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When Photoshop Does It Better (retouching tip)

Happy Tuesday everybody. OK, enough chit chat — let’s get to work! I try to do as much of work as possible in Lightroom but there are times where Photoshop either does it faster or better, and today I’ll show you a case where Lightroom doesn’t get nearly as good as result as Photoshop doing a similar task.


Above: In the portrait you see here, her face is supposed to be bright and that’s supposed to draw your eye, but her hands and arm and not supposed to be nearly that bright. This is something I would quickly fix in post production but in the next step you’ll see what the problem is when I do that in Lightroom.


Above: When you darken the exposure on her hands and arms by painting over them with the Adjustment Brush and lowering either the Highlight slider or the Exposure slider, it acts as through you’re painting over her skin with dark gray. I’ve read a number of users complaining about this exact same situation — her skin doesn’t look natural — it looks kind of grayish. That’s why I usually jump to Photoshop for stuff like that and use an entirely different technique.


Above: In Lightroom I pressed Command-E to take the image over to Photoshop. There I duplicated the Background layer and changed the Layer Blend mode to Multiply to create a darkening effect. Then I added a black Layer Mask to this layer (you do that by holding the Option key on Mac, or the Alt key on PC, before you click the Layer Mask button). That hides the darker Multiple layer behind a black mask. With the Paint Brush tool, and my Foreground color set to White, I painted over her hands and arms and result looks much more natural — no graying or discoloration. Once I painted it all in, I thought it was still a little bit too light, so I duplicated that Multiple layer, and that doubled-up the effect. Of course, now that seem too dark (that’s how life works, right), so I lowered the Opacity of the top layer until it looked about right to me.


Above: Here’s a side-by-side with the Photoshop retouch on the left, and the darker gray-looking Lightroom version on the right, and you can clearly see the difference.

NOTE: If you don’t have Photoshop, obviously you can’t jump over and do this, so try this instead (sometimes it works well, but it just depends on the image): In Lightroom; with the Adjustment Brush; lower the Exposure amount a little bit, but raise the Contrast amount quite a bit (between 80-100, but again, it just depends on your image) and that does a better job than just darkening the Exposure or Highlights in most cases. Hey, if you don’t have Photoshop, it’s worth a try, right?

Hope you find that helpful!



P.S. Don’t know if you saw the post over on my blog yesterday, but I’m really delighted to announce that none other than Matt Kloskowski himself will be joining us at the Photoshop World Conference in Vegas this summer, teaching in our Lightroom track. Joining Matt are both Serge Ramelli and Trey Ratcliff. Did we add some awesome instructors or what!!! Come out and spend a few day with us learning more about Lightroom, July 19-21 –