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Thread: Skin tones

  1. #1
    abhi's Avatar
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    Uneven skin tones

    Hi,

    When working with portraits, i have noticed that the effects of variations in skin tone are much more pronounced in the photo. Here, for example, is a photo of my wife having her morning cuppa in our garden. The lighter skin tones near the ear, on the cheek and the chin are very discernible.

    Skin tones
    Canon Digital Rebel, Canon 50mm f1.8@f1.8 for 1/160s. (Adjusted for WB)

    What is the proper technique to obtain a more uniform tone? I have had some luck in making the variations less drastic by reducing the clarity, but that does not always work to my satisfaction. Thanks for your help.
    Last edited by abhi; 18th May 2011 at 06:27 PM.

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    Sahil Jain

    Re: Skin tones

    Abhi, its all about light.
    The difference in tones is actually the intensity of light falling at both the places. There is direct light on the cheek (hence light tone) & less light (read as shadow) hence dark tones. You could have used a reflector to have a control over this.
    HTH

  3. #3
    abhi's Avatar
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    Re: Skin tones

    Quote Originally Posted by Sahil View Post
    Abhi, its all about light.
    The difference in tones is actually the intensity of light falling at both the places. There is direct light on the cheek (hence light tone) & less light (read as shadow) hence dark tones. You could have used a reflector to have a control over this.
    HTH
    Thanks, Sahil. Though I could have sworn that light was uniform here. Natural sunlight, about an hour after sunrise, and out in the open. Wonder where the light is entering to light up the chin in that weird fashion as well. It's the drastic fall off between the light and dark patches that's bothering me. I will try to pay more attention next time.

  4. #4
    Shadowman's Avatar
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    Re: Skin tones

    Quote Originally Posted by Sahil View Post
    Abhi, its all about light.
    The difference in tones is actually the intensity of light falling at both the places. There is direct light on the cheek (hence light tone) & less light (read as shadow) hence dark tones. You could have used a reflector to have a control over this.
    HTH
    Abhi,

    The differences you are noticing are actually normal, correcting them is fine for print but in reality you are deleting highlights of the skin. In painting these differences are actually sought after, highlights, local color, reflected light. For some reason as art moves toward the digital age, we seem to want to change or transform reality.

  5. #5
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    Re: Skin tones

    Quote Originally Posted by Shadowman View Post
    Abhi,

    The differences you are noticing are actually normal, correcting them is fine for print but in reality you are deleting highlights of the skin.
    Thanks, John. While these may be the result of naturally uneven skin tones, in the photo it seems to give a sense of patchiness to the skin. I do not know much about how we perceive, but I suspect that when we look at a real person our brain tends to even out these differences to some extent. I would like to change the rate of transition from the dark to the light area and vice-versa in the photos, so they look more natural to me. Something along the lines of this:

    Skin tones

    As you can see while the highlights and local colors are there, just the patchiness is reduced. I did this following an online tutorial I found that involved separating the skin, blurring it, and adding the skin texture back on.

  6. #6
    Shadowman's Avatar
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    Re: Skin tones

    Quote Originally Posted by abhi View Post
    Thanks, John. While these may be the result of naturally uneven skin tones, in the photo it seems to give a sense of patchiness to the skin. I do not know much about how we perceive, but I suspect that when we look at a real person our brain tends to even out these differences to some extent. I would like to change the rate of transition from the dark to the light area and vice-versa in the photos, so they look more natural to me. Something along the lines of this:

    Skin tones

    As you can see while the highlights and local colors are there, just the patchiness is reduced. I did this following an online tutorial I found that involved separating the skin, blurring it, and adding the skin texture back on.
    Abhi,

    When you made the changes did it affect any other parts of the photograph?

  7. #7
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    Re: Skin tones

    Quote Originally Posted by Shadowman View Post
    Abhi,

    When you made the changes did it affect any other parts of the photograph?
    Just the few strands of hair in the back. That can probably also be avoided with better selection. In PS you select the skin by using Skin -> Color range, paste it in a duplicate layer and work on that. I basically followed the skin tutorial at

    http://www.christyschuler.com/retouching.html.

    What do you think about the changes I have made. It can probably be done better with more subtlety but I hope it gives you a general idea of what I want to achieve.
    Last edited by abhi; 15th May 2011 at 07:17 PM.

  8. #8
    Shadowman's Avatar
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    Re: Skin tones

    Quote Originally Posted by abhi View Post
    Just the few strands of hair in the back. That can probably also be avoided with better selection. In PS you select the skin by using Skin -> Color range, paste it in a duplicate layer and work on that. I basically followed the skin tutorial at

    http://www.christyschuler.com/retouching.html.

    What do you think about the changes I have made. It can probably be done better with more subtlety but I hope it gives you a general idea of what I want to achieve.
    Abhi,

    The changes are very subtle, looks fine.

  9. #9
    abhi's Avatar
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    Re: Skin tones

    Quote Originally Posted by Shadowman View Post
    Abhi,

    The changes are very subtle, looks fine.
    Thank you, John.

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