The Professional Photographer’s Digital Workflow

Lesson 30/47 - Finalizing Images in Photoshop®: Retouching


The Professional Photographer’s Digital Workflow


Lesson Info

Finalizing Images in Photoshop®: Retouching

Let's pull up for retouching, I mean I've done a little retouching already but let's save this. I've brought up one of the black and white images. Just because that is also a little bit different, how you work with a black and white image versus a color image. So again, I'm going to pull up this little action and just play that action to create all my layers. So in terms of retouching, you know you've seen me use what is this guy called? A content aware, or the spot healing brush with content aware. Sometimes I use the healing brush, sometimes I use the patch tool, and sometimes I use the clone tool down here. This guy is just fast and easy. It may or may not be the best tool for healing skin, you'll find out real quick when you start using it on skin. You know and I told you yesterday, you know if we zoom in here, we're now at 100%. And as you can see, not a whole lot in this image is sharp except for his eyelashes and part of his eyeball and maybe a little bit of the skin. Which this...

is the beauty of an 85 1.4 lens, you know. And I don't even necessarily need to be at 100% to start retouching. So I'm gonna just start out with the, what is the spot healing tool? And we'll see how that goes. And then I can switch around to the different tools as I need them. You know I might actually take this out just 'cause that's a pimple, that's not gonna be there tomorrow. There's these little white spots that I might take out. You know there's little flecks of stuff on his skin and I'm probably gonna leave those because that's dirt and he just came in from surfing. And dried his beard off and so we're looking at him in kind of rough and tumble world here. Some of the stuff on the nose, you know one of the things if you do use a lot of clarity for your portraiture, and sometimes people doing black and white definitely add a lot of clarity to their portraits, you're exacerbating any flaws in the skin pretty massively, especially if you took that clarity slider pretty far to the right. So you may have to come back in and dodge and burn some of that so it looks natural to how they are. Since this is a rough and tumble guy, I don't really feel the need to go in there and perfect his skin. That's just part of who he is. You know if you have Clint Eastwood standing in front of you you're probably gonna be using a fairly hard light modifier on your flash to accentuate that rough and tumble look of his wrinkles. Which he may or may not like, I'm sure he's been through it a few thousand times. But it just depends on the look you're going for. If this was a female subject, I would be retouching a little bit differently than I might for a male subject, it just depends. Not always. Maybe I'll take this off. When I zoom back out of the image, I'm probably not gonna do a ton of retouching right there on the face. This might be a scar, so I might be taking that out. I'll zoom back in to see if that looks a little weird with that too, it looks okay. You know and maybe if I'm spending a lot of time with him photographing, like I said earlier, I might ask him is it okay to take the scar out? What do you think? Is this okay with you? But these hairs down here I think are pretty distracting, as I mentioned earlier. So I'm definitely gonna go in here and this tool's probably perfectly fine for this, make sure, what are we at? We're at 25%, I might zoom in, whoops, 50% here just to make sure I can see what I'm doing. And I wanna make sure this definitely looks natural and we got that there. That's looking pretty good. Let's keep moving around these little hairs, just do a little cleanup. Even though he has, you know, this big beard is the whole point of it, I don't want you looking at these extraneous hairs down here at the bottom. I want you looking at his face still. And since it's on black and we're in black and white, like there's this big hair right here. Or that must be on his shirt or something, I don't know what that is. Take that out, just knock that down. So this is pretty minor stuff. I mean for some images I might end up doing a lot more retouching than I'm gonna be doing on this image. It just depends. And this is all happening on this cleaning layer. So the beauty of that is I can turn that on and off to see how much I've done. The other interesting thing I've learned with retouching faces or anything is the more retouching you do, the more you're gonna end up doing. Because you remove all the stuff and then that makes the smaller stuff look even bigger. Because it's more noticeable. And so that's part of the thing with retouching is you get into this never ending loop, when do you stop? And that's a very hard thing, it depends on your taste, it depends on what you're trying to go for. You know if you're trying to get crazy smooth skin that's perfect, that might be your look. And people hopefully understand that's not reality for all of us, 'cause we all have imperfections in our skin. But when I'm retouching, I definitely do not wanna remove the skin texture. For me, this is my personal taste. I'm not gonna say whether skin smoothing is bad or not. So you've probably gathered that I'm not a huge fan of it. I definitely want that texture 'cause that's part of the image, that's part of who they are. I think all this is looking pretty good up here. He's got short hair so that makes it a little easier, we've got some of the beard coming off here on the edge, that's great. Maybe I would go in here and just remove this little curly-Q hair, tiny little thing. Maybe that little guy, whatever, if I'm getting really crazy. It just depends on how far I wanna go with the image. You know this little spot right there seems a little weird but that no, did a decent job but not great. You know this one might be a place where I'd go over to the healing brush. And see if I can heal that. I might need to zoom in a lot more just to get rid of that spot, but not get rid of the hair. So lots of minutiae here. And how are you gonna do this? Just knock it down a little bit. And I might even save that for dodge and burn later on if I really feel like that needs to go away. But you know for me, as you can see here, I'm not removing tons of stuff. The other part of the retouching wall, is definitely you've already seen in the dodge and burn up here. For this black and white image, there is one thing I'll actually show you that's something I learned from fashion photographers. Especially works great on black and white images. Is I'll duplicate this layer. And then I'm gonna call this unsharp mask and this is also a great way to teach you what clarity is actually doing to the image. So instead of doing a normal, unsharp mask, I'm gonna grab a sharpening, go down to unsharp mask, which most people almost never use these days. And typically you would have a low radius and a high amount. But what I'm gonna do is gonna do a low amount, somewhere around 15 or 20, and a huge radius, like up here around 500. Let's go to 20. And if I turn the preview on and off, you can see it's adding a fair bit of contrast to the image, like a lot. Maybe way more than you really want. This is technically what clarity is doing in Lightroom. But it's only being applied to the mid tones. Here it's being applied to the entire range of tones so that's why it crushes those blacks and blows out the highlights. And it's being applied in a much more sophisticated way in Lightroom than just the mid tones. It's only being applied to the edges as well of the subject. So now that I have that there, we massively changed the image. Did I actually apply that? What happened here? I may not have applied that. Let's try that again. Unsharp mask, bada-bing, bada-boom, okay. There we go, yeah I must have hit cancel. 