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Finish Images in Photoshop & Alien Skin

Lesson 43 from: Environmental Portrait Photography

Dan Brouillette

Finish Images in Photoshop & Alien Skin

Lesson 43 from: Environmental Portrait Photography

Dan Brouillette

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Lesson Info

43. Finish Images in Photoshop & Alien Skin

Work inside Photoshop to remove scuffs and scrapes on the walls and other clean-up tasks. Then, work with files in Alein Skin to color using presets.


Class Trailer

Class Introduction


Introduction to The Environmental Portrait


Environmental Portrait Purpose


Personal Work


Find Your Process




Purpose For Action Editorial


Prepare for Shoot


Lesson Info

Finish Images in Photoshop & Alien Skin

So, first thing I would do is zoom in and look for anything that's really distracting, like all these marks on the wall where art had been previously hanging. I hit Command + J to make a background layer, I'm gonna use the patch tool to remove a few of these scuffs and scrapes and wounds of previous art on the wall because they are, they make it look I just never clean my camera, which is also true, but I'd rather clean 'em up. It's probably camouflaging all the dust that is on my sensor. Okay, there we go. Get rid of a couple of these. So there we go. That's already just a little basic cleanup. Nothing to it. We'll zoom in on her, see if there's anything. Again, I like to leave people pretty well as they are. If there's a couple distracting hairs or anything like that, that I think aren't giving me anything and I can clean 'em up quickly. We're gonna have to use clone stamp, and again I might not even do this. We're gonna turn it down pretty low. I just wanna have a little cleaner lin...

