Thursday, May 8, 2008

Image Maps - Practicality

I am a bit geeky and technical when it comes to my edits.  I like to have my workflow and situations mapped out so that I know exactly how to deal with correction issues in as short a period of time as is possible.  I was chatting with another photographer last week in Florence about some of my experiences with the retouching classes on Kelby Training.  One of the most in-depth retouching classes (at the time - I know Kelby has a new one out today ... but that one didn't exist at that time so....) is Vincent Versace's class.  We both agreed that he is so out there (not in a bad way) that he can be hard to follow at times and therefore the class wasn't as beneficial as some of the other ones on Kelby Training.  Though I feel that a huge portion of his retouching was over my head - there is one piece that I have hung on to and has helped me begin to master (will be a lifelong journey) the art of retouching.  This one thing is Image Maping.  Sounds fancy; however, it is mind-numbingly simple.  Anyone can actually watch the tutorial, you just have to sign up for a free account on Kelby Training, look up coarses by instructor, select Vincent Versace's name and select how to retouch a portrait in 15 min.  Then the second lesson is creating an image map.

Here are the basics.  Before you sit down to edit a photo - take a few minutes to makes some notes on the photo.  I create a new folder in the layer's pallet named image map.  I then create a new layer in the folder and call it something like - stuff to remove.  I grab the pencil tool and start marking all the things I want to remove (see photo at the top of the post).  Once I have made my notes on things to remove I create a new layer, change the color of the pencil (I have my preferred colors saved as swatches).  I then name the new layer teeth, or D&B or whatever the next edit will be.  Then I make notes on what I am going to do to the image.  When you are all done you have a nice roadmap that shows how you got your final image.
You are probably thinking the same thing I was at first - THAT  WILL TAKE FOREVER!!!!  The first few times it does; however, I feel like the image map does a few things for me that are worth the time:
1.  If I ever need to go back to the image and make further adjustment I can see what I did previously
2.  If I ever want to show a client why I charge for retouching I can show them visually what goes into a retouch.
3.  When I train new staff in my studio or teach a technique to a friend I can pull up an image I have worked on and the image map guides me through what I am teaching (a little less shooting from the hip goes a long way)
4.  When I am learning a new technique - making an image map about the technique reinforces the steps in my mind and I am more apt to remember how I did the technique
5.  As time goes on my techniques change and adapt based on what I am learning and some of my older techniques get used less and less until they are forgotten.  If I do image maps - 5 years from now I can look back and go OH YEAH, that's how I did that - I haven't used that edit in a long time.
Anyways, I like the ability to edit and have a plan or a strategy when editing - I have found that it helps me on the big edits (no I do not do an image map for every single photo I edit; however, I do it for the big jobs that have complicated steps ... more than just a levels adjustment).

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