Portrait Workflow Techniques
If I wanted to artistically process something, like maybe this photograph, I'd probably wanna do that in something like Photoshop, and I'd probably wanna artistically process this one in something like Photoshop, so let's go ahead, and we'll just do this one right here. And I'll press Open Image. What it did there, let's just go back to Bridge real quick, just so you know, you see how, now, all of these have settings on them now? So, even though I just told Adobe Camera Raw to open that one image, it opened that one image, but applied all of those settings to all of these images, so all these images do have settings on them, and those settings were saved. I didn't lost those things. Those things are still happening on all of these photographs. So, for something like this photograph, I might wanna go with something like a black and white style look on this photo, and with our Boot Camp panel, we've already shown black and white several times, so let's just go ahead and click this to get...
our black and white conversion happening. I'll turn this layer off just to see what kinda colors I have available to me. If I click on the color modifier here and then click on my properties, I can click on the targeted adjustment tool and click on a color, and I can look at the luminesce of that color. That's yellow, so I can brighten up those yellows or darken down those yellows. I'll probably brighten those up, add a boost of saturation to them to affect the tone from underneath. Looks pretty good there, I like that. Let's look at the greens. The green areas, I might darken those down just to have some depth and some separation between the image. Looks pretty good, and this is where I'd also do dodging and burning. I don't really care to do dodging and burning too much in Adobe Camera Raw. You can do it with separated brushes. It's just kind of a pain, so I'd, again, open up our Creative Live panel here. Press the Tools. We have something called Dodge and Burn. It's gonna pop open. It's gonna tell you how to use this tool. I'm just gonna go ahead and tell ya, it's already set up for ya. It's gonna automatically set you up for the dodge tool. Just make sure that, once you have the dodge tool selected, you're between 15 and 20% here, and then I'm gonna just go ahead and make this brush a little bit bigger. Now, I might dodge them to make them a little bit brighter, to draw the attention right here. I might even dodge in some highlight areas to bring your attention to them, and then press Alt or Option. That'll switch me right over to burning on the fly. Burn around some of these areas, again, creating depth. It's kinda flat. It's kinda flat looking, but what we've done just right there, we've started to shape the image. We're shaping the light in the photograph to the way we want it. Alt or Option to burn around here. Maybe burn the top of the church. I don't know if I can say that, burn the top of the church. So, I'm gonna make that a little bit brighter. That's the direction that they're going to. Make that brighter back here. Alt or Option to darken down those trees. We'll look at the before and after. It's starting to look pretty good. We can shape this even more. If we go over into our Effects, I've got two different vignettes here. I've got a regular vignette and a box vignette that are both created by gradients for you, so we press this Vignette. Press Continue. It's gonna allow me to modify this vignette and move it exactly where I want it to go. So, I want that vignette to be somewhere like this. That's good, right there. That's okay. And here's the before, here's the after. This just looks so much better. Now, what we also know about black and white, this is something I would just test. Okay, well, let's see what happens if I just drop the color a little bit, or the opacity a little bit, lets some of that color shine through. I don't know if I necessarily like that as much, but I would test it. I would see. I don't know how it's gonna be in my artistic process. Maybe that, at 50%? Maybe that looks okay? Maybe I could leave that at 50% and then start building up color in other ways, but look at what we can see now, when this is not in black and white, though, is how this dodging and burning really shaped all of the light that's happening right here between them. There's an interaction that's happening between them now that was lost. They were lost in all of this other area before. If we turn off the dodge and burn layer, look at that. It just looks like two people just standing there. Now it looks like they're actually drawing that attention, and you know that they're going to somewhere. What we're doing here is we are completely manipulating the viewer, and they don't even know it, alright? They just see the end result. We're completely manipulating the viewer because this slight vignette that's so subtle is nailing their attention down, and they don't even know it. If you told them that there was a vignette, they'd be like oh, really? Well, I guess there is. That's the thing about a vignette. A vignette should not be like ah, I'm using a vignette. Yeah! No. Especially a white vignette. Let me just get off my soap box on white vignettes. White vignettes are very 1970s-esque. I completely stay away from white vignettes at all costs, 'cause a black vignette looks like narrowing the eyes. A white vignette is basically screaming, hey, I want you to look here, and it's just like so unnatural. It just feels like okay, great, I really know that you want me to look at this. I get it, 'cause everything else is paper white around it. Good job. Whereas the black vignette just kinda just brings us right in, and why it's also more natural is because a black vignette is more closely natural to what we would use with our camera. Our lens gives us a black vignette. Our lens doesn't give us a white vignette. You name a lens that gives a white vignette. I'd love to see it. They just don't do it, so because our lens typically gives us a black vignette, it's a lot easier to get away