I’m always looking to improve every aspect of photography from lighting to post processing. The journey of photography is challenging because once you master one thing, there’s something else to master or continuously enhance like any other career, hobby, or sport. If you are perfectionist, you are constantly busy perfecting your art!
I have several things I’m working on including post processing. When I was initially post processing photos, I was spending way to much time in Photoshop… way to much. I was using books like, Photoshop for Photographers by Scott Kelby. In his book, he has detailed instructions to remove blemishes from the skin, smooth out the skin, remove double chins, whitening eyes, change eye color, etc. One popular exercise he uses to smooth skin is Gaussian Blur. I admit that I took this a little far. After reading a few blogs, I learned that Gaussian Blur is a big ‘ole No-No. It’s recommended that you take advantage of the tried-and-true, dodge and burn instead of Gaussian Blur, like in film days and darkroom usage. Even his latest book, Professional Portrait Retouching Techniques for Photographers Using Photoshop, continue to use Gaussian Blur for skin enhancement. Maybe this is “the” method for Portraits.
I’m not really sure of the best method but I now use dodge and burn. I am not sure why this isn’t a big deal in published books that I’ve found. Is there a book out there?
As you go through your journey, everything starts with your lighting; how you light your subject whether using strobes, ambient lighting, etc. How well you light your subject will dictate the work in post-processing. My goal is to spend the least amount of time post-processing. Here’s my basic process.
My software toolkit includes Canon Digital Photo Processing software (DPP), Lightroom 3.0, Photoshop CS4 (PS), and Portrait Professional. The plug-ins for PS that I use are Totally Rad Actions and Topaz.
If the lighting is perfect, I will use DPP for white balance and / or color balance, Photoshop to remove blemishes and distractions from the subject, and dodge and burn. If I’m satisfied, I’m done! If not, I may add some final touches in lightroom that includes vignetting (light or dark).
Later I’ll share my before and after photos.