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Skin Essentials: White Balance

Lesson 1 from: Skin 101: Lighting, Retouching and Understanding Skin

Lindsay Adler

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Lesson Info

1. Skin Essentials: White Balance

Lesson Info

Skin Essentials: White Balance

thank you for joining me here in this audience and everybody out on the internet so let's talk about skin I have a lot of bad memories about photographing skin I actually started off as a portrait and wedding photographer so I was photographing a lot of teenagers high school seniors with them sometimes extremely less than ideal skin or I would be photographing maybe fiftieth anniversary parties or events where I'm dealing with skin where I want people to look fresh and youthful and then when I have these problems coming over in a photo shop and saying how far is too far what I actually want to do what's perfecting and what's completely fake and what's nice for me one of the reasons I like being a fashion photographer is those decisions are totally up to me and sometimes I make my subjects look like aliens cyborgs with no skin texture and it's really cool but then other times and photographing portrait's where I want the person to look fresh vibrant have perfect skin but make it be beli...

evable so I've had a lot of experience in photographing skin over the last few years I've been in new york city for five years shooting for shooting fashion photography but I've shot portrait's for the last thirteen years I still young but like I've been shooting fortunes for a very long time and so this is just to give you an idea that type of work that I do now a days because all the pictures that I'm going to show you in this presentation are not retouched today at all because the whole point is you got to see what the skin really looks like I haven't touched it up I haven't done anything fancy it is how the skin looks so let me show you though what my images end up looking like kind of what the end product is so I'm photographing things like foundation and I make up advertisements I'm photographing a lot of different skin tones maybe they're very very pale maybe they have warm skin tell vince for example I'm photographing something that's supposed to look wet and dewey but not oily so have those kind of experiences or I'm photographing things that are supposed to be kind of natural and lush or in photographing very very dark skin tones and I actually photographed a lot of dark skin tones a lot of my clients here in the us are african american professional athletes our photograph a lot of beauty products for darker skin tone and so I've had to learn and trust me I didn't know how to photograph different skin tone starting off I made a lot of mistakes and then figured out along the way so I'm hoping to save you guys a little bit of time and I've had to do things like learn how to retouch freckles without making them go away that was a huge one that I struggled with when I had a portrait business because I had all these two kids with freckles and then I go to retouch and they had no more freckles and I'm photographing editorial looks and I'm trying to make the skin glow or make it look metallic or make it look lush and so I have a wide range of different images that if you looked at all these pretty much they're all based on skin skin is what makes these photos of course the jury and course for photographing beautiful people but it's that glowing skin that perfection that really makes the image so that's what we're going to talk about these next few days is how to get beautiful beautiful skin and there are so many different things that go into it there's lighting there is the angle of light the quality of light your white balance your retouching and even though we'll be talking for three days which makes it sound really complicated I do plan on saying like okay this one is really important like this one for sure and of course we'll dive in depths into other things but I'll let you know when it's a super incredible essential so for photography faz photographers we have a toolbox available to us to make perfect images of skin so it's a combination of all these things things that you didn't even consider like your camera makes a difference in what the skin looks like it actually makes a drastic difference and lenses that even makes a difference for me I always do some retouching so it's definitely a combination of the two so that's what we're going to be doing day three is talking about retouching but we'll be talking about things like color correction as well which I know is a kind of a problem that was a huge problem area for me for sure andi also how to set up your work space because there are a lot of buttons that have to be turned a certain way that I didn't know had to be turned a certain way in order to get ideal skin so we're talking about those things as well and what our goals are for a portrait is we want the best version of that person way still want it to look like them in fashion I actually have different skin goals I want perfection in fact I don't even care if it looks like the person when I'm done in fashion photography because I wanted to be surreal types of beauty so I'm actually going to talk about the different levels of retouching on day three like what's what's going too far what's a portrait what's going to be beauty retouching because that's something that I've had to learn and sometimes they still make mistakes sometimes I still go too far so don't worry if you don't feel certain about those things it's not just you it's it's everybody and we're going to talk about removing temporary flaws and that's with lighting and retouching as well but this is what I would like to start with there are many things that ruined skin which is somewhat sound somewhat discouraging right like there's a lot a lot of ways to screw up but the encouraging side of it is I'm going to go through the top ten things that ruin skin and then how to prevent them so what I'm hoping you'll dio is we'll take a look at this checklist this list of different things that could mess up your skin and so whatever you're doing a shoot you can glance and say okay well is there any for example color contamination nope okay got good skin all right how is my white balance