with a black vignette than a white vignette. Maybe that's a personal thing on vignettes, about white vignettes. I cannot stand them. I just can't stand them, and because this is workflow based, this is where I would, I actually kinda like that quasi-black and white look now. The more I look at it, the more I kind of enjoy it. Let's just turn this up though, back to up here. We can still continue to shape this image and still continue to shape the light and tell the story that's happening here. Typically, we would do that with, you know, cinematic effects could do that, too, adding that cinematic effect that we have here. If we go into our black area, that's also gonna add some color to this as well, which is almost like it's a nice, subtle sepia tone on top of a black and white image to tone the image. If you wanted to tone this black and white even more, though, in this black section here that is in the cinematic effect that's also, this is a selective color adjustment, you could start to add more cyan to that area and start painting and shaping that light if you wanted to, and maybe add some more yellows or less yellows to make it some more blue. But you see how it's really starting to shape and structure this image, 'cause right now, we're kind of shaping this light by not touching anything in the highlight areas, 'cause we're only really focused on things that are black and transitioning into mid-tone areas, so that really starts to shape that light. Look at how, visually, how there's like a scoop that just scoops right in, from here right into here. Turn that back on. You can see that, it just scoops you right into there, and that looks pretty good. So, this would be a version that I would probably send to them. I mean, it's not like the other versions that I had before. It's slightly different, slightly artistic, but it would also be one of those things that I would gauge with them, and say hey, I've got a couple different selections for you here. Which direction would you like to go with this? 'Cause then I'll customize it based on where they wanna put it. A lot of times, you know, we can consider where is the print gonna go in the end. If the print is gonna go in a room that has a lot of black and white images, then maybe this would be better than something like this, but always experiment, too. So, all I did there was just turn off our black and white layer. So, we shaped this whole image using black and white, but once I turn that black and white layer off, look at that. That's actually pretty darn good. Here's the before. Here's the after. Also, look what I'm doing here. I do this a lot. I'm inverting the light. I'm inverting the light so that, look at this before. Before, the light is more focused on what's happening out here than what's happening in here. This is darker than this is. If I invert that light and kinda go like concave, I guess, would be the idea that I'm kinda going with there. Inverting that light, I'm now shaping that light to push you into this area, rather than what's happening on the outside areas. If I wanted to do something very similar with one of these other images, let's say, which one do I want? Let's choose this one. If I'm not using a mask, I can take all of the stuff that I've done here, look at this. This doesn't have a mask. This doesn't have a mask. This doesn't have a mask. This doesn't have a mask. This is specific dodging and burning. Notice how I made it the color red. That's so that you know that, hey, this is a dodge and burn layer. These are all effect-based layers that have come through from that, so if we take this black and white conversion, we press and hold Shift and move it over to this image, and then we take these layers, press and hold Shift, and move it over to this image, we now have the same effect happening on this photograph, so you don't have to redo all this stuff. You just open them up, and because these aren't docked, they're floating, you can just grab what's happening in this image, drag it, and drop it over this image, and it's cleaned up. Now, there's some things that are happening on her face that I might wanna clean up with something like a healing brush or something like that. This is one of those marks that's not like a character embellishment. It's just maybe she bit her lip or something like that, and then there might be a little bit of crumbs on her face as well, and if that's the case, I would just grab a new layer above this, using something like the healing brush. Alt or Option, click here. Heal that, and maybe heal that. That's not gonna work out too well. And heal that. See what it looks like in black and white. Not bad. I would probably crop this one down, though, too, 'cause the crop is a little odd. Right now, my crop is set to 1920 by 1080, so I'll just clear that, press C, press and hold Shift, maybe do something like that. Do a crop like that. That would be a little bit better. Because this vignette, if we look at the vignette here, this vignette was set for the last image. If I double click on this, that vignette is not hard-coated. It's a vignette that's made from a gradient, so I can move it wherever I want on this image, so I could pull this over to here to narrow down the focus right there. Maybe reduce that black and white down a little bit. You notice what I did here, though. From the very beginning, I was thinking about tone. I did tone first. I did color first. I got those set up in Bridge through Adobe Camera Raw, got the tone and the color set up, and that gave me the opportunity to jump through here and use this as my playground to kind of play around with the images in a way that I'm now branching away from the regular tone and color and going into the artistic effects and doing things that will make these images uniquely mine, versus somebody else's look, somebody else's effect. These are things that only I do, that only I've done. Obviously, now, you could probably follow along because you've got the panel that's open there, and you can just press buttons and you get it. It's not a