Today I'm launching a new photo series called "editing 101", where I will be sharing my editing process for a specific photo. I love seeing techniques other photographers use for editing, and I thought it would be a nice way for people just starting out with editing to learn how to go about finishing off their images. These tutorials will be for people who have a basic understanding of photoshop, but hopefully will be simple enough that anyone could follow along. If you're brand new to photoshop, I've posted a tutorial already showing you how to crop, resize, brighten, and remove skin flaws HERE. I highly recommend checking it out first!
This week I'm sharing how I edited the images from yesterday's post of a couple. With couples, I keep my editing a straightforward and simple as possible - you want all the focus to be on the couple, and you don't want to over-edit! so, without further adeu, here is a little step-by-step of how I finished the following image.
Before anything else, I like to white balance and crop my photo. This image was balanced quite nicely, and the crop was pretty good, so I just brought the crop in a little to 5 x 7. I then zoom in a little to the couple's faces and take out any noticeable blemishes. You want to be quite careful with this - if the couple has relatively good skin like these guys do, I simply use the healing brush tool to manually sample and correct any blemishes, and leave it at that. I highly recommend not "airbrushing" men's faces, if you can avoid it! Keep it simple. If you need some help with this basic stuff, check out my last tutorial HERE. After it was cleaned up, I was left with this.
Next, I sharpen my image to give it a final boost of clarity. I do this by creating a duplicate layer, renaming it 'sharpen' and setting it to 'overlay'. This will make it super contrasty for a moment - just ignore it! Next, I applied the high pass filter at 3.0 pixels by going to filter > other > HighPass, and setting the radius to 3.0 with preview on. You might need to lower or higher this number - simply drag it around until you get the sharpness you like, and press ok. Now, the next part I find very important - erase the sharpen off the faces and background. All I do is select the eraser tool and on the sharpen layer, run it over the skin of each person, avoiding the eyes and lips. This softens the skin and avoids the complications of 'sharpening' any imperfections. I also erase the background sharpness using the same method, so that all the focus is on the couple. It doesn't look like a big difference, but here is the result.
Now that the photo is sharp and clean, I like to direct attention to the couple by darkening the edges of the photo. There are several ways to do this, but I use this way because it allows for more control that just vignetting. First, I use adjustments to bring the brightness down - here I brought it down to -63. I then create a mask by hitting control-i. This will make it look as though you've gone back a step, but no worries! Simply take your paintbrush tool and use white to paint the effect on. I usually set my opacity to 50% and paint all around the couple, and then bring it up to 100% to do the very edges of the image. This creates a vignetting effect, directing the focus towards the couple and away from the background.
Next, I either add a curve or play with the curves to add some drama to the photo. Here I used Lullabye by Julia Trotti (she has a lot of incredible free photoshop curves, by the way! Check her site out). I set the opacity to 50% to tone it down a little, and was happy with that.
I was pretty happy with this, but decided I wanted to deepen the darks a little to polish it off. I used adjustments to select 'levels', and then dragged the furthest left handle over a bit. And that's it!
Please leave me feedback if you do decide to follow along so that I can make future additions to this series as comprehensible as possible! Thanks so much for reading :)