ACR for Portraits Pre-Edits
So now I've got all my images in Adobe Camera Raw. You notice that, in Camera Raw, look at all the stars. They're still there. And while Adobe Camera Raw might not show you the hotkeys, we can still use those here. I can still control, one, control, two, control, three, control, four, and it even still does control six, seven, eight. So as I'm going through this, I can decide whether I like these images or not using the same star and the same rating and the same color category, cataloging, that I would use in Bridge. So with something like this, I would start just by cropping this image. I'd probably come in here and maybe a more of a crop that contains probably something a little bit more of them. If I press and hold shift, it'll maintain the ratio of whatever I have in my crop tool, which is set to one to one. So I'll change that to normal. If I want to maintain this ratio, why's it keep doing that, just click on this again, make this a normal crop, I don't want one to one. Okay. It ...
keeps sticking with that. That's fine, I'll just go with something like that. Maybe a little bit higher up. Something like that. That might be a little bit better than the crop that I had before. If I wanna commit to cutting off limbs, I need to cut off more than just the tip of the toe or the tip of the knee. I need to cut off a little bit more. But still, it's a good pose of the two of them, still keeps things in line with the rule of thirds. And when I'm thinking about editing these, I'm thinking about what I can do with multiple images that have the same lighting. So look at these images. These all have relatively the same lighting, all the way through here, except for this one, which is like the off one. So if we look up here, this one through this one all have about the same type of lighting to them. So if I, as I start making my adjustments here over the basic settings, I can copy all these settings, transfer them down to the rest of them, without using something like a preset or even a snapshot. So I'll go ahead and brighten this up a little bit. I kinda like how that looks a little bit brighter. Maybe boost the contrast here. And we decrease those highlights, open up those shadows a little bit. Add a little bit more yellow to this because it was fall, but it's not really looking like it. So I'm, add a little bit more yellow to fix that color temperature. Maybe add a little bit more magenta to give some life to their skin. Look at my white point and black point. Press alt or option, make sure that nothing is blowing out. Again, another thing that you can do here is you can turn these highlight clipping warnings on and the shadow clipping warnings on so that as you move the slider, it shows you without having to select alt or option. So if we move this up, that's telling me that all of that area up there is blowing out. It's clipping off, not only do I see that by this glaring red beacon of anti-hope, but I also see it over here on the histogram because the histogram has a huge spike on the white areas. So if I bring this white point down, you'll start to see that histogram pull away there from those white areas. And that's probably pretty good, right about there. These will stay on, if you click them on. So if you see that, there's hotkeys there, there's O and there's U. You can turn those on whenever you want. That's for, O is for the highlights, U is for the shadows. So with the blacks here, you can see if I start moving this over, it's gonna be the difference between red and blue. Blue is gonna show you shadows, red is gonna show you the highlights or the whites blowing out there. So I'll just bring this down a little bit here just to about right there. Lift those black areas up a little bit. And remember that those are on. Now, they won't make your image blue. It's just a warning, telling you, hey, you got something going on here. You can either use those triangles up at the top or press O or U. So I'll just press U. And then we'll look at the clarity here. Don't wanna do something like this to people. (audience laughing) I see it all the time. We don't wanna do that to people. It just doesn't look very nice. If anything, you can drop the clarity just a little bit. If you drop the clarity just a little bit, it gives a nice kind of like satin-type finish to the image. I wouldn't go like this. 'Cause that doesn't look good. (laughing) Let's just go right about there. That is gonna be global, though. So just know that if you're gonna do that, it's gonna be a global adjustment that's gonna happen to the entire photograph. So I like the basic settings that I have here. If I needed to move on with something like the tone curve, I could do that. I like to use it based on the point, not parametric. Add a little bit of contrast, here. Lighter and darker. Lights lighter, darks darker. If I want to do that cinematic effect in here, I can just start lifting those black areas a little bit. And here I'm starting to get kind of into my artistic effects. I'm jumping the gun a little bit. We haven't addressed color yet. So I'll go ahead and delete that. We don't want that. Oop, I'm just doing that, okay. Let's not do anything with the tone curve. With the colors here, this is where I would look at, I would take very good mental notes of the colors of the shirts that people are wearing, took good mental notes of the things that are going on around because, as we know, our camera can only take one