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Where to Begin? (Senior Pictures)

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  #1  
Old 04-30-2010, 08:36 PM
Diabetic Diabetic is offline
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Where to Begin? (Senior Pictures)

I ended up buying my Senior Pictures, but I do wish to try and create my own for fun as well.

I have a beginner to moderate experience with Photoshop, but usually I do not edit pictures of people and am confused as to how to start on this.

Attached is a couple of pictures of myself. They should be taken in a way that resembles a Senior Picture. But now I am left with editing them.

So, how would you start them?

And can anyone give me a good explanation on how to use the Mask Tool effectively? I've searched for Guides, watched videos, etc, but when I try it myself - It won't work correctly and I'll get frustrated.

Any tips/guides/pointers would be appreciated.

Doing the picture yourself will show me the final result, which is 'cool', but I am more-so looking for HOW to get there. So an explanation with that would be excellent.

Pictures:
http://i917.photobucket.com/albums/a...n/DSC02105.jpg
http://s917.photobucket.com/albums/a...t=DSC02116.jpg
http://i917.photobucket.com/albums/a...n/DSC02138.jpg
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  #2  
Old 04-30-2010, 10:22 PM
TommyO's Avatar
TommyO TommyO is offline
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Re: Where to Begin? (Senior Pictures)

Diabetic,
Welcome to RetouchPro !

These are good images to work with. Good exposures, good contrasting elements, etc, and should yield some good results for you.

There are numerous ways to achieve what you want, as working in Photoshop is as much an art as it is a tool. If you have a good creative eye, you are limited only by time to get familiar with the tools and processes. When you ask about how to start, or how to do retouching, there are literally tons of books on the subject. So, it's best to just go get a book... maybe do some searches here for some of the better titles. Not that you won't get some good answers here... but, it really takes a lot of pages to explain.

Regarding masking.... don't over-think it. Every adjustment layer automatically comes with a mask, all white so that every inch of the AL shows through. You can simply invert the mask so nothing shows, then paint very lightly with a soft white low opacity brush to reveal the AL effect where you need it.

Masks can also be created and saved as "alpha channels". (The reverse really, alpha channels created, saved, then used as masks.) Creating alpha channels this way can be very quick, or very time consuming. For example, selecting a bright sky near a dark background goes fast. Selecting fine dark hair near a dark gray background... very time consuming. Your pictures allow for good quick alpha channels or masks to be created. Whether you intended it or not, good contrasts between you, the background, the sky, etc. all allow for easy separation of elements.

We have written about the basic retouch steps many times here on RetouchPro. I might ask that you do some searches on the forums for those posts. Also, don't forget there are many tutorials on RetouchPro also.... in the SiteNav drop-down.

Here are a few other good retouch links.
Russell Brown (free)
OPR Tutorials (also free)
Worth1000
Lynda

And other members have many more. Don't be discouraged if posts are slow over the weekend. Wait until during the week to see if you get some more support, hints and links.
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  #3  
Old 05-01-2010, 03:35 AM
Diabetic Diabetic is offline
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Re: Where to Begin? (Senior Pictures)

TommyO,

Thanks for your response!
I'm definitely glad I did my "Homework" on how to take good pictures before I actually went out and started taking some. I wouldn't have thought of some of the tips that are out there for taking Senior Pictures. (And as I was editing, I could see why you said it was good contrast between the sky, myself, etc.)

I've read through some of the websites provided, and did some researching on my own, and dug into one of my photos to see what I could accomplish. The way I see it, the best experience you can gain is from missing up, and trying again and again until you get something similar to what you have in mind.

To be honest, I'm quite proud of the job I was able to accomplish.
What do you think though? :

Before Edits:
http://i917.photobucket.com/albums/a...n/DSC02138.jpg

After Edits:
http://i917.photobucket.com/albums/a.../FirstEdit.jpg

After Edits With a Border:
http://i917.photobucket.com/albums/a...tionalEdit.jpg

When I was looking through these I noticed the quality (Resolution) of the edited picture without the border being different, but I do love the border that the third picture has.

What do you think of the 2nd vs 3rd Picture?
Good job for my first major Senior Picture Edit? What should I work on?

Thanks!
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  #4  
Old 05-01-2010, 11:26 AM
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TommyO TommyO is offline
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Re: Where to Begin? (Senior Pictures)

I like the border as well. The hard part about critiquing work on a forum like this is, we don't have a good feel for what you like. For example, you are young and may like a more artistic interpretation. Whereas, I and others my age may prefer a very traditional photography session.

