Skin: The Complete Guide to Digitally Lighting, Photographing, and Retouching Faces and Bodies

Skin: The Complete Guide to Digitally Lighting, Photographing, and Retouching Faces and Bodies

Skin: The Complete Guide to Digitally Lighting, Photographing, and Retouching Faces and Bodies

  • Size : 25.2 x 20.2 x 1.81 cm

Revised and thoroughly updated, this practical guide to photographing people is better than ever!What is the color of skin? You may think you know, until you enter the world of digital photography and try to reproduce what you see. Differences in software, lighting, computer calibration—everything has an impact on color. And that’s all before you get into differences between people in terms of skin types, ethnicities, age, gender, and more! Hollywood-based photo-illustrator Lee Varis guides

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3 Responses to “Skin: The Complete Guide to Digitally Lighting, Photographing, and Retouching Faces and Bodies”

  1. Conrad J. Obregon Reply May 3, 2013 at 8:46 am
    131 of 134 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    Provocative, November 30, 2006
    By 
    Conrad J. Obregon (New York, NY USA) –
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    It probably says more about me than the book that I found a title which applies to something that surrounds every person provocative. However, it’s likely that advanced Photoshop users will find something provocative in this book

    The book is aimed at photographers who know the basics of photography, including exposure, and the use of Photoshop including layers and masks. The author’s emphasis is on portraits and people photography and how to get the most from photographs of these subjects. Although the author spends a little time looking at hardware like digital cameras and at basic portrait lighting techniques, his main concern is with post processing.

    The author’s stated aim is to fill the gaps left by other books, like the reproduction of dark skin. And he does this in many ways that I haven’t seen before. For example he suggests better skin colors can be achieved by looking at the CMYK readings and applying a rule of thumb. (If you don’t know what CMYK is, this book isn’t for you.) Varis suggests that for Caucasians magenta and yellow should be of approximately equal value, with cyan a fourth to a third of the value. Images of African Americans should have a higher percentage of cyan and magenta. He then tells you how to make these adjustments. He also shows how to make tone and contrast adjustments for both color and black-and=white images.

    The author devotes a chapter to retouching, showing the reader how to ease those wrinkles and even do a little tummy tuck in Photoshop. He also devotes space to special effects, but he emphasizes alteration of the image not to tell lies, so much as to give effect to the photographer’s vision. There is also a chapter on preparing output for print.

    Most of the techniques that Varis shows are attempts at improvements on simpler Photoshop techniques. For example in the chapter on preparing for printing, he describes a method of improving on the usual unsharp mask sharpening. He does this by adding two additional layers that allow individual control of the prominence of the light halos and the dark halos that are the essence of unsharp mask.

    Application of these techniques requires effort above and beyond normal Photoshop processing. How useful they will be depends on the amount of work you are willing to invest in an image, although most of the techniques could certainly be embedded in actions. Equally important is the question of your own ability to envision when to employ a particular technique to improve your work. An alternate consideration might be your willingness to experiment with several techniques to see which will benefit you.

    The book includes a CD with the images used as examples in the book. I recommend that you read chapter 9 of the book which discusses these images before any other chapter. Then unzip the folders they come in into a new folder and follow along with the book. Often the changes are subtle and more easily seen on a monitor as they are made than on the printed page.

    In summary, this is a book for the experienced Photoshop user, willing to spend the time examining techniques that might enable one to get that slight edge in his or her photographs that would put one ahead of other digital photographers.

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  2. Kevin H. Stecyk Reply May 3, 2013 at 8:51 am
    49 of 50 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    Skin: Highly Recommended, May 19, 2007
    By 
    Kevin H. Stecyk (Canada) –
    (REAL NAME)
      

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    Skin: The Complete Guide to Digitally Lighting, Photographing, and Retouching Faces and Bodies

    I just finished reading Skin: The Complete Guide to Digitally Lighting, Photographing, and Retouching Faces and Bodies, a wonderful book for Adobe® Photoshop® enthusiasts. Although I would only consider myself an intermediate user of Photoshop, I found Lee Varis’ book immensely helpful, and I highly recommend it to all those who photograph people.

    Chapter 1: Digital Imaging Basics is a brief introduction to digital imaging basics. It quickly covers chips and pixels as well as dynamic ranges. Furthermore, Varis covers JPEG artifacts, cameras, memory cards, computers and monitor calibration. He finishes the chapter with a discussion on Photoshop preferences.

