About Photo Retouching
Many people are unaware that photo retouching and combining multiple photos to make a new one has been in existence long before computers and Photoshop. From the beginning of photography, photo retouching has always been common practice for the professional photographer to remove flaws from a print or negative before making a photo presentation. Photo retouching is classified into two basic subcategories.
Technical retouching is photo restoration or enhancement, such as adjusting colors, white balance, sharpness, noise, removing elements or visible flaws on skin or materials.
Creative retouching is used as an art form or for commercial use to create more sleek and interesting images for advertisements. One of the most prominent techniques in creative retouching is image compositing. Before computers, photo compositing was made in the darkroom by exposing multiple negatives onto one sheet of photo paper. It was a long and tedious process, mostly trial and error, to produce an interesting composition.
The earliest example of photo retouching in the United States was in 1860. The picture of President Abraham Lincoln on the U.S. five dollar bill is actually a composite of two photos. The technique used was cutting out Lincoln's head from one photo and stitching it atop the body of Southern politician John Calhoun in another photo. Retouching ink was used to fill in and blend the composite as one photo. This new photo was created to make a more dramatic picture of Lincoln, since one had not been taken yet.
Photo retouching has come a long way. Today and in the past, a skilled hand with the right tools and knowledge in how to use them, can perform amazing things with a photograph.