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Working with photoshop

Lesson 15 from: Masters of Photography

Albert Watson

Working with photoshop

Lesson 15 from: Masters of Photography

Albert Watson

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Lesson Info

15. Working with photoshop

In this lesson you will learn how Albert uses post production to further refine his images.


Class Trailer

Meet your Master


Learn from the journey


Using inspirations


Photography is stopping time


Albert's library of ideas


Tips on preparing for a portrait shoot


Setting up the studio


Understanding studio collaboration


The importance of casting and hair & make-up


Foreground studio set up


Studio session with a model - set up 1


Studio session with a model - set up 2


Studio session with a model - set up 3


Picking the best shot


Working with photoshop


Creating a portrait of Alfred Hitchcock


The gigantic question... Colour or black and white?


One day with Kate Moss


Learn to have your ideas ready


Using Polariods


Creating beautiful photographs of hands


Controlling natural light


Shooting a monkey with a gun


Choosing your format


Composition and lens


Shooting landscapes. The Isle of Skye


Planning and ideas for a landscape shoot


Creating still life images


Photographing the Lost Diary


Shooting album covers


The Strip Search Project


Shooting Las Vegas landscapes


Photographing Breaunna


Balancing daylight, God bless America


Creating the Maroc Project


Creating the Maroc shoot


Photographing sand dunes


Photographing Moroccan children


Advice on making portraits


How to be alert to finding photographs


Making a portrait of Mike Tyson


Creating intense colour in a photograph


Portraits of rap stars and a Golden Boy


Photographing Jack Nicholson


Creating a portrait of David Cronenberg


How to light only using two $10 bulbs


Studio fashion set up 4


Studio session with a model. The geography of a face


Look inside the picture


Creating memorability in an image


Combining nudes and landscapes


A perfect print


The business side of things


Conclusion and farewell


Lesson Info

Working with photoshop

(light electronic music) So I'm lucky enough to have full time Photoshop people working for me that are very good. I would recommend for a young photographer in this day and age, that he spends at least three days a week in the beginning of his career and then he can go to night classes or you can do it on weekends, but that you have really good Photoshop abilities because the Photoshop abilities really enable you to polish your images. Sometimes people get too involved with Photoshop and they begin to use special effects and all that. You shouldn't do it. Basically, learn how to do very basic, good retouching, good spotting, good construction of the shot the way you want it, but I would strongly recommend that you become, that you practice that at all times but beware of the computer. The computer's a great tool, but it can be, you can overuse it. Just be very careful with it and then it's a great help. So here now on the screen, you have the two components. This is one frame and th...

