Portrait post processing
I recently did a demonstration with Mid-CT Meetup Photography Group in conjunction with Russ Tokars. The premise was to show how two individuals handle the post processing of the same image. They asked their members to submit some photos they wanted to see processed then Russ and I would process them and explain our methods and the reasons for making those choices. Russ used Photoshop while I used Lightroom. The demonstration was a big success.
|Final processed image|
|Tone adjust and burn select areas|
|Soften around eyes|
I am still using the brush tool here but I am now going to bring some of the hair texture on the left with the dodge tool. This selectively lightens whatever I brush over. I brush in strokes following hair flow to keep it natural.
|Skin softening and select burning|
While the changes so far are getting me closer to what I'd like to see, there's still something off. I revisit the burning I did earlier to the hand and the shadows of the sleeve and reduced the exposure on it to darken the area. I also notice the back of her head is still too dark. Here I pushed the fill light up just a touch. I want to add light to the dark areas without loosing control of the overall look.
|Fine tuning, tone adjust, saturation|
Up to this point we have only softened the face. The next step I take is to drop the clarity on the entire image to soften it up just a touch. If you look at the next image you can see how much softer the whole image looks without loosing detail.
At this stage all the most obvious problems have been addressed, cropping, tone balance, skin softening, etc. I take some time to do some fine tuning on color, luminance and saturation. This stage can be frustrating to some since you can nit-pick until the cows come home. For example, something that I would do for a client that I didn't do here is clone out that stray hair falling across her face. In this stage I reduced saturation a bit more, boosted the tint to the blue side a touch and reduced clarity some more, further softening the image.
The nice benefit of adding a vignette to an image is that it further helps pull the viewer's eye to the subject. As with any processing effect, the amount and density of the vignette heavily depends on the image. The wonderful thing about Lightroom is that you can move the sliders around until you find something that pleases you. A good vignette has to work with the subject, the background and the mood of the image.