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February 18, 2008 meeting notes:

There was good attendance in February with two first-time Rockport guests. We used a different room and upstairs only thanks to the Central Library’s elevator and the gracious guard with a key to their board room. The seats really are more comfortable in there, by the way.

D.B. Kline recently purchased a Canon G9. It has a small but whopping 12mp sensor with raw file capability. Getting pictures back, some of his subjects have now noticed that with the better camera comes more facial detail where its not always appreciated! "How do I get rid of the wrinkles?" was therefore the main topic of our meeting. For demonstration, I found an example of software wrinkle removal on a magazine cover, and one from the newspaper where no effort was made to hide those signs of aging.

After some research from handy books and magazines at home, I discovered its not hard to find support on the topic. Solutions vary. Two philosophies emerged, however, that I shared and demonstrated with Photoshop. The first goal was simply to lessen the appearance of wrinkles without obvious complete removal. Ben Willmore in his Photoshop books and lectures has different methods of wrinkle lessening and even complete "surgery".

I used the lasso, being from Texas, to select an offending area on a subject in my (computer’s) library. Once selected, you need to soften the edges some way to prevent rough seams showing around the changes you make and thus blend with the rest of the skin. Usually that is accomplished by going to Selections > Feather, but in CS3, you have Refine Edge along with a more complicated dialog box. As you hover over a parameter, an explanation appears at the bottom and the entire photo goes white except for your selection. I find I must remember to re-adjust previously used settings like Expand/Contract or it will have adverse effects on my overall selection.

Once I’m happy with that, I can then use the clone tool. Like Paint Shop Pro, Photoshop’s tools have context-sensitive parameters along the top of the workspace. And since we are using the philosophy for now of lessening wrinkles, I set the percentage of effect to 15 with a soft brush just larger than the individual wrinkle. Another parameter is the Mode dropdown box. I clicked on Lighten so I could gradually paint out shadows to taste and have no affect on lighter areas. After a few strokes, we compared the original with an undo and witnessed the change was more dramatic than at first realized.

To further work on this same set of wrinkles, we switched to the second goal of wrinkle removal as touted by Debbie Grossman, the Photoshop guru in Popular Photography & Imaging magazine. She recommends simply shortening wrinkles because as you age, she says, they get longer. Next to the eye, they were left alone, but the wrinkles further away were completely zapped by cloning. Finding a suitable area elsewhere to clone can be tricky and practice is required. An inquiry followed completion.

"What would simply using a blur accomplish?" To answer this, I used the other eye and quickly selected and feathered an area. We tried several settings of Filter > Gaussian blur. All smoothed the wrinkles out more or less, but it left an obvious smooth spot— something I wouldn’t recommend for someone who wants to do this seriously. Seeing some texture in the skin allows for more realism, another reason to choose your source for cloning carefully.

Next, we again saw demonstrated removal of shiny areas of skin, this time using Darken in the cloning tool’s Mode dropdown box. Also keeping 15% for the amount of effect during each click and stroke, I slowly darkened the shine to make a powder room fix apparent. Choosing the cloning source carefully was again emphasized as we started to create a third eye on the forehead! Compare originals often as you may unknowingly go too far with shine or wrinkle removal.

Lastly, I frantically looked for a cloning work of art I did on a Bill Draper photo for John Hoffmann’s widow, Jan. I finally found it and showed some of the steps used for a complicated retouching project-- removing their daughter and replacing her with available surroundings. I had the chance at his memorial servicel to tell her that only for Bill and her mother would I remove a beautiful woman in a swimsuit from a photo! See Patty’s site for the series and archives of these meeting notes.

Cloning around,
Bruce Switalla, Graphics SIG



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