, where the skintone is portrayed as lighter and also pinker, which would be correct under the circumstances. So the colors of these two would not be interchangeable. However, I would say that blending 1002 into 1001 in Lighter mode, 50% opacity, would give something superior to either.

1002 Here is the three-minute version that I did in 2017.  By coincidence, my direct competition is the next entrant.

1003 The average of the five MIT retouchers. I trust you will agree with my assessment that #1002 is better. The face has more range because the undershirt is lighter while the shadows are at least as dark. There was also a mild channel blend which gave more structure to the face, plus MMM for color variation. A consequence of the darker undershirt in #1003 is that all colors are subdued because they have more of the contaminant. By looking at this version, you wouldn’t know that the woman has red hair, which is obvious in all our good versions.

1004 I have no comment on this one. I fail to see what is so difficult about a requirement that files be submitted in sRGB. I already rejected one file that came in with the wrong profile last night. That’s when this one came in, too, but I didn’t see that it’s sRGB with a 1.4 gamma, IOW a false profile. So, if you want to compare this image to another, you have to convert it, and I once again ask that everyone double-check that they have the right size and the right profile before submitting.

1005 Very pleasant color, could use a little more depth in the face if that can be done without losing too much of the very nice hair color.  Paco Márquez used a simple approach here, he retouched out some of the facial imperfections but did not go overboard. The only unusual thing: he felt that the jeans were too light and so created a second version to darken them.

Many of us believe that it was beneficial to have the grass unrealistically colorful. Paco defends the practice succinctly: “The greens might be a bit on the brightly saturated side but I feel that enhances the separation of tones (G&R) and the overall brightness.” In his post to the main thread, he comments that he tried to move the face toward pink, thinking that this is appropriate for redheads. Given that decision, he was wise, I think, to make the sweatshirt more colorful than most others did. It is an insurance policy against people deciding that he had made the skintone too beet-red, and it helps us distinguish the long hair from the shirt.

1006 And speaking of general approaches, Arthur Margolin also speaks for a lot of us: “I only did a modicum of retouching of her face to smooth over blemishes and other irregularities because it appears that in the original she isn’t wearing make-up and I sought to retain a ‘natural’ look as much as possible.” His approach was to do five separate versions and blend them intelligently.

The result is a face rather similar to #1005, but slightly lighter eyes (good), bluer grass (depends on the mood you’re trying to set, I’d describe #1005 as friendlier), and darker sweatshirt (not so good, we lose the long hair). But the real reason I prefer #1005 is that here we don’t really see that she has red hair, and I suspect she would not be happy about that.

1007 Here’s the best individual version from the five MIT retouchers. They all got about the same result, which is why this one is so similar to #1003, the average of the five. I am happy to see that a healthy majority of us are getting better results than these two.

1008 Much too blue, measurable in the undershirt (sharply cyan) and the very desaturated fleshtone.

1009 Like #1001 and #1005, this version emphasizes yellowness in the background, but this person extended the yellowness to the face as well. He says that all the basics here are simple but more complicated moves are not so easy. He did not use MMM, because he felt it was exaggerating the freckles too much, so he compensated with more Color Boost. The result is something that is not as balanced-looking as #1005, yet more dramatic and some people might prefer it, particularly if the eyes were lightened.

1010 A relatively conservative but effective version, using a simple approach that included H-K and a luminosity blend. He stays away from the gaudy greens of some of the earlier versions; they would not be appropriate here because they would conflict with the relatively gray face.

1011 Chosen for the par version. This is pretty much the direct opposite of #1010, it’s about as playful a treatment as we might accept, whereas #1010 is about as conservative as we might accept. Therefore, it is a solid bet that blending the two together 50-50 will produce a result better than either. And this is indeed the case. This person also avoided MMM, thinking that it was too damaging to the hair. But as to the grass, he adds his voice to the anti-reality group: “In my final version, the background is very bright with louder color than expected in nature. Although some may argue this might compete with our subject, I concluded (after fiddling with multiple possible adjustments) that the bright color contrasts well with her red hair and perhaps adds a sense of excitement. Looking back, becoming less timid about stronger colors has been one learning area for me while participating in the challenges (sometimes that is good, maybe not always). I will be interested to see how others manage the background.”

