Jessica Alba – Campari

In this Inspiration piece we take a look at the gorgeous Campari ad campaign featuring American actress Jessica Alba, shot by Mario Testino. The jump-off point here as with any product ad is the product itself; Being a deep red, the palette for the entire shoot is based around saturated reds and their complement, in this case teal. If we take a look at the colour wheel below (via note that the teal hues around the cyan/green range lay directly opposite ‘Campari red.’ This a classic complementary colour scheme, where opposites on the colour wheel provide a pleasing psychological contrast. Note that location, makeup and props have all been selected accordingly. The reds and their opposite teal hues are only broken by whites and blacks, which are almost true neutrals (with a marginal red cast), breaking apart the potentially dull two colour theme without muddying the palette. Contrast in the mids is very high with low shadow/highlight detail which suggest a strong S-curve, and high sharpening has been applied. With each of the shot elements chosen and arranged to adhere to a strict complementary scheme, it seems likely that those elements were masked and ‘tied together’ in post-production; the skin tones are uniform, the reds are all on-brand, and the harmony of the sea/sky all suggest gradient mapping or similar. We have a couple of examples from a second camera on this shoot, so we can be sure that the backgrounds were composited; This would have made colour treating the background elements much easier, simply a case of matching them to a swatch provided by the teal complement to the red. We spoke to retoucher Rufina Breskin who worked on the shoot; I worked in a talented team at, a lot of the work in these images was colour work. It’s usually a collaborative ... Read More »

The Louis Vuitton Look

You might have noticed one of Louis Vuitton’s favoured colour palettes, the cool blue/cyans contrasting with warm orange tones in many of their ads. If we take a close look at the palette from the Sean Connery ad we get the swatch below; It’s always worth understanding why a colour palette works so we’ll delve into a little art history. Below is Claude Boutet’s colour wheel illustration from Traité de la Peinture en Mignature, the 1708 edition. Take a look at the semicircle highlighted on the right side and you’ll note that good old Claude pretty accurately predicted a Sean Connery man-bag ad from 300 years in the future. Well played Sir. Pleasing colour aesthetics and complimentary colours were intensely researched centuries ago by painters, so we have an astonishing store of that knowledge as 21st century photo retouchers to draw upon. The palette here is a broad analogous range, where the colours are harmonious because they sit adjacent on the colour wheel. Note from the Uma Thurman shot above how the eye is drawn to the product. The blue/cyans even push into the shadows of the clothing, contrasting the swathe of orange tones starting near the belt, through the (sharper) face, through to the (even sharper) bag. The blue shadows aren’t present in the product, the redder tones quite purposefully contrast (with the help of added sharpening) to draw the eye. This is more of a complimentary colour scheme, using opposites on the colour wheel and bypassing much of the analogous range present in the sand and greenery of the Connery shot, but in using similar cyan/orange basepoint opposites retains a similar feel. The Louis Vuitton ads are a great example of tying a campaign together using colour theory, a sound knowledge of which can be invaluable to any photographer or retoucher looking to draw on hundreds of years ... Read More »

High End Photo Retoucher Daniel Meadows