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Day 2 of “I’m Giving Up Photoshop” Month

Hey folks! Welcome to Day 2 in my self-project-ish, month-long postings of images I’m only using Lightroom to edit. If you’re just coming in to reading this and haven’t read the original post where I wrote why I’m doing this, then make sure you check that out too. Okay, here goes:

The Photo
This photo was taken at a nearby park of a woman and her daughter. It’s a natural light portrait. No reflectors. No flash. The first place I missed Photoshop is when choosing the right photo. In this photo, I think the woman looks great, but her daughter isn’t smiling like I’d like her to.

(click to see the image larger)

However, in the photo below, her daughter is smiling better than the first photo, but I like the smile on the mom in the other photo better. Since they didn’t move much between the two photos, I could have easily have used Layers in Photoshop and combined the best of both photos. But since I can’t, I’ll just have to pick my favorite so I’m going with the first one since I think the mom looks great and the girl still has a nice smile.


Photo Details:
Camera: Nikon D800
Lens: Nikon 70-200mm VRII
Aperture: f/2.8
Shutter Speed: 1/350 second
ISO: 100

Like most photos, I started with the Basic panel and adjusted the overall Exposure and tone. After the Exposure, I adjusted the Whites and Blacks sliders by holding down the Option/Alt key and dragging each slider until I had a white/black point. There’s not much detail lost in the Shadows so I left that slider alone, but I did pull back on the Highlights just a little bit to tone down the left side of the image.

I do think it has a good warm feel to it so I adjusted the Temp slider to the right a bit.

(click to see the image larger)

Camera Calibration Presets
Like yesterday’s photo, I went to the Calibration panel and changed the Profile setting. This one sounds like a no-brainer, but I really like the Portrait one for portraits. It tends to give a nice color to the skin tones in the photo.


Clarity and Vibrance
While I love Clarity for my landscapes and travel photos, it doesn’t work too well on portraits. It tends to make the skin look harsh and textured so I’ll leave that at 0. I did increase the Vibrance setting though, because it’ll add a little more color without making the skin look sun-burned.


Lens Corrections
In the Lens Corrections panel I turned on the Enable Profile Corrections checkbox to automatically fix any distortion or unwanted vignetting.


The photo is sharp, but we’re going to add some more. I used the Detail panel and increased the Amount, Radius and Detail settings. This sharpens the whole photo though, including the skin. That’s where the Masking slider comes in handy. Just hold down the Option/Alt key when moving it and you can see a black/white view that it hides the sharpening from the skin, and just keeps it over the eyes and detailed areas we want to look sharper.





I’ve come to rely on onOne’s Perfect Portrait plug-in for retouching but since I only have Lightroom I’ll do it here. Truth be told, it’s not that what I can do in Lightroom isn’t good enough. It’s just that Perfect Portrait is so fast, because it automatically finds facial features and does the retouching for you, that I’ve been using it a lot lately to get the job done quick. Anyway, the first thing I did is use the Adjustment Brush with negative Clarity setting to smooth the skin a little.


Next, I added another adjustment with some extra Exposure to whiten the eyes on the mom (the girl’s eyes looked ok as is).


Finally, I used the Spot Healing Brush in Heal mode and painted over the veins on the mom’s forehead and any blemishes. I didn’t want it too look too fake though, so I set the Opacity of the brush to 50% to help blend the adjustments in with her original skin.


She also has a name tattoo’d on her arm. Now, while she probably wouldn’t want it removed because it’s her son’s name, let’s hypothetically say this is for a client who doesn’t want tattoos in the image. As you can see, it’s really easy to remove with the Healing brush.


Just about everything gets a vignette. However, unlike yesterday’s photo where I used the Vignetting setting, today I’m going to use something else. See, the Vignette effect assumes that your point of interest is in the middle of the photo. But in this example, they’re off to the left. So I’m using the Radial Filter instead. I just reduced the Exposure setting and dragged a circle over the mom and daughter. It has the effect of putting a spotlight on them and really making them stand out.



Before and After
Here’s a quick before and after so you can see what was done.

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What Else?
I gotta tell ya’, with the exception of what I mentioned about the smiles in the beginning of this post (about wanted to combine two photos together), there’s not too much Photoshop stuff I missed here. Again, I’ve become accustomed to onOne’s Perfect Portrait plug-in, but Lightroom does a really good job at retouching for what we needed here. Perfect Portrait is just a little faster because it automatically finds facial features, but I was able to do what I wanted here in Lightroom as well.

Thanks for stopping by today!