push button thing, though. The point is to get tone right and get color right, then embark on artistic effects, because I'm gonna do this. I'm gonna show you what happens if I open up. I'm gonna go to right click here. I'm gonna go to Develop Settings, and I'm gonna say clear all the settings. Now, I'm gonna open this image up. I'm not gonna get my tone and color right first. The exact same image is open. I'm gonna come over here. I'm gonna grab all of my effect-based things that I've done with this. Look at the difference. You've got to get this stuff set up first before you start going into those effects. This right here is a clear and present example of why you bought that preset pack from Joe Shmo on the internet and you clicked the button, and you said no, my image is gonna look like their sales page. No, it's not. The reason why is that they probably set up the tone and the color in their image perfectly before they started going into the artistic effect that you just purchased, so now, if you take an image straight out of camera and you want that exact same effect on your photograph, it is not gonna work, and there is no way that you can say okay, well, those presets that you use on those images are beautiful, Blake. I'm just gonna use those on all the other images that I process for the next photo shoot. It's not gonna happen, because light changes, color changes, dynamic range changes, everything changes depending on where you are, so you gotta get your tone right. You gotta get your color right before you can jump into these effects. All of these effects that you saw in this photograph here that actually have a lot of nice character, I haven't even gone into too much dodging and burning on this one. That's another step I could have taken here, but getting the tone, getting the color right, and then applying those effects is gonna give you a much better look than if you just say okay, well, I'm just gonna take this straight out of camera and just start applying effects to it. It's not gonna work, so get the tone right, get the color right, then start moving into the artistic effects and start making your artistic style on those photographs. So, we did cover quite a bit here. We covered everything that I do in my portrait workflow, from the thought process on kinda what I do in camera all the way through the Bridge, coloring the photographs, saving the photographs that I like with one stars, two stars, three stars, then bringing those into Adobe Camera Raw that were all my three star images that I filtered down so I knew exactly which ones I wanted to post-process. After they were filtered down, I did my edits. I do a lot of batch editing, meaning I'll grab the settings of one image, apply them to many, and then, if I need to do any really fine-tuned, nitpicky things with clone stamping, I'll do that in Photoshop, but for the most part, I'm using Photoshop specifically when it comes to this style of post-production on images that I want to be more artistic, not necessarily in Adobe Camera Raw. I don't try to get too artistic in Adobe Camera Raw. I try to keep that pretty mild and do a lot of my heavy hitting here. If I was to deliver these images, I would just save this image down into a jpeg. I would always leave my psd files with my layers, so with this photograph, I would File, Save As, and I would save it, probably, just as the exact same name as the photo, so it stacks exactly the same place in the whole Bridge setup, and press Save. After it's saved as a psd, I would go in and I'd save it as a high-res jpeg, and then save it as whatever else they wanted. One of the things that you can do, though, in Adobe Camera Raw, is if you get all of those images in Adobe Camera Raw, you get them all set up exactly like you want them to be, you can actually highlight all of them and save them all as small jpegs, so that you don't have to worry about going through this whole process of going into Photoshop and resizing everything down and resizing everything down. And to do that, you just go into Bridge, and I'll just select three images and open them in Camera Raw. Select all of them. Right down here, where it says, see, Save Images, click Save Images, and just start answering the questions. What do you wanna call these images? Do you wanna store them in the same location? If you don't, if you wanna make a new folder, then make a new folder and store them in a new folder, which is what I typically do. If I'm making jpegs, I'll save them down into their own small jpeg folder, and then here, what file extension? We would change that to jpeg, and the quality, high quality, medium quality. For delivering them to a client, I'd probably give them high quality jpegs. You can even restrict the file size, too, so if you want it to be high quality, but you wanna restrict it to two megabytes, you could restrict the file size here, and then just press Save, and it would save those out as jpegs. You can't hurt anything here, the raw files, so if you save them out as jpegs and it's not quite exactly what you want, just go back through and experiment with it. It's not always gonna be right the first time. Right now, if I were to save these down, it would be called VertPano. We don't want that. We would wanna save them down as probably their own jpeg name, or maybe Alexander photo shoot. That would just be saving three images, but we could save a whole slew of images if we wanted to. So, when it comes to workflow, there is a lot. There's a lot of steps, there's a lot of parts, there's a lot of pieces. You gotta be thinking your end game at the very beginning, and work in between, and if you do that, you'll set yourself up for success. Just remember tone, color, artistic effects. Tone, color, artistic effects. I'm gonna say it a lot. These next two, you're gonna get sick of hearing it, and I'm glad, 'cause you'll never forget it. So, that concludes our lesson on portrait workflow. If you'd like to follow me, go ahead and go to f64.co/cl, and in the next lesson, we're gonna talk about landscape workflow.