I don’t talk a lot on the blog about post-processing, but it’s a pretty big part of my job. So much of a photographer’s style is defined by photoshop. It goes without saying that you have to start with a good picture…but the picture goes from good to *take your breath away* after the shutter clicks.
In the beginning of this journey I went a little photoshop crazy…trying a bit of this and a bit of that until I landed on a style that is uniquely me. I want the photos I take to look like the best version of you. I don’t want you to look at the image and say “what did you do to me?”
The camera can be harsh, so again…I want to use angles and lighting to take the most flattering picture I can, then *enhance* it in photoshop.
To illustrate what I’m talking about, I have a few before and afters. This picture was taken as a RAW image, then in Adobe Camera Raw, I simply made a few adjustments in color and clarity. Done. Sometimes an image doesn’t need a lot. Sometimes adding more would ruin it. (By the way SOOC stands for straight out of the camera.)
50mm f/1.4 1/1000s ISO 200
Next we’ll talk about actions. Actions are a series of adjustments made in photoshop, then recorded, so they can be done again and again. An action makes a photographer’s job much much easier! The trouble with actions is that they aren’t a one size fits all solution. Many times photographers will ask me, “what action do you use?”…as if this is the magic bullet to a beautiful image.
I wish this were the case, but just as a good cook seasons a meal according to taste, a good photographer alters an image to taste. After seeing an image, I know the direction I want to take it…sometimes it’s staying true to the original, other times I want to give it a different feel. Hence…the actions.
One of my favorite actions is the soft color pop by Nichole Van. It must be used sparingly…and personally, I only like it on children…but it makes skin clearer, *pops* the color and warms things up a bit.
24-70mm f/2.8 1/250s ISO 800
I like this action because it’s not a press the button and be done kind of thing. Each adjustment has a layer, so the possibilities are endless. This is where being an artist comes in…the photographer gets to decide how to use the color, where to make things darker and lighter, etc. A truly unique result every time.
Another favorite series of actions are the Totally Rad Actions by the Boutwells. I prefer these actions for adults because the results can be pretty dramatic. Again, each action has a series of layers, so the photographer can make each picture unique to them. They can be applied over each other for endless results. For this image, I wanted a fairy-tale kind of feel, so I used Get Faded (Autumn) 52%, , Dirty Loving Texture 100% and Cinnamon Toast 44%. After that I used the burn tool at 30% opacity to darken the edges. Again, a more dramatic result, which I prefer for adults instead of children.
24-70mm f/2.8 1/400s ISO 320
So…after working with actions over the past few years, I’ve started to play around with taking them apart…seeing how they work. Many actions use a Channel Mixer, which affects the color of the image. The three primary colors (red, green and blue) each have a slider, so you can completely change the look of the image…a little or a lot.
For this newborn image, I wanted a soft look with richer colors, so I used the Channel Mixer to create my own look.
50mm f/3.5 1/160s ISO 800
Well, this gives you a glimpse into my world! I am still just scratching the surface of the world of color and post-processing, but hopefully it was helpful…even if just to one person.