I don’t claim to be the best PhotoShopper in the world – far from it. I am just starting on the learning curve, but I have picked up a couple of things so far. In this post I am going to show you how I went about editing one of my images from my shoot with Ulorin Vex. If you have any questions, views or suggestions on the editing or the image, please feel free to add a comment. You can leave comments at the bottom of the post.
I took this image in landscape format and left some negative space to the right. I don’t think it actually worked with this shot as Ulorin is facing straight on to camera and the negative space doesn’t really add anything. Also, I am not too keen on the hue of the image at the moment as it feels a little green, and Ulorin’s hair is not emphasised very well (it is a vibrant and striking orange in real life). I do like the crisp lines around her jaw and cheeks, but I feel it is slightly lacking in shadow as well.
I always shoot in RAW – whether it be taking happy snaps or important studio shots. I figure that hard drive space is so cheap nowadays that I would rather have the option to change format afterwards rather than shoot JPEG in camera and lose quality. Processing time is increased slightly and storage space increases 3-4x, but I can live with that. The first thing then that I do is to open the image in ACR (Adobe Camera Raw).
With default settings, the image is a little flat, so I want to boost the contrast, increase the clarity and up the saturation to bring out the colours more. I have noticed that there are some blemishes and specs on the image that need sorting. Some people suggest to get the best results you should do as much editing as possible (if not all) in ACR. Though I try to do as much as possible in ACR, I tend to leave this part out until I get in to Photoshop. I prefer the versatility in Photoshop and the fact that you can save along the way (snapshots), so it is much easier to undo things if you go wrong or go too far. For now, all I am going to do in ACR is crop the image to remove the negative space, and sort out the colour issues.
I chose a very centred crop as I thought that would add impact to the image – especially with the hard straight on stare. I have tweaked various settings to darken the shadows, enhance some detail and bring out the colours. The image is a little darker at the moment than I want, but I may sort that out in Photoshop.
Editing this image in Photoshop was very simple, although VERY time consuming! Pretty much all that I have done is use the clone stamp tool and spot removal tool to remove stray specs of make-up and hair, worked around the skin a little and removed dust specs from the latex (A big thanks out to Matts Brabus with a point in the right direction here). I created a separate layer to work on and spent about 2 hours doing this with a tiny brush working my way all around the image. I did think of using a plug-in to do the job for me, but I did not want to end up with plastic skin. I guess you can’t rush it if you want it done right.
To add just a slight smoothing to the image, I used the NoiseNinja filter after I was happy with the editing. Once I had applied the filter, I messed about with the brightness and realised I was actually happy with it just as it was. So all that was left to do was to add my tiny watermark and get a critique from a friend to see what they thought. I can’t stress enough how much this last part helps! When you have been staring at the same image for 3 hours, you can lose perspective and find it hard to judge the end result. To have someone take a look and give you feedback is a great sanity check (just make sure they are qualified in whatever way to give you decent feedback). And no I don’t usually spend 3 hours editing an image – I wanted this to be highly polished, and I think it deserved attention to detail as the face is so prominent.
And here is the end result! It was not necessarily in my “plan” to get this style of image before the shoot, but I thought that the makeup was so well done (by Ulorin herself) that I wanted to make a “fashion” type shot from the image. And what is wrong with a bit of improvisation