So, my preference for the retouch.... the colors appear a little over saturated to me. Yet, it is starting to gain some sort of artistic look. If you are not seeing the overly saturated color, it could simply be your monitor is not calibrated. The eventual problem will be when you send the picture to a printer/lab. The commercial printer may not be able to replicate the heavily saturated colors correctly. (Monitors reveal more color than we can print.)

For a very realistic yet sharp/bold image, your original was actually very good. There are a few other things you may consider.
- blurring the background just a little to lessen the depth, bring focus to you.
- add a little color to the sky.
- tweak your skin tones, retouch any blemishes, etc.
- ensure all colors are within the printer gamut.
- check for clipping in whites or blacks; you want them real close, nothing over done.
- add a very subtle vignette.

For example, in your edited version, your whites and blacks are clipping a bit too much. The printer will lay no ink for the whites, and lay down too much for the blacks. It may look quite bad. (See screen shot)

Gotta run... but I'll check back and maybe post an example.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Screen Shot002.jpg (194.6 KB, 74 views)
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  #5  
Old 05-01-2010, 08:18 PM
Diabetic Diabetic is offline
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Re: Where to Begin? (Senior Pictures)

"blurring the background just a little to lessen the depth, bring focus to you.
1)- add a little color to the sky.
2)- tweak your skin tones, retouch any blemishes, etc.
3)- ensure all colors are within the printer gamut.
4)- check for clipping in whites or blacks; you want them real close, nothing over done.
5)- add a very subtle vignette."

1) I did this in the picture above by applying separate masks to both the landscape, and myself. I then applied the blur to the landscape. Can you not tell, or should I try to Blur it some more? I used Gaussian Blur, would you use a different type?

2) Isn't my face too far to check for blemishes? I tried to check, but really gave up. Perhaps if I zoomed in more, I'll have to check.

3) I'll be going to a professional place to print the one's I edit. Should I still check for this?

4) How would I do this? Perhaps I don't get entirely what you mean.

5) That would be an excellent idea - I hadn't thought of that technique.

Additionally, how would I get a sky in there? I'm having a hard time placing one in there that would look good that would fit-in among the trees.

Thanks for the replies =-).
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Old 05-01-2010, 10:38 PM
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0lBaldy 0lBaldy is offline
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Re: Where to Begin? (Senior Pictures)

Diabetic, Welcome to RetouchPRO Hope you enjoy your stay here and make lots of friends.

Looks to me like you were trying for a darker look... Sooo these are just some additional ideas you might want to work with

I cropped your picture a bit then used Swampys Fixing a Blown Out Sky tutorial for the sky and used render clouds for the top selection on the mask

Sharpened person

Removed flash highlight from eyes and sharpened the Irises only

Looks like your try was going for sort of a darker effect so I used a masked version of Richard Houtby Dragan Effect action and lowered the opacity to around 68% over the version before the action was applied

first with the dark skin spots unaltered then a version using the healing brush with them lightened somewhat but still there (They could be eliminated in the same manner... but... would alter the real look of the person).. the third version is using the first three layers of the RHoutby action (Levels layer, Curves layer, Hue Saturation layer) (everything before the first sharpening)... and the fourth version is again lightening the dark skin spots by removing them on a copied layer and then lowering the opacity of that layer till they just show through (the last two versions I left unmasked, so the trees are darker also)

Very subtle differences.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg senior_WithDarkerSpots.jpg (196.1 KB, 54 views)
File Type: jpg senior_WithLighterSpots.jpg (195.7 KB, 47 views)
File Type: jpg RHoutbyBeforeSharpen.jpg (193.0 KB, 51 views)
File Type: jpg RHoutbyBSLighterSpots.jpg (198.9 KB, 67 views)
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  #7  
Old 05-01-2010, 11:59 PM
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TommyO TommyO is offline
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Re: Where to Begin? (Senior Pictures)

1) I did this in the picture above by applying separate masks to both the landscape, and myself. I then applied the blur to the landscape. Can you not tell, or should I try to Blur it some more? I used Gaussian Blur, would you use a different type?
The amount is personal preference really. Whatever you like. Gaussian blur is fine; it's what most of us use.

2) Isn't my face too far to check for blemishes? I tried to check, but really gave up. Perhaps if I zoomed in more, I'll have to check.
Possibly. In fact, since you have many freckles, any blemishes really would not be noticeable. Your dark freckles are part of your person, and I would not remove them. You do have one under your left eye, that some people may consider removing simply to keep the area around the eyes cleaner and less distracting.

