Working with Clients to Select Finals
You know, and I think this is an important point. Before you get to the point where you're actually doing that really heavy lifting global adjustments slash, and or retouching or compositing, we try to really decide on their selects, right? We shoot 10,000 frames in the day, we then get it down to a 1,000, call it 10%. Then we start cutting it down and cutting it down and cutting it down until we're finally at those 10 or 20, or 25 selects, and that's where we'll start investing the heavy lifting and the energy and the time into retouching those photographs. Very rarely will we do global batch retouching to an entire set of pictures, very rarely. So it's usually we want, either I'm making the decision or Blize making the decision in the field. These are the four pictures we're giving to our client, or we've shared them with Red Bull and Red Bull says those are the 20 that we want, and we do the real retouching to those 20 photographs. And let's come back to final client delivery at the...
end if we have time, because I think Brett can chime in on that in terms of the process, in terms of how we're doing that. So, let's actually switch over to Blize's screen, and we will dive into image number one.
Awesome, thank you for the kind words Corey. So obviously, hopefully you guys saw last segment, segment three. Brett, the stud in our workflow editing process, showed you guys kind of the preface to all of this, which is just as important, if not more important, before starting this process. So what I've done in the sake of time is we're not gonna look at exactly what Brett had, it's not the same hard drive, we don't have all the selects that he went through. What I've kind of done is pulled those images onto this hard drive so that we can go through them, sort of just one by one. I will preface this with I'm gonna go through, sort of my workflow, and my style of editing which kind of changes from person to person. Photoshop for instance, which is a program that we use very often, Adobe Photoshop. There can be 30 different ways to do a single end result. So I use certain features and functions that some people might not, and just know that if you do it differently than I do, you're not necessarily doing it wrong. There's just lots of different ways to go about the same thing. So just as a start there. So we'll start with this Red Bull image, which as Corey said, depending on the client, depending on the delivery process, it can be a slippery slope when you start to physically retouch an image. If you're starting to pull out aspects, add aspects, move aspects around, you can run into, you know, there's some naysayers out there as far as if that's an acceptable process if you're truly kind of capturing a scene that was there, showing something that's quote unquote real. So you do have to be careful as far as specifically for specific clients, whether or not this is even allowed.
And I think to that point, this isn't the conversation around the ethics of whether you can manipulate or whether you can't manipulate. This is, we're gonna talk about the process but regardless of the ethics, you are much better of dealing with it in camera as much as possible, versus saying oh, I'll deal with that in post. Because that's a very dangerous statement, because that is really your life slipping away when you say I'm gonna deal with this in post, because it means more time in front of this screen. And so I'll as often as possible, when I see there's a problem, I'll try to resolve it there, in real life, then say I'm gonna deal with it later, because dealing with it later, while it's possible, it's still incredibly time consuming.
And we saw it, Corey, do that in the last segment there where he realized there was an issue and physically remove the quick draw on location. But then of course you get into things like the Don Wall image where he's capturing something that he knows, later on, that's gonna be retouched in Photoshop because you can't really shoot that picture physically in that situation. So as we mentioned before, we always shoot raw, whether we shoot JPEG and raw, we will always have a raw file and the pleasure of that is just to, you have much more data to work with. You know, you're not working off of a compressed file like a JPEG. And so everything is intact and Photoshop and LightRoom and other editing tools are able to draw from that data and you have much more linear movability as far as tweaking, adjustments, and you know, moving things around and doing tonal adjustments and such. So what I'm gonna show you here is we're gonna start off from Photoshop with raw file.
And let's set up the hypothetical here. I've gone through and I've actually, we've selected, this is one of the images that we're going to retouch. Blize is going to go in and do the global adjustments first, so he's gonna do the quote unquote toning part. And then we're going to pretend, which often times happens in our office, he's made the picture look great and I walk into the office and I say, darn, that quick draw is still bothering me. And then we'll make the decision, you know let's have a version A which is quick draw is still in, and then we're gonna do a version B which is quick draw is gone. And if it was an image that I was delivering to Red Bull, I might ask that question. Here's A and B, it's up to you guys what you wanna do, but for at least our portfolio, I have the image that I like the most, which is with the quick draw gone. So there's the hypothetical.
So, once we open this raw image in Photoshop, it's gonna give us camera raw, which is a great feature of why we shoot raw, because you get these features adjustability that you wouldn't have with a JPEG image or some other type of compressed image. And so there's, you know, for one, much more dynamic range which allows us to really just kind of tweak this image in either direction farther than we would with a compressed file. And you know, obviously Corey is a master at what he does, and he's a stud behind the camera. But at some times, you just deal with really tricky lighting situations, or it's really dark and you're shooting high ISO, or whatever, but there's lots of situations where you want that maneuver ability, adjustability, as much as you can.
