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Blueprint: Fixing an Underexposed Portrait Using Photoshop Actions

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Exposure issues?  Well they can happen to both new and more experienced photographers.  Michlynn of Michlynn Schweitzer Photography sent in this photo for a Blueprint.  Here are the steps taken and Photoshop actions used to go from the under-exposed, low contrast photo, to a portrait.

  • Started by using Magic Midtone Lifter from the Bag of Tricks Photoshop actions. I also brought in the white slider at the bottom of curves to exposure for the whites properly.  This step can be done in levels as well.
  • To adjust exposure more selectively I then used, the free Photoshop action, MCP Touch of Light, on the background and a bit over face to brighten
  • Once the exposure was brighter and more accurate, I moved on to the skin. I touched up a few blemishes/markings on skin using the healing brush and patch tools.
  • I then used the Powder Your Nose from the Magic skin set – skin smoothing Photoshop action and with a 30% opacity, 30% flow and brushed over cheeks.
  • At this point, I adjusted color using Magic See-Saw from the Bag of Tricks color correction Photoshop actions set. I was not happy with the way it effected the background, so I selected the background and masked the background back at 67% (using the mask panel in CS4 – where you change the density).  This could also be accomplished by using a brush set at that opacity in CS3 and below.
  • Next I defogged the image using the Light Fog Fixer Defog Photoshop action from the Quickie Collection.
  • I used the Dreamy Color action from the Quickie Collection but turned off the Over Exposure Fixer layer since it was not needed.
  • To enhance the eyes I used the Eye Doctor eye pop Photoshop action. I used the darken the pupil or lash-line to get darker lashes.  And then the catchlight and iris layers too.
  • Lastly I sharpened using Sharp People Photoshop action from the Quickie Collection.

To do the Black and White, I worked from the color edit (as explained above) and added the following 2 steps:

color-and-bw Blueprint: Fixing an Underexposed Portrait Using Photoshop Actions Blueprints Photoshop Actions Photoshop Tips & Tutorials

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  1. Nicole on April 16, 2010 at 10:35 am

    Awesome job Jodi, what a difference!

  2. Brad on April 16, 2010 at 10:57 am

    Wow, that looks great! Thanks for sharing your edit with us!!!

  3. a thorn among roses on April 16, 2010 at 11:16 am

    great work…i love seeing how you do the details. thx.

  4. Tara on April 19, 2010 at 7:37 pm

    holy smokes! you have some mad photoshop skillz! wow!

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