Post Processing: Cocoon Shot and Twins
I want to move on to actually the composite image now to show you how I do that one. Where's the other one? It'll be in there somewhere, but I'm gonna open this image and then I'm gonna open the image next to it and I'm gonna paste one image over the top of the other. So they're pretty much taken in the same spot, I didn't move too much without having a tripod, so I'm gonna select the entire image just command A and then command C for copy, and if I go over, there're a few different ways to do this, and then command V for paste, so I now have that over the top. And if I bring the opacity of this one back you can see both images there together. So what I did with this particular setup is if you've been able to see the little showreel that I did on Wednesday with quite a few images you got to see the dad holding the baby in this particular position, it's bonus material how I created this particular setup, so I've wrapped the baby and I've positioned it, I've talked the dad through the pr...
ocess and told him when I'm shooting where to hold his hands, where to move them to, and explained to him how I'm going to put the two images in Photoshop so it's a pretty cool process. So if I go up here I can move that image to wherever I want so to make sure it all lines up properly and I just want to bring it down just a little bit and that's a pretty good match up when you turn them on and off you can see he lifted his little fingers, that's cute. Okay. So what I'm gonna do is I'm going to erase this arm on this image cause the background image has got two arms in it so I'm just gonna always go with the easiest image but I'm gonna bring the opacity back just so I can see obviously where it all fits in. Make sure I've selected the layer for the tool to work. So when you're doing a composite image, it's important for when you come back to take those shots and you're giving instructions to stay as still as possible so that when you're merging them together your images are pretty much gonna match up, they're gonna be the same. So I'll just zoom in, I'm using the command and the plus and the minus tools, oh you can see that on your screen. So I'm gonna come in nice and close here. So with composite images you're always gonna be doing just a little bit of cloning and touching up in certain areas cause it's very hard to get them absolutely perfect but obviously here, the weight of his hand pushed down the knit wrap in the first image. Get rid of that thumb, oh we've shown a little bit of finger there so we've gotta be careful there. And be careful we don't clone out too much of the ear, and what I'll do is I'll come up here with the clone tool and just fix that up so it's nice and neat as well. But we also need to get rid of the fingers on this side. See me leaning forward to see? I'm used to having my computer screen right here in front of me. I hope this is being helpful. There are a lot of people out there that are so amazing at this and I look at their work and think wow, so the little things that I do, it's not my strongest point but it works. So there is a baby sitting all on it's own. Pretty cool.
That was fast, I always, composites scare me and thinking of thinking that that would take a really long time to do.
Yeah and when you're taking the shot it's fast, it's really fast, so we're just going to edit this image. So I'm gonna crop it first and we're on a little bit of an angle, I wanted to make sure we got that shot so I'm just going to bring it in a little bit and I can straighten my horizon.
While you're doing that, I have a quick question from Fussy Gus. Is there a reason you prefer erasing as opposed to a layer mask or is that solely your work style preference?
I think it's just a bad habit, and it's easy. And I think a mask is a great way, I think masks are the best way to edit on layers, they're excellent, I've just got used to using the erase tool, it's just a habit that I've got into, I should probably use a mask but I do it so often like I'm shooting three to four babies a week so I'm editing a lot so when I'm going through this process it's like bang bang bang, I know what I'm doing, I'm not too scared to be going out of line, it's a bit like coloring in and I loved coloring in as a child so I'm so pedantic to stay within the lines but yeah you can hit the back button and just keep going. But yeah no, layer masks are perfect, absolutely perfect.