1012 If you’d like to continue the debate about realism in the background you might wish to toggle back and forth between this one and #1015. The woman and the sweatshirt are very similar in both. The big variation is in the grass: here we have realism, in #1015 a bright yellow fantasy. If I have to choose between the two I guess I pick #1015, but the real winner would be blending #1015 into #1012 in Color mode. This tells me that having relatively dark grass is fine, but it has to be fairly colorful.

1013 And here comes the disagreement. Rather than jack up the greens, should they be suppressed? Here’s this person’s answer:

Since this is a casual portrait and the lady has freckled skin I don’t think it’s necessary to retouch the skin in any way. However, while acknowledging the freckles we don’t need to enhance them to a point where they become distracting. The eyes are again important and require care. The green background is very distracting and needs to be suppressed. In this photo the face and eyes will make or break the result. Unlike the wedding dress in the veiled bride the clothes here are not so important.

Given these objectives the person achieved them well, as can be seen by toggling this one with #1010. both have conservative flesh color, dull grass, a dark sweatshirt, and similar treatment of the hair. As he says, #1013 is much preferable because of the face and the eyes. But the grass and the sweatshirt seem to me more important than this person thinks.

1014 The skintone seems too light and the freckles too prominent, seemingly the result of blending strong contrast-enhancing curves to the green channel. The color choices are similar to those of #1013, which is a much darker treatment. Since this person presumably doesn’t want to go that far, blending 50% of #1013 into this one would likely give him what he wants.

1015 Chosen for the par version. Simple procedures lead to this attractive result. I prefer this one to #1013 on the grounds of overall feel with some reservations. This person tried to get range into the face by lightening the teeth almost to the point of a highlight. I prefer the treatment in #1013. And that one makes clear how important it would have been to engineer better eyes into this one.

1016 This person did not actually try to suppress the greens, but when he was in Color Boost he excluded them, not wishing them to become unrealistic. He applied a lot of MMM to the face, and treated the eyes well. Granted the relatively dark skin it should probably bit a tiny bit more yellow and less pink. So I would compare it to the lighter #1002, which I also consider somewhat too pink. The two are trying for different goals and a lot of personal taste is involved, however the comparison leaves me with the feeling that the face in this version is in shadow. Many of our versions have grass distinctly darker than the face and others have it as lighter. Both styles can be effective, but having the grass at roughly the same darkness as the face doesn’t seem to work unless both sides are brighter than what we have here.

1017 The color choice is reasonable and conservative. The person chose appropriate highlight and shadow points in the woman’s clothing. But he selected the background and darkened and added contrast to it. That might have worked better if he had done some blending or H-K in the face to give it more shape. As it stands the background seems better defined than the face is.

1018 To read this person’s description of his workflow is to know the meaning of the myth of Sisyphus. Like most of us he found no basic color problem and concentrated on building a decent face. Every time he tried something else he thought it made the face seem out of place in context, and he began to curse out Chevreul. “And so of all the case studies,” he writes,  “I ended up with the least satisfactory entry.  At least up to now I've felt pretty good about my entries (until seeing the others' entries
12 hours later).”

I have no idea why he thinks this. I see no major problems here, it’s a fine version.

1019 Rich and attractive colors. When I first looked at it I underrated it, I thought the person had retouched out most of the freckles. According to his text he did not. One minor point that bothers me: he whitened the teeth. Because they are surrounded by rather yellow flesh, the teeth actually look blue to me (they’re not, according to the info palette, they’re 1a7b, but everybody else has them warmer and more yellow).

