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Pet Hate >> Shoddy Photoshopping

Hate might be too strong a word, but let’s just say it gets to me. If I see a photo and I can SEE the photoshopping, the picture for me is ruined. I love fashion photography and it’s rare that I look at it and see anything other than good technique, but this morning I was on a fashion retailer’s website when I saw the photo below. They’re a quality brand and as such I’m pretty sure they know and can afford top quality photography…after all, the photography of their products is most likely to be what draws you to buy something online or venture into one of their stores, so it has to be good. As a photographer I know I’m going to be picky, but if I see a photo in a high profile place I expect it to hold up to scrutiny.

So it comes to the photo below- the left of the two, and the one with the ‘halo’ around the model. Let’s have a look at the photo, and then we can de-construct it:

A strongly backlit scene (my favourite light to shoot with), and in this case not the easiest to deal with as there’s nothing to filter or break up the light before it hits the back of the model. Some of the colour in the sky has apparently been preserved and this is only possible by doing a number of things:

1. Underexposing the scene and adding in fill flash on the model. Personally I don’t think this has been done in this case…there’s actually glass behind the model and I think it would be difficult to control the reflections/burst of light that the flash would produce on the surface of the glass. They could be photoshopped out, but I don’t think this was the option used.

2. Slightly underexposing the scene and bouncing some natural light back at the model with a reflector. In this photo, the rims of the sunglasses that the model’s wearing appear to have some highlights on them as does her left shoe, so that can only be coming from something bouncing light back at the model, so I think a reflector has probably been used. Additionally there is definite shadow under the model’s chin, suggesting some form of light coming back at the model from the front. This option would also involve having to brighten the model in post-production, and this could explain the bright halo around the model, i.e. that they’ve not been careful enough with the airbrush and have gone over the edge of the model’s outline.

3. More or less exposing for the sky, and then bringing back the model in post-production. I think in this photo, the sky would’ve been too bright to allow a skin exposure that could be realistically brought back in post-production, though I’m sure the skin was brightened a little in Photoshop whichever option was used.

Which option was really used? I’m not 100% sure. I think the model has some fill from a reflector, but I actually think that the sky colour has been painted in rather than preserved in-camera….it looks a little too even from top to bottom, and I think it’s the best explanation for the poor outline of the model who appears to have a ‘halo’ around her. The brightness around her outline, I think, is the original colour of the sky as it was exposed in the photo, and then the light blue colour has been photoshopped in around the model.

Does this kind of thing ever ‘get’ to anybody else? Or is it just me?!


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