So I've straightened my horizon up a little bit, now he looks absolutely beautiful. He was such a good baby and so, so beautiful. But what I want to do is, it's something you can actually we'll go back to before I cropped, here, what I'm gonna do is I'm just gonna select, just down here, it's a little trick I do, I don't recommend it for everyone and again less is best so it's just little subtle things that can make an image a little bit more pleasing to the eye, not that this needs any more pleasing to the eye cause it's cute as, but I've just selected the bottom section of that image, I don't need to feather it but what I'm going to do is make a copy of that selection, so command J, and if I go command T I can transform it and then I'm just gonna bring up the bottom of that image just a little bit, I want to make him look a little bit squishier, a little bit more potato sacky, and I've just hit enter so you can see just that subtle little difference of bringing that bottom up, he just looks like he's sitting into it a little bit more, to me anyway, that's just my personal opinion. So I would yeah, I would definitely shrink that up just a little bit but you could do that with these tools are just amazing. So I would just merge that together, then I'll go back to crop my image, so again I'm keeping it at an eight by 12 ratio. And just gonna straighten my horizon, bring it in a little bit tighter, I can clone out dad's knee if I need to or I can crop it out. So obviously with the, when I'm composing in camera for something like this, because it's a more extreme setup and a composite image, I wasn't, I knew I was gonna have it as a portrait image but I wasn't too concerned about nailing my composition in camera because it's an image that's a risky image for a baby and that's paramount. I can fix that in Photoshop, that's easy and it takes two seconds. Bring that back up there so I can see it, so I'm just gonna take a snapshot of that because now that's my new base image to start working with. So I'm gonna bring my exposure up a little bit, and because it's all white and all cream I've still got room to move here but I want to be really careful when I am lifting my exposure, I'm not going to blow out these highlights right here, in the back or on the cloth because I don't want it to look like a floating head. I still want to keep all that detail in those highlights, in those white areas. So my exposure fixer upperer, and you can see it starts to really blur, lose that detail and that texture there so I don't want it too bright but I want, I quite like how light and bright his face is because I want this to be a bright image, I've kinda shot it for that, so bring the exposure down to where I want it to be, I could add a mask and paint it on and off, but I'm actually gonna just use the eraser tool very quickly. Make sure it's nice and soft. And just bring that layer off the background there just a little bit and onto the side cause the light was coming in from this side of the image. Okay and command shift E to flatten. So I want to get rid of those red skin tones again and it's just command J and U to bring up my hue and saturation and I'm gonna come down to cyan, select the problem areas, I can see these reds in here which brings up reds too, and what I'm gonna do is just lift that a little bit to about and I can then add, change my hue button at the top to plus three, if I start to bring it down here you're gonna add more magentas and blues and up here I wanna come more into my yellows and reds to make it skin tone, nice and warm. About three. So just to set a little change and merge that together, I'm gonna soften my background by painting it just a little bit, you could blur it, I like to paint it because I find that when you start to blur the background it will blur into the baby and we don't really want that so I'm just going to paint very very gently, not to lose the detail in the background but just to soften it so it's less distracting to the image. So with my paintbrush at about 30 percent, large paintbrush, and I'm gonna use the alt key to sample the background, I'll probably come down here into these ones, and just paint gently over the top and you can soften that rug as well. And then erase or mask so we need it at 100 percent opacity and a harder eraser brush. And you know, I think it's really important, I'm quite happy to sit here and share with you what I do and I think it's really important to not worry about what other people do, I spent a long time worrying about what other photographers did and I didn't look at my images and I wasn't happy with them, so it took a long time for me to get to that place of I'm fine, this is my style, I don't care what other people think, I don't care how they do it, there're a million ways to do it and if I can win awards with my images the way I edit and the styles that I have, that's my business, I'm happy with that. I would use the clone tool down here to tidy up this little blanket. So you can see that I've pretty much erased all of that except for in here, and we don't want it on the ears. In there nice and tight, it doesn't matter if it blends into the side there because the colors that I've painted on are quite soft, but you'll see just the difference that it's made. So it's just made it nice and soft, taken a little bit of the distracting elements like the shadows up here and the blending of the background into the foreground, just made it a little bit softer. And that's pretty much it, I would do with the background, maybe do a little bit of a Gaussian blur around the edge again but I'm just gonna do a quick pro retouch on his face.
When you do add that warmth to them, you said you used one of your actions and you weren't, you know you kinda created it yourself so you don't have to tell me right now but I'm so curious how to get that kinda beautiful yummy golden skin tone, what did you change to get that?
Well I could see just visually, I could pick up that there were a lot of gray, bluey magenta tones, I was heading that way on the spectrum so what I needed to do was shift those color tones into the more warmer color, like if you, I did an amazing course with a gentleman called Les Walkling and he's Australian and he's like the color god, the color spectrums and how he explains them so, if anybody is interested in any of that, and that I would definitely look up on the Internet, Les Walkling, I think it's W A L K L I N G, and L E S for Les, and his website has a phenomenal amount of information about understanding the color, the color spaces that we work in, so I could see just by looking at the image that I needed to adjust those, and I mentioned that you can go into your hue and saturation and you can move your sliders, you can create a new layer and go up into variations and you can add yellows, there are quite a few ways to do it, I use these color correct actions, and I think I asked if anybody knew where you can buy these color correct actions to list it because I've had these for so long, I honestly don't know and I've got into such a habit of using them cause they work so well, and it's so easy, especially if you don't have the correct white balance in your studio but it's so important to make sure that you do have a good white balance and you're shooting within your right temperature of your camera, so understanding white balance, how to set the white balance in your camera is really important and understanding the color spaces that we work in and when your image is sort of moving towards one color space, how to bring it back. Does that make sense? (laughs)
Any other questions from the studio? No, we have one here from Jennifer Gilmore from the chatrooms, she wants to know, does Kelly retouch or enhance every image before her clients see the proofs and are they basically print ready when they see them or do you do additional retouching after they've ordered the ones they want?
