Digital Retouching

There are often situations that impede a photographer from getting the perfect shot. Being prepared and knowledgable about the tools available to us in the processing stage can have an enormous impact on how we approach a shot and the final outcome of a photo. I have dealt with less than idea situations on occasion, (overcast sky’s, dead grass, electric lines, etc…), and have gone the extra mile to make sure I deliver photography my clients are proud to include in their portfolio. Below are examples of situations I encountered and how I handled them in post production. Most digital retouching is included in my price quote. When unexpected and complicated issues arise, I contact my client before proceeding as there might be additional retouching fees.

Image of fire station with distracting elements, electrical wires and telephone pole

Electrical Wires and Other Ugly Things

Few things detract from a new building than ugly electric lines. When the opportunity allows, I make every effort to compose the shot so I can digitally retouch the photo in post production. The above shot was for an architect who wanted to show the south and east side of the building illustrating the roof lines. This forced me to compose the shot positioning the telephone pole and wires within the composition where I was confident they could be removed in post production.

Fire station after photo retouching, removed electrical wires and telephone pol

Knowing I could duplicate part of the unobstructed bay door and roof line gave me the perfect opportunity to give my client exactly what he wanted for his portfolio. In post production I simply used the pen tool to outline the cutouts on both the door and roof. The Transform tool in Adobe Photoshop allowed me to make the appropriate adjustments to fit the cutouts into position. The Clone tool and Spot healing Brush cleaned the rest of the image up.

How Important is a sky?

Image of school building with bland sky

I think sky's are pretty important, especially when shooting exteriors for a client who's using the photos to win over new business. We all encounter overcast and uninteresting sky’s more times than we care to count. I believe an interesting sky can turn a good photo into a great photo, that's why I have a library of hundreds of photos of just sky. I photograph a beautiful sky every opportunity I get and shoot them from different angles and directions, you never know which one might be most appropriate later down the road. It is important to replace a sky that is plausible. I always plan to photograph my exteriors at the right time of day and under a good forecast, but things don’t always go as planned. My sky library has come in handy more than once.

Image of school building with digital retouched sky adding clouds and sun rays

This is one of hundreds of examples I could use to illustrate a replacement sky. The plain blue sky is perfectly fine, matter-of-fact, it would be a perfect photo if text were to be placed in the photo, but for the purposes of this photo it was to be used in a portfolio. When I take it upon myself to replace an acceptable sky with another I give both to the client and let them make the choice.

Blown Out Windows, Blah

There are times when an over exposed window is used for creative effect. I do use them but I also know when not to use them. Having the know how when to fix these situations can be a tremendous boost to the finished product. Often I have clients who insist they want to show the outside environment which gives placement to the room being photographed.


Image of school building with unfinished landscaping

Unfinished Landscape

Landscaping is typically the last item put into place in a new construction project and often after the photography is needed. Depending on the project and the budget, landscaping can be the one item that gets the least amount of attention. I learned early in my career the need to build a library of different landscape elements. My library is made of lawns, fresh mulch and small scrubs. These collections has bailed me out many times. In the above photograph, I was able to deliver to my client a photograph with a finished landscape.

Image of school building showing landscaping was digitally replaced with grass