I’ve done a few I Heart Faces contests, but haven’t gotten very involved in the forums over there. Maybe that will change? At the very least, I’d like to participate in the “Fix-It Friday” challenges that they have. Every Friday a photograph is posted and any member who would like to, gets the opportunity to edit it and then post their results and procedure so that we can all learn from each other. Maybe participating will keep me motivated to blog? That’s my hope anyway.
This particular image doesn’t need a lot of work. The main difficulties are that it’s somewhat unexposed and has a blue cast (It was probably taken in the shade or on a cloudy day). It lends itself very well to my basic post-processing so I’m just going to quickly run you through the process I use for most of my images.
First I downloaded the file in RAW and increased the exposure in Lightroom. I also used the white-balance eye-dropper to get me close to the right color. Really, this is a huge improvement. Once of the reasons I love Lightroom so much is that if I was just taking snapshots of my kids, I would apply this adjustment to all the photos in the set, some sharpening and be done. Quick and easy. But we want more this time, so I exported to Photoshop.
In Photoshop, I almost always run Noiseware first. It’s a plug-in for (shockingly enough!) reducing noise, but I’ve found that running it at a low level can help smooth skin just a touch, without it looking fake. I also immediately add a curves adjustment layer and a color balance adjustment layer. In curves, I bumped up the exposure on the face slightly and down on the low end to add a little richness to the dark end of the photo.
Once I’m happy with the overall look of the photo, I move on to details. In this case, the baby had a little bit of goopiness around one eye (always a possibility with babies) My favorite way to deal with this, after much trial and error, is simply to add a blank layer on top of everything else. I use the eyedropper tool to select color from the area and simply ‘paint’ over the problem area on low transparency. I use a transparent brush because I will go over it several times, from different angles, using slightly different colors to get a more realistic look. I also touched up the eyes a bit using a combination of dodging, sponging and burning. I used to only dodge (aka: lighten) but I like the results I get from using a combination better.
Finally, I added a slight vignetting by loosely selecting the baby’s face, feathering the edges as much as possible and then inverting the selection. I used the selection to make a new layer and then set the blend mode to ‘multiply.’ I usually like to reduce the opacity of this layer to about 40%. I then applied an unsharp mask to sharpen the image and saved it.
Once the saved image was back in Lightroom, I did a final crop to make the head a little less centered. I really like to crop in Lightroom because (1) It’s easy to try different things and (2) It’s not permanent until you export. That way, all the information is saved if you need to go back and crop to a different proportion.
Whew! In a nutshell, that’s the way I post-process almost everything, with slight variations of course, depending on the image. It sounds like a lot but I’ve created my own actions for each step so it goes fairly quickly… or would, if I didn’t have to wait for my computer to catch up so often.Contact me: Caren Keyes 702.882.4694 firstname.lastname@example.org North Las Vegas, NV