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Thread: Portrait editing help needed

  1. #1
    Shooter Shep's Avatar
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    Portrait editing help needed

    This image of my daughter is to be my final image to submit for my college course. I'm a complete beginner and it's a beginner's course so that's ok, but I wanted to have something nice at the end of it and it's also going to double up as a gift.

    Being a total novice I haven't yet acquired all the necessary equipment to take a really nice portrait so I'm having to make the best of what's available. I had to use the available light and a bit of low fill-in flash to get a decent exposure in our kitchen with ISO 400 and I have no tripod either so longer shutter speeds are out of the question. It wasn't a brilliant image to start with but I'm hoping to rescue it and it's editing I need help with as I'm a beginner with Photoshop also.

    So far I've touched it up with the healing brush a bit, de-saturated it and brightened it up with levels. It wound up a bit grainy in the shadows so I put a gaussian blur mask over it to give it a softer focus. Now I'm stuck, not sure if it looks overworked or too blurry and my original plan was to bring out the green colour from the leaf and stems of the flower but is that too gimmicky?

    Not sure if I've got a nice image here at all or if I could have done things differently so any C&C would be humbly welcomed and appreciated....[IMG]Portrait editing help needed[/IMG]

  2. #2

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    Re: Portrait editing help needed

    I'm actually happier photographing bugs or boats than portraits, Mark.

    However, for what it's worth.

    I like the idea of her looking to the right but for me her eye position is now too far to the right. It almost makes her look cross eyed.

    The basic shot is good. I would probably have applied any blur selectively as a layer and mask.

    Sharpness falling off on her right side does give the scene a little more depth than a straight shot would have done.

    Mixing colour and B&W is good practice for selection/masking etc. Some people like the effect but many feel the method has been overdone; although every now and then something exceptional comes along.

    I may try fractionally increasing the highlights to lift the moody scene just a little. Unless that effect is what you wanted.

    Overall though, considering the problems with shooting etc, it has come out reasonably well.

  3. #3
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    Re: Portrait editing help needed

    Hi Mark,
    here's another option for you to consider.
    I had a play with your picture in PP and this is the result. I will of course take it down if I have over-stepped the mark.

    Portrait editing help needed

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    Re: Portrait editing help needed

    Hi Mark
    There are a couple things that I think would have made for a better image. There is not enough separation between the subject and the wall. The resulting shadow is somewhat distracting. Your daughter has wonderful eyes, big and beautifully framed by those high eye brows. Its a shame she is not looking at the camera, ether that or turning here head a little more but still looking straight ahead. Straight desaturation doesn't make the best b&w conversion.
    The soft focus is OK, but again here eyes must be in sharp focus. If you don't have enough artificial light to light your subject, why not use natural light from a window and ether use a reflector or your flash as a fill light.
    Im sorry not to be more positive, but I do like the lilly. It provides a focus or lead in to her face. Might have been nice to have had your daughter looking at the flower with her head slightly bowed but with here eyes looking at the camera.
    Might I suggest you post the original image and Im sure people will make suggestions.

    Hope this helps,
    Regards
    Phil

  5. #5
    Shooter Shep's Avatar
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    Re: Portrait editing help needed

    Thanks Geoff,

    I'm stuck with the shot but I may try playing with the highlights a touch. That's exactly the sort of advice i was hoping for, I wasn't quite going for an altogether moody look.

  6. #6
    Shooter Shep's Avatar
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    Re: Portrait editing help needed

    John i love your edit, don't take it down. Can you give me a clue of how you got there because that's more the look I was trying to acheive. Too much playing about when you don't know what you're doing I've found to be a bit dangerous.

  7. #7
    Shooter Shep's Avatar
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    Re: Portrait editing help needed

    [IMG]Portrait editing help needed[/IMG]

    Thanks Phillip,

    This was the original image, she's very self-conscious about her spots god bless her but she's a patient and willing model and I appreciate her helping me out. It would be nice to repay her with a really nice image so she might appreciate how beautiful she actually is (I'm completely biased of course).

    We did try a few different compositions and I had an idea about having her looking down over the flower into the camera but it didn't work and I was left with several shots I had to choose the best of and I think this was it. If I can get it anything like john's managed to above I'll be very happy..

  8. #8
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    Re: Portrait editing help needed

    Hi Mark,
    Just as a point of reference I use Photoshop elements 9.

    The first thing I did was to remove as much noise as I could, by using the Plug-in ‘Neat’

    I then selected the background and add a Gaussian blur; radius of 8.

    I then selected your daughter and lightened her face and then sharpened her, using the unsharp mask tool; 130% with a 0.7 radius.

    Then added a slight vignette to try and draw the viewer into the centre of the picture and thereby your daughters face.

    Finally a 50% sharpening added to the whole picture.

    Then added a frame; personal choice, but I think it finishes things.

    Others will do things differently, but that’s my work-flow.

