My first task was to retouch this image. It is a simple retouch which uses the “spot healing brush”. By adding a new layer, I could do this non-destructively so any mistakes could be easily removed. As simple as this task is, it did raise the question of whether or not we should.
Of course, a model or client may specifically ask you to remove any blemishes – but the issue runs deeper than this. With the advancement of photography and of Photoshop techniques – how much truth is left in photography now?
This image was another easy fix that didn’t raise as much of an ethical issue.
However, I felt the colour was rather flat so I added a curves layer to adjust the contrast.
I then duplicated the background layer so I could again work non-destructively.
I selected the patch tool and circled the area I wanted to fix. All I had to do now was to click the selection and drag it upwards to a similar coloured area. This cloned the new area and covered the imperfection.
This image required more patience and finesse. As usual, I worked on a new layer (rather than a duplicate background) and I used the healing brush tool… This tool is slightly different to the spot healing brush in that you have to manually define an area to clone. So I “ALT” and clicked a suitable area and cloned them to remove some of the scratches in the image.
Earlier I discussed the ethical issues of using Photoshop to edit an image, but in cases like this Photoshop is a necessary tool. We are not editing out blemishes that were originally there, but rather restoring a damaged image to how it was.
Once I’d edited out most of the larger lines, I switched to the spot healing brush to fix the smaller dots.
I didn’t finish restoring this image completely, but I have done enough to show you how effective this technique is. See below for the results.
So, does photography speak the truth?
I like to work conceptually, using imagery to highlight real world issues. Doing this, I use Photoshop to manipulate the images in ways you wouldn’t see in person.
However, I enjoy photographing people as they are in the world. This is more truthful, but perhaps not completely since some editing is usually involved. So my answer is that photography tells only your version of the truth, defined largely by your editing choices.