I remember the hype when the Beats by Dre headphones were introduced. Most people raved about how good they sounded, but experienced audio engineers were well aware of the trickery that was happening underneath the surface. Makers of the popular headphone’s sound dynamics had applied and an equalizer setting known as the “smile curve”. By boosting the high and low frequencies, the ears can be tricked into thinking something sounds better than it actually does.
In many ways, the imaging technology in today’s smartphones is doing the same thing to everyone’s photos. Algorithms are engineered to make create everything from skin smoothing to depth of field, but experienced photographers can definitely tell the difference. Sure, your skin looks better when it’s been digitally smoothed, but you can’t deny that the results look pretty…well, plastic.
There’s nothing like a professionally retouched portrait that is able to retouch the skin and maintain it’s realistic texture. Ironically, through a technique known as frequency separation, you can accomplish the glamorous look people love without making them look like lifeless mannequins. In this photo, I used this technique to smooth the skin while maintaining its natural texture. I brightened the eyes, turned a slightly crooked smirk into a more pleasant smile and the resulting image was one she was very pleased with.