That was Blize's way of saying I'm underexposed in this photo.
To his credit, he has some highlights going on in the edge of the frame. You know, sometimes you're trying to protect highlights so you'll expose the photograph in other areas, but that's a lesson for another day. So in this situation, I would definitely take advantage of this tool. This is both a tool in LightRoom as well as it is in Photoshop. And it's just honestly a great tool because you're leveraging the full file as a raw file.
And this is a great starting point for that global toning.
Sure, sure, exactly. You just kind of want to, you know I don't do anything extreme here. I'm not trying to push the image in either direction very far. I'm not trying to do, you know, big overall toning to this image in this step, because a lot of times I want to do that more specifically in smaller areas of the image, or be more specific with our adjustments. We'll just do a quick, you know, toning of this image. So you know, it depends. Sometimes Corey is here over the shoulder. If it's an important image he'll kind of tell me what he might like. In this situation, we'll do some of that. I'll also take some liberties and act like I know maybe what he wants. And I'll try to walk this through as much as I can with you guys, but I view this image as a little underexposed.
There you go. As I said before, Corey's a stud behind the camera, he's as good as it gets. So you know, no knock there. We'll bring up the exposure a little bit. I don't necessarily touch contrast here, that's just personally how I do things, no real rhyme or reason behind that. Or, you know, it's not wrong either way. This step in the process is a great time to be able to pull back things in the image, which when I say that, it's either a section of the image that might be overexposed, highly overexposed, or a section of the image which might be severely underexposed. And so features once we kind of get down lower here in these bars, allow us to do that with a lot of adjustability, either direction. So we can take highlights which refer to a section here in your histogram, really I guess I can take a step back here. Sorry to get us a step ahead, but the histogram here is really a graph showing the content within the image in graphical form. So it's showing us all the color channels and it goes from shadows on the left to highlights on the right. And this nifty little feature, when you scroll over it with your mouse, will show you this section when I'm gonna adjust, say blacks here in the slider bar. I can go up and see in my histogram when I pull that slider, where it's gonna adjust in my histogram. And if I scroll over it will do the same for shadows, exposure kind of in the mid tones there. The center of your histogram graph, highlights, and at the very top end, whites. I don't think I'm gonna dive into necessarily reading the histogram for certain images, 'cause you can take that for a while, but it is a great feature as far as being able to tell if you're pushing an image too much in either direction and you're technically losing data. So, back to the image at hand. What I would do is I am going to take some of these highlights and drag them back a bit, only from the standpoint of I do have some of these brighter sections over in the corner here, which I don't necessarily want to lose, lose any data. I wanna kind of bring those back and see if there's any detail in those highlights. Again, the same with the whites, which I think is what that corner is there. Unfortunately, you can see in our histogram how we have this little spike on the end. We have lost the data, some of that data there in the whites because of the exposure that was shot.
And this is great. And I one comment that I want to make is you know, I said you want to solve as many problems in camera as possible, but it's also incredibly valuable to know what is possible in post. So meaning I remember looking through this viewfinder and seeing this highlight in the upper left hand corner of the frame, and you make conscious decisions while you're behind the camera. Am I willing to let that corner blow out? Can I bring it back in post? And you're making these decisions very quickly in the field when you're in this sort of journalistic style of action sport situations where it's not comfortable, you're hanging in a harness, it's kind of a brutal situation, you're looking at a histogram. But you kind of got to move past the technical and focus on the creative. And so understanding what's possible is good, but trying to fix it in camera is the ideal.
