Portrait editing techniques

I've seen a lot of portrait editing techniques and how-to's in various magazines and websites all with varying degrees of difficulty, software required and success.

So far my favourite is probably the simplest if you are looking for a sharp, HDR esque photo. You can also paint a mask on it to blend it a little more for a 'Dragan' style portrait. The tutorial for this can be found below and requires lightroom and photoshop (ideally cs5 or 6). This particular tutorial video is by ThatNikonGuy and you can check his other stuff out here.


Here are my own examples from a portrait shoot earlier in the year (click for full view);



 These are at the extremes of the scale just to show what can be pulled out of an image. Note it will still cause some haloing but this can be either reduced with masking (or just tone down the luminosity layer, not every photo needs to look like this!).

Below I tried it with some posers from Fota Wildlife Park. The original images can probably be found in previous posts. I just wanted to see how non studio based shots would work with it.


Again these are both at extremes but they do work. They will start to show up messy backgrounds if you have them though (like in these shots). If I were to use this technique more I'd probably just highlight small parts of the subject with the technique as the full image definitely doesn't need it unless filling the frame or you have a black background.



Overall it genuinely does take the 3-4 of the video length to learn so it is super quick. You have a lot of room editing in both packages and won't require any specific plugins for either program (camera raw for CS5/6 but this is free from adobes site if not already installed).

I'd personally use this technique in the future although sparingly, likely in low key lit portraits of old folk and similar (not really breaking any new grounds in terms of photography art but sometimes a quality image which is still unique in consumer eyes is always a bonus).

Again to add some advice to using this. You still need to take the portrait well, light it properly as normal. This will not save rubbish photos for you (nor will hdring anything) and will not work in every situation. It is quite demanding on a low to moderate specced pc so some patience is needed. I'd also tone it down loads depending on the lighting and general shapes created on the subject. 

Also while tonnes of contrast is great in some situations (I love high contrast shots) look at your edited image, put it to one side, do something else and after come back to it, you may want to tone it down a little. Subtle tones and detail can be lost if the contrast is too high, voiding this technique's selling  point.




This entry was posted on Tuesday, 18 December 2012 and is filed under ,,,,,,,,,. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response.

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