February 2, 2015

Adventures In Editing - Headshot

Today I'm starting a new series on the blog, where I show you the edits made in the post-processing stage. There are images that require more work than others. And those that need very little adjusting. But when shooting in RAW format, some level of post processing will always be necessary.

I thought you might find it interesting to see my workflow. I use the most up to date version of Adobe Photoshop Lightroom to edit my photographs. Here is the first example:

Click on image for a closer look

The original file - as shot in RAW format - appears on the left. The finished product - the one I exported and delivered to the client as a JPG - is on the right.

The specific need for this client was to have a black and white headshot for a theater production. So the first thing I did was convert the image to b/w using a preset I love from Greater Than Gatsby called, "Silver Screen." I then adjusted the red grey levels a bit for a more dramatic look.

Next I sharpened the image. All RAW files require sharpening. The extent depends on a number of factors, including the quality of the original and the preference of the photographer. But you cannot get away with not sharpening. And in turn, a certain amount of noise reduction will be needed. The levels for each depend on the particular image as well as the look I am going for.

For this shot, I circled back and payed particular attention to the eyes, bumping up the sharpness a bit more just in that area. I then used the skin smoothing tool to reduce the appearance of acne. It was important to me that I not lose her freckles, however. So I had to be careful.

I never want to change the appearance of an individual, only enhance in a manner that is subtle, realistic. Her freckles are a part of her, so I wanted to make sure they remained while the acne became less visible. After all, a headshot is about putting your best face forward.

Her lips were very pale and washed out, especially in the converted b/w version, so I used a brush tool to add some color there. (I'll be shooting her again soon, and have suggested to her mother she wear some lipstick or gloss, to the mom's comfort level.) There were a few stray hairs across her chest I didn't like the look of. I used the heal tool to get rid of them. Lastly, I applied a subtle vignette. I did not do any cropping or add effects.

I was very happy with the finished product, and so was the client!
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