At times we have photographs that are not properly exposed throughout the image. Regardless how smart and sophisticated camera systems have become lately, there seem to always be a way for them to get tricked into metering incorrectly. Or it could just be a simple mistake by a photographer. Either way, there will be photographs that you do not want to discard because of this, especially if there are very simple ways to fix the problem. Today I am going to show you how to fix a partly underexposed image in Photoshop using the Gradient Tool.
I often get asked if there is a certain way of achieving a particular look in a photo. How to make colors and people “pop”? How to properly color correct? How to make the skin blemish free? While there are lots of different ways to post-process photos using tools like Lightroom and Photoshop, the most powerful tool in any visual artist’s arsenal is typically forgotten – your eyes!
We perceive the world around us by looking and observing things, people, lines, etc. Ever wondered why diagonal lines, curves and specific object placement are pleasing to most people, even to those who are not involved in art? That’s because every brain comes pre-equipped with some tools that help us visualize what looks good and what doesn’t. These visual tools are already there, but they might not be fully “activated” by you. How would you do that? With lots of training, learning, patience and interest in your craft, it is just a matter of time. There is no shortcut, no magic bullet.
In my previous Lightroom Dodging and Burning Tutorial I chose a photograph that had multiple issues. I addressed most of them in that tutorial but specifically left out one major issue (which was quickly discovered by one of our readers) to be a subject for fixing selective color in Lightroom and Photoshop. If you take another close look at the photograph I chose in that tutorial, the face of the model is visibly brighter than the color of the rest of her body. While in many cases our facial color tends to differ from the rest of our body, it can look rather awkward in photographs. Especially in this particular photograph, it is obvious that the foundation on model’s face did not match to rest of her skin color.
If you have photographs like these, there are multiple ways of fixing them and these two methods could be used for a variety of other things. So, follow along to find out how I deal with such issues. First, I will show you how to do it in Lightroom, then I will also do the same in Photoshop.
1) Selective Color Correction in Lightroom
Thanks to Lightroom 4′s selective white balance correction, fixing colors in a certain area is a very easy and straightforward process. Start out by using the Adjustment Brush and painting the affected area. In this case, I carefully brushed the model’s face without touching her eyes and mouth. A quick tip: if you accidentally over-brush, do not forget that you can simply press and hold the “Alt” key, and the “+” sign in the adjustment brush will turn to a “-” sign, which indicates that you can erase the over-brushed area. Keep holding the “Alt” key and carefully un-brush the area that you do not want to touch. Here is my selection:
This is a simple tutorial on how you can utilize Lightroom tools to Dodge and Burn selective areas of a photograph to your liking without using Photoshop. During the process I will also go through some simple steps to show how you can enhance an image directly in Lightroom. I chose a sample portrait to show the process, because I often rely on Lightroom to do most of my post-processing work.
So, what is dodge and burn and where did these terms come from? Here is what Wikipedia says about it:
Dodging and burning are terms used in photography for a technique used during the printing process to manipulate the exposure of a selected area(s) on a photographic print, deviating from the rest of the image’s exposure. In a darkroom print from a film negative, dodging decreases the exposure for areas of the print that the photographer wishes to be lighter, while burning increases the exposure to areas of the print that should be darker.
The same technique can be used in digital photography to achieve similar results, although in Lightroom you can take the process even further by opening up shadows delicately and manipulating the exposure of certain parts of a photograph without ruining any details or colors. It goes without saying that working with RAW images gives a lot more opportunities to recover lots of details, as explained by Nasim in his RAW vs JPEG article.
Here is the before and after comparison of what I have done to demonstrate the Dodge and Burn capability of Lightroom:
We as photographers often make the final call on deciding the life span of an image according to our own perception, imagination and expertise. As much as we should be open to constructive criticism, I have always thought our own satisfaction from a photograph should come first. My own self-criticism is always the deciding factor on where I take my craft going forward. While those creative juices affect what I do behind the camera, knowing the technical aspect of photography to give life to any idea is very essential. It can take the story telling ability to a whole new level. Being able to analyze each shot before it is taken eventually will become a second nature as you photograph. I hope the below steps will help you get there a little faster.
