Photoshop: Before & After

I often get asked about my Photoshop post-processing.  I’ll be the first to say, I’m not a Photoshop expert by any means.  I’ve read several books, played around a lot, yet I’m still always experimenting and finding my grove.  There are definitely ways to overdo it in Photoshop, though.  I’ve never been a fan of most Photoshop fads and try to avoid over-editing.  My hope is that any creative editing only enhances the mood and look of a photo further, and doesn’t distract from the image.  I never want a photo to be just about the editing, that’s really not the point.  For weddings, I often go for a more classic and “pure” look.  For kids and seniors, I tend to add a bit more pizazz with color and textures, though not too much. Newborns & maternity photos can really go either way, and it mostly depends on the clients style and preference.

Today, I’m going to share a quick walk through my post-processing in Photoshop with a before & after from baby Julia’s session.  You’ll see it step by step!

undefined Here’s a “straight-out-of-camera” (SOOC) image from sweet baby Julia.  No editing, white balance correction, or anything.  Just a straight conversion from RAW to JPEG.  This was shot using auto white balance so that I could correct it later in Lightroom.  Obviously, it’s looking a little lifeless and not very exciting.  It needs a bit of work.

undefined In Lightroom, I increased the exposure just a bit, and fixed the white balance by warming it up quite a bit.  Julia’s skin has a nice olive tone too it, and  the original SOOC image was way too blue.  I also used the spot removal brush to get rid of a few spots on the blanket.

undefined Next, I added just a tad of fill light on Julia’s face & body using a Curves layer, just to brighten things up a bit.

undefined I smoothed Julia’s skin out using one of my favorite Photoshop actions – Pro Retouch from Totally Rad Actions.  For babies, I like skin to look soft and smooth, but not plastic, so I lower the opacity of the layers and do a lot of tweaking.  I almost never use any Photoshop Action full-strength because it ends up looking way too strong.  For Julia, I retouched the skin on her face and some of her arms and legs.

undefined After smoothing the skin, I used one of my favorite actions that adds just a touch of sweet vintage color, with the opacity lowered to about 30%.  I then smoothed out the blanket wrinkles since they were pretty distracting.

undefined
My last step in editing will depend on my output purpose (print or web).  For web, I always resize my images to 900 x 600 for my blog, and then apply a sharpening action.  I usually paint back the sharpening a bit.  I then use a brush for my logo, and Save for Web, and it’s all done!

Some of my photos go through many more steps than this, and some go through fewer.  It always depends.  Hope you enjoyed this little peek into my post-processing!

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