Here are our selections from the Alien Skin Flickr pool for the week. Thanks everyone who shared!
Meet Matt Silverlock. He’s an editorial photographer, engineer, and a sometimes-cyclist. He’s based in Western Australia.
Matt shared his editing workflow. He’s a Lightroom user. The rest of this article is from him. Read on to hear how he edits most of his work.
Thanks for sharing, Matt!
I hunted around for a while after a tool that could help me replicate the smooth colours and grain of 35mm film. I tried a handful of presets and plug-ins, but few worked nicely with Lightroom, and fewer still gave me natural-looking grain. Lightroom’s grain feature (and any presets that use it) is decidedly basic. It looks more like noise under the
right wrong conditions. I was impressed when I first used Exposure. It had a wide variety of film emulations, it fit in nicely with my existing workflow, and it produced great-looking grain.
Lightroom still does the bulk of my library management, so it was easy to add Exposure. I’ve been using Exposure for a while now, and I’m always happy with the results.
Here’s how I edit. I start off with a first pass in Lightroom to fix the important stuff like exposure, white balance, sharpening, and curves. I usually apply a medium contrast curve; I’ll bring the highlights down a bit, pop the light tones, and pull back the dark tones & shadows.
I then apply my preferred Exposure film emulation. I’m a big fan of the Fuji Reala or Fuji Pro 400H presets for my color work. For black & white, my favorites are Ilford HP5 and Tri-X.
I “finish” my images with a solid fill grey layer in Photoshop. I use 54% grey and set the layer to exclusion mode. For colour images, I set the layer to 10% opacity. I set the opacity slightly higher for black & white photos. This flattens the image out a bit, and it lightens the blacks. Keeping the opacity of this layer low keeps the image contrast up; more opacity makes the effect more extreme.
Save, close, and go back into Lightroom. This will automatically “stack” the new file onto the original, so you don’t have a messy library. You can experiment with some other Exposure emulations using the original file. Press “C” in Lightroom to compare different versions side-by-side.
Having the ability to replicate some of my favorite films means that my photos have a final look that’s consistent and identifiable, regardless of whether I’m shooting digitally or analog.
For me, editing is about putting your personal touch on an image. Don’t let the camera’s JPEG engine do it for you. Make the image look the way you intend it.
Blend modes are extremely useful. Unfortunately, they are often misunderstood. This feature of Photoshop can make editing much easier. I recommend that you make it part of your everyday toolkit.
In a nutshell, blend modes control how colors mix. Most often they are used on a layer to modify the coloring behavior of the layer(s) beneath.
The modes are always separated into behavioral sections when displayed. There are only six sections. You don’t have to memorize the entire list. When you understand the basic behavior of each section, the modes become easy to use. Take a look at the list from the Layers Panel.
Blend modes are not just for layers. You can use them with the Painting and Editing tools such as Clone Stamp, the Healing Brushes, the Brush/Pencil tool, the Blur and Sharpen tools, and more. When you select your tool, a mode drop-down will appear on the Options bar at the top. Here’s a screenshot.
Working with blend modes is a process of experimentation, which can burn up a lot of time. There are many keyboard shortcuts to speed things up. While using the move tool (V), press Shift+ or Shift- to quickly scroll through the modes list. Below is a cheat sheet of keyboard shortcuts for most of the modes. Remember that if you’re using a tool, the tool mode will change in the Options bar.
Here is an example of using the Spot Healing Brush for skin retouching in Lighten vs Normal modes. Lighten mode makes the dark areas in the skin become significantly lighter, while the bright areas are only slightly lightened. This helps to keep the image from losing detail and looking muddy.
Below is an example of using the Clone Stamp for thickening up a scalp spot in Multiply vs Normal modes. Darkening this light spot with the Multiply mode retains the hair texture in the original photo. Normal mode covers up the spot with hairs in random order, making it tough to line things up just right without repetition.
The color mode is useful when you want to make color adjustments to a specific area of a photo without losing detail. In this example, I changed the eye color using a solid color and then again with a gradient.
Robert Hamilton is a fine art, wedding, children, portrait, beauty and fashion photographer from Portland, Oregon.
His passion for photography began as an obsession for landscape photography. A few years ago, his focus abruptly changed after a modeling shoot that he did for a friend. The photo shoot went extremely well. It showed Robert that there is great power in emotion, which transformed his way of thinking.
Now, he’s on a mission to capture powerfully emotional photos.
He uses Exposure on almost every digital shot. It’s primarily used as the finishing touch. Robert really loves the look of film. Exposure, for him, is a godsend.
Strategic blur can do remarkable things for a photo. It can either imply a sense of movement and action, or it can evoke stillness, peace, and focus.
I used blur to my advantage in a recent tutorial video. I combined a blur effect from Bokeh with a simulated film effect from Exposure to change a photo’s mood. Although the effects are subtle, the results are significant.
Frank Doorhof is a well-respected international fashion and glamour photographer. Teaching has always been his passion. Frank is a Kelby Training Instructor and a heck of a nice guy too. He wrote a terrific article on the importance of tinting. Here it is below.
If you are making a living from your images, it’s important to stand out from the rest of the crowd, especially online. The same is true for landing a photography job. A few years ago there were a lot of photographers, now there are thousands. Editors and marketers don’t have time to investigate new talent in photography’s overcrowded market. They usually stay with whom they’re familiar, or purchase stock images.
Don’t worry about developing your own style. That will come by itself –it’s the way you do your thing, the way you tilt the camera, coach the model, etc. I think tinting is an aspect of style. Here’s why.
In the “old” days, photographers used something called film. Each film had it’s own unique set of characteristics. A roll of Fuji Velvia, for example, behaved differently than a roll of Astia or a roll of Portra. You could say film choice was the first step in retouching because the film type played a huge part in the look of the images.
You can do this with curves in Lightroom or Photoshop, but if you want a little bit more flexibility and fine control, I prefer Exposure from Alien Skin Software. Exposure gives you dozens of film types and plenty of controls for making customizations. The sky is the limit.
I always tint my images with Exposure. It really gives them pop. Sometimes it’s very subtle; sometimes I go a bit more aggressive. 99% of my images have some form of tinting from Exposure on them.
Here are some examples. I’ll start out with a standard portrait of our model Nadine. This was lit with a small silver Elinchrom Beauty dish with a silver deflector.
There’s nothing wrong with it, but it needs a little more warmth. So I used one of my presets in Exposure 4.
Here’s another example. We used a standard white background for the shoot, removed the main light, and opened up the aperture for this great-looking blown out look. The background radiates so much light that it lit the model from the front.
Now there is one problem: Color and tinting are always interpreted as personal taste. I like the more extreme or vintage colorings myself. Anything is possible. Your unique taste defines your style and your approach.
I encourage you to start playing with tints. It’s a great way to help your images stand out as well as to further develop your style.