things like that so this will be a nice guy to make sure you're staying away from these things that ruined skin and so that's why we're going to get started and that's actually our entire first day good day to just a reference so we can look ahead what I'm going to be talking about day to our skin challenges and once you shoot them and get experience they're not that much of a challenge anymore but for example photographing two people together with drastically different skin tones were photographing somebody with a lot of wrinkles and just wanted to help them look a little bit fresher not to emphasize them so that's things like that are going to be day two so let's jump into it and I'll give you an idea of what we're going to talk about so ruining skin there are a lot of things that can ruin skin and the three main categories that were going to take a look at the first one is color wrong color can ruin skin if it has a different color shift or the white balance is wrong or if it's too saturated or if it's too dull like all of that can mess up skin the next one is texture if the skin is overly smooth with retouching well that's a wayto mess up skin but then if it's too harsh if there's too much texture if it really is distracting from your subject that's another thing that could distract you and of course tone you want that person to look the skin tone that they are don't want toby to light don't want to be too dark unless you're going for creative purposes so here you go the top ten things that will definitely ruin skin I'm going to read through them real quick and then basically just get started so we do have white balance I was very very reluctant as a portrait photographer to do anything other than use white balance presets as a fashion photographer I realize that you have to do more and so hopefully I'll be able to impart that too so that you're going to do a lot more with white balance whether you're photographing for portrait or beauty or weddings we're going to get into that we have mixed lighting can ruin skin also color contamination I'll explain what that means also if you have your camera and computer set up wrong that'll actually ruin what the skin tones look like number five is going to be color management so we're going to get into that I'm going to try to keep it nice and simple without making your heads explode because I know that color management always stressed me out we'll talk about how exposure could ruin skin but how we could get good exposure to talk about with the quality of light is the direction of lights makeup and retouching so that's today all right so let's get started with white balance alright so white balance the most important thing that you should definitely know is that auto is usually your enemy because here's here's the problem with auto white balance what auto white balance is trying to do is neutralize the scene so if I have a subject come out and sit in front of my great background okay the backgrounds gray and they're wearing a bright red shirt I can almost guarantee that that picture is going to be too cool they're going to have too much blue in their skin because well auto white balance did is it looked at the scene and said all right great background a lot of red we need to counteract that we need to cool it down it looks too warm and all of a sudden we have really blue skin tones but it's not just crazy colored clothing or bright colors I have found that when I'm photographing darker skin tones a lot of the professional athletes I said I was photographing they have darker skin tones have more red so same thing I put my camera on a white balance and out skin looks too dull it looks too cool so auto is definitely going to be your enemy and it is definitely worse more of a problem with darker skin tones so you're going to want to stay away from auto so here's some things you want to keep in mind otto no good if you're going to just try to do something minimal like at least not being auto then you're gonna pick a white balance preset and so that's looking at things like the daylight preset or the flash preset in your camera you can pick what lighting situation you think you're in it's better than nothing if you have no other solution here but then better than that would be shooting a great card a colored checker or custom white balance so let me jump in and explain exactly what that means because this always overwhelms me why would I want a color checker over a great card well let me show you what you would need great card is purely for this if you photograph a great card this target what you have are all neutral tones okay so when you go ahead and look at if you use the color sampler in photo shop when you go ahead and you mouth over these different tones all the numbers for rgb should be the same which means that it's neutral there's no color cast when everything is equal there is no color it's going to be gray white or black so when you photograph a great hard what is great for is in post in photo shop in light room what you can do is you khun set a white balance so for example in light room you have the white balance picker and I'll be showing you how to do this on day three but I could go ahead take my white balance picker and click on the gray and what it does is it says okay so I know she's telling me that all the numbers the red green and blue should all be the same and if it's not it'll shift it will shift the colors in your picture so that it is neutral so that's good that's a good place to start and I can show you how it makes a drastic difference gives you a neutral point in your scene the most important part is it helps eliminate guessing so you're not trying to figure out because I'm not I don't know about you I'm not good at looking at skin tones and saying is that too blue like my brain doesn't quite work that way I need something a little bit more systematic I remember in college I had a class where we talked about the correct distribution of colors in skin tones for caucasian warmer tones or darker tones and I have since realized that that was a completely pointless exercise because everybody has a different skin tones you can't just go completely by the numbers so what you would want to do is you want to have a great card that you actually photograph in your scene I'm photographing you