They're pretty much print ready cause I don't wanna go back, because I'm constantly shooting, I don't wanna have to go back and re-do anything. As you can see, this is my process. They're print ready now. It's like double handling, I'm not a big fan of double handling. When they send me their order through, I wanna be able to go the outlay folder and say they wanna print this particular image, I wanna grab it, EFT it to my print lab at the size that I want, and it's done. It's a really quick process so I like to make sure. I really want them to fall in love with their images when they see them for the first time. I don't want them to look at them and go, "I really wish she'd got rid of that." Just little things. They're gonna look at an image of their newborn and think it's beautiful regardless of all those things. But after a while, when you look at an image, you will start to find faults with it. I had a lady recently ask me to make a few minor adjustments after her gallery was done and that's fine. She could obviously see a few things that I couldn't but they were images that she was in. They are print ready except for if a client requests an additional change.
That's perfect. We have another question here from another reader. CCP Studios Online was asking if a client asks you to do additional retouching, other than what you offer, do you do that? Do you charge an extra retouching fee?
I don't, because the majority of it's done and it's usually just a slight alteration. Recently I had a client who had lost a lot of weight after her birth and there was a picture of her, I hadn't noticed it in the image, she's tiny but her arm was closer with the way she was holding the baby and it looked quite large so she just said, "Is it possible you could make that smaller?" So I did just using the Warp tool. It was a two second adjustment. So something like that, I'm definitely not gonna charge anything for it because if she's ordering it in a print, it takes me two seconds to fit it and I really want that print ordered and I don't wanna risk a two second adjustment for the loss of a sale.
Kelly, I know you said, at the beginning, that you helped a couple in Australia when they had a flood, get some of the images back. I just wondered how long do you keep a gallery, do you ever delete files?
Their online gallery will only stay open for three weeks maximum. I tell them two weeks, I'll leave it open for three weeks, because I want them, I want a pretty quick turnover, so I'm not having things sit there for a long time without being ordered or looked at. But for their backup files, I will keep them for as long as possible. For as long as I can possibly keep them unless God forbid anything happened to them. But there are so many things out of your control, and I had a wedding client come back to me. They just simply can't find their images, and they didn't make a backup themselves, and when I do sell digital files, I always tell my clients to make a backup of them, and the information that I give them, so it's really important that they make their own backups as well. So I'm just adjusting the contrast here, I softened the skin, and I just brightened his little face just a little bit more and you can see now that I'm just, I'm going to zoom out, so, it's not letting me do it, and bring this, image over, just so that when I hold the Alt key down, because it's a light image, you can start to see where I'm losing detail, but I want it quite bright to pop. So a little difference that it's made there, and what I'll do is, I'll run that color correct action again, wherever it is. Just over, I don't want it so much over the entire image, but more so on the skin, and especially on the fingers, so what I'll do is I'll bring it back to where it looks good on the background, at about 60 percent, and then I can play that action again, add a mask, invert it, and then just paint it on where it additionally needs it, so maybe at about 20 percent. And you can get red of those reds there like I did before with that hand and foot. But we're kind of rushing through here, because I want to fit in as much as possible.
How could any parent not fall in love with that picture, it's incredible?
And the parents of this particular baby, she's a photographer, so she was really excited to be here, and it was really nice to work with them, and he was a pediatrician, so very aware of what I was doing, and the environment that he was bringing his baby into. So if I had a little bit of extra time, and I actually did do this when I edited the image the other day for the showreel, I used my clone tool, and I cloned in here just to make this a little bit smoother and I softened this, not so that it was gone completely, but just so it was noticeable, because I still want to keep shape to the wrapping, and I would go up and just touch in there slightly. But I think that that there is pretty cute, so what I would do to finish it is just run my sharpen defog, I don't want this over the whole image, so it's gonna mask this. I'm going to Command I invert, and paint that at 100 percent, just over the area that I really want defined, which is the face, 'cause that's where we want to look. You can see the difference that that makes, bring it back maybe about 80 percent, and then you know, you could go for any type of look here, you could make it really sort of hazy and beautiful, you could blur the outsides, and everything of the image, but if I go to my particular action that I throw into mine, you can see the difference that that makes, and it really warms that space up, and still keeps it light and airy, and a before and after. So before, and then when I took a snapshot, woops. And then the final image. So it's kind of cute. But yeah, you could do a couple of extra little things to that, just to soften the wraparound the baby, so it didn't look so sharpened. You could blur the edges, clone out the sides as well, so yeah, that's pretty much all I would do, and then go in and use my little patch tool to get rid of any blemishes on the face.
