Author Topic: Frequency Separation  (Read 927 times)

MFloyd

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Frequency Separation
« on: February 15, 2017, 19:43:42 »
Casual portrait, during a party, of the daughter of a friend.  She has a virtual perfect skin.  Nevertheless, I used it for a Ps postproduction exercice using the "frequency separation" technique.

Frequency separation allows you to separate the texture (high frequency) from the image from the tone and colour (low frequency). By doing this you can work separately on the texture, or the skin beneath.

(1) edited image
(2) 2k x 2k crop
(3) Base RAW unedited (2k x 2k crop)
(4) side by side of (2) and (3)

Picture was made with a D610 and the standard provided kit lens i.e. Nikon 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5
If there is interest, I will be happy to provide more information.

This is a technical exercise. I'm not looking for whether this type of edit is "good or bad"; just to show what is possible.  ;)
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armando_m

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Re: Frequency Separation
« Reply #1 on: February 16, 2017, 04:29:36 »
I have used this technique to process portraits, I think it is good to create very smooth skin,
today I try to mix it with the original in order to leave some texture in the skin

This editing can take a long time to complete and often it is not appreciated
somewhat as how HDR was a few years ago

All that matters is that you and the model like the results :)

Armando Morales
D800, Nikon 1 V1

MFloyd

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Re: Frequency Separation
« Reply #2 on: February 16, 2017, 05:23:15 »
Thank you Armando 😊 to have taken the time to reply.  Normally, I put the transparency lower than 100% in order to have a less sanitized (Playboy / Vogue style) look. This style is probably more appreciated by the adolescent model than by the photographer, the latter often not mastering, even knowing the time consuming technique.

I was somewhat surprised to have to wait for the first comment after about 60 visits.  Your parallel with HDR is very appropriate; I'm using the latter from time to time in aviation photography where I have to combine interior and exterior of a plane, and this with quite naturaL looking results. It's again a matter of nuance, by not pushing the PP handles too far. 

As mentioned in my opening statement, it's a technical demonstration, not one of style 😏

For the interested (?), here an excellent tutorial by Aaron Nace (PHLearn) a professional Ps editor https://youtu.be/ldhG9fmgC7o
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Jack Dahlgren

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Re: Frequency Separation
« Reply #3 on: February 16, 2017, 06:53:59 »
I think many read, but just didn't know what to say without thinking for a while.

It is certainly an interesting technique, but the results are a bit too extreme for me to want to spend time on. In a time where we have such things as alternate facts, changing a person's face like this seems like just a little more propaganda.

However, all photography is. The lenses select, filter and distort, the camera stretches or compresses time, the photo-editor processes and adjusts, all in the interest of a story. The story told in this photo is a fantasy. Not an uncommon tale for the photographer.

BW

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Re: Frequency Separation
« Reply #4 on: February 16, 2017, 08:02:07 »
I have not taken a single portrait where the subject have prefered the retouched version over the natural look. But the time spent on the on the job is lightyears apart. I guess people here are still able to see them selves in the mirror and recognize themselves. That said, I dont think your picture is overcooked, but I would have expected the subject to prefer an intermediate variant :)

Ethan

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Re: Frequency Separation
« Reply #5 on: February 16, 2017, 08:03:30 »
Frankly, I was trying to avoid answering your thread.

The secret sauce of FS is the amount of blur in the LF. You miss that and you miss the boat like in your example.

The second common error is retouching on the LF.

In the case of this pic skin detail in some areas have been lost and uniformity of skin texture namely on the nose arch - cheeks and chin.

The give away of having retouched color on the LF is the false contouring whereby a brownish patch is on both sides of the forehead and repeats on the cheeks/jaw line. The skin texture under her lower lip is completely obliterated
The non uniformity of skin color is emphasized on the neck.

The final retouch on brightening and sharpening of the eyes and teeth creates a visual distortion against the smoothed skin. In other words, you went too far in brightening and sharpening.

All collaborate in the common error of using FS the way it should not be used.

The main issue on her face seems to be a hair issue from the eyebrows upward.
While this can be cured with FS, I would have rather worked on the red channel to mask the hair and lighten the hair.
The issue with using FS in this case is the fact of replacing skin areas with other skin areas and this is an art by itself as you have to respect luminosity - skin orientation and so on. This portrait retouch seems easy and simple but it is not.

It is a hair issue and not a skin issue.

I hope this helsp.

MFloyd

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Re: Frequency Separation
« Reply #6 on: February 16, 2017, 10:11:24 »
Thank you Jack and Ethan for having taken the time to react.

@Ethan: don't apologise for your critics; I'm not here to grab kind / polite comments but to have feedback which is close to the bone.  With regard to the LF part; the blur has been quite moderate 7 to 8 px for a 24 Mpx image; there were no "skin replacements" but some local additional Gaussian blurs added at around 24 px; some small local adjustments were made at the HF part. There were no colour adjustments, let's forget channel corrections, as the latter is beyond my expertise.

