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FORUMS Photography Talk by Genre General Photography Talk 
Thread started 18 Nov 2016 (Friday) 16:52
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Post processing - Landscapes vs Portraits

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Nov 18, 2016 16:52 |  #1

So here's a question, about portrait photography post processing. I mainly shoot landscape/sports or action photos. rarely do I shoot people or portraits. However, I'm finding that changing quickly with the arrival of our new (first) grand daughter.

The way I see landscape post processing as compared to portrait post processing it is so different and I have no clue as to how to do the later. I feel my processing is really pretty darn good but when it comes to trying to process a portrait or sit-in or a group of people I just never get it right.

I'm not necessarily talking about the colors, hue or saturation though. It just seems to me when you see a professionally processed portrait it has a softness or even a glow to it.

How is that softness or glow achieved in Lightroom?

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Nov 18, 2016 17:31 |  #2


Well, you can process it up (over expose the skin, smooth it out).

Or you can just use soft light (flash bounce) and get it without any work in post processing.

I tend to not process skin myself. I capture it as it is. It's a memory for me. I will clean up blemishes and stuff on formal portraits. But for the every day spontaneous stuff with family, I want the little flaws. When I shoot skin, I tend to expose up, or to the right, just a bit. It softens skin. I also change white balance as that helps a lot with perception too. That's with natural light. When I use lighting (which is often), I simply expose normally as a big light source naturally will produce a nice, soft glowing skin (bounced flash is just great for this).

Very best,

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Nov 18, 2016 18:20 |  #3

I never shoot people without using this...​colorchecker-passport-photo (external link)

How is that softness or glow achieved in Lightroom?

Check YouTube.

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Post edited over 2 years ago by ashleykaryl. (2 edits in all)
Nov 19, 2016 11:46 |  #4

Many professional images of babies I see online don't actually look terribly good to me. They are just blasting the skin with heavy handed editing using some skin portrait plugin. Moving along...

The ColorChecker PassPort mentioned by Chauncy is like a Swiss army knife for colour and will be useful with your landscapes as well. You could first use it to create an accurate white balance, then use the classic target for camera calibration and between the two parts you'll have technically excellent colour. Finally you can use the creative target as a guided instrument to tweak your output for a particular look.

Follow these steps and the skin tones will look pretty good without artificial softening and it's worth remembering that a baby's skin is already super soft. It doesn't need tricks in Photoshop.

An alternative would be the the ExpoDisc for setting an accurate white balance, however you can tweak this with the included gels to produce warmer skin tones. They used to make one purely for portraits that I have and like it a lot. One advantage of the ExpoDisc is that they can be used in all sorts of weather. It won't be ruined by a chocolate covered finger print either.

Soft reflected lighting or warm diffused daylight, plus accurate exposures should ensure some pretty good results.

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Nov 19, 2016 12:02 |  #5

Garbage in, garbage out.

It's more about the capture than the processing. Having the right light and using it well. Likewise with the aperture settings on the camera.

I don't do heavy post-processing on portraits, aside from minor retouching to remove some stray hairs or temporal imperfections like a pimple or shaving cut. I leave all the other features untouched, yes, including the wrinkles. What you are is what you get.

With newborns you don't really need any smoothing or lowering of clarity values: their skin is already smooth as silk. Just find yourself a location with an uncluttered background, a large light source such as a north-facing window, and shoot.

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Post processing - Landscapes vs Portraits
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