The quirks of the random-number generator placed five similar images very close together. This version and four of the next five (excluding only #1021)  are the only ones of the entire set that use a background that is dark, saturated, and bluer than most others. I haven’t previously compared these five to each other but probably I should, because this color choice for the background is reasonable but it imposes certain obligations on the rest of the image. And all five of these are excellent versions, without any obvious error.

So I put the five up side by side and the big differences are that #1020 and #1023 are lighter than the others, and that #1020 and #1022 made little if any effort to make the background interesting whereas the other three put in accents of some kind. #1024 has the best detail in the face; #1022 is the most conservative of the three darker ones and therefore fewer people will actively dislike it than any of the other four. #1020 and #1024 have the most interesting eyes.

I’d say that the lighter faces, #1020 and #1023, would work better with some of the versions with much lighter backgrounds, while the other three would look out of place. As for the background I can understand why the instinct would be to downplay it and maybe in some of the lighter versions that would be the right call. Here, though, I think I prefer the added pop in the grass of #1020 and #1024 rather than the blurrier #1022.

1020 Another person already commented in the main thread “With a mild vignette, blurred background, and smoothed skin, entry 1020 could easily be from a professional photo studio and many clients would like it well.” This is probably true, and the person took a relatively simple way to get there. The only questionable move: he selected the background grass and made it cooler, bluer. This makes the skin look yellower by comparison, which is not good when it’s this light. Better IMHO to leave the background yellower, which would drive the face toward pink. The question of whether this ought to be treated a studio shot, which tend to be softer and more conservative, or as a candid of a healthy woman in the outdoors remains open.

1021 Chosen for the par version. A combination of good moves created something quite akin to the par version itself. He used the Velvet Hammer and MMM + CB, did some retouching (including, I’d say, the eyes, but I don’t find that in the description). He got to the point where the skin was slightly dark and slightly blue, whereupon he came up with two clever moves. First, he used Channel Mixer to blend the red into the blue, Luminosity mode. This both lightened the skin and reduced the freckling, which was very pronounced in the blue channel. Then he applied a yellowing curve, but limited it to darker areas. This made the eyes and hair more interesting, as well as presumably giving a slightly sunnier appearance to the skin.

1022 Chosen for the par version. Done outside of Photoshop, I commented on this one in my notes to #1019. The two have similar darkness and shape in the face. #1019 is more vivid and therefore more exciting, but this one, being more conservative, seems to portray more personality. Originally I liked it better than #1019, now I have a tougher time making up my mind. If this one had been given lighter eyes I’d prefer it for sure.

1023 Like most of us, this person found little fault with the original color. He then selected the foreground and background for separate work. The effect might have been better had he lightened the lightest part of the grass so as to add contrast to it and make it seem lighter overall. As matters stand we might find the face too light for the overall scene.

1024 Chosen for the par version. This is my current try, not terribly different from the #1002 that I did three years ago. I wanted to add depth to the face, but my preferred method, blending the green into the red, would have put me in Frecklesville. So I substituted Velvet Hammer and a couple of hits of the luminosity half of H-K. The color was fine, as it was from the outset, but I was losing the redness of the hair, the eyes were too dark, and I was still exaggerating the freckles too much.

So, on a Luminosity layer, I applied Dust & Scratches at a high threshold to the green channel only. This reduced the mottling without losing the basic texture of the skin. I also blended the red into the green in Lighten mode. This was both to lighten the skin and to reduce further the freckling. I assumed I was going to have to exclude the sweatshirt, which would get lighter as a result of the blend, but when I saw the result I decided to keep it that way. The lighter shirt makes the long hair stand out better. In many versions it’s hard to tell that this woman has hair draped over her shoulder.