instance of light. It can only take one instance of color, as well. Which is what we would consider white balance. White balance is a global adjustment. It happens to the entire photograph unless you go in there and you separate things out and select things out individually. So what I'm gonna do is, I'm gonna go ahead and just look at the yellows in this image and I'm gonna look at the hue of those yellows first. And just get those yellows lookin' pretty good. Or the oranges 'cause there's oranges more on the red there. See that, as I move the orange more to the red, it's getting a little bit more of that fall atmosphere-type feel, but it's also helping punch up their skin a little bit. Look at the reds, we have some reds on their faces. And I don't need to do anything with that. These we just need to be really kinda subtle with. We don't wanna go too overboard with. The greens, look at the greens in the background there. It is fall, but we wanna separate the green from the yellow. A lot of times what I see in fall pictures is they just make the greens yellow and they make the oranges more orange and then everything just looks orange and yellow and muddy. And that's not the case. We do have green grass here, so I might bump this up and make that grass a little bit greener. Again, I'm separating my tone, which is the adjustments I did before, then I'm going into my color. Look at the aquas, if we have any in there. And then saturation. Maybe those yellows, I wanna boost up the saturation in the yellows a little bit. It's okay to boost it up. If we boost up the saturation in a color, it's always good to come over to the luminance of that color maybe make it a little bit darker, just to make it more rich. So it doesn't just boost the saturation of the color, it also brings a little bit of contrast into that color as well, so it looks a little bit more normal. Here's the before, here's the after. Just getting those colors really nice. I'm not gonna go too far into any artistic effects with this one at this point. What I'm gonna do now is, because I have these settings set for this image, and notice how all of these images over here on the right-hand, or the left-hand side, I should say, all of these were taken on the same bridge. So the lighting hasn't necessarily changed from image to image. If my camera settings haven't changed, I can click on this top image up here, shift-click on this one right here, right click, say Sync Settings. And what do I want to sync? Well, anything that I did, I'm gonna want to sync it with. So if I did any of my noise reduction or if I did any of my sharpening. Right now everything is selected. If I didn't do anything with with all of these and all I did was stuff with this and maybe some of my curve and my selective color adjustments in the hue saturation, I could just check the boxes that I actually did work with. And if that's the case, I would do HSL, and then I would just go ahead and do whites, white balance, exposure, contrast, shadows, blacks, whites, clarity, vibrance, and saturation. Don't need to worry about anything else, and press Okay. And that's gonna carry over onto all those images. Very much like you would use in something like Lightroom, where you would take the settings from one and you transpose them onto the others. So a lot of people ask me and be like, have you ever actually done an event shoot before? And yeah, I have, and I've done the whole 500 pictures not using Lightroom, all using Adobe Camera Raw and Bridge. And it's the same, same thing. You know, just because you use something like Lightroom, because yes, it is easier, it is a little bit easier. It has less of a learning curve. Your images are there, you edit there, you're good. This, you just have to know the handoff between Bridge over to Adobe Camera Raw and everything's pretty much stable and the same. So, then I would just assess those images. After I add those settings to these images, how does this one look? Well, it's a little bright, so I might drop the exposure just a little bit. Coming down to this one, again, a little bright, so I might drop the exposure just a little bit. Look at this one, again, little bright. Actually, I can brighten that one up a little bit more. Maybe just drop the highlights down a little bit. And then what I'm gonna do, because I already have those settings done, I'm gonna try and see if I can use that for many different images. So I might grab this one, press and hold shift, right click, and sync those settings. They're gonna sync with whatever one is highlighted. So because this one is highlighted, it's syncing these settings with these images. Press Okay. So now my colors look good here, 'cause I already got those colors set up from the original image. So I'll keep that. Just might have to drop those highlights down a little bit. And boost that contrast. Maybe add a little bit more yellow to my white balance, there. Again, it's all just a matter of personal preference. This one, just need to maybe brighten it up a little bit. Boost those shadows a little bit. And add some contrast to that. And we could get even more artistic with an image like this. But I'm not gonna do that at this point. So then I can, again, take these settings, press and hold shift, right click, sync settings. How does it look? Well, this one needs to be a little bit brighter. So I'll boost that one up. And again, these were all from that same basic amount of settings so I can press and