Thank you to Linda Gentry of Linda Gentry Photography in Omaha, Nebraska for sharing this article and her thoughts on staying true to your own creative style, getting it right in camera, and her simple steps to editing clean, pure photos. I like how she demonstrates that sometimes all a quality SOOC image needs is a light editing touch with tools that make it quick and easy.
Oh my, when Michelle asked me if I would do a guest blog, first my head grew two sizes. About 5 minutes later I started having heart palpitations. I mean, Michelle is an amazing artist on both ends of the process. She’s a great photographer, but she’s also nothing short of amazing with her photoshop skills (I really had to resist spelling that with a “z” at the end). Mad Skillz. Oops, it slipped out. Anyway, as you will soon deduce for yourselves that I…..uh….well…..am not exactly a photoshop wiz. I rely heavily on what comes out of my camera and have a very light touch when it comes to processing. In fact, it’s really downright boring. So, I hope you make it to the end of my guest post without needing a shot of espresso. I tried to include lots of cute babies for some eye candy.
Somewhere in 2009 I started to look at my images and realize that I admired so many different styles, but for my own images I liked a clean process. At some unknown moment, I let my own photos speak to me before I docked myself in front of my computer for hours of processing. And, I was kind of at a loss. I had a whole palette full of actions that created a certain look. But, I had advanced to a point that I knew what I wanted before I pushed play. It was kind of an “a ha moment.” I let the photo speak to me instead of forcing it into some sort of style. Perhaps it was the realization that an amazing photo produces an amazing post process….not the other way around.
Anyway, nobody wants to hear my soapbox lecture. **cue some sort of inspirational music here** But, this is the time of year that it’s nice to take a breather, regroup, rediscover my creative passions and juice up for the spring. Time to remember just why we love this art. It’s good for each and every one of us to produce the work that speaks to us individually. As a consumer, I’m attracted to those service providers who love what they do. Their product exudes their personality and passion. And, I realized that over the years as I was stalking those photography blogs, one so different from another, the thing I really liked was that the artist’s perspective was so clear. So, it’s this time of year that I vow to continue to be true to myself and this art the way I see it. And, I hope the same for each of you kind people who have made it this far in my long ramble. **ok, you can stop the music now**
Fully edited image. This is the exact same edit with some patching out of the pink fuzz in her hair and a slight color balance tweak. I liked her just a touch pink so I used a color balance adjustment and moved the slider to magenta just a touch.
Full edit. Again, the same. BUT, since I’m no Photoshop expert, I cannot figure out how to keep a blur from causing banding on a flat surface so I keep all blur from flat surfaces. This is a wall in my studio, but I find banding even worse on seamless. If I had a limitless budget, I’d have an ever so slight texture (like sandpaper) added to my walls to bounce and absorb light to see if that would minimize banding during processing (somebody do that and let me know if it works!). This is a “right place at the right time” photo. This daddy was SO at peace and calm with his baby girl. They were all ready for the photo and she let out this amazing peaceful smile. I prayed that I caught it and low and behold, here it is. Not sure if it could ever happen again.
SOOC, just to prove that I occasionally do a little more at times. This little girl was half of a twin set. I was working alone and did not take the time to get a good white balance. Her skin was beautiful, but this blanket cast a terrible red color cast onto her. I also did not take the time to properly hang my blanket as it was a last minute decision. I wasn’t sure how many set ups we’d get with this duo and she was sleeping really soundly so I threw this set up together really quickly.
This is the same edit as the others with a couple tweaks. I used Anti-Lobster skin on her red patches, used the patch tool on a few little spots on her skin, Sun Kissed Skin fairly liberally where needed. I also left the Translucent Haze a bit heavy here. I tweaked the color balance just a smidge. Obviously, I filled in the blanket. She is a tad cooler than I’d like to have her, but in my experience, the more I (speaking of me personally) start to mess with skin tones of a baby, the stranger they look. I am of the motto…..prepare with a good white balance and leave them be. This is about as dramatic of an edit on a newborn that I’ll do.
This is her darling twin brother. SOOC:
Again, twins with no assistant, I did not grab a new white balance. In fact, sun was streaming in the windows of the studio around my blinds and making weird spots on the wood floor where I had planned on taking this photo. So, I kept to the back of the studio and snapped it on my stained concrete floors. That spot that you see at the top of the photo is a light shining on a wall display reflecting on the floor. I corrected the overall color by sliding the slider from magenta to green just a touch. Then, processed as above. I do use the Anti-Lobster Skin on those red patches on eyelids quite a bit and I used it here. I blacked out the floor and if you ask me, this “winging it” decision yielded kind of a cool picture. I love the black effect. I will do this again sometime for sure. Both of these last images would have been easier edits if I would have put in more time during shooting. But, at times, you just need to get the shot.
SOOC. Girl on the run:
This is a 16 month old sibling during a newborn shoot. Her cheeks are rosy because she’s warm. This is the same edit. My “go to” studio edit. I did add a bit of magenta. The color of the wall was bugging me and so I changed it a tad. I occasionally do a very light eye sharpening using Dramatic Details. Very light.
Oh my goodness I love this image. I love how the light is spilling onto his face. She’s the focus, but he’s the exclamation point. It’s the same studio edit again. I fixed the wall on the left side. At the moment, I’m not a fan of the super “gaze at my belly” maternity shots. Tomorrow, I could be a huge fan. That’s the way I am. But, I love the sentiment in this shot. This is possibly the lightest edit yet. It’s there, but barely. The wrinkles in his shirt are a little softer as are other details I’d consider distracting from their darling faces (and belly of course).
OK, so I HAD to dig out a couple outdoor images. Just so you didn’t think I was cooped up in my studio year round. These are some of the few shots that I had the Raw image, so I did edits to share. For the most part, and for these images, I shoot Auto White Balance outdoors. If I’m on a session where I know the light circumstances are not going to change I’ll grab a CWB.
See, I can do something else with my Photoshop! Clearly, this from vacation with friends. There’s not a beach like this in Omaha. Boo. I used Bland to Brilliant as a base. Sun Kissed Skin to add light. Euphoria, with reduced opacity. And, Peach Sorbet, Blue Powder and Rosy Dusk all with inverted masks and painted where I wanted to see those tones. To me, the “tones” section work like an artist’s palette full of paints. They are super fun to play with! I finished up with a light coat of Flawless Face. Ahhhh, I need a trip to the beach after looking at this image!
If you made it to here, you deserve a medal. If you are an avid Photoshop guru, I’m sure you are looking at my finished images and thinking “She could do this and that and this!” But, *you can cue the music again here if you want** as I said before, that’s just not me. I like my light directional and I like my edits simple. I’m a basic kind of gal. That sounds like a country song…