Fix me Friday – A bit of a whiteout

8 May

iHeartfaces are giving us a chance to invite their contributors to view our more feeble editing attempts and pass judgement comment. I normally just put photos to bed if I can’t fix them up pretty quickly but this one is really frustrating me. I want it to work. I guess there’s not a lot I can do about the dreech Scottish weather apart from replace the sky? It looked fine in the camera preview but when I opened it up in Photoshop my daughter’s overexposed nose kinda ran into the bleached out sky. I shot it in RAW but no amount of fiddling about seems to help it.


SooC f/4.0 1/320 sec ISO 400 55mm

I smoothed her skin and boosted the colour a bit… and if anything it got worse!


I tried B&W (I even tried an infrared “filter” but no joy).


I tried an underexposed adjustment layer with masking but the sky turned a hideous artificial grey and even zoomed huge with my Bamboo I couldn’t get a decent edge on the mask (not even sharing that shamefacing effort!)

Even at zero tolerance using colour selection I can’t exclude that konk!


Probably a lost cause but I’m open to suggestions!


Thank you so much you guys. I have lots of things to have a go at thanks to your feedback, for now I took Aarons brilliant retouch (really must learn that one) with the sky coloured and had a further play around til I came up with this – which is so way less of a nose-sky duet than what I started with. Much appreciated folks.

Then I tried Angie’s advice and got funky!

Good fun this innit?!


14 Responses to “Fix me Friday – A bit of a whiteout”

  1. Patti May 8, 2009 at 2:25 pm #

    I think you might be a tad over-critical of this photo! The composition is great, the exposure is fabulous. Try MCP action “Touch of Light, Touch of Dark” which is free on Jodi’s website. Use the “Touch of Dark” layer and brush it on the background. I think this will isolate your subject from the background and pump up the moodiness factor.

    You did not mention what software you are using. The suggestion above is for PS.

    P.S. I’m hyper-critical of my photos as well šŸ˜‰

  2. Princess K May 8, 2009 at 2:41 pm #

    I think the photo looks WONDERFUL!! But thought I’d tell you how I fix it when my color selection takes something I didn’t want.

    1. Color select what you want. (in your case the white)
    2. Invert the selection.
    3. Zoom in on the “problem” area.
    4. While holding the CTR key, carefully use the freehand cutout (called “Lasso Select” on to select the area. (i.e. the piece of nose)
    5. Invert the selection again.

    You should end up with the original selection, minus the unwanted addition.

    You can also use the CTR key to zoom in and color select those other shades of white that show up between strands of hair. Using the CTR will make it so the new selection keeps being added to the old selection.

    Hope that will help you out with whatever you were trying to achieve… but personally! I think the photo is GORGEOUS just the way it is!

  3. Aaron May 8, 2009 at 2:53 pm #

    With the face, you could bring back MOST of the detail by doing some burning on the overexposed areas. The bright white spots would have to be “photoshopped” though by using a clone/healing tool to overlay some other skin tones.

    As far as the sky, there’s not TOO MUCH you can do to bring some blue color into it. There was no detail captured at all, so using, but you could definitely bring some color into it. I’d suggest using a solid color layer with a layer mask and blend mode of “darker color” or “multiply”. then do a hue saturation layer on top of that to shif to the correct lightness/saturation/hue – then adjust all opacity of layers accordingly.

    one thought, do you shoot in RAW format? if so…you can typically alter the exposure about +/- 2 stops without affecting quality. that may be a savior for this one. As far as the shot is concerned….i feel that the overexposed areas work pretty nicely. sometimes it’s nice to have hard shadows or bright spots. that’s just my opinion though.

    Here is what i came up with through messing around. is this the right direction?

  4. Aaron May 8, 2009 at 2:53 pm #

    Sorry….here’s the link to my edit:

  5. Amanda J. May 8, 2009 at 3:49 pm #

    What a lovely shot!

    Try selecting the blown spots on her face (cheek and nose), make a new layer for each spot, choose the eye dropper tool, change the setting to 3×3 sample, click close to the selection and fill the selection with the paint bucket tool. Then change the opacity to where it kind of blends in, LOL. Flatten and then try your skin softening technique to blend in the edges.

    One other thing, your edit introduced a green color cast under her chin. So watch out for over saturating that particular area. Sometimes you can just brush it back with the sponge tool on desaturate at about 10%.

    The sky doesn’t bother me. Aaron’s fix on the sky looks awesome!

    Amanda J.

  6. theArthurClan May 8, 2009 at 7:33 pm #

    I’m with the others – this is an amazing photograph to begin with! šŸ™‚ I can see why the nose might bother you (as the photographer) but to me (as an outsider just enjoying your work) it looks lovely.

    Wow – Aaron’s fix of the sky was incredible. Due to that, I would probably follow his suggestion step-by-step and learn to do that.

