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Baby Blueprint: Photoshop Actions Magic on Newborn Photography
Yesterday, Alicia Gould, a top newborn photographer, wrote a post called “So You Booked a Newborn Photography Session. Now What?” on the MCP Blog. Her work is beautiful and her advice extremely helpful for those wanting to break into the newborn portrait market. Today, I am showing a blueprint before and after edit using one of Alicia’s images.
To start – fixing the background:
- When I first saw this image, the most glaring issue was not the baby. This newborn has amazing skin tone and was well exposed. The problem, the backdrop. It did not cover the entire space, and there was a strong vignetting on the right side of the photo. Editing in Photoshop, I opened the image and went to work. I started by using the Content Aware Fill feature on the left side where it was dark brown. I used the lasso tool to make the selection, overlapping on the blanket and surrounding the entire brown corner. Then, in Photoshop CS5, went under EDIT – FILL – CONTENT AWARE. This did a very good but not perfect job. The problem: it lacked the vignette that was present on the right side.
- Next, I selected the right side vignetted area with the lasso tool. I used the shortcut (Command + J on a Mac / Control + J on a PC). This duplicated the selection. Then I flipped the selection using the transform tool and moved it over to the left corner. I reduced the opacity. Of course I could see the line where it was, so flattened the file, and then I blended it using the patch tool. Perfect.
- Now to lighten the right side so that it matched better, I used the free Photoshop action Touch of Light. I used a 30% brush and painted on the dark corners to lighten them.
Next steps – image enhancement:
- As I mentioned, this image was pretty good straight out of camera. I used Magic Midtone Lifter action to brighten the image slightly. This Photoshop action is from the Bag of Tricks action set – layer opacity set to 54%.
- I wanted to very lightly smooth the skin, without it looking to obvious. I used Powder Your Nose from the Magic Skin Set. This Photoshop action allows photographers to smooth skin selectively for a natural, creamy newborn skin look. I set the opacity of the layer to 51%.
- Color image – done – easy!
Now for the Black and White version:
- I usually do my black and white conversions on top of a completed color edit. I did that this time as well. I used the Vanilla Ice Cream Photoshop action from the Quickie Collection to convert to black and white.
- I used the overexposure fixer layer from Vanilla Ice Cream to bring back detail in the whites. The dark areas seemed a tad too dark still. I used Extreme Fill Flash, which is also from the Quickie Collection. It is not really meant for this, so after running I brought the opacity down to 15%. This filled in the dark hair with a little more detail and made for an overall softer, less contrasty conversion.
Black and White – vanilla ice cream, extreme fill flash – 25%