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Retouching & Color Overview

Lesson 22 from: Environmental Portrait Photography

Dan Brouillette

Retouching & Color Overview

Lesson 22 from: Environmental Portrait Photography

Dan Brouillette

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Lesson Info

22. Retouching & Color Overview

Strategize for post-processing in this overview lesson. Learn Dan's process for editing, including finding your style, and working with color.


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

Retouching & Color Overview

As far as retouching and color goes, the key to my retouching is to shoot clean. Like I said before, if you like spending a lot of time in Photoshop then don't use a light meter and shoot sloppy. But if you do like to have free time, shoot clean. Using a light meter takes an extra 20 seconds and it'll save you a lot of time of fixing blown highlights or bringing back super dark shadows. Also just knowing the basics of lighting and being able to experiment. As I work around the studio and have these experimental days where I just photograph myself or my assistant for hours on end. That helps me have cleaner light upfront because I know what the light's doing. That way when I get into an actual shoot for a client I'm not having to spend the whole time retouching because I didn't know what the light was gonna do. For me it's all about the preparation from writing everything in my notebook to make sure I got the shot to metering to experimenting, it's all done ahead of time so when I'm on ...

the shoot it's pretty stress free. Usually the most anxiety ridden part of any photo shoot for me is the week leading up to it because once I'm there all the details are taken care of. All I need to do is put a camera in my hand and that's how it should be, cause you should have a clear mind when you're trying to create these images, not worry about, I don't really know if I should use this reflector or that one because I don't know which one's gonna have the effect. Well test before hand and you'll sleep pretty well the night before the shoot. So that's how I like to do it, I don't like going into anything, again I'm a last minute guy, I like deadlines but at the same time I like to have everything done before I get there because I don't like having that stress of thinking I'm under prepared. Embrace the subject, slight cleanup but natural. What I mean by that is, I don't do a ton of retouching, I'm not a beauty photographer, I'm not photographing for a makeup company, I'm not shooting high end fashion models. I don't need perfect skin, I need people that look real. So if there's a blemish or something that might be out of the ordinary or there is a special request from a client to get rid of a mole or birthmark or things like that I will certainly do that. But on my own accord, I'm not gonna remove that type of stuff. I'll remove acne or that type of stuff because it's not gonna be there in a couple months hopefully. So I want pictures to be flattering but I also want the to be real so I won't do a whole bunch of skin cleanup. And you'll see that when we go through all these images today. I do all my retouching with my tablet here. I bought this thing in college and I'm 34 years old so that was a while ago. For the first four years I owned it I never took it out of the box because I thought it was the worst invention ever, I couldn't figure out how to use it. I was using a mouse and then one time a guy I was talking to, he was like; you really don't use that tablet, you know you're kind of like a caveman retouching with a mouse. It's like a caveman with a rock drawing on the side of a cave. And it thought yeah you're right, it isn't that precise and then my mouse died. Not the batteries died, the whole thing just died 10 o'clock at night and I needed to write some emails and do some stuff on the internet. So I was forced to buss this guy out of the box and browse the internet using the tablet cause it was the only way I could do it on my desktop ad I've never went back. I started retouching with it that night, I got used to it and now almost probably 10 years later I'm still on the original setup. It was well worth the couple hundred bucks I spent in college and I'm glad it made its way out because retouching on a track pad, I've seen people who are awesome at it but that is not for me. So I like retouching with the tablet and there's newer versions of this that are great but if it aint broke, is that a saying (chuckles), don't fix it. So we'll keep going after that failed attempt at a joke. Find your palette, it's part of your point of view and identity as a photographer. What you're gonna see is we're going to get into different ways of colorizing your photos, color grading your photos. Whether it's the color stuff you can do within Capture One or whether it's all the color grading you can do with an alien scan, all the filters and all that. It's really easy to get lost and lose your identity. It's also really easy spend two hours on one image and have 40 layers and eight gigabyte PSD file. You don't need to do that. It's always fun to go through when you just get the software and figure out what you like. But with any of these versions of the software, especially Alien Skin; you can mark favorites, you can make pre-sets. So that way you don't have to go down that rabbit hole every time you open the software. I have a certain look, as you're gonna see in a little bit, Alien Skin probably has, I don't even know, thousands of filters and hundreds of thousands of combinations literally. I use about 10 of them. So I went through all of them at one point, tweak certain ones to fix, it'd be two in the morning and I would still be working on the same file that I started at 10 o'clock. Because I want to figure out which of these fit different scenarios. So I have certain filters I like for natural light, I have certain filters I like for studio, I have certain combinations I like for black and white. So I do all my black and whites in Alien Skin, I'll show you one of those. And I do all my color work in Alien Skin as well. And it's pretty quick and once you find one apply it to all the images from that same set because if you start messing with different filters on different images you're gonna not be able to put those on your website cause people won't even know if they're from the same shoot. So find your identity and stick with it cause it's really easy to get lost in those types of programs because there's so many options. So it's a good thing and a bad thing at the same time. Next thing, a little more retouching and color. Again, Alien Skin and Photoshop, those are the two program we're gonna talk about along with Capture One.

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