So you mentioned earlier that you export a large file but you also export a smaller one for the web gallery, and I was wondering if you could show us what your watermarked image looked like?
Oh, okay, cool, yeah, so again, it's a totally rad action, and this is a free action, and it's just their Facebook converter one, and it fits perfectly, the size of it, amazingly fits perfectly into my web gallery. Facebook image prep is what it's called, and it's free. So it just resizes the image, and you can see that it's quite pixelated when it comes up, but it's still a good size onscreen, and then my watermark, I just play that action. Here it comes. And now it's quite a light watermark, so what I'm going to do, and it's a text, obviously it's a text layer, so I'm just going to click on it, Control A, and I would do this for any image, because I want it to be visible, and just change the color of it, I could bring it down here to black. And I would just change the opacity of it a little bit more. Now we want the watermark to be on the image, well, I want the watermark to be on the image, but not so that's it so distracting that it's the only thing you look at on the page, but I want it over the image, so that if they do post that anywhere, take a screen capture from my website, which I advise them, in my terms and conditions, that it's not the best thing to do, but people do it, and you can't stop them, it's the Internet, so yeah, it's got my watermark on it if they do do that.
And do you know, I know you just have an action for that, but do you know what sort of size or resolution that that file is?
Yes, I do, the file itself, it's all here, the resolution is 72 pixels, and it is image size, and fit image, it's height 10 inches, where did it go? Set, selection... It was about, I look, do you know what's easier? I'll just go up here to image size. So yeah, the height is 720 pixels by 480 pixels. But it's a great Facebook converter. I use that for all my Facebook images, and it's so quick and easy, especially when I'm working, when I'm editing, I'll start from the first image and go through to the final image, and then after I've edited every image, I'll just play that totally rad action, that Facebook one, I will play that, add my watermark, save it, move on to the next image. And I don't convert every image into a black and white one but I, oh, and the beauty of this particular action is that it saves it as a copy, automatically. It's a copy, so I'm just going to don't save, and the image is still there, so it creates a whole new image as a copy. So yeah, we're just going to save that alongside that other one. And move on to, might do the twins in the basket, very quickly. Have we got time? I think we've only got five minutes, haven't I? But are you happy just to sit and watch me edit quickly, without having to talk through the process?
Absolutely, yeah, let's do it.
So this one here has a finger in it. This one here has a finger in it, so it's basically going to be covering the same thing anyway. You can clone it out, but I've found an easy way is to just select a piece of the background that's in behind, further it, by about 22 pixels, make a copy of it, and transform it and drag it down over the hand, and then what you can do is bring up your curves and just darken it, so it blends in with the background, and then you can erase the edges where you need to, and how quick is that? And erase that little layer off the baby's head. And we'll have to do a little bit of cloning. You can bring the opacity back so you can see what you're working with, where you're erasing. And so the finger's gone, and we can still a little bit of a line here, but if you bring your eraser tool back with a little bit of a soft edge, you can sort of blend that in a little bit. And then just with the clone tool, on the layout... Woops... I'm trying to rush. Okay, and we have, Helga sitting next to, was that you sitting next to the twins? How cute are they in that basket? Now, I made a massive mistake yesterday, and people wanted to know where I got this beautiful blanket from, and it is not from Brand New Babe, they are the two companies that I use most of the time, the company that made this one, and Brand New Babe, but the lady who makes this is from Love That Prop, and her work, she actually, all the knit blankets, and the felt blanket that I used yesterday, she makes all of those. So Love That Prop is the place to get all of that stuff from. I'm not going to do this as a 12 by 8 ratio, I'm going to do it as a 10 by 8 ratio, woops, not 120, and bring that in just a little bit. Okay, so that looks really really cute. Now we have some yellow going on over here, which I'm going to have to get rid of, so it's just a new layout, and I can see up here in my yellows...
Was that choice of going to 8 by 10 versus 8 by 12 just based upon the image itself, and what was in it?