e here. So something simple. As far as the rest of skin I'm fine with that. I just think that adds just a little bit to it, just a little clean up. I don't mind the rest of her hair. It is what it is there and it looks pretty good. It kinda fits her personality. I like how this is in the shot, I like how the torch is in the shot, we have pretty good composition. I don't mind this framing down here. So I'm gonna save that, we'll open it up in Alien Skin and do just a little bit of work. So that was that shot there. So we'll go to Alien Skin, go over to our Folders, oops. Alicia Torney, CLselects and I believe that was this photo here. So we'll double click that, get rid of all these thumbnails. There we go. And we'll go to our Presets. So, I don't have really any original thought with this one as far as what I wanna do. I wanna keep it light and airy, I wanna keep the contrast there, it fits the artwork. I wanna add a layer, there we go. So, I'll click through the normal ones. These are all too dark. This might actually work as a good baseline. It looks very yellow so we're gonna, I can't do that. We gotta make this smaller and fill to screen. There we go. I'm gonna lower the opacity of that. It's way too yellow so I know that's from what we learned yesterday, that's in this Color tab. We're gonna get rid of the density of that filter. Again, I'm just adding a little bit of contrast and I wanna get rid of a little bit of the yellow. I like what that's doing. We'll add one more layer. I wanna make it a little more creamy, kind of like a pastel feel, so that'll be in these Cross Processing. I think we're gonna go with this one. We're gonna turn that down quite a bit. I kinda like what that's doing. As far as color goes, get rid of a little bit of the reds. And I'm okay with that, so we can export that one out, and you could do this as a batch at the end, too. CLselects. And that'll add this CG, so it's color graded to the end of the filename. You'll see if you go back to that folder we have the original, and then we have the one with the new color. So, that just looks like that. So that's about all I would do to that image. Looking at one of these others ones, one of the portraits. Let's do, let's do this one. So again, the vast majority of the work is already done. For this one I wanna crop it so it's in a little tighter. I wanna have some square lines. I'm gonna take that to the edge of that doorframe. Oops, I didn't mean to do that. I'm gonna take this to the edge of this file cabinet. Somewhere in there, this is nitpicking at this point, no one's, I'm just looking at the brushes and things down here. You can't, like this is one of those things where I can't decide if I want 'em all in or not in. Maybe we'll go right there, and then I'm gonna lower this frame just to above that picture right there. And at the bottom of the frame the decision here, whatever, crop it, is if you want that masking tape in there. So, oh, nevermind. I didn't pan down. So, that's actually perfect. This is not, this is a weird crop; it's not square, it's not four by six, but that's okay because my website doesn't care. So, with that said we're gonna clean up a few of these little blemishes on the wall, again, where artwork was hanging. I don't mind those in the corner. Couple spots there. Oh, that's actually dust on my screen. All right, I'm all good with that. The one thing I do wanna get rid of is this mystery shadow just because if we're not gonna include the brush I don't wanna include the shadow. So we'll clone that out real quick, it'll take two seconds. So, quick clean up there. Get rid of that shadow, we're good. All right, let me save that. We'll open 4914 in Alien Skin. Again, we'll add our layer. Do a little work in here, oops. If you hit over in Alien Skin it picks the different file, not the different filter, so don't do that. Ooh, I kinda like this, it's a a little more moody. It's too green, actually that's fine. So I'll start turning it, tuning it down a little bit. I like where this is going. We'll add another layer there. I wanna get rid of some of that red though first, so we'll go back in there. Her skin is pretty red. There we go. Start another layer, and again this is just strictly playing around at this point. I don't even really know what I'm going for, I just hope I know it when I see so I'm not in here forever. Let's try one of these, and this is gonna take quite a bit of adjustment, so we can turn that layer way down. I just wanna up that contrast. We'll get rid of some of this yellow that I know is in this filter, but I do wanna up the contrast it's pretty well, high on the highlights. All right, I'm good with that. The only other thing I might do with this one is bring it back into Photoshop for one second and adjust the levels to max out the histogram as far as the contrast goes. We'll open up one real quick and I'll show you the finishing steps. Then we'll do a couple with the garage and we'll be good. So I'm gonna go to my layers here, or my adjustment layers, go to Levels. I can see on the histogram I got a little leeway to work to max out the contrast here. There we are. So we don't have anything blown out and if I drag this center slider to the right it'll start upping the contrast a little bit so you can see before and after. I like the after, we're good. I'm gonna save that. So that's our portrait in her studio. So I'm good with that. We'll close that out, and now we'll work on a couple photos of Richie. Let's export two of those to work on. So we need to pick a new folder where those are gonna go. On my Desktop, MotoShed, CLselects for Creative Live. We're gonna work on just one of the ones in the garage. I'm gonna sort by rating 'cause I already selected these and you guys have seen that entire process. So we're gonna work on that one. We'll process that out and then we're gonna work on one of those portraits at the end. Apparently I didn't favorite those, nope. So we just gotta pick one. So I'm just lookin' for one real quick, I already had one in mind, but. We'll crop in and we'll do this one. I like how his hands are on that wrench. And I've already done the work here. You can see I upped the shadows, got rid of all the highlights, color balance, same thing as always. We'll process that out. We'll open MotoShed, go to our Creative Live selects, open this Photoshop, see if it needs any cropping. It really doesn't, it's just a matter of if you want this blue toolbox over here. I kinda like it, but if you didn't want that, I mean you could even crop this in quite a bit closer if you really wanted to, and bring, and get rid of all that trash above there. You could even do something like that if you cut off his feet, which would kinda get closer to that effect I wish I woulda done with the 7200, but I didn't. The only thing I might do here is darken up this background. So what I'm gonna do there is I'm gonna open a curves adjust layer. We're gonna bring those curves down. So I have a mask here, I'm gonna hit Command + I to invert that mask. I'm gonna use my brush, a medium soft brush, 33% opacity, that's just 'cause what it was, now I need to change it to white so I can, we inverted the mask so I need to turn it to white to start coloring in this dark, kinda vignette effect. We're gonna up the opacity a little bit, and I just wanna make more emphasis on him and less emphasis on this wall of nothing behind here. I might even do that a little bit around his feet. So again I'm just darkening up. There's a couple different ways to do this. I'm just lowering it using curves. Again I want all the emphasis to go on his face, so I'm darkening up anything that I don't want people to over emphasis or their eyes to get attracted to just on accident because I didn't fully control that light. So again, we're just bringing more of the look back to his face. Another way to do that is to do like a multiplication layer, invert the mask and do that, but I prefer to use curves. I'm pretty happy with that. We'll save it. There's nothin' too crazy I'm gonna edit out or retouch. We'll open that quickly in Alien Skin. That should be kinda a fun one to do, and then I think we'll be good, and we'll be ready for some questions. So let's open that image quickly. MotoShed, CLselects. Where did he go? Hold please. I can see it. (laughing) Let me just drag it in there the old fashioned way and see if it shows up. Hm. Well we'll work on the. There it is. Oh that's the one I already did. So I'll just show you what I did earlier, because I don't know why that is happening. I don't have answers for that. If someone out there watching does, that's fine. So what I did here was we started off with our base layer, so again, this is our picture just as we just had it in Photoshop. I'm gonna reset all these layers. So the first thing I did under the Presets was I went to these Wizard of Oz. This is one I always use and it darkens up the entire scene. I placed that one on here as the first layer at 73%. So you can see here's our before and after. I like the overall mood that gave me. I'm gonna turn it down just a little bit more. There we go. Next, I wanted to add a little bit more to the highlights so we added this Creamy Polaroid one. It's down here, Creamy Highlights 669. You'll see that brightened it up just slightly. Ready, the before, and after. Watch his face, before, after. That's only at 8%. So it's just little tiny, then I went with this Kodak filter which added just a little more highlights. Again, very subtle, probably not even noticeable to most people, and then I did this blue filter to kinda cool it off a little bit. So you'll see before, just watch the shadows in his shoulder, after. Even the ground you can see a little bit. If we turn it really high you'll really be able to see it. So, blue, and I'm slowly dialing it down. So again, here's the before and after of that image. I just kinda took the edge off a little bit, it added a little bit of that vintage feel, and I'd be happy with that. So, I think with and with time, we are all set to kinda move on. You saw a little bit about that processing, what goes into it. It's very similar to what we did with the studio stuff. I try and keep the process consistent so the images look consistent and fit my overall feel, and you can definitely see how I shoot knowing what the post work is gonna be and how it's gonna affect the image. I had a question from Tammy who asked about how, I know you like graphic styles and everything, how particular is Dan about having verticals and horizontals being straight in these type of environmental images. And is that just based Way, way too picky. on your particular style or is that something that you would recommend. Yeah, that's something, I mean, for this image you can see we're shooting into a corner so I know that's not gonna happen. But at the same time that's just style. Like the photographers that inspire me, I can tell that they put a lot of thought into that, and it's just over the years, probably part of my personality of having, you know, I'm sure I'll be up here adjusting the way my pen sits on this so it's perfectly perpendicular to the wood grain on this table. Things like that just bother me. So, it's kind of like a mix of those things, and I think that's strictly taste. So, I've seen some photos that I absolutely loved that are just pure chaos, too. So, who knows. Right. That we just saw is very efficient editing. Is there every a time where you potentially get stuck? Have to take a break? What does that look like for you-- Yeah. If that takes place? As far as editing getting stuck it'd be more as if I were doing with color, not so much because I have a general idea and I don't wanna overthink it, but if there's, sometimes if I have to do compositing or things like that, they'll be moments were I just can't figure something out so I gotta restart. For the most part I've kind of taken that out of my style though, I don't do a lot of compositing and by lighting cleanly and things like that. It's not like I'm trying to bring back skin tones that got completely blown out because I don't let that happen. So, I've tried to troubleshoot through those things beforehand. So, it doesn't really happen anymore, but it's definitely been that way over the years where I've had to take a little break and try and figure things out. So, I guess shooting clean is the key to not getting stuck later.

