Processing Portraits


No longer a newbie, moving up!
Jun 8, 2005
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Sydney - Australia
Can others edit my Photos
Photos OK to edit
Hey all. I got some portrait work coming up soon and wondering about some processing techniques.
I have read some threads on it here a while back but can't find them again.

Basically I want to know about smoothing out the skin. What is best? Using the blur tool? What tools in photoshop? Im using CS3 on macintosh.

Any help regarding processing portraits would be helpfull. Im doing some couple portraits and portraits on their own. Some colour and some B&W.

Softening the skin and increasing contrast:
Duplicate the image layer, and use "soft light" blend mode. Then apply a "surface blur" and adjust the radius and threshold until you see something you like. Make sure you mask the eyes and teeth, former because you want to keep it sharp and the latter because you want to keep it white.

Duplicate image layer, and set blend mode to "luminosity." Then apply "smart sharpen" and adjust the radius and intensity until you get something you like.
Then make a duplicate of the duplicate layer and set its blend mode to "overlay" then apply a "high pass" filter and play around with the sliders.

Create an "Curve Adjustment Layer" on top of other layers and play around. Alternatively you could duplicate the image layer and set the blend mode to "hard light" and adjust the opacity.

Basically a way of selectively lightening/darkening. You could use dodging for the eyes.
I sometimes use the softening brush to selectively soften certain areas of the skin and the healing brush with a percent opacity to reduce the prominence but not completely hide a mole or other blemish.

The challenge in portraiture is to decide based on the personality of your client or model what you can do before the shot to solve a problem and what needs to be done in postprocessing. Visine before shooting, helps get the red out of eyes..particularly veins, but if that is necessary and not used, then you need to solve the problem in post processing. Often the solution is to simply select the white part of the eye and choose to reduce the red in the colour menu.

Getting the colour right..particularly the skin colour can be a challenge depending on the colour temperature of the light where you are shooting. Red haired models can have very pale skin which can be inadvertently emphasized by shooting in the shade for example with a cool colour temperature. There are various ways to warm up the colour if necessary.
What I find convenient is a software sunlight photofilter plug-in which also improves contrast and punch as well.

I have seen many portraits of models with dark hair where the photographer has been less than careful in lighting to get detail from the hair. Sometimes this can be improved by selectively brightening the hair, using a dodging brush or a sharpening brush on various areas.


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