Retouching: How to Salvage the not so Perfect Shot

Most images in glamour magazines, newspapers, journals, on the Web and on TV started out as rather ordinary pictures. However, most of them were processed by experienced professionals under supervision of art directors who applied their vision and expectations to the source material to produce a stunning visual display.

Many shots coming out of your camera are not so much different from the pictures these magazines started out with. However, in most instances you lack the experience, time or technical means to transfer them to great pictures. Our various retouching services will help you converting ordinary shots into stunning visual displays of your creativity.

  • 01.

    Color correction: Fixing odd color shifts

    Color correction can fix odd color shifts when using daylight film or daylight settings on a digital camera when shooting indoor, or add color where there was no color before. In many instances, images are supposed to display reality as we see it or as we recall it from memory. Unfortunately, this is not always the case even with the use of sophisticated digital cameras. But, we can adjust these problems afterwards.
    See this example of a tillandsia shot under ordinary light bulbs using a daylight setting. Note the difference in the blue flower and the revealing of the green elements:

  • 02.

    Vignetting: Darkening the peripheral parts of an image

    Vignetting can be used to focus the observer's eye onto the main subject and away from unimportant image elements. In historical images we see very often an effect called "vignetting" as oval shape around portraits. The purpose of vignetting is focus the observer's eye onto the main subject away from unimportant image elements. Oval-shaped vignettes are out of date; however a more free-style vignetting is used in many pictures you see in today's journals and magazines to accomplish exactly the same: focus the observer's eye onto the important image element. See here two examples of how vignetting can help to improve a rather mediocre shot:

  • 03.

    Re-compositioning: 10 group shots, none is perfect ...

    Trying to make a good group shot is a daunting task for every photographer.
    While one can influence a single model effectively, the same is hard for a large group of people. Thus, most group shots end up with as a compromised: All people look fine except aunt Hellen has her eyes closed or shall we better take the one where all are fine except uncle Bob isn't smiling? Re-compositioning group pictures can help to make the perfect group shot. See the recomposed images below and note the differences between the not-so-perfect ones with the final outcome:

  • 04.

    Sharpening: Make images "pop"

    Sharpening can improve the final appearance of almost all images specific for their intended use.
    Its use is widespread among professional photographers. Most digital amateur photographers trust that their camera will deliver a sharp image as long as they correctly focus. This is a myth! And, you can tell this often yourself when your images just don't "pop off the page." There is little sharpening done inside the camera for the simple reason that sharpening must be done for the output media and output size. Thus, there is nothing like a sharpened "original," but only a sharpened version for the Web or a sharpened version for a 5x7 print on glossy paper and another sharpened version for a 12x16 print on matte paper.
    With the help of modern sharpening tool, almost all images can be improved in their final appearance. However, this needs to be done with the final output in mind. A sharpened image can be used only for the one intended purpose. For a new purpose, a different sharpening must be done. We can prepare images for any kind of output purposes, however below you see only examples for sharpening for Web display because sharpening for print cannot be properly shown here:

  • 05.

    Exposure corrections: Dark images look dull

    Exposure corrections allow us to change the exposure of an entire image or of certain areas; or we can restrict the brightness changes to certain brightness levels.
    Modern cameras, digital or film, have sophisticated exposure metering devices built-in which achieve practically always a perfect exposure. However, "perfect" means in most instances only that the average exposure of an image is right on target. Many of your images do benefit little from this "correct averaging" except if you take pictures of gray carpets or close-ups of elephants. A bright background will often make your main subject too dark and a night sky in the background will make your subject too bright.

    With the help of sophisticated curves adjustments, we can change the exposure of the entire image or of certain areas. We can also restrict the brightness changes to certain brightness levels, say you want to have all midtones brighter without making the dark areas or bright areas any brighter. Or, all of the above as a mixture...

  • 06.

    Removing blemishes: Grandma's stubbles and other unwanted image elements

    Your images shall show your loved ones as they are.
    But they most likely hate to see some of your images expose some of their not-so-desirable features. Examples are the acne pimples of your 14-year old or grandma's stubbles. Other unwanted elements are food remains around the mouth on kid's snapshots or bright reflections on glasses. Masking and various blending and healing modes allow us to fix many of these problems and improve your portraits in a way that everybody will love them. See below the removal of an unwanted image element and the smoothing of skin.

  • 07.

    Restorations: Valuable memories lost forever?

    There seems to be an affinity between unique photographs and small children with a pen or crayon; many of us have seen pictures destroyed by playing kids.
    Damages to pictures by kids and adults alike are not uncommon, especially our most valuable memories seems to be affected the strongest because they are not stored away from the influences of sunshine, fingers and bending. There is, for instance, the small print which was carried for years in your purse or the one complete family picture of you ancestors which was damaged by a leaking washer while hanging on the wall. Some pictures are suffering from neglect, mold and contamination. Many of these pictures can be rescued, so get them out of the damp basement or hot attic and take them out of those corrosive cardboard boxes.

    Other pictures were not mistreated, but just aged and lost their contrast or colors over time. Most photographs from the early days actually loose quality over time as part of their natural aging—a process which cannot be stopped. Also these ones can be salvaged and regain their original or near-original vibrancy in color and contrast. See an examples of an image restoration below and decide which of your memories deserve to be restored.

We are aware of the different needs of our clients regarding deliverables.
Thus, we allow a variety of input sources and provide a wide range of output options. Please see the list below. If you don't find the option which fits your needs, please contact us.

Input Options

  • Camera Memory Chip: We can read almost any kind of memory chip used by manufacturers of digital cameras.
  • CD-ROM: You can drop off or send your images on a CD-ROM or DVD in any image format (JPEG, TIFF, EPS, RAW. etc.)
  • FTP: Using the File Transfer Protocol you can use our customer upload area which allows uploads without seeing what other clients have uploaded respecting your privacy.
  • Email: You can attach any size file to your email, but there might be limits on what your provider allows you to send.
  • Originals: We can scan originals, like prints, slides or negatives. We will return them promptly to you.
  • USB drives: We can certainly use USB drives, aka jump drives, or digital wallets.

Output Options

  • CD-ROM/DVD: We can deliver all files stored in the file format of your choice on CD-ROM or DVD.
  • Web: We can store your images on a secure Website from where you can download it using your Web browser (either zipped or as separate files).
  • Email: We can send you any size of email attachment, this is however limited by your mailbox size—check with your provider first.
  • Prints: See our various print options which we can provide in addition to the digital files.
  • Pre-production: Many scientific publishers and print shops ask you to deliver rasterized images in CMYK with ICC color profile. We can deliver these to you or directly to your print shop using their ICC profiles.
  • Website: We can create a Website with your images.
  • Purchase gallery: You can inform your friends about the site and they can order prints for themselves (otional with password for your privacy)