Help finding that extra something


TPF Noob!
Oct 24, 2007
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Can others edit my Photos
Photos OK to edit
Hi guys
I posted this one a week or so ago in a portfolio and got positive responses. Now I am preparing the file for printing and I just feel this one is a little lacklustre somehow. Don't get me wrong, I don't want it to look like an FHM cover, but somehow I feel there is something I can do in Photoshop to give it an extra something. Any ideas?
(as a little background this is part of a shoot I did with make-up and model friends. No money involved, everyone doing it because we wants some images. I am making prints for the other's portfolios)
When I need a certain picture to just "pop", I bring it in to Photoshop, make a copy of the background, and set the blending mode to "Soft Light". Doing this boosts the contrast some, and brings out the color, too. To adjust the intensity of the effect, you can mess with the opacity of the layer.

Since your photos are okay to edit, I did a couple of examples (nice pictures to start with, by the way).

EDIT: Ah crap, I just reread the original post and realized you were only asking about that single image. I coulda sworn you had said you were preparing the files for print. Sorry about that, I guess I should only be looking at 8073!
Thanks Universal. yes I definitely prefer them boosted. It is the other one that is bugging me though, 8073, It is almost like I need to change the colour slightly. I think I need to do more to that one than just boost contrast and colour. Hmmm, it is bothering me. You know when you think, 'I know I can make this better', but you don't know what exactly is wrong. This is what I am thinking!
Hm. Okay, here's what I came up with. I'm not sure of it myself, but how about something like this?


If you'd like to know what all I did exactly, feel free to ask! There were quite a few steps involved, I think.

1. Well, first I made a copy of the background, and applied a 'Surface Blur', with a radius of 8 pixels and a threshold of 22. I thought this made the effect a little too strong, so I faded it down to about 40%. I also erased most of the layer, around the hat and hair, so that the blur was only present on the background (which was a bit noisy), and the face. I love the surface blur for making skin appear smoother, moreso than any of the other blurring filters.

2. I made another copy of the background, and used the patch tool to clean up the face a bit more, toning down the bag under her eye and a few other areas. I also dodged and burned around her face some, to help even out the skin tones. This part took awhile, as the longer I stared at it, the more I kept going back and forth between convincing myself I was going too far (at which point I'd pull the effect back by lowering the opacity of the layer), and not going far enough (making me bring the opacity back up). I was especially careful around the eyes, which I felt needed some brightening, but I was trying really hard not to make it seem unnatural (not entirely sure if I succeeded, there).

3. Made another new layer, this time only containing the hair, neck, and hat. Did lots of selective burning/dodging here, too.

4. Made a new layer and basically repainted the background. I really liked that red color in the background, dangerdoormouse, but just wanted to see more of it.

I put all of the different elements I was editing into seperate layers over the top of the untouched original, so that I could play with the opacity of each until I got just the right balance of all of it. Then I finally flattened the image.

5. I made a copy of the background again, and set the blending mode to "Soft Light", and played with the opacity until it was where I wanted it. As I said earlier, this really helps boost the color and contrast. However, it also made her skin tones kind of yellowish, so I played with the 'Hue/Saturation' on the background to compensate for this. Then I flattened the image again.

5. Finally, I added a vignette. I made a really rough, circular selection around the edges of the image using the lasso, selected the inverse, feathered it by 40 pixels, and used the 'lightness' slider in the 'Hue/Saturation' box to darken the edges. Then I deselected the selection and burnt the edges a bit more. I pretty much put a vignette on everything portrait I make, now - A tip I got from 'Christie Photo'.

6. And last, I applied the 'Unsharp Mask':
Amount: 99%
Radius .7 pixels (but on a full-sized image, I'd have this closer to 2-2.5 pixels)
Threshold: 3 pixels

This is pretty much my whole shtick, that I run through with most of my own portraits as well. I'm not even so sure I like everything I did with dangerdoormouse picture though the most I look at it. I dunno what I'm doing half the time, but I was just in the mood to play around in PS this morning, and trying to help.

Nice pic to start out with, dangerdoormouse!
I think my original intention was to create something very magaziney. Someone recommended I copy magazine shoots as a way of learning (If I can recreate the look then I will know how to do it again). I did that and then I was playing some more and we liked the hat. I think what I was looking for was something to make it a little more fashiony, but not in a high key way. Almost in an eerie way. It is difficult to describe really. I think I would know if I saw it. I posted it as it is always good to get others opinions. Often someone will come up with an approach that makes me go, 'wow'. It is good to learn from other people on here that way.
I think you came close to your intention. For me the lack luster part is in the colour. I think a simple boost in the saturation would be a good place to start.

Love & Bass

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