Tuesday, 11 October 2011
How To Edit The Ages Of Man
This is not intended for professionals as I have no intention of teaching you how to suck eggs but if you gain anything from it then all the better.
The original image was shot at mid afternoon using a Canon 7D with the 28-135mm lens attached, the rest of the details are:
Focal length: 60mm
It was shot in RAW format (if your camera can shoot in RAW then you should, the information retained in the file is invaluable)
1/ The images is opened as a raw file in CS5 and the clarity and the sharpness is tweaked. Contrast is also tweaked while still in colour to give a stronger contrast, needed later.
2/ The image is then opened in CS5, it is then cropped to focus on the face and remove some of the background clutter.
3/ Using the plug in Slver Efex Pro it is converted to black and white, once again here the contrast, brightness and structure is tweaked, stronger contrast and more brightness added and structure increased by around 20%.
4/ At this point there is still some clutter behind the subjects head, so I set about getting rid of the background using the burn brush, set at a round 25% to 35% exposure I darken both the highlights and mid tones first, I then move onto the shadow and set the exposure to around 50%, at all the times the brush is kept small when working near to the face with the hardness set at 30% A lot of this technique is how you use the brush, as you work around the face you need to sweep it gently as each pass will darken the image, be aware of where the brush is falling within the frame. You also need to understand the lighting of the image, for this I wanted it be lit toward the face so I darkened the back with stronger strokes, more delicate to the front.
5/ The image is then exported to Lightroom, in here I use the Tone sliders, I both lighten the image with the fill light and darken the blacks with the black slider. I also use post crop vignetting to really darken the edges of the frame but I use it in highlight priority mode to retain the highlights were needed. I also sharpen the image in here looking also to reduce any noise. Once happy I export back to CS5
6/ The last stage is to use the brush tool with a soft edge set on black to tidy up any areas, with this image I also increased the structure again in Silver Efex to bring out more of the detail in the finished image.
Its sounds complicated but it is easier than you think, make sure you have the right image to begin with, it does not work on all portraits and less so on a subject that is looking directly at the viewer.