'Cause it didn't do any of this. So if I'm trying to add a lot of drama to an image I might create one of these unsharp masks and one of these separate layers with the unsharp mask, to be clear here, and then I'll drop the opacity back down. And I might just play with that and see what that has and then I might come back to my layers here 'cause I haven't even touched the layers, and wait a second, what's going on? Oh we're not on the levels. There we go, that's probably why. And I might even choose to, I'm sure there's some crushed blacks in here already, but I might choose to crush those a little bit more. And I'm looking at my background. Yeah this is somewhere where I may want to have the background pure white, but then I come back in here as we've done before with the mask and paint on that with the black paint brush. And I'm gonna take this flow pretty high 'cause I want to make sure I don't blow out parts of his face, I just want the background blown out. So that's pretty giant, but that just basically made the background a little brighter. And this was shot in open shade, there's no strobes on this shot. It was just a giant white reflector behind him that was a matte reflector. But it was pretty far behind him. So it was an overcast day. So the lighting was a giant soft box in the sky. So you can see, even for this image, I've barely done anything to it. But we've taken it pretty far just with our retouching and this unsharp mask tool. And that adds quite a bit of drama. I'm obviously probably not gonna use vibrance, I might use brightness and contrast here, but probably not. And maybe I would go in and do some dodging and burning. You know like here for sure. I'd probably come in and that black's getting pretty deep in there for those eye sockets, so I might pull that out a little bit. Just depends on your taste at this point. Right under the nose, open that up a bit. Oh I'm on black, so that's why nothing's happening and I'm at 43% so, you always gotta check your numbers here when you're using dodging and burning. And that you're actually making a difference. If nothing's happening, then that's a good sign. Like right there, that you're not having an effect. So let me do that again. There we go, now we're opening that stuff up a little bit. You know the lips are looking a little dark on the edge there. I don't wanna open up the shirt or anything. And these are very subtle adjustments again. You know just that's like barely did anything. I'm probably not gonna darken anything down. If I did it would probably be the cheeks or accentuate some of those shadows. But I don't wanna get too crazy there, I think it's nice the way it is. So we can see where we went. So that's kinda cool to do a portrait and a black and white image. That's definitely gonna make it print better 'cause it has a little more contrast and I'm going for kind of a contrasty look here in the black and white image. You know if it's a female subject, then I may not go that far in terms of the contrast, I'm probably not doing the unsharp mask thing. If I am I'm probably gonna do it on them and then paint it out except for the edges of the hair. Because if you do that, she's not gonna like you, if you draw some giant, super aggressive unsharp mask on the image. 'Cause it's gonna bring out every skin flaw in their face instantly. And it's gonna increase the amount of retouching you're gonna have to do, if that's what you're going for. So I'm asking this for all the people out there who are like me, and limit theirselves to Lightroom. Yeah. So I'm sorta feeling now, looking back on my career, that I've left a lot of good image material untouched, because I haven't gone and learned Lightroom. Photoshop you mean. I'm sorry, Photoshop, yeah. And one question about Lightroom, like sometimes doing portraits and that, I'll get a hot spot on a forehead or something like that and in Lightroom I try and get rid of that through a number of ways, and I don't. If I bring things into Lightroom, am I gonna materially be able to reduce the highlights to a point where that highlight might be recoverable? It's not necessarily gonna be recoverable, but it can be retouched, in a way. And there's all kinds of different ways to deal with highlights in portraiture. I'm not gonna show that right now 'cause it'd take another hour to go through that, but you can retouch the highlight out and then feather your retouching back, so it's still a highlight, but it's not as bright. I don't even know all the different ways to do it 'cause I don't do it that often. When I'm lighting somebody, I pay attention to that pretty massively. But I know in Partik's class, he actually goes for two hours on the subject and does a couple different ways. But there's definitely, anything's possible in Photoshop. And you can do retouching in Lightroom, it just starts to add up. Because every time you do one of those localized adjustments, it's using more and more and more RAM to hold those adjustments on the image because it's technically not actually doing anything to the image, it's just adding your instructions to the top of the image. It just becomes more painful and not as fast as you can do it here. So, you know, as you've seen, by squeezing the histogram and cutting off little pieces of the histogram, I'm bringing a lot out of the image. Maybe you could do that in Lightroom, but it's just much more difficult. And there's still a lot of things, as you see, that you can do in Photoshop that you can't do in Lightroom. How many images do you send to clients that you've just worked up in Lightroom and never taken to Photoshop? Zero, okay. Zero. For me, but there's a lot of pro photographers out there that don't feel the need to ever go to Photoshop. So don't take that, that's just me. That's not like it has to go to Photoshop. But for me, for my process, for the way I want my images to look, I feel the need to go to Photoshop every time with every image. And it's not just for this. It's because I wanna get that image into a known color space. And it's because I also wanna convert that image to different color spaces with very high accuracy. So I think that's the next section, actually, is finalizing images in Photoshop.