Right. And again, in some of those situations, you would shoot it a certain style to know that in the end, you can if need be, come back later and fix some of those issues that you might have while shooting. So again, I've pulled the blacks out a little bit just so we sort have as full of a histogram as we can work with, so that when we go in and try to touch up some certain sections of this image, we can have that data. I personally am not a huge fan again, of clarity here. You can see what sort of adjustment that does. It can make, kind of, very harsh contrasty look, and pull down to the other side, it can give you sort of that soft glow, less contrasty look. I don't necessarily touch that very often. Corey's photos don't necessarily have that look and style to them. And so we sort of shy away from that. Vibrance and saturation, again, I don't usually touch those bars at this step in the process. That again, is just a personal preference where usually those aren't necessarily global adjustments in the whole image, or not always, and those are very easy to do once we're actually physically in Photoshop to do specific adjustments. This program is great, allows you to, if I had multiple images, you can adjust multiple raw images at the same time on a sidebar over on the left, and you can batch those adjustments to all the file if you like. But in this case, of course, we have just this one image to work with. So what I am going to do. Down here in the left, sorry, you can save this image. So you can do just these raw adjustments, where it's all kind of top level, and then go ahead and save those images. If you don't want to then open this, you know, take this the next step farther and open it in Photoshop, but we're not going to do that obviously. Let's go a step farther. So open image, and what it's gonna do is take me here into my crazy adjusted Photoshop panel here. My apologies. It's a little unorganized, things have shifted around with the monitors and such here. But I am going to do my best. So now we are physically in the program of Photoshop and you know, it's time to start doing that kind of deeper level of adjustment. We have the ability to do more specific areas of toning of eventually the retouching that Corey wants to do. And I know he pointed this out before, but usually, in a workflow process, you would want to sort of try and do most of the retouching, the hard heavy lifting, moving, removing, adding whatever you're doing on the front end. So that you can then kind of do those adjustments on top of any work that you've done prior.
And I think now that we're in Photoshop, it's probably smart to talk about this other inner dialogue that happens, or the dialogue between Bilze and I. If he's doing retouching or sending the image out to another company, one of the things that we'll do at the very beginning is actually have a conversation around what I want to have happen. Obviously, we've described, we're gonna eventually remove this quick draw. But I think there's also some other details that are worthy of conversation here. So I look at this picture, and sort of my immediate reaction is, let's try to burn down that upper left corner as much as possible, because my eye is sort of getting drawn to it. I know we don't have all of the highlight detail, but I want to control that left corner. Creating a little more kind of vignette, like darkness, in that bottom left hand corner, that'll be valuable. I'm embarrassed, but I think my foot was in the shot, in the lower right hand corner. And I honestly forgotten that that was the case, that might even be in our final image. And it's worth pointing out, this wasn't the image that Red Bull finally agreed to use. They liked a different frame, but I probably would of said hey, if this is a select, we should actually remove my shoe from that bottom corner. Let's recreate some rock, because that's also really distracting, the tread of my La Sportiva approach shoe. I kind of like it, the saturated look on skin tones. I'm not looking for realistic skin tones usually. That would be a question that I would have for my client at Red Bull, are they comfortable with that? Like are they comfortable with us kind of pushing it beyond just natural skin tones. I would probably ask to kind of burn down all of the edges, but with extra attention to the lower left. Make it dark and dramatic. I might open up the waterfall a bit, because it's a pretty thin water fall. And so burning down around it and bringing up the highlights in that waterfall might be something that we do. Is there anything else that we talked about on this photograph beforehand?
I don't believe so. You had mentioned, in the end we didn't necessarily tone down the side of that, we decided that maybe it was better to actually get rid of that highlight since we lost all the lights there. But as far as talking through it, I think that was kind cool.
So I just used that example. Whether that's a dialogue, in this case, why it's helping, maybe it's because I'm off to the next shoot, or if it's with yourself, it's you have this inner dialogue and you make a set of notes so that you remember where you're heading. You can sort of get into the weeds with retouching and all of a sudden you realize wait, what am I actually trying to accomplish here? I'm just started fooling around and I sort of lost sight of what I'm actually trying to accomplish in this process.
I don't want to go backwards, but the fact that you mentioned the corners and you might vignette them or darken them down, how often are you guys using lens profiling and camera raw to adjust distortion and or vignetting to an image?
It depends. You know, it does happen often say, with an image like this specifically where obviously when you're shooting really wide, those tools come in really handy because you end up with a lot more vignetting, lens distortion and such. It's not super often that we're using those in camera raw, although they are great features. Specifically the vignetting part. You know, a lot of times Corey kind of likes that look, and we'll go with it. On the other hand, trying to do lens distortion stuff is a huge huge aspect to that.
We just shot a job last week where it was from a very elevated position and all the lines in the ceiling where getting distorted on a 14 millimeter lens, and using some of those factory defaults, we were able to, or the settings, we were able to kind of perspective control the environment, which is great.
I find it's nice to use it in some situations, and this one I actually enjoy the distortion of it.
Right right, exactly.
The element of stretching for that reach and grabbing on, so that's just a quick question.
Yeah, which is why it's really fun, right? You know, it's like you can use those tools or you don't have to use those tools. It's totally discretionary as far as if you like the look and usually you sort of shot it in a style where you probably like the look or at least a bit of it, but it is great to have those tools on the back end as far as allowing that adjustability.