Deke's Techniques 376: Developing the Perfect Holiday Portrait

Deke's Techniques 376: Developing the Perfect Holiday Portrait

In this week's free Deke's Techniques movie, Deke takes an ordinary snapshot (taken by a nostalgic mom on the day of Senior Prom) and turns it into a suitable-for-framing-then-gifting portrait. It's the least he could do after turning this poor beleaguered teenager into a dark elf a few weeks ago.

Let me be clear, it's not an ordinary snapshot in that it's a) my son, and b) I did manage to get out the DSLR for this one---so he gets to start with a raw file. This allows him to make all the exposure, white balance, and retouching edits dynamically from within Adobe Camera Raw. The final bit of post production, namely sharpening for printing, is then applied in Photoshop.

Before and after portrait developing in Camera Raw

There are a lot of cool tips in here that you can use to make something special out of your otherwise-ordinary candid shot, including how to sneak up on exposure changes without clipping, how a negative Clarity setting can smooth out skin, and how to finesse spot removal changes in ACR.

Meanwhile, this will be the last Deke's Techniques for 2014. We're taking next week off to hang with the kids (including this one). There's a whole collection's worth of movies to keep you occupied in the meanwhile, and if you need a free week's subscription at to check out exclusive episodes, you can sign up at Read more » 

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Deke's Techniques 296: Removing a Photobomber with Classic Photoshop Tools

Remove an inadvertent photobombed with old school Photoshop tools

In this week's free Deke's Techniques episode, Deke uses some old-school (as in: Photoshop 3–era) tools to remove an inadvertent photobomber from an otherwise totally awesome group shot. 

The group in question consists of a delightfully filthy Deke and his equally crusty adventure-loving friends at the Bonnaroo Music Festival. (Aside: they claimed their sweaty handsomeness was the result of four days of plus-100 degree weather, so why is Scott wearing what looks to be a wool scarf?) The presumably innocent photobomber is that guy on the far right sticking out of Jacob's shoulder, making Jacob look like Zaphod Beeblebrox Come to Earth to Attend a Music Festival. 

Five guys and one unwanted head

In the video, you'll see how Deke approaches the challenge of removing Jacob's second smaller head using old school cut-and-paste, the Lasso tool, and a bit of erasing. Why would he go traditional when there are so many fancy modern tools for this kind of retouching? Well, look what happens with this Content-Aware Fill fail. It just multiplies and distorts the number of aliens growing out of Jacob: 


Trying the Patch tool with its new content-aware powers, leaves behind a decidedly other worldly glow: 

The patch tool leaves behind an other-worldly glow


But, using good old fashioned duplication of a selection and some careful tidying up restores Jacob to his awesome, but earthly, nature. And the photograph becomes a treasured memory of five fabulous, if filthy, literally earth-dwelling friends.

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Photoshop Action as Social Commentary?

Welcome to the Friday forum, my dekeOmmunity. Today's post is brought to you by the Toronto wing of the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty via Photoshop Diva Katrin Eismann. In a nutshell (which is an admittedly hard and tiny place to put such a complex issue), Ogilvy Toronto posted this video---"Thought before Action"---about a magical and socially conscious Photoshop action that reverted the model to her true unretouched self. Thus, retouchers are reminded in flagrante delicto that they are not honoring True Beauty. 

(That is, if professional retouchers do all their work in one fell swoop without saving their file before applying an action downloaded from the internet.) 

As the story goes, this action, presumably made available at sites like Reddit where art directors, graphic designers, and photo retouchers lurked---was called "Beautify" and falsely claimed to create a skin glow effect. The mindless unassuming users of the action would instead find their work reverted to the photo's original state. 

(Wait, Reddit? The place where my teenage son goes to look at animated GIFs of sloths playing banjos? The place where President Obama says anyone can ask him anything as long as they can do it in the next half hour? That's where pros go for their retouching actions? Welcome to dekeOnline you poor hapless souls.)

Ok, there's something poetic about using something called an action to attempt to incite---maybe not actual action, but at least social consciousness---about the way women are force-fed unreal idealization in advertisement. And yet, I must ask the following:  Read more » 

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Martini Hour 093, In Which We Release You From Your Bad Photoshop Habits

Stop it people. (Don't stop listening to Martini Hour, there are so precious few left. But do stop doing these things that you don't need to do in Photoshop.) Whether it be laziness, or convention, or excitement over tools or techniques to the point of employing them past all earthly reason, this week's show comprises a list of bad habits that Deke and I have collected in our travels (and Deke admits to having occasionally collected based on personal experience). Inspired by this blog post of things photographers can stop shooting already (sunsets, homeless dudes, . . .) we delightfully discuss our candidates for the things you are free stop doing in Photoshop. With our blessings. Not to mention, our insistence. 

Martini Hour 093: The Photoshop Bad Habits Show

Here is our list of "don't do"s: Read more » 

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Back of My Head Gets Screen Debut in CS4 Launch Video

Hey, Dekapolitans! Just back from Adobe, a land of very nice and smart people by the way, where it's entirely possible the back of my head was captured to be seen by millions watching the CS4 launch. Deke told me I shouldn't retouch my own self portrait (just how do I get that nonchalant look like I don't even know the camera's there when I'm holding the dang thing right out in front of me?), so here is a completely un-altered photo of me in the audience.

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