Finally, I made a grossly light and colorful version, which I used to paint in the eyes and to add highlighting to the hair

1025 Here is what #1024 would look like in a sunnier setting. Both versions have excellent shape in the face. But since the grass is much lighter in this one it follows that the face should be as well. It’s nice and realistic and sure to please the client for the same reason that #1022 is: quibble about the background if you like, but there’s nothing to argue about in the foreground, nothing that the client can complain about,

1026 As with #1004, no comment on this one because it was sent with the wrong profile.

1027 No facial detail here. It looks like the woman was born without a nose.

1028 The par version.


ROBIN MARK D'ROZARIO
 

Dear Dan,

Thanks for the comments.

Re my submission 1013 in which I have desaturated and darkened the background.
I was surprised by the number of entries that retained lighter backgrounds.
The face in my entry is also much darker relative to the group.
My own analysis of this would be that darkening the background very early in the workflow, as opposed to say only desaturating, set me down the path to a darker image.The darker background makes other elements look relatively lighter. My entry  thus also ends up having darker hair and a darker sweatshirt. While working on this in isolation the luminosity in the face seems lighter by comparison to other elements and was deemed ok by me. When compared to the other entries it becomes apparent how much darker things are.
Similarly in the veiled bride I worked  early on making the background darker and in terms of luminosity and colour. The face of the bride ended up darker relative to the group though not quite as pronounced as this entry.
Perhaps not messing with backgrounds too much or too early would improve things.

Best regards,
Robin Mark D'Rozario


Dan Margulis
 



On Jul 23, 2020, at 10:20 AM, ROBIN MARK D'ROZARIO <rdrozario@...> wrote:

Re my submission 1013 in which I have desaturated and darkened the background.
I was surprised by the number of entries that retained lighter backgrounds.
The face in my entry is also much darker relative to the group.
My own analysis of this would be that darkening the background very early in the workflow, as opposed to say only desaturating, set me down the path to a darker image.The darker background makes other elements look relatively lighter. My entry  thus also ends up having darker hair and a darker sweatshirt. While working on this in isolation the luminosity in the face seems lighter by comparison to other elements and was deemed ok by me. When compared to the other entries it becomes apparent how much darker things are.
Similarly in the veiled bride I worked  early on making the background darker and in terms of luminosity and colour. The face of the bride ended up darker relative to the group though not quite as pronounced as this entry.
Perhaps not messing with backgrounds too much or too early would improve things.

I have no problem with messing around with important objects early in the process, but here I’d ignore the background until the very end. I’d assume that whatever global changes were made to the woman would also be beneficial to the background—until proven otherwise.

It’s true that making the background darker early does commit you to a darker face, but there’s nothing necessarily wrong with a relatively dark face here, it’s not like she’s a blond. The generic problem with the darkness is that it can make the overall impact somber when compared to the lighter and brighter versions. I *like* the face in #1013. What it’s lacking is any happy colors, which is why desaturating the background was IMHO a mistake, even though desaturating backgrounds is often a very good idea.

The proof is to grab (say) #1016 and blend it into #1013 in Color mode. When I do this it is hard to see any difference at all in the woman. The background, however, gets quite a bit more vivid and this makes for a happier-looking (and better IMHO) overall scene.

Dan




Paco
 

Hi! Having said that I hardly ever comment on my workflow, if anyone would be interested in what I did in this image and would like a copy of my .psd 1005 file with all corrections and masks just email me at paco@....

But basically I tend to apply corrections by painting them in using masks. This is probably a result of having used a program which was called Live Picture way way back when. Lee Varis also used Live Picture and made many spectacular images with it.

All the best!

Paco


James Gray
 

I was surprised mine (1001) compared as well with the others as it did.  I was fairly satisfied with it when I submitted my revised version.  Portraits are just not something I have been good at.  I was aware that most women with a lot of freckles do not want them emphasized in a photograph, so I was not surprised the par version resulted in less noticeable freckles.  My question is, what are the techniques for de-emphasizing the freckles without making the nose disappear.  It does not seem difficult to make the eyes and mouth have good contrast while making the freckles less pronounced, but the nose is a different matter.  I guess I could go back and look at the comments from others, but I am just not clear what steps were used to handle the freckles.  I did attempt to soften the freckles a little with the layer that softened the wrinkles around her eyes, but I did not do much with that.