Mastering the depth of the story and being able to translate it into a visual prospect is very important, so it certainly helps to have a solid understanding of how depth of field can affect your images and the story you are working on. Whether it is a portrait or a landscape shot, the right amount of bokeh should be able to transport the viewer into your story. You can choose a longer lens with a large aperture (small depth of field) to pinpoint one element in an image that your viewers could concentrate on, or use a small aperture (large depth of field) to portray the melting pot of action, with many elements to the story.
From the bottom of our hearts we thank everyone, who made it today to our Portrait and Wedding Photography workshop. We are honored to have spent our day with great photographers and amazing friends. Although we do not have a picture of all of us together (I don’t know how we forgot that!), I am sure we will meet again and have another opportunity to have lots of fun and help each other out! Unfortunately, we didn’t get a chance to go through post-processing this time and we are hoping to cover it next Saturday.
Our utmost special thanks go to Eric Abbott and his beautiful wife D’Ann Carle Abbott, who own multiple My Favorite Muffin Bakery Cafes in Denver Area. Eric brought us a big variety of mini muffins and we devoured them with pleasure. Honestly, I haven’t had muffins this good EVER! Huge thanks!
Kudos to my favorite makeup artist and a very good friend Sameera for the fabulous work she does. Thank you for everything you do for me!
Special thanks to Hilton Garden Inn Cherry Creek for hosting our workshops!
Here is a portrait of our beautiful model, Leeza from the day. I hope we will be able to cover a lot more in our next workshop, in which we will go through Flash Photography in depth.
In this article, I will show you an example of how I process portraits (before and after) and what my portrait editing workflow is like. Many of our readers ask how I post-process my images for my wedding blog and I decided to put together a quick example. Obviously, every image is different, so while some photos take very little of my time in Lightroom, others might take a while to process in Lightroom and Photoshop. This image in particular is from our recent “Bridesmaids Photoshoot“, a collaborative effort by many talented individuals in Colorado.
For any portrait work, it is best to shoot RAW. First, because the skin tone is very important and any white balance issues can be quickly taken care of in post-processing and second, because you can recover a lot of details from a RAW file. For me it all starts in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom. If I cannot get something done in Lightroom, I import images to Photoshop for further processing. Both Lightroom and Photoshop are very powerful applications – you can get a lot done without using any plugins or other third party software. Do not be afraid to experiment with either Lightroom or Photoshop, as it will only help you broaden your knowledge and build up your post-processing skills.
The close ups usually require a lot of work, due to the abundance of details and features. But the amount of time you put in all depends on the type of look you are trying to achieve. Here is the original image SOOC (straight out of the camera):
Many of our readers ask me how I smoothen skin and get rid of blemishes. While the manual process below is fairly simple, there are some available presets and programs that could be utilized to help streamline the process for photographers. Many professionals though (including myself) prefer to have a full control over the image and do all the blemish removing and glamor skin smoothening manually.
This is probably the most known and most used method out there to help you achieve the radiant skin tone. Once you know all the steps, it gets pretty easy to utilize this method. I will use the following image as an example:
While Nasim is working on posting another big article on how to create a photography blog, I decided to jump in and write a quick tutorial on how to stack two vertical images in Photoshop. I hope those of you, who already have a blog or will be creating one soon (hopefully with some help from Nasim’s upcoming article) will find my tutorial useful. The below technique surely did save me from some hassle and headache!
Posting vertical images to a blog can get frustrating. While dealing with horizontal images is easy, vertical images either take up too much space (if you extract them with the same dimensions as horizontal images) or take less space and require proper alignment. To deal with this problem, I came up with a very simple way to stack images, which keeps our blog clean and allows me to create a storyline with two vertical images side by side.
My dear Nasim, I’ve been through many difficulties in my life and was at my wits’ end when I met you. From that point on I knew I found my soul, my strength and my true love. You have uplifted me to new emotional heights, given me hope and have been supporting me, my dreams for the past 5 years. Together with you we are raising two most amazing children God could give us. Thank you for being so giving, a very loving husband and a perfect father to Omar and Ozzy. I go to bed every night and wake up every morning thanking God for having you as my husband, my soul mate and my best friend. We love you very much and wish you to be healthy and happy. Like you say: Once healthy and happy, we can achieve other things by our own will.
Although your sons never have a perfect hair day, they are precious in every way :D
Lola, Omar and Ozzy.