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How to Photograph and Flatter Skin Tones

Lesson 5 of 15

Camera Files & Settings

Lindsay Adler

How to Photograph and Flatter Skin Tones

Lindsay Adler

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Lesson Info

5. Camera Files & Settings


  Class Trailer
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1 Class Introduction Duration:01:51
2 White Balance Duration:08:07
3 Mixed Lighting Duration:04:06
4 Color Contamination Duration:12:33
5 Camera Files & Settings Duration:05:09
6 Color Management Duration:07:04
7 Exposure Duration:05:00
8 Quality of Light Duration:07:36
9 Direction of Light Duration:03:29
10 Makeup Duration:04:28
11 Retouching Duration:03:19
12 Shoot: Fair Skin, Female Model Duration:02:01

Lesson Info

Camera Files & Settings

Okay, so number four will be your camera settings. So camera settings, they don't necessarily make the skin look good, but the wrong ones make the skin look bad. That's kind of what we're talking about here. Now, ideally you should be shooting RAW. When you shoot RAW files capturing as much information as possible and so then, if you mess up your white balance, you can change it. If you mess up your white balance in a JPG file and then you go to change it later, the file starts to fall apart and you don't have as much latitude to fix it. But RAW captures everything and then you can change your mind and pick any white balance you want after the fact, not with the JPG. So I aim to shoot with RAW, I edit with 16-bit files and I try to use a larger color space. I'm gonna explain why this matters. So, it's gonna be hard for you guys to see this on a screen, but definitely in the file looking up close you can tell, let's say that we took this photo and the white balance is off and it's super...

dark and so we go ahead and we fix each one. In one I only shot small JPG or I only shot large JPG, it doesn't matter, I shot JPG and then the other one I shot RAW. And so you take these two and can you start to see how on the left, see all the greens in the shadows? Even though on both of these with the color eyedropper, right, the white balance eyedropper, on both of these I said, you know what, I think, I think this concrete is neutral. I didn't have a gray card, I didn't shoot it and I'm okay, so I want my white balance to be right. What you do is you look for something neutral. So I said okay, let's go with the neutral-ish sidewalk. I did the exact same point in both of these and the JPG, it just couldn't do it. The JPG, I just couldn't get enough information back, so it's super green, but look how much cleaner it is in the RAW file. So if you mess up, gotta graph RAW, otherwise the skin's gonna look bad. And also, if you look real close between these two shots, not only can I not get the skin and the shadows back to the right color, but there is a ton of noise in the shadow. So it's just destroying the skin. So that means if you're at a wedding or reception and you took a great action shot of the bride and groom and it's beautiful, but you shot with a JPG file and it was a little underexposed, you probably gonna have to go for the high contrast black and white look to hide your mistake, which, I mean, if you can convince them there wasn't hiding a mistake then there you can get away with it, but you gonna need as much information as possible. So this is the one to show you another example. This is a beauty shot I took on the left, picture on the right is the retouched final file, okay? So I actually had to brighten it up quite a bit and I had to do a bit of retouching, but I did the same amount of retouching on these two files, trying to get it to the right brightness. But first what I did is I worked on it at 8-bit, meaning if you ever open files, you can choose whether editing in 8 bit or 16-bit. It's the amount of information you have. In my longer skin class I go into a much more in-depth detail what that actually means, what's 8-bit, 16-bit, how it affects color, how it affects tonalities, we're not gonna do that. What it means is you have less to work with. So in both of these files I saved one as 8-bit and one as 16 and then I started editing it and if you look on the levels kinda histogramish, the levels on the left, see all those broken up lines? It's because as I started to edit it, there wasn't enough information in the 8-bit 'cause I had to do a lot of editing and it started piecing apart. So this is where you start running into problems with bending or you start having issues of actually making that much change in your file, the info wasn't there. 16-bit gives you a lot more information to work with. One of the analogies I explain for color spaces as well as bit depth, okay, is I explain it like a situation I had, where I was a bridesmaid, okay? And so I picked the size dress that supposedly fits me and I show up and it was the day of the wedding and it was not going on 'cause I picked the right size, but it was tight here, big there. What you're better off doing, how you supposed to do is go one size up and then go get it tailored, so you can tuck it in places and actually make it fit you. It's the same thing with the file because maybe I need to pull a little more from the shadows, like a JPG, it might get you kind of some of the information, but as you start pushing and pulling it's not looking right in the shadows and the highlights, it doesn't fit. So you're better off giving yourself the 16-bit and the RGB or the ProPhoto space 'cause then as you start mushing things around I can still cut pieces out later on, but I had more leeway to do so. Alright, to end this the whole bridesmaid dress thing is totally true. I had have like three people put it on me and it's super embarrassing and then I waddled down the aisle 'cause I couldn't walk.

Class Description

Skin is one of the most important things to flatter in your portraits and there are so many elements to consider! In this course Lindsay Adler will cover the most important ways she ensures that she flatters her subject's skin. She'll walk through every consideration leading up to your shoot from modifier choice, position of the light, white balance, color contamination, makeup, and more. Learn how to capture great skin in-camera so you can save time in your post-processing.


Amy Vaughn

The topic is too big to cover all the solutions in depth in such a short amount of time, but this seems like a great overview for beginners to understand the range of problems with making skin look good in photos. Lindsay does a great job of making her class topics easy to understand.


Great primer on skin tones, lighting, and considerations for different types of skin. One of the few teachers that discusses dark skin tones!

Alfonso Ruiz

Liked the info and the pace of the course