hold shift, right click, sync settings. Brighten them up. Maybe too bright. Maybe too bright. And then drop this one down a little bit. Right click, sync settings. Too bright, drop that down a little bit. This one's definitely too bright. Drop that exposure down. See how far I can push and pull this RAW file? Just know your RAW files well enough so you know how far you can push them. Especially when you're, you can make so many better in-camera decisions that get you into the post-production. I'm always thinking about what I'm gonna do with those images while I'm even shooting. So I know the limitations of my ISO, I know the limitations of my dynamic range in my image, I know the limitations of a RAW file, so that I can push it a little bit further. This is an image that I would love to take into Photoshop. And I'll show you how I'd do a little bit more artistic processing on this one. This one is a winner, winner, chicken dinner for me. I just love the emotion that's in there. It's beautiful, it's absolutely beautiful. So for me, I know a lot of families want, like, the family standing together and holding each other and eyes focused, but the shot of the day for me was this one. It's like, oh, man, it just hits. 'Cause I have kids and I just love it when they get those, in those, like, little zen moments that they have with themselves, you know. And, yeah, you deliver these pictures, but will they like this as much as the one of them, you know, holding hands and stuff? Probably not, but you know, ah, man. It's like, just melts my heart a little bit. I'm really glad that I do not have little girls. I have three boys. 'Cause I would be a pile of mush, I think, every day. (audience laughing) I would be in tears every day. I'm a very emotional man. Nothing wrong with that. And then we'll go ahead and just take these settings, steal these settings, press and hold shift, right click, sync settings. I'm constantly syncing the settings from what I've already done. Because all I really have to do, I got the color right, now I just have to go in and maybe just modify the tone a little bit. Bring these down a little bit here. Knock those highlights down, bring the shadows up. And we can still do artistic processing in Adobe Camera Raw. Just because we have Photoshop doesn't mean we always have to go in Photoshop for that artistic processing. This is where I would say I'm getting my tone and color right before I start making any of those decisions to do anything that is gonna be, that is gonna affect the artistic effect of the image. Okay, so I'll go over to this image here. Looks good. This one, like I said, know the limitations. Bump up that exposure a little bit. Decrease those highlights, maybe increase some of that. Okay. And really, a lot of what I'm doing now is just the preliminary stuff to get me into the more tedious things that I'm gonna do. I wanna get everything just set up just right before I move into cleaning up blemishes or doing anything like that. And even in Adobe Camera Raw, we can clean up blemishes. We have the spot removal tool. So if we zoomed in on faces, we could maybe press the spot removal tool. Make sure this is set to Heal, small size brush. And then click on there and we can heal different areas right in Adobe Camera Raw. And we don't necessarily have to go into Photoshop to do that. If they're very minimal things, I don't need to do frequency separation. This is one of those things I probably wouldn't do frequency separation on. If I'm doing a family portrait series that's, I need to deliver 50 or 60 images or 30 images, whatever that might be, whatever the contract stated, I would probably not do a whole lot of the really heavy lifting that I would do in Photoshop. I would try to get most of it done here in Adobe Camera Raw so that when I go into Photoshop, I'm really only doing things that are really artistic and taking me to that really artistic level. And if it's, like, the sign on that blacksmith thing, I wanna get rid of that, that's something I have to go into Photoshop for because it's just not gonna be quite as easy to do it in Adobe Camera Raw. For something like this, just go in and straighten the horizon. For this one, I'd probably take this one over this one, and crop it. And this one I can just control, two, and mark that to be deleted 'cause I don't like that now that I look at it. But this one, crop it. About there. And then get these, I'll steal these settings from here, sync them with this one. Looks pretty good. Sync settings, 'kay. So let's look at an image that I maybe I wanna take it a little bit further, a little bit more on the post-production here. So with this one, if I wanna do some artistic effect stuff in Adobe Camera Raw, I would probably look at this and then set myself up for some type of preset that I could create that I could then use on the rest of the images. Not necessarily syncing the settings, but making a preset for them. So I sync the settings, and I'm trying to get all the preliminary stuff done. And then after I get the preliminary exposure, the highlights, and get all that stuff looking good, then I'll probably do a preset for the artistic-based things and I can apply a preset to many images. So what I would do for maybe an artistic type of thing. I've got the tone good, I've got the color good, everything looks good here. I'd click on my tone curve and I might do that cinematic effect. High contrast is one of those things that we're kind of