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Chapter 4. Secrets of Retouching >  Retouching, the Old Way

Retouching, the Old Way

Even in the pre-Photoshop, manual labor era, retouching was a lot more common than you might think. Advertising photography, for example, involves millions of dollars in fees, so a few thousand dollars for retouching is small change. An art director might have sketched a layout on a piece of translucent media that was then placed on the focus screen of a large format camera and subsequently used by the photographer to arrange the subjects just so. Then, the finished transparency (or, more likely, a duplicate of it) might be painstakingly retouched with dyes so the colors are perfect and to remove every small defect. It’s not an exaggeration to say that every important advertising still image you’ve seen has been retouched in some way.

Retouching has also been common in portraiture, because few faces are perfect, and even visages that are perfect don’t necessarily photograph that way. Retouching is a convenient way to touch up portraits without resorting to irreversible camera techniques, such as using detail-obscuring filters or other tricks.


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