Learn Everything There Is to Know About Frequency Separation

Frequency separation has been all the rage in the retouching industry in the past couple of years. Hated, loved, criticized, acclaimed, it has seen it all. But do you really know how it works, what it can do, and more?

Split frequency, frequency separation, or whatever you want to call it has become very popular in the past few years. It has first been acclaimed and loved because it helped beginners save time and work faster, but then high-end retouchers came in and tried educating people to show how much damage it could make to an image if it was not properly used. Since then, we can see in many discussion groups people talking about filtered images or blurred low frequency to describe an image that retain texture but doesn’t look natural at all.

In the video above, Conny Wallstrom discusses the different methods available to create a separation, what each layer is useful for, and how you can go further than what you probably already know, for example creating multiple splits or how to bring back details in specific ranges. The explanation is quite long as the video lasts almost an hour and 15 minutes, but it’s well worth the time it if you want to broaden your knowledge on this technique and truly understand what you do when you use it. It will make frequency separation a much better tool for your workflow and your images if you know the concepts behind it and what each layer really does.

Wallstrom is a very knowledgeable photographer and retoucher, with a background in software engineering. He’s also the person behind the Retouching Toolkit, a panel designed to simplify and accelerate retouchers' workflow in Photoshop.

If you enjoyed his video, be sure to subscribe to his YouTube channel and follow him on Twitch where he offers live streams on a regular basis.

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11 Comments

jean pierre (pete) guaron's picture

Interesting - but I don't use Adobe products any longer

Quentin Decaillet's picture

The same principles apply if you use a software such as affinity photo :)

jean pierre (pete) guaron That’s an interesting discovery for all of us...

Paulo Macedo's picture

About the fact that this technique keeps being bashed by professionals.

Well, my thoughts on this are. FS allowed for a much faster and somewhat easier way to retouch your photos in a non-destructive way.

Some industry pro's rather use meticulous processes based on dodge and burn, which are time consuming and on my perspective don't offer that huge difference acclaimed by these same people.
Actually, for someone on a publishing company and having in mind the sheer number of retouching errors being displayed on magazine covers every year, I don't believe that most people, working for these magazines, are even aware of the techniques used, neither can they spot any difference between a time consuming D&B and FS.

For a speedy process with great results, this is my go-to technique.

Got to know about this when Michael Wolozinowickz (i guess i wrote it well) released his tutorial some 5 years ago with RGG EDU, then with Dani Diamond for a more stylized look, money well spent.

I use frequency separation AND dodge and burn but for different situations. Use the right tool for the job.

Chad D's picture

I think many are bashing the poor use and overuse of the technique

much like shallow dof use to overcome a bad photo etc..

have not watched this one as its way to long and boring so no idea if its good or not :)

I also like Sam use both

Ansel Spear's picture

Is this guy for real? Surely it's a parody. I just don't have 74 minutes to listen to such an uninspiring presentation.
I was nodding off after the first (badly needed editing) minute.

ITS A In-Depth Guide! thats way it is 74 minutes..

Ansel Spear's picture

I know it's an in-depth guide. It's not the duration that I have an issue with. I can do 74 minutes of inspiring, attention grabbing info. This 74 minutes of uncharismatic plodding, however, would be like swimming through treacle backwards.

Josean Rosario's picture

Its so good though..and so versatile I think people think to in the box with it cause I learned this from Elena Jasics videos she takes it to that next level in her own photos and as a composite photographer (myself) I find it very useful for making things not only feel more real(texture) but helps me in aspects of color since its seperated.
I might be bias though cause I haven't been shown something like it and its been years

Matthias Dengler's picture

Such a video was more than overdue!
Great explanation! But his speaking skills could improve a bit^^