going away from. I think, I don't know when that whole phase is gonna end. But high contrast was a thing about, I don't know, like five or six years ago, that was what people really wanted. Now people want soft-edge-type images. So I might just lift up those black areas a little bit by just pulling up on that and creating that same cinematic effect that we did in Photoshop but doing it here in Adobe Camera Raw using the point and not the parametric curve. I added points to this area, one, two, three, to block those areas off and anchor them so that I could tell the black areas in the image to get a little bit lighter if I wanted them to. So do something like that. And then what I could do with split-toning is I could add a split-tone effect to have, add some mood and some feel and some drama to this image. So if I bring up the saturation. Looks horrible, I know, don't throw anything at me. But if I get my shadows with a nice kinda blue, get my highlights with a nice creamish color, then I can then drop down these, the saturation here and just get a nice kind of artistic-y kind of sheen or glow to them, different color glow. Now, that's gonna be a blue into a creamish color. I could change these colors to maybe something more red or more orange to bring out the fall look and the fall feel but I really like how that's comin' through and that cyan-ish type of blue right there. The higher I have the saturation, the more that's gonna take effect. I can bring that down. And I can favor my highlights or my shadows here. So what I've done with that is, I've made a tone curve and I've made a split tone. So if I come over to my presets, and I add a new preset, what do I want to save here? I wanna save my point curve, so I'll press alt or option and click on this to turn everything else off. My point curve and my split tone. Press Okay. And I should probably rename this and title it something that I know what it is instead of Untitled One. (audience laughing) Good practices, Blake, not bad practices. So we'll go back to that page. Again, point curve and the split tone, and we'll call this Alexander Effect. And we'll specifically call this Color. So then if I click on any of these images up here, to make them all have the same type of look to them, once I click on them and add that split tone, or the Alexander Effect there, it's gonna have that same artistic effect to all the images. It's gonna add the split tone. It's also gonna add the curve to it. If, by chance, though, I look at this and I don't really care for that split tone, and for an image like this, maybe I want more of that orange color in the shadowy areas, or maybe more of a reddish or a magenta color, that actually looks kinda good there, and drop that saturation. And then for those highlights, maybe add a little bit more of that orange and drop that saturation a little bit more there. I now have a different type of split tone. And this split tone would be more for like the autumn glow type of look. 'Cause it's favoring reds and oranges. So if I made a new preset, I could call this, and all I want here is the split tone, call this Autumn Alexander Look. So maybe I just wanna grab these and add just that autumn look. It's only gonna add the split tone. It's not gonna add all the other stuff. But because I like the point curve from the other effect, that point curve is still gonna, that point curve is gonna stay from before 'cause the only thing that's happening now is the split tone. So then if I look at the overall before and after of this image, here's the before. Here's the after. We go back to our basic settings here. Before, after, before, after. Just starting to liven that image up, get a little bit more color into it. Haven't done a whole lot, or anything at this point, with Photoshop yet. If I wanted to, I could get pretty nitpicky with this. I don't like this twig hanging out here. It's a distraction. Typically, what viewers will look for is things that don't, which one of these is not like the others. We've been told since, basically, preschool what to find that don't look like the others. So if I go ahead and use my spot removal tool, I can either use the Heal right here, if that'll work. Pull from something like that. That looks good. And I might even heal some of this area up here, too. And one of the things that really sticks out to a viewer is gonna be areas of high highlight. Highest highlights will pull our attention away from anywhere in the image and drag our eye right to it. If you look up here, in the top area here, this is pulling our attention away because the highlights are so high. But their faces also have some pretty high highlights surrounded by contrast, too. So we do narrow our focus into there. Any of the little nitpicky highlights around them, those are the things that I would probably clone out so that those highlights aren't drawing my attention away in some type of pattern that goes around their face. I don't want to, like, triangularly locate their face with highlights. I just wanna be able to see their face. So let's take a look at what I would do at this point. So, I would go through and I would color grade the rest of these images, if I wanted to color grade them, using the presets that I've got selected. It's moving pretty fast. Something like this, when, a shoot like this, going from Bridge to Adobe Camera Raw, wouldn't take me much time to process at all. And I could get really happy with them just right in here.