is is the piece of the second frame that I need, so now, Emmy is going to bring those together, we're combining the two together, there we go, into the one frame. So now, you begin to see what I was doing here. Now, we could extend this here, but I don't need all of this black here, so we'll crop here, a little bit higher, probably, actually, about there. That's fine and then we'll take this out. So we now have a crop. Let me look at the crop. Now, you'll find that sometimes the computer slows down here because you're combining two very big pieces of information. Good. So, I might crop in even more. Let's just extend the canvas here a little bit. On this side here, so the canvas goes all the way. Now, I think here, I think that's good enough right now. I think here, let's just do a little bit of liquification to move this in rather than cut it. Lets just move it in so we basically don't have this bump here. So it's a continuous motion here. You can do whichever, there's several ways to do that. Just so you have a continue line there. Good. That's fine. So, usually, when I'm retouching something like this, I like to get it to a point where we're sketching it in, and then I give Emmy time to really, you know, I'm quite happy operating the image in the region of 50, 60, 70%, 70% is good to work with, of the image, so I really see where it's going. And then at a slightly later date, some of the tiny, tiny little details that are in the image, I would let Emmy just do that a little bit later so this retouching process doesn't become too slow. But there's certainly not a lot to do to the image. So the first thing I would do is a little bit open up the neck here a little bit and a little bit the ear, just to bring them in a little bit more. I don't want them to be bright or anything like that, but just to lift them a little bit so that it gives us just a little bit of information on the screen in that area, so it doesn't become too heavy, the shot. I think that's enough. You just want the suggestion of the ear and the neck here which pulls the high end to this part of the shot and we'll still probably look at a slightly closer crop at the very end here. Now, at this point, you have the silhouette is good, the crop on the top is good, on the bottom. Slight adjustment later. Now, I think what you wanna do is to move right into the face here. So let's really go close here, even closer. So, if we look at this right now, I would say, you know, I would ask Emmy to do just a little bit of skin retouching here, and you have to be very careful. You don't want to over retouch this because there's a certain danger point with Photoshop that you over retouch it and you lose the character. So I think you can go ahead, Emmy, and just a little bit work on this area and at least, as I said before, get it to that 60, 70%. So right now, we're just a little bit cleaning the skin, not too much, a little bit, just so there's no roughness here on the skin. She had beautiful skin, Clara, but just a little bit, especially when you cross-light it with an aggressive light. So remember, I'm just going through, you know, basically the first part of this. A little bit of tidy up here and then we'll put it under a magnifying glass a little bit later, and then we'll share the final shot with you later. But that's fairly good. Let me just see what else is in this as we go further up the face. So, right here, we're using just a very small brush, but it's Dodge and Burn. And there's many ways to do this. You have healing brushes, you can do it with density brushes. There's many things that you can do with this. So let's go close up here. We're just looking at this here. I would take a few of the hairs here out. We've added a little bit of noise to this, a little bit of grain to just soften the image a little bit. Right, so here we're on a cloning tool. Just to basically get rid of these on this side here. So there's just a little bit of the other eyebrow coming in here, I would remove that there. I don't think it's contributing to the shot, so I would take it out. So there's always this tightrope walk of going through retouching where you, you don't want to overdo it, but at the same time, you wanna give it quite a clean feel. There we go. Now let's come up higher. Now, this hair, we would take out. Once again, it's not contributing. In one of the other shots there, there was a hair across the face, it was actually quite beautiful. It worked very well. So here, this is okay. Just take these ones out. That's fine there. Now let's go to the forehead here. Just a little bit taking out one or two tiny imperfections. Once again, be very careful. You can keep going and keep going with this and sometimes shots can, you know, portraits can lose their reality and they enter in a strange kind of dummy land. So you wanna hold on to some of the energy of the skin here. Okay, so now, you just kind of have a quick glance. So now, we've moved the retouching from let's say, zero up to maybe 60% done. You know, and of course, it's never ending. It's really a matter of opinion of this is 60% done or is this, you know, 40% done, is it 80% done? Every photographer has a choice about how finished they want this image to look. I'm just gonna add a little bit of dual tone to it 'cause I think it would look good. So, I would view this image as maybe 70% done. You know, it's close enough to demonstrate the general direction that we're going in, but if this was for say a cosmetic add or it was for a billboard or something, we would probably spend another 45 minutes to an hour on it to finish it. So I'm gonna add a little bit of color to the image right now. So, we've added a duotone to it right now which looks like a sepia at the moment. We'll take a little bit of that out so there's just a touch of it in the frame, barely there, which is good. So, I think one thing, I think the contrast level is good here. Let me just see levels here so I can look at that myself. Sometimes, with these various midtones and highlights and the blacks and so on, sometimes it's quite good to exaggerate a little bit so you actually close it off like this and you at least see what your original light was doing. So you see where, when I brought the flag in, and then bit by bit increased the light across the image, and one thing that was important here that I did is the weight on the background is, I think, pretty close to perfect. Your eye slips through the face to the background but the background's not distracting. So I think the contrast level is good. I don't think it needs more white. You see, it begins to burn when you add more white. You have to be careful with the lower part of levels here, it can get very dull. It can dull the shot. So I think basically, at the moment, it's okay. I'm just gonna look at it. I actually think the crop is not too bad. Here. I mean, it has beauty and power to it and it's definitely more of a portrait than a beauty shot. But you can see how simple this was just to move the light from the front to the back, but you always have to be alert about what the light's doing. You always have to be looking to see what is the light doing. There's not a formula here. It's not eight inches or 14 1/2 inches from the left. The best tool to do this is your own eye. So you have to really be, you know, concentrating when you do this. But considering we only did three or four frames, it looks not bad. So there's a delicate balance between mistakes that you might see in your lens, small imperfections, maybe in a face due to the lighting, and then you have to make a lightning decision to whether or not you're gonna correct some of these little mistakes by doing your lighting, or you're gonna correct them in Photoshop. So you don't wanna leave too much for Photoshop, but at the same time, you wanna make sure that the overall feeling of the shot is good. You always have to remember that it's a human being you're photographing, not a block of wood. So therefore, your attention should be towards the wellbeing, the mood, the feeling of the shot should be maintained. And then hopefully some of these small details that you feel are not quite perfect, you can fix in Photoshop. But you can rely a little bit on Photoshop, but not too much. Unless you have the basic energy of the shot perfectly done and balanced. You're not gonna be able to recreate it in Photoshop. So a lot of times, you know, sometimes a student will ask me and say, well, if you see a little error there, why don't you fix it? Well, you can fix it. You can keep fixing it. Keep fixing. That's what still life photographers do. They can spend basically 16 hours photographing an apple. In the case of photographing a human being, you have to remember that yes, you can fix everything, but you may well lose the magic of the shot. So there is this delicate balance between holding on to the magic of the shot and going with some possible small flaws in there that you can fix later. Don't rely on Photoshop, but at the same time, don't lose the image. (light electronic music)

Ratings and Reviews

Richard A. Heckler

"Unless you're Mozart"...this course is an invaluable asset. I'm a pro, humanitarian/documentary photographer, & wilderness...and I've learned much from the 40+ sessions here. This is truly a Master best thing to being with Albert. And although I could watch studio sessions forever, this course offered a very balanced curriculum of technical information, artistic encouragement and guidance, and a open, generous window into the thinking of a gifted artist and photographer, sifted from decades of first class experience. Kudos to all involved. Excellent!

a Creativelive Student

I purchased my first CreativeLive class in 2011 and have continued to purchase many classes over the years. I have learned so much from the many great instructors. This one is not a technical class that will tell you to set your camera at f4, 1/60, ISO 400 and you can get this shot. If you are looking for that, there are many other options. If you have a solid working knowledge of photography, this class is so much more. The way it was filmed is like you are there with him in conversation or in the room with him watching him shoot. To see and understand the how and why he does what he does. Not to take anything away from other classes that have helped to give me a strong understanding of photography, this is my favorite CreativeLive class so far.

Student Work