3) I'll be going to a professional place to print the one's I edit. Should I still check for this?
Absolutely. You should obtain the professional printers' printer profile and use that as your soft proof. After soft proofing, you may decide to tweak your image some more.

4) How would I do this? Perhaps I don't get entirely what you mean.
This is normally done early in your workflow, in either Adobe Camera Raw or Lightroom. You can also do it in Photoshop. (The attached picture from earlier is just a screen capture from ACR.) Either program allows you to view when values are clipping.

One advantage in doing this is to avoid printing issues. The other advantage in this is to assist our eyes in viewing the image properly. Do you recall seeing certain photographers' images that really seem to pop ? One thing those photographers realize is how our brain/eyes work. When viewing an image, our eyes need to see one small area of bright white and one small area of pure black. From there, our brain does an excellent job of managing all the tonal values in-between. If there is too much white or black we see the image as very contrasty; if too little we see it as flat.

You can also treat different parts of the image the same way. Once you've made selections, moved them to new layers and start adjustments, you can build contrast and saturation in those elements. Yet, keep an eye on clipping there also.

Additionally, how would I get a sky in there? I'm having a hard time placing one in there that would look good that would fit-in among the trees.
Well, OlBaldy has given you some examples. Most any sky will work, as the focus is on you not the sky.

Remember we said your image allows for good separation ? Replacing the sky should be a snap because of this. You could use a simple selection technique, as simple as the magic wand, color range, whatever. Transfer that selection to an alpha channel just in order to save it. Find whatever sky you like, insert as a layer, then reload your saved selection to create a mask which reveals the sky. Adjust opacity to create the level of saturation you want.

I did attach a quick (nothing fancy on the masking) example of what I like (first attachment). Again, very traditional. I simply blurred the background a bit more, added a gradient so the foreground would be in focus, added a simple sky. Another trend you may like is a desaturated background and very subtle tonal ranges on the subject (attachment 2).
Attached Images
File Type: jpg DSC02138_ver1TO.jpg (197.6 KB, 51 views)
File Type: jpg DSC02138_ver1TOdesat.jpg (196.9 KB, 52 views)
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  #8  
Old 05-02-2010, 05:52 AM
Diabetic Diabetic is offline
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Re: Where to Begin? (Senior Pictures)

TommyO and Olbaldy, I cannot thank you both enough for posting on here.

Being extremely early in the morning and wanting to go to bed as fast as I can to recover, I will not be replying to some of the stuff mentioned, but please know that I have read through all of what you said and greatly appreciate it. Each of your pictures have a distinct look that I like, and they both look really nice. I'll have a look at the sky guide when I wake up and have time for it as well and thanks for offering your ideas on the "dark" look that I was going for ^^.

Upon looking on your pictures, TommyO, I found the first one to be really similar to the "Senior Pictures" look I was trying to find. One thing that still bewilders me a little bit was that clipping explanation. If I applied what you said to the pictures you had provided, would you say the area of black was found in the trees, my watch, or my hair, and the area of white was my undershirt? Or maybe I'm just too tired to realize exactly what you are saying. I'll have to get some more sleep and try again if it isn't ^^.

That "Traditional" photo that you liked is very similar to Senior Pictures I have seen though. Can you go through the edits you did for that one in particular? I know you mentioned the Gradient Blur, which shouldn't be a problem to do. Was there really anything else? How would you edit that one more, if you were to do so. I really liked it ^^. As for the desaturated one, I like that one as well, just I do like the first one more.

Thanks again Olbaldy and TommyO.
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  #9  
Old 05-02-2010, 06:55 AM
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Pictus Pictus is offline
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Re: Where to Begin? (Senior Pictures)

Just playing...

http://img710.imageshack.us/img710/4...sc02105fx2.jpg
http://img688.imageshack.us/img688/1...sc02105fx1.jpg
http://img576.imageshack.us/img576/7...sc02105fx3.jpg
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Diabetic-DSC02105-fx1.jpg (97.4 KB, 38 views)
File Type: jpg Diabetic-DSC02105-fx2.jpg (95.2 KB, 41 views)
File Type: jpg Diabetic-DSC02105-fx3.jpg (98.7 KB, 35 views)
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  #10  
Old 05-02-2010, 12:16 PM
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palms palms is offline
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Re: Where to Begin? (Senior Pictures)

Out of interest can someone define "Senior photo's" I have seen them mentioned a fair bit and just wondered,
They are not something i am aware of here in the UK! my guess is they are portraits taken at a certain age ?

thanks

Palms
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