Editing Portraits in Photoshop

I love retouching portraits. It’s my favourite kind of image to work on in Photoshop.

However, in portrait photography, my two biggest pet peeves are dark circles and sharpness. Take a look at this untouched picture by Nazm Photography.


Original Image by Nazm Photography

I really like this portrait and couldn’t resist working on it. This is what I settled on:


The End Result.

Here’s what I did:

  1. Added a cream coloured filter to the highlights in the picture. 
  2. Put another filter (any kind) in soft light to increase the contrast of shadows.
  3. Dodged her cheekbones to enhance them.
  4. Burnt the hollow on the cheek to add depth.
  5. Brightened up the eyes with the dodge tool.
  6. Cloned stamped some of the dark circles (removing them completely would have made the picture look fake).
  7. Added a little bit of colour to her lips.
  8. Sharpened the image.

Before and After

These tweaks make the image more striking. What you guys think?


4 quick steps to improve an image in Photoshop

A little tweaking in Photoshop can drastically improve a picture. Here’s one example I especially like:

Beer Glass on a Bar Counter

Original Image

When I first saw it, I loved how the colours came out in this picture. The colours counter top and the beer glass complimented each other. The patterned wall in the background created a great contrast. Any hint of monotony was broken by shades on light on the counter and the frames on the wall.

Yet I felt I would be happier with the picture if it popped out more. A few experiments in Photoshop and this is what I settled on:

Edited Image of Beer Glass on Bar's Counter

Edited Image

I’m really happy with the result. It makes the photo more striking and makes the eyes linger on it. I did lose some pattern on the wall, but just the hint of pattern works really well for me.

Here’s what I did:

  1. Cropped the image to get rid of the annoying white light on the top left corner making the object more prominent. 
  2. Created a vignette around the edges to highlight the glass and the light’s pattern on the counter.
  3. Increased the brightness of the image, added a new layer with black, and changed the layer’s mode to “hue”. I then adjusted the layer’s opacity till I was happy with the colours.
  4. Sharpened the image.


P.S. I read about this technique online but unfortunately can’t find the page now. If anyone knows where this comes from, please drop me a line in the comments below so I can link the website.

Photoshopping Threats — North Korea’s Doctored Image

Following recent attempts to escalate tensions with the US and South Korea, possibly to strengthen Kim Jong Un’s position in domestic politics, North Korea released a photo of a marine military exercise in late March. The photo shows eight hovercrafts landing on the North Korean shore.

Soon enough reports started surfacing of a possible doctoring of the photos to increase the number of the hovercrafts.

North Korea Military Exercise Hovercraft

Eight hovercrafts do a formidable foe make.

This picture was posted and analysed by Alan Taylor on The Atlantic‘s website. According to him the two hovercrafts about to land on shore near the photographer and the two most distant ones are actually replicas of each other.

Guardian enhanced the images and resized the hovercrafts to demonstrate the similarities:

North Korea doctored HovercraftsNorth Korea photoedited Hover crafts

How embarrassing for them.

This is not the first time North Korea has been caught doctoring photos. But, as Agence France-Press admits, the editors over there are improving in their Photoshopping skills. I think this calls for another post of the previous image doctoring blunders coming out of the country.

Original Photo — What sun damage can do to you skin



Confused whether it’s original or not? Don’t be. It’s as real as they get. 

Published in The New England Journal of Medicine last year, the photo shows a 69 year old man who drove a truck for 28 years. His left side was exposed to the sun’s UV rays that caused his skin to thicken and wrinkle. 

This person should be the poster head for every campaign to raise awareness about exposure to harmful ultraviolet rays over an extended period.

So don’t forget to slap on some SPF next time you head out the door! 



Sprouting Heads? — Photoshop Ruse

This morning while going through Pinterest (I can’t seem to get enough of that site, now that I’m detoxing from Facebook) and I I came across this picture of a woman apparently photoshopped to be carrying 9 babies. 

women, photoshop, bad photoshopping

The photo quickly becomes eerie if you look closely at the babies.

The photo was posted to what seems a Polish version of Pinterest. The kid’s face has been replicated 9 times and spread around the person’s clothes. The only “smart” thing the editor did was to change angles and hide the kid’s face to different degrees to give a “genuine” feel. 

Seems like it worked.

I reckon since the photo was of an African, and we are so used to seeing stereotyped versions of pictures coming out of certain nations, the editor got away with it.

Image Obsession: Beyonce’s unflattering photos from Super Bowl

The Tigress

The Tigress

So the internet is abuzz with news surrounding Beyonce’s performance and her publicist’s performance to make an utter fool of herself and her client. Following Beyonce’s exhilarating stint at the Super Bowl that received many accoladefrom all over went ahead and made her a laughing stock of the web.

The story goes that Buzzfeed uploaded 33 pictures from Beyonce’s performance titling them “33 fiercest moment” as a tribute to the star’s passion and energy. They even ended the article by calling her Queen B who runs the world!

But the star’s publicist, a symbol of the ever myopic, ever shallow herd of “image-makers”, contacted the website requesting them to take some of her pictures off the website.

Big mistake.

Pepsi Super Bowl XLVII Halftime Show

Passion is never ugly. Almost never.

Within three days of Buzzfeed revealing the request by Beyonce’s publicist, her”unflattering” pictures received more attention than they would have had they been left alone.

The web responded in its own unique way. It started a chain of “unflattering Beyonce memes” that ranged from nerdy to funny thus showing once again exactly who holds the power in the internet world.

Beyonce as Hulk and at the Olympics

Beyonce as Hulk and at the Olympics

I’m not sure how much Beyonce was involved in her publicist’s actions, but this decision reeks of bad judgement.

I get in a world obsessed with stardom and filled with photoshopped perfection, it must be a panicky feeling to not have complete control over one’s image. But common sense dictates the more you try to squelch something over the web the more attention you draw to yourself.


Aragon the wise

Unless of course that was their purpose to begin with. As the cliche goes: there’s no such thing as a bad publicity.

If that was the case, a job well done Team Beyonce.

And then there was a photoshopped hand.

A friend of mine sent me a link to this post on New York Magazine website about the cover of June’s Marie Claire which features Sarah Jessica Parker. The post focussed on SJP’s hands (yes, hands) in the cover photo.

Baby hands anyone?

The lady, Amy Odell, had shared a link to jezebel.com website where the author quoted yet another blogger in saying:

“I daresay it was not SJP who wanted her hands Photoshopped to the point of total unrecognizability. I suspect she did not request her hands to be made to look like babydoll hands stuck on the ends of the arms of a confident 45-year-old woman.”

I agree that Parker’s hands are noticeably wrinkled and that photoshop job done on them is insanely bad. 

But did everyone miss the baby-smooth skin and almost-painted neck of SJP in the picture? 

SJP’s “flawless” skin

This isn’t the first time SJP has been a victim of bad photoshopping. Take a look at Feb 2010 issue of Marie Claire Hungary:

Jaundiced much?

In an attempt to shape her jaw, someone with an editing tablet missed out an edge of left jaw giving the face a lopsided feel. 

There’s also that terrible attempt at photoshopping her hair over her right shoulder.

Now admittedly, I could find only one website (celebrity.techwoo.com) that carries the above cover from Hungary. The original covers, it seems, date back to 2008 and seems from the same photoshoot. The right one is from the Turkish version.

A more healthy looking SJP

A more healthy looking SJP

I admire a good photoshopped job. But misshaped jaws, plastic-y skin, puffy baby hands, and painted hair just kills my high.