James Gray


On Thu, Jul 23, 2020 at 4:38 AM Dan Margulis via groups.io <dmargulis=aol.com@groups.io> wrote:
Here are comments on the individual submissions in this case study. As with a couple of others, there were so many good versions that nobody should take my quick choices for the par version too seriously, as there are around ten versions that could reasonably have been chosen.

Dan Margulis
***************

1001 This person did a series of blending maneuvers with the objective of adding contrast and detail. That certainly shows up in the face, but also in the grass. The question is whether the model will like the exaggeration of her freckles. Nevertheless the color is excellent, in my view it’s better in that respect than the par. 

Part of the reason the color is so appealing is that it’s correct in the context of the skintone. Compare this one to 1002, where the skintone is portrayed as lighter and also pinker, which would be correct under the circumstances. So the colors of these two would not be interchangeable. However, I would say that blending 1002 into 1001 in Lighter mode, 50% opacity, would give something superior to either.

1002 Here is the three-minute version that I did in 2017.  

1027 No facial detail here. It looks like the woman was born without a nose.


_._,_._,_


Doug Schafer
 

James, regarding the freckles,

Since Dan mentioned mine, # 1019 regarding facial freckle reduction (without retouching such as healing brush or freq-sep), I was able to "clean-up" freckles a bit to what you see, using ACR. I reduced clarity and texture a little....in this case, less than you might, because we were not allowed to apply sharpening later.  Sometimes a little dehaze helps. It is a juggling act between all three to find a good solution....sometimes only 1 slider yields best results. In general, these work well on faces in a portrait.
And sometimes you need a mask to prevent poor results in another area or to only apply to your area(s) of importance; especially if you go the other way and add + to any or all of these sliders; which will make freckles or blemishes look worse. 
I still thought mine looked a bit blotchy; but Irish skin can be that way.
I also reduced the darkness in her neck, next to the white under shirt; but nobody seemed to notice or care.  I look for any small things that might detract.

Doug Schafer


jwlimages@...
 

Hi James & Doug. I decided to address the freckles in my version also (#1021). After I got the general color & tonal values lining up fairly well, the crisp detail of her freckles & some skin blemishes just seemed kind of cruel to the subject. So I did some light retouching on the few largest blemishes and on her lips. Then blended some of the red channel into the blue, masked to the skin areas - this had the effect of not hiding, but toning down the freckles while preserving smoothness & image sharpness. The lighter values in her face also made that shadow on her neck really stand out, so I lightened/partially blended it in with her lighter skin tones.

I think of little moves like these not so much as retouching, but just being kind to the subject of the portrait...

John Lund


jwlimages@...
 

Oh yes, per Dan's comment about my retouching the eyes - the only thing I did was add a CRV layer (slightly raising gamma), masked to affect only the pupils of her eyes. Just brightening the lovely blue-greens, no other changes.

John Lund


Robert Wheeler
 
Edited

I'll bet your brightening was not actually applied just to to the "pupil." Apology in advance for being picky, but my medical background makes it hard for me to resist commenting. Quick eye anatomy review: the black circle in the center of the eye is an opening for light to enter after being partly focused by the transparent cornea and before being focused by the transparent lens (for subsequent detection by the light sensitive cells in the retina at the back of the eye). That black opening is known as the pupil. It serves as a variable aperture that gets bigger to let in more light in dark environments and smaller to let in less light in bright environments.

The colored area around the pupil is the iris, which is the part that actually expands or contracts to make the pupil change size. When we talk of blue or green or brown "eyes," we are referencing the iris.

in front of both the pupil and the iris we have a transparent cornea. Around the iris, the cornea merges with the visible part of the sclera, generally known as the white of the eye. Trivia note: a few people with rare metabolic conditions can have blue sclerae even with correct color balance.

