Photo Manipulation

Displayed here are examples of several types of manipulation. Most of the time, I use adjustment layers, blending modes and masks to create the intended effects.
You can click on the images to bring up an enlargement (if a + appears when hovering).
This is a shot of Dallas Jessup who founded a non-profit called Just Yell Fire, and some of her students. At thirteen, she was a black belt, so for her community service project she developed a program for training girls and young women in self defense. She had heard how many rapes, beatings and abductions there are (114,000 attempted abductions every year in the US alone) and could not sit by and do nothing. When she announced that she was making a (self-defense) training film, professionals in the field volunteered. The video can be downloaded from or, if it is not possible to download it, a free DVD can be requested. 
I enjoy retouching photos — especially portraits. I picked up my technique originally from a glamour retoucher in New York. She taught me to zoom in as much as possible, using adjustment layers, to correct each tiny "imperfection." Of course, if the client has not stated how much "correcting" is desired, it can get tricky, but most people are thrilled to look great (if it does not look like cosmetic surgery gone bad)!
Actor Richard Lee Jackson was volunteering for, and submitted two photos to be used in posters with text. The original (left) was enhanced a bit for the posters, but nothing like the makeover I did here (right). I wanted to see if I could make him into a dark Latin-type. 
Actress Bethany Joy Lenz, also volunteering for JustYellFire. There seemed to be two light sources in the original — sunlight from the right, and an overhead red spotlight, which is why I toned down the lumber, nail heads and sheetrock.
A different look for Bethany Joy Lenz. I kept it sort of natural-looking, which seems to be what she was going for (left). I just wanted her to look like she was wearing a "normal" amount of makeup (right).
Portland Timbers' Jake Gleeson, volunteering, poses for a poster to publicize
Jake Gleeson, Portland Timbers, when volunteering for JustYellFire, just needed attention to his complexion and his sleepy eyes. The right is shorter because I cropped it for posters before retouching.
This project and the next one are not normal retouch jobs. I've never met these individuals. I downloaded their photos (left side of each) from a site for creatives who want to share photos. I rarely change anything on a photo — all manipulation is done with adjustment layers affecting color and light. This outcome was particularly surprising to me.
Everyone looks better with tips and a tan. OK, I shaved off a few pounds, too.
Practice, practice, practice! This copy has a little too much contrast. 
These newlyweds wanted to keep memories of the wedding intact — after they were made perfect. You may need to zoom in; the changes were all about the complexions.
The parents of these children (now thirty years older) wanted to surprise them at Christmas with a photo they had probably forgotten. The parents described what the colors should be and we tweaked it until Mom and Dad were sure the kids would say, "Awwwwww."
This photo of two brothers had been unprotected in a box in the attic along with paint chips and grade school report cards. Fortunately, the damage didn't affect the faces too much and I had too much color rather than not enough.
This is a handy technique when you don't have time to find the perfect shot or money for a professional photographer. Find several that have qualities desired, adjust the colors and tones until they "match" and there you have it. 
On the left is one of millions of similar photos in need of improvements in the tones and removal from the background for online catalogues. 
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