I hold it out in front if possible there are kind of some cheats around it which will talk about on day three all right so what you want to look at here is on the picture in the picture on the left this is what we're able to get with just auto just pointing the camera and having that great cards they're so then in post I went over into the light room with my white balance picker I picked that grey which is saying I want this to be neutralized and then it shifted and it warms it up a little bit and it gives you more accurate what her skin actually looks like maybe the first picture doesn't look that bad but that's not actually what her skin tone looked like and she's gonna have a lot more warmth and a lot more vibrant when I used the great card ok but let's take it a little bit step further kind of if you want to get a little bit fancy are a little bit more advanced this is something called a color checker or color chart it was called macbeth chart there's a lot of different names but what it's going to give you is a full range of colors and then also from white to black so I'll do the same thing when I'm shooting in the studio or a shooting on location I just haven't assistant pop their hand in I take a picture and so what that's going to allow me to do is set a white balance one of the reasons that if you aren't using a workflow management program like late room or aperture or capture one one of the reasons that you kind of half too is this right here and creative life has a lot of great classes to get you familiar with how light room an aperture might work I believe even aptitude class coming up soon but the reason why is what I can do is in the one picture where I'm holding that color checker the subject's holding the color checker I grab my white balance dropper and I select a neutral palette and then it corrects that image but the reason that it's so great is I can then apply that change to every other image in that entire set that had that white bouncer that had that color temperature so we find photographing in my studio with the beauty dish it's basic setup I take one picture of that color checker I could make one change of light room in the color will be perfect the whole time but then why is this any different than a great card right because we're just we're just selecting grace so what's the difference well there actually are a couple things first will you have these tones up here on the top and then what they're going to let you do is they look gray and they kind of are with their gray this is neutral and in each one progressively gets a little bit more blue okay so if we think about that means they're getting colder so if I go ahead and I select this and say this is supposed to be neutral and I click on it it says okay well there's blue there so I need to warm this up in order to neutralize it well then the whole picture warms up so what this is meant for is if you're looking at your image and you take your neutral white balance adjustment and the picture just looks cool like those skin tones are not as warm as you intended you can go ahead and keep adding just a little bit of warmth as you click to the right so it's a little bit subjective which of course sometimes skin tones are sometimes we want him to look a little bit warmer and more lively than they were in reality okay but actually it goes even further than that and this is an image I'm going to show you one day three or kind of demonstrate this to you has anybody ever photographed a subject and say a red shirt in the bright sun in the middle of the day and that red is crazy colored now like it starts to look orange or it's like super saturated it's not even red anymore has no detail because your shooting in such a high can't con high contrast lading situation that color is completely off so there are a couple companies one of them is x right which makes this particular color checker another one of them is data color which makes a similar chart and what it lets you d'oh is you go ahead and in any particular lighting scene like outside in the direct sunlight with that bright red shirt you have your subject hold that color checker and then there's a plug in in light room and what the plug in does is it takes a look at that picture and it reads all of these colors and it knows exactly what that color is supposed to be it knows exactly what that red is supposed to look like and for every single lighting situation it will create a custom profile for you so instead of just neutralising which is what a great car does all great card does is get rid of unwanted color cows this actually make sure every single color is correct and another benefit of that is it's going to give you the most vibrant colors it's going to give you a really rich and more accurate colors the reason this is so important for me is if I'm hired to photograph a red dress outside in the sun and it is now orange I'm in trouble like that's so I mean I use this all the time and it's it's really great because what you'll do is you'll run that plug in and light room it'll make the custom profile and then I don't supply that profile to whatever images were in the same lighting situation and it also does all the correct white balance at that point as well so color and white balance all at once running back through those things yes it gives you a neutral reference point yes but lets you warm up or cool down skin tones as you so choose and it lets you create custom profiles for the ideal color so for those of you who are like well I don't want to carry one of these around I totally sympathize but you have teo but that is not really much other way around it what I usually dio is this will still work even if I use the white balance preset so let's say that I go ahead and I'm in the sun so I put on daylight I'll often do that just so that it's looking close in my camera like I'm not going to leave it on auto because otto's going to go like this and every picture will look different and I'm still going to try to get a picture of that color checker which means let's say that you're photographing a wedding and you're like I can't get up next to the bride and groom while they're in there ceremony and get a picture this color checker so just do it before or after it doesn't have to be at the exact same time and it's still going to