February 9, 2015

Adventures In Editing: Portrait

Last week I kicked off this new series. And the response was very positive. Today I'll be taking you step by step through my editing of this image of my daughter, taken at the in-home natural light studio of a fellow photographer.

Click on image for a closer look

You might be wondering how I am able to give you a step-by-step rundown of my editing process. Adobe Photoshop Lightroom records a history of your edits. So you can scroll through and see every change you made. I'm using that to detail all the changes for you.

The first thing I did with this image was sharpen while reducing noise (grain). Then I used my favorite tool in Lightroom - Iris Enhance. Using a brush on the iris of the eyes, you can bump up the saturation, brightness, sharpness... Make any adjustments you want just to that part of the image. There is a preset you can start with, which I rarely deviate from. It really helps bring out what to me is the most important part of any portrait.

After that, I bumped up the overall color saturation of the image, and the vibrance a touch. I changed the white balance to "Daylight" because I liked the look of it. I often play around with white balance. Many times I will keep it "As Shot." But sometimes "Auto" can make a scene or subject look more like it did when you actually saw it in person or fix any strange compensations your camera may have made.

I used the heal tool to remove glitter from her forehead left behind from the heart sunglasses she had worn in some previous shots. You probably can't see them in the original, but on my large display at home, I definitely could, so I went ahead and took them out, as I do any kind of dirt or strange spots.

I started to do some skin softening, because the change in white balance had left her cheeks a little ruddy. But I didn't like the way that looked - too artificial - and undid those edits.

With this image I took an action I rarely do; I removed something. If you look in the upper left corner of the original, you'll see some blue fabric. I found that distracting. But I didn't want to crop the image; it was tight enough already as it had been shot.

So I used the cloning tool to continue the grain of the wood all the way across the image. The result? The focus on this image is right where I want it to be - on my daughter's eyes.

It is often not particularly difficult to remove something from an image using editing software if you know what you are doing. But it is always better to be aware when you are shooting of any particular objects that distract or take away from your image. I missed that blue fabric when I took this one, and that cost me some time in the post processing stage. But not much.

(By contrast, in the headshot I showed you last week, I knew there was a green trash can behind the subject's head, as well as some other objects lined up against the fence in the background. I was also aware I would be converting the image to black and white. So I didn't worry about it. The lighting was great, she loved the pose, and I didn't want to take time to move her or the object. And I didn't have to remove it post processing because you don't even notice it is there.)

And that was it. There were no further edits. I had an image I was very happy with.

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