So a healthy eye has a black pupil (aside from "red eye" reflections off the retina caused by on-axis flash). If area of the pupil is grey or white, it can indicate scaring or disease of the cornea, a dense lens (cataract, sometimes removed surgically and replaced with an artificial lens), or even a tumor inside the eye (retinoblastomas sometimes are first detected as white pupil areas in newborn photos), or maybe a specular reflection of a light. So we would not want to brighten the black pupil, as that could make the eye look abnormal. However, the iris, sclera, and sometimes lids are often targets for appropriate adjustments.

Robert Wheeler


Lee Varis
 

OK... I will finally jump in here, if only to provide an alternate viewpoint. Mine is 1020, and I seem to be the outlier here, though I'm a bit surprised at the preference for "cartoon color" in a portrait. I also think that the assumption that this is a "candid" shot is erroneous! This shot is not capturing an unguarded moment, but rather is a posed portrait, lit with flash on camera to provide some front light in an otherwise totally backlit portrait—the tiny bright catchlight at the center of the pupils is the dead giveaway for a speed light attached to the hot shoe of the camera. The small flash was not powerful enough to balance with the overly bright background, and I would consider that a flaw, as well as the flat directionless light on the face. It seems to me that since this is crafted as a portrait of this young woman, that perhaps the most important thing about the image is the face!

Again, I am surprised at how much attention has been lavished on the green background. Almost all of the shots chosen for par, save 1022, have vivid chartreuse colored grass backgrounds with various excuses provided to explain the need for such outrageously saturated color! 1011 is so vivid that I need sunglasses to view it without pain! This is supposed to be the background. The background in a portrait is not supposed to compete with the face, even where you might desire to have bright happy colors overall—if everything is bright and saturated, there is no relief for the viewer who might be inclined to gaze at the beautiful woman. There really isn't enough of the environment visible to lend any special context for the portrait, other than it is taken outdoors. Really, its all about the woman!
All the bright saturated color around the face in all of the par choices, caused people to amp up the saturation of the skin! John's version, 1021 has the best balance, in terms of colorfulness, between the face and all the other saturated colors, but still... the skin tone is too saturated, and if you simply reduce saturation globally -15 or even -20 everything looks a lot better.

I expected that many people would end up with redder skin, possibly in the pursuit of normalcy in the skin tone of a red head, but many ended up with ruddy mottled skin. I never met a freckled woman who wanted to emphasize her freckles—most would prefer to minimize them, if not eliminate them. Again, most of the par versions seem to be a little on the red side, which looks worse when the color is too saturated—we might forgive Dan for his preference for redder skin, as he has been de-sensitized by years of looking in a mirror. I myself prefer a slightly more golden color, trying to stay away from the sunburned look of 1011, and 1022. The other fault I see here is how dark a lot of the skin tone has been rendered in most of the images chosen for par. This red headed woman does not have a tan! The peaches 'n cream complexion should be rendered lighter rather than darker. I generally aim for an L value around 80 for this brightly lit face. Once you print on paper, everything is going to look a bit darker and I see no reason to make the face darker than the background—the eye gravitates to the brightest thing in the picture, and with the green grass so close to the face, you don't want that to draw the eye away from the main point of the image!

Ok... some notes on my version. I did not, as some suggested, do any skin retouching! I used the red channel luminosity to reduce the contrast in the freckles and lighten the face. I blended some darkening blue channel luminosity into the sides the the face, the sides of the nose (to slim the nose down without actually pinching it) and above the eyes. I guarantee you that this woman is likely to be overly sensitive to the size of her nose, and any little bit done to mitigate the width of the nose is a good thing! I did "dodge" the dark bags under her eyes a bit. I cooled off the green background to provide more color separation from the warm skin—I wanted the skin color to look more yellow—perhaps because I have been de-sensitized to that color by my years of observing my olive complexion in the mirror! Well... what can I say? I like the more golden skin color! I was also concerned about the hair color—I wanted the red color to come out, and having the skin move towards yellow provides some contrast with the red color in the hair without over-amping the red saturation. I think most of the versions chosen for par make it look like she got her hair color from a bottle! I am also surprised that nobody applied any vignette, darkening the edges of the frame is a time-honored tradition among portrait professionals, and it seems like I was the only one to do this. If you do this with any of the par choices, they are improved in their overall effect.


jwlimages@...
 