act as a reference basic gigantic different with skin tones a couple things that you want to be aware of is when the subject is holding this can I have the color checker please when the subject is holding this thank you jon perfect it doesn't mean pointed towards the main light source because let's say that there's a tungsten lamp right next to me over here and the subject's holding it like this but it's not really hitting their face is going to read that light so you do want it front and center towards the main light hitting your subject the next thing to be very careful of is these air actually pigments like swatches of paint color which means if your subject goes like this the oils and their finger changes the color which means you're white balance will be totally off it does this is how it's made and the reason it's made like that so that it's not a reflective surface and it's also chew or color tones than printing so what you want him to do is they do need to hold the side of the color checker and I guess you just have to hold it like this and then the last part to be aware of is you want to make sure that the people there's little heads of people are facing right side up because when you're using the plug in that helps it to identify the color check her chart more easily so there's a couple things but I like this one because it is very lightweight it's very small and keep it in my bag and then you just in the leading situation you pop it out there grab a quick shot it's not that much effort because consider now if you didn't do it and you have to hit by hand color correct every image it's definitely worth the effort it doesn't have to be exactly when that subjects they're just pop it out there and grab a quick shot I had that other one great another one and I can actually be momentarily another version this one's made by data color it's going to be larger it gives you a little bit more ability for someone to hold on to it but another reason this is nice is actually has amount on the bottom so you can put it on different like a light stand have it mounted there so you could actually just pop it out in front of your subject instead of them having to hold it thiss one I think is a little less portable so I use this in the studio sometimes whereas I would use the color checker much more often out on location well so great thank you let me keep going on through this all right so the first one is the skin tone before the color checker the second one is the skin tone after the color checker now in this image in this particular example we don't have any bright colors so you won't see the color shift but it is definitely much better skin tones significantly improved because if you look at the first photo I think she looks kind of bluish green where's the second she's much much warmer it's going to be actually what her skin tone looked like this this young woman she had like a beautiful warm skin I want to show that I told you about the custom profiles thes e the two companies I just mentioned in case you didn't catch me saying that it's the x ray passport color checker and there's a data color spider checker was the name of that second bigger one that I was holding there either system will work great for getting good white balance talked about those ok the next thing that I wanted to talk about is something that you may have heard of called an expo disk so an expo disc is a way of creating custom white balance thank you and I will deal with this in a minute okay so here's how on expo disc works in any lading situation what you're going to dio is you're going to take a picture with your camera of the light that is hitting your subject so for example if I'm the subject that I'm sitting here in the chair the light that is hitting me it's going to be that light mostly so I can take a picture of that light source and I don't know if you can see this nice got sickle over alright let's hold that like that okay if you take a look at it see all those little like orbs on those little die odes in there what it actually does is it catches the light from every different direction and so it'll pick up if there's a little bit of blue from this direction is going to pick up everything that's hitting your light source or hitting your subject so here's what I do you take a picture with this on the front of the camera and it looks gray it doesn't actually like I was really confused when I first saw it it is a picture of nothing it is a great day frame but then what you dio is you tell your camera this needs to be neutral that's what you're doing you're saying ok camera this is all the light in the scene it's supposed to be neutral it's probably not please create a custom white balance based on this light and so it will do that same thing as we're talking about with the color checker when you take your little white balance eyedropper and say this is supposed to be neutral get rid of any of the colors that are in this neutral swatch do the exact same thing so I can show you what the actually ends up looking like okay so this is what she looked like before using the expo disc this is just using my auto it's not you know not great not terrible so then I come over behind her look a quarter behind her here and I put the extradition can see it on the front of my lens and they make different they make different sizes depending on the size your lens and I pointed back at the strobe but I'm not taking a picture of the modern light my stroke has to fire because the light that's going to be lighting my subject isn't going to be tungsten like the modeling light would be it's going to be the light from the stroke so point it right back at the light I take a picture and I get a custom white balance that's going to give me a much warmer like really glowing skin tone it's much much more improved and what's funny is what I actually got a picture with this to me and I'm looking at it and saying well what is that it looks great to all of us but it's not it's actually picking up any of the different tones in your light source so when I said it as a custom white balance it will correct for skin tones um canon nikon do this a little differently so for a canon camera what you're going to do is you take a picture with the expo disc you're goingto have that great file and then you go into your