The term retouching covers everything from minor blemish removal to the controversial manipulation and reshaping of faces and bodies.
The (before) photo of Mary HD below was taken on a photoshoot at the Abode Hotel in Manchester. It was underexposed and there were are a lot of distractions (see the before shot) taking the eye away from the model.
Ideally, I should have removed the lamp before taking the photo, and taken more care with the exposure and shadows, but even then the mirror was screwed to the wall so could not be removed.
Mary liked the pose, so to 'rescue' the shot, as well as skin retouching, it has had extensive editing. The exposure was corrected, colour tones enhanced and the distractions removed. Then came the toughest part, and that was recreating the complex parquet flooring where the lamp had stood.
The photo is of a young woman - Kate Leach - I had just met in Rochdale Town Hall who agreed to be photographed with the proviso that I would apply her make up in Photoshop. I applied make up and eyelashes and enhanced the tones and lighting. The backdrop is actually a projection screen that happened to be in the room.
The photo of Cassie McDowell was taken in May 2009 in Jersey. As can be seen in the 'before' shot, Cassie's dress was billowing up in the wind. I used Photoshop (in July 2017) to edit out the billowing dress, taking care to leave Cassie's natural body shape. Parts of the boat had to be recreated and the toughest of all was recreating Cassie's arm. I then removed blemishes, etc., before enhancing the skin tones, the contrast and colour tones before sharpening.