This straight out of camera image, from Patti Brown Photography, was shot in what is basically a cave, with one small window which served as the only available light. She had originally intended on utilizing off camera flash, but her Pocket Wizards weren’t firing that day, so she had to improvise lighting at the last minute, which was not ideal. She knew she would be spending a decent amount of time in Photoshop!
Here are Patti’s steps from “In Camera” to post processing:
We wound up lighting her by holding a large reflector to camera right, which I bounced my flash (on-camera) off of. It worked fairly well, but the overall background appeared very flat, and we lost a great amount of shadow/detail in the walls because of the mediocre fill that lighting method created. Therefore, when Jodi spoke with me about creating this blueprint, I knew EXACTLY which image to use as a Before & After. The first example is edited, in it’s entirety, using only MCP actions, and a couple of textures. Here is the step-by-step:
1.) Ran All in the Details Photoshop Action: Soft Color. I removed the effect from her skin via the layer mask. I did this because her skin is actually pretty well exposed in this image, it’s just everything else that is a mess.
2.) I ran the Darker & Richer action from the Complete Workflow collection. Again, I removed the effect from her skin.
3.) I used my patch tool a little bit to even out the walls – there was a lot of white in the upper right corner which just needed some additional texture.
4.) I ran Touch of Darkness Free Photoshop action (this is one of my favorites!) and with a large round brush, painted the darkness on all over the cave/floor walls.
5.) I ran Touch of Color also from the Complete Workflow collection. I lowered “Brighten up” to 70% opacity. I set “Soft Touch” to 40% opacity. I faded “Sharp as a Tack” to around 40% opacity because I typically don’t prefer my work to be really sharp. By adjusting from the default, her skin became really pretty & bright. I did not remove anything from her skin.
This is where I brought the image to, using only MCP’s Photoshop actions:
Remember you can use the FREE Photoshop action: Texture Applicator to apply these or any other textures if you desire.
Then, I wanted to add a little bit more of an artistic touch to the image, so I added 2 textures. That is how I finally arrived here:
I also MCP actions to edit the following image. Although it’s not horrible to begin with, I did want to really pop their skin tones, add some contrast, and just bring out the overall textural elements in the image. This image was created using natural light.
This is what I did, using only MCP actions.
1.) Ran Sunburn Vanisher from Bag of Tricks to bring down the red in his skin only. I used a large brush and the built in mask to remove the effect from the remainder of the picture – including her skin, hair, and both of their clothing.
2.) I ran Magic Midtones, from Bag of Tricks and set the opacity slider to 30%.
3.) I ran Magic Dark, also from Bag of Tricks, and painted around the shutters/background at 70%. Then I painted over their clothes at around 20%. I’m trying to create overall contrast in the image without it getting too “contrasty.”
4.) Then I ran Dreamy Color Photoshop action from the Quickie Collection. This is another favorite of mine! I adjust the settings in the following way: Add Backglow: 100%, Over-Exposure Fixer: I leave it at default, and paint it off their skin ONLY, this will give your skin a pretty pop, Dreamy Color: I leave it at the default.
5.) I ran the Sharp People action – for a crisp sharp finish.
That brought the image to this point:
Then, once again I chose to incorporate a couple of my textures for subtle overall color & depth. I used Marsh at 72% and Beach Glass at 50%, both in the overlay blending mode. Both textures can be found in the Supernatural Collection.
I hope this blueprint has been helpful, particularly in addressing those “problem” pictures that we all manage to run into. Best wishes, and happy photoshopping!
Patti Brown is a part-time freelance photographer based in York County, Virginia. In addition to photography, Patti likes to travel, cook, and enjoy life with her husband and son.