ballista-10200 retouch
August 27, 2015

Although I enjoy both the process and the result of a finely crafted photograph, sometimes the situation conspires to make that unachievable.

A recent bout of heavy workload saw a magazine on deadline, and the need for a photo of a product immediately. Not first thing the next day, or later that same day, but right then. With no lighting kit with me it was time to improvise and get a useable shot done with what was at hand.

What was at hand was a reasonably blank wall, a shiny table top, and diffused natural light from office windows. I positioned the product – a bicycle helmet for a review article in a road cycling magazine, using the tools available. Being an office, those tools were a highlighter pen, which was just the right size to hold the helmet at the correct height, and a stack of wooden promo USB drives to stop it toppling to the side.

A few minutes with the overhead flourescent lights turned off provided a reasonably even natural light from the windows at the other end of the office. That scenario produced this:

ballista-10200Not really very pretty. But I was working to an end result in mind so I knew I could retouch what I needed to get a good clean photo.

A bit of colour correction, some dodge and burn, and judicious use of photoshop’s clone and healing brush tools brought an acceptable outcome:

ballista-10200 retouch


Sure, it’s not going to win any awards. But it was a super-fast and effective result that looks 100% better than having no photo at all in the article, which was the other alternative.

Not everything can be perfect. Sometimes, knowing where to take shortcuts and how to manipulate images can be a real life saver (professionally speaking). I’ve been using Photoshop for high resolution retouching since its first release as version 1.0. and have stayed up to date with skills as it’s developed. That experience is not called on all the time, but when it is – I’m glad I know the ins and outs of Photoshop and can stage a shoot to take advantage of it.