digital imaging

Photoshop fairy dust / Neil’s secret sauce

As much as I believe in the “get it right in camera” ethos, it is near inescapable that most images can use some sweetening in Photoshop. My own preference is for fairly subtle retouching of photographs.

The photograph above is one I’ve shown a few times as a great example of how good on-camera bounce flash can look. I did have to adjust the WB and exposure as part of my usual RAW post-processing workflow. And for the image on the left, I also removed some skin blemishes with the Healing Tool. So it does look pretty good .. but it can be subtly enhanced. And the keyword here for me is *subtle*.

My post-processing retouching for portraits involve some Photoshop plug-ins that I use, but there are some useful (and well-known) Photoshop techniques to make an image pop a little bit more. Over several articles on Tangents, I’ve referred to it as either “Photoshop fairy dust” or in a humorous way as my “secret sauce”. The techniques vary, depending on what is needed, and on what I’d like to achieve.  So the “secret sauce” varies from image to image by some degree. It really depends.

With the help of Photoshop wiz, Adrian (aka, Trev from the Tangents forum), we’ve put together two action sets that make these Photoshop techniques quite accessible … and more importantly, accessible in a subtle way. No over-the-top effect. Just that sweetening of the photograph as is necessary. The image on the right-hand shows the type of retouching that is possible with this action set.

The action set, called Neil’s Secret Sauce, is available for download for a $20 fee from that linked page. The zip file includes two actions as well as a PDF instruction sheet.

And of course, we’ll gladly help!

Learn more inside…

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Adrian, a regular follower of the Tangents blog, (better known as the ever-helpful Trev in the Tangents forum), has the guest spot this week. Adrian has expanded on his explanation of the actions that he mentioned in the comments section of the recent article on Selective Sharpening in Photoshop. Even better, he has made it available as two downloadable actions as well.

Photoshop actions to help with Post Processing after RAW conversion (free download)

Intro:

The following downloadable actions with the instructions on their use can save some time and grief on getting a good result after RAW conversion. Even using your RAW converter may not get a fully desirable end result and these very easy to use actions will help in that regard. They are not complicated and you don’t need any plug-ins to achieve a simple lift to your final image.

Learn more inside…

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vintage pinup photo session

photo session – vintage pinup style (on location)

When the hot-rod show which didn’t offer as much in terms of photography as I had hoped, Jill and I moved over to the pier in Brooklyn. Having a model in a retro sailor-suit type outfit … well, it just seemed to good an opportunity to waste. I thought of perhaps using the Ice Cream Factory there as a backdrop to a straight-forward pinup photo, but ultimately decided the Hudson River waterfront would work better as a setting for the photo.

Then we just had to add some simple but dynamic lighting, and give the final image a vintage flavor with the post-processing …

Learn more inside…

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post-processing an image – that summery feeling

A hot rod show & hot girls dressed in 50’s retro outfits .. it all just has to look good! Well, not necessarily. Sometimes the way you feel something should look, just isn’t quite there in the actual setting. At a hot rod show today in Brooklyn, though there were the usual awesome cars (and girls), but the show was held under an expressway. Just not quite the right setting to easily get images with sparkle. But parked around the area were some vintage cars, so along with Jill (one of the models), I used some of these cars for a few images.

But even here the images I got just didn’t quite looked like I envisaged. I wanted a lazy, but sexy and summery feel to the photos. Less about the car itself, than the mood. So the photographs needed some sweetening in Photoshop …

Learn more inside…

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Photoshop action – selective sharpening (download)

Jim McGuinness, a regular follower of the Tangents blog, has made available a tutorial on how to do selective sharpening in Photoshop. Even better, he has made it available as a downloadable action as well.

You can download the action and the instructions on how to use it, from here.
Right-click & save-as, 2 of the files files:
– the action as either Windows / Mac compressed file
– the instruction as a PDF

Expand / uncompress the sitx file. You’ll get a Photoshop icon.
Drag your image onto the icon, and photoshop will run it.

I’ll let Jim follow up for any questions that may crop up.

[ Jim McGuinness is an Adelaide based wedding and family portrait photographer ]

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a RAW workflow – the first step – changing your default settings

As a bit of a forward nudge to those who are entirely new to a RAW workflow, or who hesitantly moved to shooting in RAW – here’s the next step forward – changing the defaults for your RAW file.

Before we even get there, shooting in RAW is very much part of the serious photographer’s environment. Shooting just in JPG is rarely an option. As I have mentioned, there are few occasions where shooting in JPG might be an advantage. So with that in mind … RAW it is. And has to be.

Now, some notes for the newcomers to shooting in RAW.
There are a few things you have to keep in mind:

Learn more inside…

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RAW vs JPG – the final discussion

The RAW vs JPG debate has raged on to the point where pretty much every photographer has been worn down, or left confused. It’s been done. But bear with me on this one. It’ll be quick. And convincing. Then we really are done with this. Here it is:

There is NO photographer on this planet who is good enough to get:
– correct white balance,
– correct exposure,
– correct brightness level,
– correct overall and local contrast,
– correct saturation,
– a good black point,
– or anything else you’d like to add,
DURING the moment of capture, for EVERY situation they are likely to encounter.

Learn more inside…

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personal work – Manhattan cityscapes

It’s been a long cold winter without much chance to roam around and explore with a camera. The past weekend it seemed like the weather was finally relenting and becoming warmer. Taking to the streets to shoot for myself a bit with no purpose in mind, I ended up with three images that I liked – all deserted New York city scenes. Or in the case of the image above, nearly deserted.

It felt good to let my thoughts roam for a while, getting some exercise and listening to music … looking for anything that visually appealed to me in the camera’s viewfinder.

Learn more inside…

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a kid’s studio portrait

January 5, 2011

children’s studio portrait – lighting setup and post-processing

The lighting setup was very simple. Mostly because there wasn’t much space in the area where I set up my home-studio in my dining room area.  But also, because a complicated lighting setup wasn’t necessary. Just two lights. One light on my subject – this adorable little girl; the other light on my background.

Learn more inside…

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Inspiration and Homage

September 8, 2010

Chuck Arlund is a Fashion Photographer whose elegant photography is made even more impressive with the simplicity of his set-ups and use of lighting.

Chuck’s previous guest spot here on the topic of on-location lighting techniques using reflector & flash, was very well received. Therefore I’m very happy that Chuck is graciously sharing more of his ideas with this guest post. Also, check out Chuck’s workshops and mentoring sessions.

Inspiration and Homage,

compositing and multiple lights made to look natural

by Chuck Arlund

This photograph is from a recent fashion story, and has a couple of elements going on. There is an obvious Americana theme, and in that, there is the homage to Norman Rockwell. Who captured that spirit better than Norman Rockwell?

I’ll just tell the story of how the image came about and then describe the technique behind it …

Learn more inside…

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