Yeah, I think so, if I had left it as an 8 by 12, it would have had a lot of negative space. I like negative space, but I think because, it's just a little bit more pleasing to my eye, I particularly like that composition. And merge that, and now I'm going to do the other baby, which is a different color tone. Okay, now that has taken the reds out of the background, you see that? But we don't really want to do that, so I'm going to add a mask, and paint that onto just the baby. Okay, so along with that... Okay let's smooth this background out a little bit, I'm just going to clone it a little bit down here at the bottom, because there's a little bit of a gap there, and a new layout. Not so it's completely visible, but just, just so it's softer. And I'm going to paint over that anyway, to make the background very similar in color to the flooring. I keep trying to go above that line that comes up on my screen (laughs) and just make sure that none of it's on the basket there. I have this piece of ply in my studio at home, not this exact same piece, but I do have a piece of ply, and it's a great backdrop, and you can stain them, paint them, and they have great texture in them. I've painted the background, so it's a similar color to the foreground. If I turn it off, you can see I've just basically used the paintbrush tool, and painted over the background, now I'm just erasing, which you can do with the mask tool, erasing it off the babies, and I'll erase it off the handle as well, because it's part of the subject.
Do you find, this is a question from A. Bilger Photography, do you find that your clients prefer a horizontal crop versus a vertical crop? We're seeing a lot of horizontals here at least.
Yeah, I do do a lot of horizontals. They look good in print, and they fill spaces. Vertical images, like the composite ones, I think that really suit that particular setup, but yeah, no, I have a couple of props at home that are fairly tall, so if I'm going to use those, and put the baby on top, and if a vertical crop suits that particular setup, I would definitely go with that, but the majority of my stuff is down low on the ground, and it's kind of, I'm just erasing this off the handle, with a soft eraser brush, and yeah, so, I just crop basically to what the sort of the setup is, and what is a bit more pleasing. But yeah, a lot of them tend to be horizontal. And I just bring the, turn that back layer off to make sure that I haven't missed any bits and people, pieces. Now I can see that I have, oops! Filled that layer. I can see that I have missed his little ear here, and we don't want that to be a different color to the actual face. Okay, and turn that background layer back on, and you can just see the difference of darkening, darkening that, that it's really made the twins actually pop out just a little bit more. I would add a vignette to this, with my little vignette. Now before I showed you step by step on how to do it, but I've actually created an action that carries on those steps from this process, because every image is obviously going to be a different ratio, or a different size, or I want a slightly bigger vignette, or a slightly smaller, so I will select the area, and then press play, and it goes through those processes of multiplying it for me. And then I'll just blur it if it needs it. And you can see that that's just added such a difference there, and I'm going to go in and pro retouch that skin. When you're editing, make sure you get up and walk around every 20 minutes and stretch (laughs) don't sit there all day, you'll end up with a--
Can I ask a question while you're doing that retouching?
So then would your client galleries contain 8 by 10 crops, 8 by 12 crops throughout?
So what do you mean? Like would there be a variety?
Yeah, and it's set, actually include that information, in the information that I give the clients, that each image is actually, this afternoon, when we go through pricings and products I will actually show you that information, but it will talk about that each image is creatively artworked by me, and yeah, that's what I would normally do. So I'm just going to finish this off really quickly, because we're running out of time. But yeah, it's my choice, as to what I think, because I'm the photographer, and I suppose the artist, and I think that should be my call. I don't really want them to tell me how I do this, and I think that they like coming to me, but occasionally, when they order, say, an 8 by 10 print of a 12 by 8 ratio, I will explain to them that they're going to lose parts of the image, but yeah, but I can usually get around that anyway, or I would ask them if they would prefer an 8 by 12, because of the particular ratio. Okay, so I'm going to add some contrast, I'm going to use my bland to brilliant, it's massive, so I'm going to bring that right back, and it's, yeah, I'm pretty happy with that, and I'm going to get rid of the blues in the baby, but I'm going to add a mask, because it's only on the one that I need to match with the yellow. Now, the actual overall saturation of this image is quite strong, so I'm actually going to bring the saturation back just a little bit. And obviously if I had more time, I would fine tune this a little bit more and even out the skin tones between the two of them, but I'm just trying to give you an idea as to what I do with an image, and how I get to a finished product so I'm going to blur the outside and again I've created an action for this, which is just the Gaussian blur, which saves me a million, lots of time, so I've brought that back. I'm going to bring this saturation down a bit to about, maybe about minus 10. So you can see just that very subtle, use the sharpen defog, and paint that over the babies. Woops, bring the opacity back. And then I would probably just finish off with this... And that's probably where I would just go in, adjust any blemishes, fix those, and then, so we have a before, and an after.