Last week's column featured a pretty model and I used one of the images from that shoot on my new banner you might have seen floating around the site.  A few people asked for a better look at a certain image in that banner and asked how I processed it.  This week's learning topic will focus on the processing of a single image.  We'll go through step by step what this image needed to be successful.  First the image in question.

 

Local Thai model, Bangkok Images

Canon 5d Mark II, Canon 85mm F1.2L  @F2.8  1/800th  ISO 200

 

I processed this picture in a style very popular back in the states in the 40's and 50's.  Her hair style and the cuffed blouse made me think of this style.  The beauty dish lighting effect (natural light, we got lucky) sealed the deal.

 

The first step is to go over the shoot and make your selection.

 

The first step is to go over the shoot and make your selection.  If you remember I was shooting over my client's shoulder so my framing and whatnot wasn't as good as it could be.  Mostly when looking at these images I was looking for the facial expression first, the pose second, and finally the technicals like exposure and sharpness.  Once I find something I like I get a closer look.

 

It helps to bring up the cropping tool and frame the subject.

 

It helps to bring up the cropping tool and frame the subject.  Rotate it side to side a bit and get the most powerful angle. 1-2 degrees can take a person from a weak look, to a position of power.  Small changes can make dramatic differences in the overall effect of a portrait.

 

Make your crop and other adjustments for exposure, white balance, etc.. and then import the image into Photoshop.

 

Make your crop and other adjustments for exposure, white balance, etc.. and then import the image into Photoshop.

 

The import dialogue box gives you several choices.  I usually work on copies and not the original.

 

The import dialogue box gives you several choices.  I usually work on copies and not the original.

 

Once in Photoshop the first thing to do is adjust your levels.

 

Once in Photoshop the first thing to do is adjust your levels.  Make sure you're not clipping highlights or losing too much shadow detail and you have the desired exposure.

 

This young beauty really does have sparkling white teeth, very beautiful with the nice pink gums only youth can provide.

 

This young beauty really does have sparkling white teeth, very beautiful with the nice pink gums only youth can provide.  However, when you adjust your white balance to remove the green cast (from the green grass and hedges behind her) and get the most pleasing skin tones (remember, an accurate white balance is often not the most attractive white balance), you often end up with less than white teeth.  No worries, just use the selection tool to isolate the teeth and then bring up the "replace color" dialogue box and adjust the color to the most attractive shade of white you think fits.

 

Using the healing brush to mask blemishes

 

Next, zoom in with your mouse's scroll wheel (you have programmed your mouse to take advantage of Photoshop haven't you?) and take a good look at her skin for blemishes.  Everyone has blemishes.  All the black spots on her face represent a blemish that I corrected using the healing tool.  The healing tool set to "proximity match" works great for removing most blemishes.

 

Kodak GEM Airbrush Pro, Photography Workshops

 

The next task is to smooth the skin.  If you don't have a plug-in that makes it easy, simply mask off the eyes and other areas of the frame you want to remain sharp and then apply a Gaussian blur to taste.  It's better to apply several Gaussian blurs in increments of amount/effect than all at once.  Because I do portraits all the time I purchased the Kodak GEM Airbrush Pro plug-in for Photoshop that automatically masks the eyes and makes a nice softening effect.

 

There are several ways to do this in Photoshop including their new black and white filter which is shown.

 

The last step is applying the black and white toning.  There are several ways to do this in Photoshop including their new black and white filter which is shown.  Photoshop veterans will probably use other methods.

 

 I like the simple drop shadow borders and CS4 includes a nice action for this border (and others) which makes it really easy.

 

The last thing you might want to do is add a border.  I like the simple drop shadow borders and CS4 includes a nice action for this border (and others) which makes it really easy.

 

Color or Black and White?

 

While I loved the black and white version I was asked what it would look like in color.  I have this one processed to be printed on canvas so it might look a bit heavily processed to you, but still the effect is pleasing to the eye.

One step you might think I missed was sharpening.  No, I didn't sharpen this image.  I knew when I started I wanted a soft look and the 85mm F1.2L lens used properly provides a fairly sharp file to start with.

It's important to note that all these steps are "to taste."  Some you might like, others not, so go through your images and create 4-5 different versions until you come up with something your happy with.  I'm very happy with both versions of this image and the model is too.