As a Photoshop artist, I'm continually amazed at the program's power to transform an image. I'm sure part of my fascination comes from my experience in the early days (also known as the Dark Ages of Photography, or simply the film era) when retouching was a much more complicated task. As a news photographer, we didn't do any retouching other than the occasional photo composite for advertising. The portrait studio where I worked in the mid-1970's had a full-time retoucher, but that was mostly to remove dust spots and minor blemishes. The real retouching was done right on the subjects face with makeup.
Some images fall into place quickly, other fight you at every turn. With the current level of Photoshop tools, it's pretty easy and fast to do a "fairly good" job. But, doing a really good job can take hours. To fully appreciate the results, you'd need to be able to see the images at their full size, such as printed 16 X 20 inches or larger. If you'd like to learn more about some of the techniques I use, visit my Craig Stocks Arts Tutorials page..
The examples here were all produced with some goal in mind. It may have been to bring out the colors I experienced in a sunrise, replace a background, add a modern high fashion look, or simply to participate in a six year old's fantasy of flight. I hope you enjoy the results.
You can also see a more detailed discussion showing how I approached retouching a beauty photo. It includes a comparison of high-end retouching versus basic retouching many portrait and wedding photographers use on a daily basis.
Replacing and extending the background of a still life
Group photo composite from 5 individual frames
Modifying a scoreboard to represent a different school
Example from my green-screen photography tutorial
Applying detailed burning an dodging to smooth a model's skin
Extracting a subject from a background
Bringing out the colors in a landscape photo
Bringing out the best in a landscape photo