    Cheers
    John
    Last edited by JPS; 3rd December 2012 at 10:07 PM.

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    Have a guess :)

    Re: Portrait editing help needed

    Portrait editing help needed

  10. #10
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    Re: Portrait editing help needed

    Hi Mark
    Its a hard thing for teenagers to deal with, spots on top of everything else they have to deal with at this age. I have a 13 year old girl who is in exactly the same boat. Its great that she will still model for you though, my girls now run a mile when I get my lights out!! Even bribery has little effect these days.

    You have had some nice examples posted so I wont add to them, but since were on the subject of skin and skin blemishes, Id like to point you towards a couple of GREAT youtube tutorials for cleaning up skin I found a few years ago. They are easy to follow and produce a Very professional result.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oydrl...ure=plpp_video

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=58mN6...ure=plpp_video

    I have applied the effects to the original image you uploaded. Please bare in mind Im working on a laptop without a mouse and I may have over done the effect a little.
    I hope you find these clips useful, obviously, if you want the image removed please say so.

    Portrait editing help needed


    regards
    Phil
    Last edited by Quinn; 4th December 2012 at 12:04 AM. Reason: Problems inserting video

  11. #11
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    Re: Portrait editing help needed

    Hi Mark,

    I liked what Collin has done but I think the shadows are a bit harsh so I basically cloned them out and just for fun left the flower coloured.

    Portrait editing help needed

  12. #12

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    Have a guess :)
    Easy way to remove spots like these is to apply a Gaussian blur to the whole image until they can't be seen - undo the changes - then use the history brush set to darker to roll them forward over the problem areas.

    You can do the whole face in about 15 seconds.

  13. #13
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    Re: Portrait editing help needed

    Please accept this as constructive criticism in the way I am offering it...

    When someone is holding a flower in their hand, I like to see them looking at the flower. This would allow the pupils to be a bit more centered. That way we would get to see her beautiful eyes.

    I did not like the harsh shadows along the bridge of her nose and behind her head. I do like the image a lot more with the shadows lessened. I like both of the desaturated images best. For some reason, I tend to notice her very fetching shy grin better in the desaturated images of Colin and L.Paul.

    I am not going to suggest any technique that will cost a batch of money, rather how portraits can be shot with the sparcest of equipment.

    Shooting with window light and a reflector can provide a very nice image. A piece of white cardboard or a piece of corregated cardboard from a packing case covered with crinkled aluminum foil will do quite well as a reflector. Another idea for a very inexpensive reflector is an auto dashboard sunshade in white or aluminum color.

    Get some fabric of a neutral color that has some texture to use as a backdrop. Fabric stores or upholstery shops quite often have remnants available quite inexpensively. Another inexpensive backdrop can be an ordinary cheap window shade. My first job in photography was going door to door shooting portraits of kids. The backdrop I used was a cheap window shade which functioned quite well.

    The window light can function as the main light with the reflector as the fill.

    You can jury rig a holder for the backdrop and reflector out of a gallon paint can filled with rocks and topped off with cement or plaster of paris. Sink a piece of 6-foot 1x2" wood into the can as the upright. For the BG holder, attach a piece of wood across the top. The fabric or shade and the reflector can be held in place with a couple of cheap spring clamps.

    There are lots of other ways to light a portrait but, window light is the least expensive and is usually available.

    See this link for examples of window light portraits...

    https://www.google.com/search?q=wind...w=1326&bih=603
    Last edited by rpcrowe; 4th December 2012 at 02:44 AM.

  14. #14

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    Have a guess :)
    Just a thought -- you may like to look through my school of portraiture series of threads at the top of the portraits and pets forum.

  15. #15
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    Re: Portrait editing help needed

    Hi Mark,

    The photograph looks as if it was taken with a fairly wide angle lens that is emphasizing the face and hands. For a cropped camera I think a better perspective is given using a focal length from 40mm to 70mm which will also give you a better opportunity to throw the background out of focus. Wide angle portraits can produce interesting and dramatic portraits but are usually less flatering.

  16. #16
    Shooter Shep's Avatar
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    Re: Portrait editing help needed

    Can't thank you all enough for all the excellent advice, I've been at it all day trying various aspects and after returning to the drawing board a few times I think I've finally had some success. It was editing tips I needed the most but I'm sure the other advice with regards to lighting and focal length will come in handy on future attempts.

    I've learned a few new tricks in trying to follow the advice given, a lot of it was new to me so not only has it helped me with this image but I've picked up a lot that will help me in the future. I hold my hands up to being a total noob!

    Anyway, thanks again to all above and especially those who took the time to edit it and give me an idea of what could be done. I tried to emulate John's edit in the end as that was the look I had in mind originally, I don't think it's quite as good as John's but a good effort nonetheless and a vast improvement on my original attempt.

    Thanks again guys!!

    [IMG]Portrait editing help needed[/IMG]

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