    Chapter 2: Color Management Workflow, and Calibration is as the title suggests. The first few pages provide a high level overview of workflow management. Then Varis discusses color and light calibration. I must admit, he does have a rather funky looking set up of test targets that include the GretagMacBeth 24 patch plus Styrofoam cutouts and black traps. Varis provides a lengthy and detailed discussion on his calibration method. He also mentions that he prefers 8 bit processing as opposed to 16 bit. Moreover, he comments on the popular expose to the right practice.

    ::::The idea is good theory but bad practice because the histogram cannot tell you where you are placing your tones with any precision, and it can’t tell you whether the histogram is appropriate for the subject. (What picture goes with this histogram?) The camera’s histogram is only a general indication of the distribution of values in the camera-generated JPEG. It is usually a composite of all three channels. The RAW data has a much wider distribution of tones that will vary in each channel, so you may not know if you are clipping important data in the Red Channel simply by looking at the histogram display on the camera.::::

    Chapter 3: Lighting and Photographing People is an overview of lighting. Varis uses different configurations of lights and reflectors to demonstrate various effects. The photographs contained in the book are helpful to understanding the concepts discussed.

    Chapter 4: The Color of Skin teaches the reader about proper skin tones. Varis introduces how to use curves effectively as well as how to adjust skin tones by using the CMYK values. He then finishes the chapter with a discussion on cultural and personal preferences. What one group of people might desire, others might oppose. So it is important to understand your audience.

    Chapter 5: Tone and Contrast: Color and B+W is an extremely interesting chapter because it discusses how to create B+W conversions and how B+W conversions can create better color photos. The first few pages discuss the channel mixer and split channels to obtain stunning B+W conversions. Next, Varis teaches the reader how B+W image can be used in luminosity blending to darken, lighten, and recover detail. I enjoyed part of the chapter because it opened up new avenues for processing my photos. Last, he discusses hue, saturation and toning effects.

    Chapter 6: Retouching is a thoroughly enjoyable chapter. Varis begins with a basic retouching where he uses the healing brushes to smooth away wrinkles. But then he kicks it up a notch by subtly using the dodge and burn tools to make the image just that much better. He then goes on to show how to use Hue/Saturation Repair to address red blotchy skin. I found the before and after pictures were amazing. Varis then walks his readers through an example of an attractive woman in her fifties. The before and after pictures are remarkable. He then shows a similar set of before and after pictures for a beautiful young model likely in her twenties. He wraps the chapter up by discussing some thinning techniques as well as some further skin processing.

    Chapter 7: Special Effects provides some useful tricks to generate interesting images. The four main themes of this chapter are soft focus, film grain and mezzotint, cross-processing, and tattoos. A substantial portion of the chapter is devoted to soft focus, which includes depth of field effects. Because photographers often want to create a softer, less harsh image or part of an image, I found this discussion helpful. I am not one for film grain and mezzotint. Similarly, I am not wild about cross-processing where you get unexpected colors in unexpected places. The last section on tattoos was interesting, even though I am not a tattoo fan. I liked the last part of the tattoo section where he described how to use Photoshop to create a fake tattoo.

    Chapter 8: Preparing for Print focuses the following key themes: sharpening, color…

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  3. 35 of 37 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    The Best Book of Its Kind, October 20, 2006
    By 
    Leigh Miller (California) –

    How many times have you taken a photograph that was “almost perfect”? You know what I mean. Either there’s something in the background you didn’t notice, a shadow or blemish on someone’s face, or worse yet, it’s the best photograph you’ve ever had taken of yourself, but your stomach was sticking out. As someone who has worked with Photoshop pretty regularly for a few years, I’m happy to say I can remedy most of those situations. Although I’ve used ‘Photoshop for Dummies’ and it has been helpful, ‘Skin’ offers suggestions most photographers never even though about. It was mostly through creativity and tenacity that Photoshop worked fairly well for me. It wasn’t until I read ‘Skin’ that I realized I was working entirely too hard to achieve the effects I was after. Achieving appropriate skin tones is no longer guess work, eliminating or softening facial lines is a snap, and balancing colors throughout the photo has become a mandatory element. Trial and error is no longer a prerequisite in my photography. Author Lee Varis offers more information than I will ever use as an amateur. However, whether or not I ever incorporate all this information into my photography, it was fascinating to read about how easily it’s all done. For me, the portrait “tricks” alone make this book worth while. I plan to keep it on my desk and use it every time I work on a photo.

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