Ratings and Reviews

Julie V

I had the chance to sit in the audience for this class and absolutely loved it. Watching Dan create amazing images from start to finish in front of us was so inspiring. I've learned so much from this class. It actually gave me the confidence to start playing with lights in my studio. It was really useful to see how he sets his lights and how he can easily mix ambient light with artificial. I also love how he focuses on getting the image right in the camera to only do light edits after. I recommend this class to anyone wanting to learn more about lighting, shooting tethered and editing efficiently!

a Creativelive Student

I love this guy! I so appreciate his honesty while he is explaining his thought process, admitting that his “shoulda/coulda/woulda’s” - which I experience ALL the time. I am now going to dust off my light meter and start using it on location as I’m convinced that it works now that I’ve seen Dan’s class. I enjoyed the detailed way he sets up each light individually, checking to make sure it adds the amount and quality of light he wants. Definitely recommend this class - especially for those people who have experience using studio lights and want to see how they can be used to get specific results. Dan’s clear, simple explanations, his unabashed humility, and his sense of humor made this a truly enjoyable way to spend my time learning his methods.

a Creativelive Student

Dan is an excellent instructor! He's completely transparent with his thought processes, from technical to creative. He doesn't waste time horsing around or getting off topic, but is structured and sticks to his outline. Every minute watched is on topic, and is understandable. He's sincere and likable. The course is great for anyone interested in this genre!

Student Work