    I deliberately took “bad” photos of my daughter for a future Fix-It Friday and ended up with the same blah, no details, boring sky problem. It will be interesting to see how everyone chooses to address that problem when we provide that photo to them. I chose to address it by not trying to achieve a “typical” blue sky at all. I instead gave that photo a soft, pinkish glow to it. That color wouldn’t work in this case (since your photo is more dramatic and of a teenager and not a soft, little girl type photo) but maybe another funky finish would work instead?

    Thanks so much for sharing your work with us. I’ve learned a lot from everyone’s answers!

    co-founder of iHeartFaces

  7. Teresa May 8, 2009 at 8:50 pm #

    I’ll chime in to say this is a lovely photo, too! Your daughter is very pretty, and the hat is really cool. I loved your hat entry in the contest this week, too.

    Those hot spots at the tip of her nose, on her cheeks, and a tiny spot on her forehead can be fixed, and I’m sure there are many ways to do it. Here’s my favorite way:

    Make a duplicate layer.
    Select the brush tool.
    Set it to Airbrush, Hardness 0%. Set the Opacity to 20%,Flow to 15%. (these last two numbers aren’t hard and and fast, you can play around…just make them low so it’s subtle and gradual.)
    With the color picker, choose a color of skin that’s not blown out, but near the area you will be working on.
    Start brushing the new skin color over the blowout area. It is a very gradual process because of the low opacity/flow, but you want it to be very gradual and subtle. You can change the color a little bit as you go so it has some natural variation. Check your work as you go by turning the layer on and off to see the change. Make your brush smaller right by the sky/nose line so the color stops at the nose and doesn’t bleed into the sky.
    It is a bit tedious at first, but soon gets easy.

    Aaron’s blue sky looks really good. If you want to put color in the sky, it’s fine, but also I think the white sky is fine. Here’s the method I use to make a washed-out sky blue:

    Click on the Magic Wand Tool. Set the Tolerance to 30.
    Uncheck the Contiguous box. This allows the Magic Wand to pick up the sky within tree limbs, leaves, telephone poles or other obstructions in the sky.
    Uncheck the Anti-aliased box.
    Uncheck the Use All layers box.
    Click the magic wand tool on the sky. If there are clouds, click the sky, not the clouds. If some of the sky doesn’t get picked up on the first click, hold the Shift Key down while you do some more clicks on the unselected areas until the whole sky is selected.
    When you’re satisfied the whole sky is selected, go to Selection>Feather 10 pixels.
    Click on the Gradient Tool.
    Select Foreground to Transparent.
    Check the Reverse box.
    Check the Dither box.
    Set the Opacity at 25% to 50%. Start out with 25% and see how that works first. If it’s not blue enough, step backwards to remove the step, and do it again at a higher %.
    Click on the foreground color box. 1A64BF is the blue I usually use for skies.
    Click on the Gradient Tool again, put the mouse cursor on the bottom of the sky, hold the mouse button down as you drag the cursor to the top of the sky, then release the mouse button. Use a slight angle for a more natural look.
    Deselect the sky and see if you’re happy with the look.

    It sounds really complicated, I know. It’s easier than it sounds. Screen shots would help. Maybe I can do a tutorial sometime about it.

    As long as I was playing with your photo, I went ahead and ran PW’s Fresh and Colorful on it, adjusted the levels for more contrast, and smoothed the skin to make the new colored-in areas blend even better.

    Here’s a link to what I ended up with. Thank you for the lovely photo to work with!

  8. Life with Kaishon May 8, 2009 at 11:19 pm #

    Wow. I thought the picture was TOO perfect for words before you even started editing. Absolutely lovely!

  9. theArthurClan May 9, 2009 at 2:43 am #

    Teresa – thank you so much for sharing that! I can’t wait to try that little trick. Awesome!

  10. Teresa May 9, 2009 at 5:46 am #

    Wow, I LOVE your new edits!!! Excellent work with the nose/sky issue, and just all-around pretty. You should print these and put them up in your home!

  11. Aaron May 9, 2009 at 3:36 pm #

    Glad that you enjoyed the fix. I hope that was

  12. Aaron May 9, 2009 at 3:38 pm #

    Glad that you enjoyed the fix. I hope that was the direction you wanted to go with it.

    Thanks for contributing to the convo as well! All in all, we see eye to eye on the key point….the media overhypes šŸ™‚

  13. Dana~from chaos to Grace May 9, 2009 at 4:38 pm #

    WOW!! Now to save all this information and learn to USE it!

    I too thought it was a very nice photo! You are very talented!

  14. Dana~from chaos to Grace May 9, 2009 at 4:40 pm #

    OK saved it all in my documents… šŸ˜‰

    I am SUCH a chicken to shoot in RAW. Maybe one day…

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