sub menus and you set custom white balance and it'll say tell me what photo we're setting as a custom white balance he would select the image you took with the expo disc and then it would create it for you and as long as you're selected on custom white balance it'll hold that white balance which means let's say that you're photographing the subject next to a window you just did an expo discreet ing and you're photographing them and then all of a sudden now they move over and they're being lit by a lamp you have to do it again so it sounds like a pain specialist say you're photographing a wedding up in the front she's let's say the bride is lit all by tungsten light but then when she was at the end of the aisle it was all window light don't worry you can go and just stand where they are before they've gotten there take a picture of the light that will be hitting them go back to where the windows are take a picture to the windows and use that later on as a reference so you don't actually you can actually go ahead let's see you shoot this before the wedding and go ok they've moved up front custom white balance for the front of the church and you can have those those those neutral images in their depends on what you're comfortable with more commonly I'm using my color checker because I like getting those really accurate tones but a lot of times in the studio I'll grab a nice quick white balance because it's going to give me that beautiful color the difference with a nikon how nikon works is if you go to your white balance button and you go over to where it says pre p r e and you hold it in it's going to blink what you do is you put this on the front of your camera pointing at the light source take a picture and it'll tell you if it's good or not now if you like I'll say image okay little basically say you did a good job and so it for as long as you keep that there it'll hold that white balance that's one of the reasons I actually prefer using one of the reasons I like cannon is because I could always have that neutral swatch and switch between where is an icon you it's your setting it there you're taking a picture and that's going to be holding that white balance for however long until you switch to a different custom white balance or a different preset all right I'll say so um clickers a little bit slow do we have any questions on that I am going to demo really quick oh remembered one other thing expo this is called an expo disk it's made by expo imaging it comes in different sizes and they make a regular one and a portrait one and everyone always asks me what's the difference or what do you use so the regular one the non portrait gives you true complete actual white balance it completely neutralizes whatever lights in the scene the portrait expo disc however warms it up a little bit just gives you a little bit more warmth to the skin tones I usually use the regular one because if I want to warm it up I'll warm it up in post anyway so those were a couple ways to handle white balance so before I demo what kind of questions that have with any of you have any questions from online yes sure so photo maker wanted to know and these are kind of like a recap questions but photo maker wanted to know if all of the supplies with continuous life in the same way with a stroke so all different lights and the natural as faras natural light all these work no matter what lighting setup that you're using natural light studio like constant everything okay and then I am fancy had a question saying when using the expert this and snapping the shot what setting should the camera be said to first okay so you do want you do want to have your settings kind of roughly for how you're going to be shooting that scene I honestly most of time just switch over teo aperture priority and shoot it because it's going to give me an image that's not too underexposed or not to over exposed the problem that you run into if let's say you're used to shooting manual and you take a picture and for some reason it's way over exposed you've actually overexposed and lost some of that color detail that you require in order to make a custom white balance you wanted just to be be kind of a medium gray and the same thing if you take a picture and it's way under exposed it's not really getting all that color so I just think it an aperture priority gives me kind of in between gray as a reference point white balance be set up as you snap the color's good question good question so I usually am just not auto I don't want it to be guessing or changing anything I'm shooting it on auto this is for cannon and then I said it as a custom white balance and make sure that I then switch my white balance to custom because if I stick on auto it's not referencing the custom white balance so you have to go ahead and shoot it set your custom white balance and make sure you're white balances on custom

Class Materials

bonus material with purchase

Makeup Contour Reference
Retouching Checklist
Frequency Separation
Retouching Files
Keynote 1
Keynote 2
Gear Guide
Skin Retouching Action File

Ratings and Reviews

Aliah Husain

Lindsay is an INCREDIBLE photographer and teacher, and also seems like a wonderful person! This class is great for beginners and more advanced photographers, as well. She goes into tons of detail on all the technical stuff like lighting and editing, and it is fascinating to see her interact with and shoot her models, work with her equipment, and photoshop like a pro. Huge amounts of information for what you pay for. If you are looking to improve your skills in photographing and retouching people, purchase this class!!

Kirsi Todd

Lindsay is probably my favourite instructor (and that is saying a lot, as there are many incredible instructors). She is so clear in her teaching and she also seems like such a nice and humble person despite her incredible success. This course is one of the best courses I have ever seen. Thank you Lindsay and Creative Live!

Andrew Lederman

Great course. Lindsay Adler is one of the best instructors for any creative live classes that I have seen. Simple and easy to understand, clear workflow, very friendly and non condescending like some other instructors. Could you put a link (maybe I just didn't see it) to where to download the actions used in this tutorial?

Student Work