Class Description

Setting up a practical and efficient workflow with your photography feels like a daunting part of your business. Internationally recognized photographer Michael Clark introduces you to techniques to allow you more time to shoot the images you want. His workflow philosophy is that you must first know how you are going to edit the image in post production to know how you need to shoot it.

In this class Michael teaches:

  • Best practices for a shooting workflow from setting up your camera to histograms and exposure
  • How to clean the sensor on your DSLR camera
  • Color management workflow including your work environment and monitor calibration
  • An overview of Lightroom® and multiple ways to speed up your workflow including file folder and batch naming as well as metadata and archival processes
  • Techniques to finalizing your images in Photoshop® with basic adjustments and retouching
  • Making fine art prints, choosing your printer, paper, understanding ICC profiles, and much more!

Michael covers everything you need to know in order to streamline your post production workflow in Lightroom® and Photoshop® and best practices for printing your art at home. Digital photography is far more complicated than shooting film ever was. Knowing the best practices for a digital workflow will make you a better photographer.


1Class Introduction 2Shooting Workflow: Set-up The Camera 3Shooting Workflow: Histograms and Exposure 4Shooting Workflow: Sensor Cleaning 5Overview of Color Management 6Color Management: Monitor 7Color Management: Workspace 8Color Management: Monitor Calibration 9Color Management: Do I Need This? 10Introduction to Lightroom® 11Download & Import Images With Lightroom® 12Lightroom® Preferences 13Six Ways to Speed-up Lightroom® 14To DNG or Not to DNG? 15A Logical Editing Process in Lightroom® 16File & Folder Naming in Lightroom® 17Batch Renaming in Lightroom® 18Entering Metadata in Lightroom® 19Managing Images in Lightroom® 20Introduction to the Develop Module in Lightroom® 21Lightroom® Develop Module 22Sharpening, Chromatic Aberration & Vignetting in Lightroom® 23Graduated Filters & Spot Tool in Lightroom® 24Converting images to Black & White in Lightroom® 25Creating Panoramas in Lightroom 26Creating HDR Images in Lightroom® 27Lightroom® to Photoshop® Workflow 28Export Images to Photoshop® 29Finalizing Images in Photoshop®: Basic Adjustments 30Finalizing Images in Photoshop®: Retouching 31Finalizing Images in Photoshop®: Saving Master Files 32Make Fine Art Prints: The Cost 33Make Fine Art Prints: Ink Jet Printers 34Make Fine Art Prints: Ink Jet Papers 35Make Fine Art Prints: Understand ICC Profiles 36Make Fine Art Prints: Sharpen Image 37Printing From Photoshop® 38Printing From Lightroom® 39Compare Monitor to Physical Prints 40Printing Black & White Image 41Extended Workflow: Back Up Images 42Extended Workflow: Storage Options 43Extended Workflow: Archiving Images 44Submitting images to Clients 45Prepping Images for Social Media 46Alternative Workflows 47Final Q&A


a Creativelive Student

Michael is a true professional and readily explains all of the nitty gritty issues of a photographer's digital workflow, including important things like Color Management, Lightroom workflows, Printing, and more. He is eager to answer your questions and has a thorough knowledge (after all, he worked with the original engineers at Adobe and wrote a book on it) and passion that he loves to share. He can get way deep into the subject, which I found fascinating. You can tell Michael has great experience in teaching and also likes to learn from his students. He is very authentic, honest, and direct. I highly recommend this class, and look forward to another one of Michael's courses in the future!

a Creativelive Student

This is an excellent course. It reinforced what I already knew and enhanced my spotty skills with new knowledge. I really like Michael's explanation of saving the document for print and web and the importance of doing these differently. Using the histogram to show this was terrific. Each session there is some valuable gem.

Angelita Sanchez

A fantastic course to give you a complete view of the full process of photography. Michael is an awesome instructor, very organized! A clear mind, and an approachable instructor always willing to answer your questions! A must for all photographers!