Disclaimer... I am by far NOT an editing guru but I have definitely learned some things along the way. I love photography and I LOVE being able to enhance images to where it matches my 'vision'.
Without further ado, please view the before image.. or better known as the SOOC (straight out of camera) image in photography speak:
This is my beautiful daughter that agreed to pose for me (yes, I bribed her with smoothies and promises of starbucks). This image was shot with:
Canon 5D Mark III
Lens: Tokina 100 mm f/2.8
ISO 100 Shutter Speed 1/250 F-Stop 2.8
I edit solely in Adobe Photoshop CS6.
Background... this image was shot at around 6pm on a very cloudy day. Clouds provide a beautiful natural softbox and I actually LOVE shooting when it's cloudy! I usually FAITHFULLY use a grey card to set my white balance (as I do not like to do too much post work) but on this day I had left my grey card elsewhere and had to set my camera to 'automatic white balance'. It actually did quite well and I don't feel like I have to adjust the white balance too much.
The very first thing I did was open the image in Camera RAW using Adobe Bridge. If you don't open your images in bridge you can always click on the tab "filter" in Photoshop and then click on "camera RAW filter". This way you can edit your images just like you do in LightRoom if that is what you use. Please don't hesitate to ask in the comment section if you need help.
I used the easiest tool to enhance my background. My background is already pretty (I mean, wildflowers.... YES!) but I felt like it could use a little POP! What I did was choose the "Adjustment Brush" in Camera RAW. It's the 10th tool from the left and it's a paintbrush. When you hover over it it says "adjustment brush", OR.. you can just hit 'k' on your keyboard. This is actually a fun tool to play around with. For this image my settings were:
Highlights: + 28
The Brush size was: 18
Feather and Density: 100
You can play around with your settings for the brush but this is what I like for this image.
All I did was use the adjustment brush all around my beautiful subject, taking great care NOT to paint any of it on her. These are the results after doing this simple adjustment:
BIG DIFFERENCE! I love that brush and experimenting with the settings!
I really love the look of a hint of sun in my images, so the next thing I did was add a little bit of light to the upper right hand corner. Remember, it was cloudy so there was no sun to be had so I faked it a little.
I did this by clicking on 'filter' in the top menu of photoshop. Then choose 'render' from the drop down menu. Then choose 'lighting effects' from that drop down menu. A new 'lighting effects' page will pop up and from here you can experiment with lighting. For this image I chose the following settings:
"Spot" lighting (located in the upper right)
I chose orange for the color, 7 for the intensity, 31 for the exposure and everything else 100. The 'colorize' button is left at white.
I placed the halo of light in the upper right hand corner of the image to mimic soft sunlight. You can move the circle around to where you like it and change the size. Here is how my image looks now.
The next thing I did was run Imagenomic Portraiture. YES... it's worth EVERY penny!! Along with the skin smoothing I brightened it just a tad (+1) and added a little warmth (+1). I then removed Portraiture from her eyes and lips to retain sharpness.
The next thing I did was enhance her eyes just a tad. You can do this by hand but I have a sharpening action that I like and use (Greater than Gatsby) and I just paint it on over her eyes. Sometimes I use an 'Iris Sparkle' action (by Greater Thank Gatsby) but you can also enhance eyes by increasing saturation and exposure on the iris'. I then also fixed the area beneath her eyes using this method:
You will probably have to cut and paste that into your browser but it's definitely worth it!! Learn this, love this, live this technique. I use it ALL. THE. TIME. especially with newborn photography (not on the eyes but when I have to fix little red feet, hands etc)
From here I used an action that I recently acquired from DNA Photography called "Butter" in her haze collection. I lowered the opacity of this action to taste and then removed almost all of it off the subject.
The next step was to brighten up the image a tad. I clicked on 'Curves' and the held down 'alt' (so I can see blown highlights) while I adjusted the slider on the right to taste.
I then added another action from DNA Photography called 'Cranberry' in her haze collection and lowered the opacity of that one to 26%
That's it! If you have any questions please don't hesitate to ask!