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Day 5 of “I’m Giving Up Photoshop” Month

Welcome to Day 5 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 is a portrait shoot I did in Central Park, NY a while back. The timing was perfect. It was October, the weather was nice. The colors had turned and it was an overcast day (which is perfect for shooting fall color).

(click to see the image larger)

Photo Details:
Camera: Nikon D3
Lens: Nikon 85mm f/1.4
Aperture: 1.4
Shutter Speed: 1/250 second
ISO: 200

I actually clicked the Auto button here just like I did on Friday and it worked pretty well. It was a little on the bright side but that’s easy to fix. Overall the skin tones looked good, but I did pull back even more on the Highlights setting. I also warmed the photo by moving the Temp slider to the right just a little. No Clarity here because it doesn’t work too well on portraits, but I did bump up the Vibrance a bit to enhance the color.


Camera Calibration
I’m always a fan of going to the Camera Calibration panel for portraits and changing the Profile to Portrait (don’t forget it only works on raw photos though, not JPEGs).


Next I went to the Detail panel and increased the Amount, Radius and Detail settings. The problem with adding all of the sharpening is that it will tend to add texture to the photo which is mostly just a problem in the skin areas so I also increased the Masking slider too.
TIP: If you hold down the Option/Alt key when you drag the Masking slider you’ll get a black/white preview of what actually is being masked.


Detailed Adjustments
As I mentioned before, there’s a few bright parts in the photo. First off, I think both of their shirts/sweaters are too bright. The Adjustment Brush is a great place to fix that though. I decreased the Exposure and also turned up the Clarity setting because it’ll really bring out some next texture and details in their clothing. I also turned on the Auto Mask checkbox when I painted around the edges of their shirts. Once I have the edge painted (darkened), I turned off the Auto Mask setting because it tends to get slow and can miss areas, and painted in the rest of their upper bodies.


I also clicked new with the Adjustment Brush and zoomed in on their eyes. Then I increased the Exposure just a little so I could paint over their eyes to brighten them a bit.


Add A Vignette
Finally I finished things off with a vignette. But not in the Effects panel. The Vignette sliders will tend to darken people’s heads toward the top since it focusses in on the center. Whenever I have a key area or subject that’s off center I use the Radial Filter with some negative Exposure.

What Else?
That’s about it for this one. While I like onOne Perfect Portrait (or even Photoshop) for portrait retouching, I don’t consider this a photo I’d really mess with. See, it’s almost a full body portrait. It typically won’t be viewed large enough to do any serious portrait retouching. Me personally, I usually only spend time retouching portraits that are fairly close up and  this one definitely isn’t. Plus. they’ve both look great and there’s really no work that would need to be done.
The photo was shot with an 85mm f/1.4 lens so there’s virtually no clutter or anything in the background that needs to be cleaned up so I consider this one a total success in Lightroom.

Here’s a Before/After. Thanks for stopping by.
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  1. Keith R. Starkey 29 January, 2014 at 19:26 Reply

    You know, I can’t see any vignetting after you used the Radial tool. The colors are definitely more vivid and what have you, but I just can’t see what that Radial tool did. Oh well, my eye for such things isn’t trained well yet. Thanks much for this series!

  2. Nicholas Ryan 26 January, 2014 at 23:50 Reply

    One Solution to not having the color profiles when shooting JPEGs is to create an action for each Color profile and saving it. I remember this from a video from Scott Kelby.

  3. Malcolm Duffy 23 January, 2014 at 14:17 Reply

    It is amazing what you can achieve with some tweaks and sliders. I love the end result and thoroughly enjoyed learning how you managed to achieve it. It is really impressive. Detailed retouching is completely unnecessary in this case.

  4. Bill Bentley 13 January, 2014 at 18:57 Reply

    Hi Matt,
    While I see and agree with your point about not performing detailed retouching in this instance, on my monitor the girls nose looks a bit too bright. It was light on the original image and became lighter via the radial filter. Just my $.02.

  5. Dennis Zito 13 January, 2014 at 11:56 Reply

    Hey Matt,

    I guess I’ve watched your method too many times! 🙂 I knew what you were going to do on this one!


    • Matt K 13 January, 2014 at 12:12 Reply

      LOL Dennis. I actually hope that happens to everyone. It really is a formula. I do most of the same things all of the time and I’m really hoping people can see that with a few tweaks/sliders/etc… you can make a big difference on the photo.

      • Dennis Zito 14 January, 2014 at 07:54 Reply

        Hi Matt,

        You crack me up!!! Hey, are you planning on taking a relatively poor photo and try to rescue it in LR5? I know you wouldn’t do that normally, but it would be interesting to see how you would handle it in LR5. Sometimes we have a shot we’ll never be able to take again, which would be nice to kind of rescue it. Have a Great time in SF!


    • Joe S 13 January, 2014 at 12:19 Reply

      Matt, this is unrelated to the post but I just watched your long exposure class. It was excellent. One tip that I use is instead of the Lee I use the B & W 9 stop, and I use the XUME filter rings. They allow you to remove the filter and replace it very quickly. I liked it so much I ordered them for all of my filters.

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