Ah yes, the *iris* - mea culpa. Thank you Robert.

John Lund


jwlimages@...
 

Hello Lee, good to hear your thoughts. I agree with your suggestion about reducing global saturation on my version (1021) - thanks!

 

Of course this is a posed portrait, but trying to look casual & "natural" outdoors (I guess we're just supposed to overlook the on-camera fill flash). But I couldn't go so far as to use techniques from a studio portrait. Adding strong vignetting, enhancing/adding drama to the lighting, etc., could look "over-worked" and conflict with the conceit of the casual nature of the portrait.

 

I do agree with you in general about saturated colors, and in mine I started with intense, "Fuji Velvia" greens in the grass. In a landscape photo I sometimes push yellows & greens like that (my Monument Valley entry), but it looked all wrong here. Not only the hyper-saturation, but also the cyan-ish color seem unreal, so I desaturated, darkened & pushed the grass towards more yellow-green. Maybe could have gone darker, but I was trying for a look to suggest the camera flash intensity was well balanced with the ambient light.

 

The color of her fleece & blue jeans - ah, who knows? - I just settled for something pleasing.

 

Have to differ with you about the golden skin color, though. I just can't think of a redhead with pigmentation like that. Much more often (especially in photos) I see a hint of more translucency in the skin color - even in this shot, there are hints of the blue of veins/capillaries showing through the skin on her forehead - seems like it adds up to a more pinkish look in general. But you're totally right the red can get too dominant very quickly.

 

Also, it's great to hear your reasoning (& clever technique!) about making her nose look less broad, that's a nice extra detail.

 

Anyway, thanks for your comments!

 

John Lund


John Gillespie
 

Some interesting comments on hair/skin colour. Coming from the epicentre of freckled red-headedness (Scotland) I can only see this hair colour as dyed, it does not look natural to me, and there does not seem any point trying to make it appear so. Skin colour in such cases is a different matter, often being as much red as the sky is blue in Glasgow.

I can't agree with applying studio-portrait type techniques such as vignetting to this image - it doesn't look natural to me. But reducing the saturation of the grass is probably a good idea up to a point  - it seems a bit overdone in my version (1015) in retrospect. Mixing in some 1020 is an improvement, and also helps to lighten the eyes.

For me the goal is to be realistic and attractive. These are vague and subjective terms, trying to be a bit more objective I would say that realistic means "can I imagine the person speaking to me and moving around?" and attractive means "would I be happy to hang this picture on my wall?".

On that basis realistic entries are :  1002, 1003, 1012, 1013, 1017, 1018, 1025
Attractive : 1002,1005, 1006, 1018, 1021, 1022

I am sure that if I repeat this exercise I will get different results.

The par version fits both criteria.


John Furnes
 

My take was No. 1027 – the one where the nose disappeared.

I must admit that I took the freckles too far, and actually was a bit obsessed with it, and I didn’t find the way back. So everything became very light and not much definition anywhere. I don’t think the grass is distracting – there is no problem to find the real subject (well, in my  version it became a bit diffuse, but otherwise, no.)

So, there is a lesson to learn.

In my view – after having seen the rest of the entrants, I like the way 1021 is done, and compared to the PAR version, it is very much there.

 

I do find faces problematic, and have always had problems with finding the colour balance. Therefore, I have found my old copy of ‘Photoshop LAB COLOR’, 2.nd edition and started it all over again.

 

John Furnes