Eyes and theets were also exaggerated but under Lr; I do a first edit under Lr and, for the 5 or 10% of the cases, an additional processing with Ps.

Again, I re-emphasize this was a technical exercise, in a certain way, to find the boundaries of what is acceptable. And as I'm doing FS about two times a year, I'm not a specialist, and advice, as yours, is more than welcome.

In any case, if you or someone wants to have a trial, here is the link to the raw file https://www.dropbox.com/s/vkmun1bf1jk1m3b/_6101357%20copie.NEF?dl=0

And to end on a more humorous note (from the same series, and without FS):  ;)
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elsa hoffmann

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Re: Frequency Separation
« Reply #7 on: February 16, 2017, 17:22:51 »
I didnt see this thread before and only happened upon it when I opened the Processing forum tab. So sorry I missed it too.

For me Armando summed it up quite well. While I appreciate FS (and have done it)  - for me it is a schlep and I get just as good results with other methods  in my workflow. I am not sure how my versions will compare to FS - so maybe my comment is a bit unfair. Apparently FS is a preferred method by many top end guys - or so I am lead to believe.

Whether your version is overdone or underdone is not the point really - because you can adjust it anyway you like till it suits your taste.
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MFloyd

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Re: Frequency Separation
« Reply #8 on: February 16, 2017, 19:48:37 »
Thank you Elsa 😊. Your contribution is always valued. 

I have hereunder a more subtle (I hope so) application of FS:

(1) edited picture
(2) crop & comparison: edited FS (L) and without FS (R)
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elsa hoffmann

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Re: Frequency Separation
« Reply #9 on: February 17, 2017, 07:54:10 »
Mr FLoyd

I think is would be unfair to comment on the last comparison as the purpose of FS here isnt realistic (in my opinion of course)

Skin smoothing  with FS is not something I believe would ever be done or be necessary to be done on male portraits. SO it looks out of place for me. Also - any skinning - including all methods of blurring and FS - should be fitting for the type of photography. In other words, doing holiday scrap book photos should not be skinned at all, whereas fashion undoubtedly should be. Skinning goes together with the style and purpose of a portrait. If the subject is a natural looking non make up person walking on the beach in swimwear, it might not fit the image nor her personality. If however you do touch up for Ramp, magazines etc, you could lay as much as you see fit, as it suits the occasion.
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Bjørn Rørslett

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Re: Frequency Separation
« Reply #10 on: February 17, 2017, 10:06:07 »
I think that pretty much sums it up. Use common sense. 'Fingerspitzgefühl' if I remember my German correctly should also be apt.

MFloyd

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Re: Frequency Separation
« Reply #11 on: February 17, 2017, 19:45:47 »
I think you both miss the point. Next time, I will CAPITALIZE the purpose: SHOW WHAT IS TECHNICALLY POSSIBLE. Nobody was asking - and certainly not the subject -  for skin smoothing. OK, next subject .....☹️ Probably flowers or bugs 🐜....
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elsa hoffmann

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Re: Frequency Separation
« Reply #12 on: February 17, 2017, 19:59:23 »
My apologies for expressing my thoughts correctly - let me try re-fraze if possible.

I absolutely like what is possible. And I do believe FS does a great job - it is used by many in the high end industry exactly because of what is possible. It is not new, and I have used it as well, I just don't have the need for it in what I do - so I don't use it.
Quote
I think is would be unfair to comment on the last comparison as the purpose of FS here isnt realistic (in my opinion of course)

To explain this better - I (think I) know what you were trying to show - but using a male for the purpose of the demonstration doesn't help to show exactly how useful FS can be. Skinning just doesn't fit on a man so it makes it "uncomfortable/difficult" to "judge" as it just seems wrong. This is why I said it would be unfair of me to make a comment on the method because I am distracted by the fact that the subject is a man. Yes I know I might be blonde :) but as I also said - it is my opinion. Others may feel differently. I did not mean to suggest you do FS on your male portraits in general and that I disagree with you about that.

I hope I made it a bit more clear what I meant and I had no intention of offending you or your methods
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MFloyd

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Re: Frequency Separation
« Reply #13 on: February 17, 2017, 20:12:11 »
First, I'm blond too.  Correction: I used to be, my blond hairs becoming silver grey in my late thirties....  With regard to the subject, I digged  in some portraits, and my son's best friend hasn't the smoothest skins in the world, but he has absolutely no problem with this. But it was a good occasion for me to expriment FS, certainly not at his demand, nor at mine. 😊 In the meantime I found my next subject: "how to make grey hairs blond again" 😜
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elsa hoffmann

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Re: Frequency Separation
« Reply #14 on: February 17, 2017, 20:19:58 »
Okey well if you find a cure for turning silver gray back to black - let me know. I am in need  ;D ;D
(only my brain is blond)

(I DO understand you used the male portrait as an example and didn't mean it to be what you usually do - although I have been known to skin some males in the past  ;D ;D ;D . )

Seriously I am just too lazy to do the FS method - (maybe in my next life I have more energy)
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