I’m far from a post processing wizard but sometimes you just have to try something new in order to push yourself into new territory as a photographer. For make no mistake, in today’s world of photography you can’t really get away with doing no processing on your photos. Even if you’re shooting in jpeg and not doing anything more to your pictures the camera has already applied some processing to the file. So instead of relying on the camera, isn’t it better to take control yourself? That was a rhetorical question, the answer in almost all circumstances is yes.
I usually don’t do a huge amount of editing but tweaks are made to every single image that I upload. My style has gravitated more and more towards a natural look, after experimenting with some funky editing styles when I just got started. Even so, improvements can usually be made and, if for no other reason, I shoot in raw so I have to convert the files to something that can be uploaded on the web.
I use Lightroom for all my editing but there are some things that you just can’t do with Lightroom. I haven’t dared the plunge to photoshop yet – at the moment I don’t feel that I have the time or energy to learn it (nor a huge need) – but this portrait of me and my wife offered me an opportunity to try out some other software that I downloaded a while back. That software is onOne Perfect layers 2.
For those of you who somehow missed it: onOne fairly recently made both Perfect layers 2 and Perfect effects 3 available for free. They’re both plugins that you can launch directly from Lightroom or you can use them as standalone applications. I’ve never worked with layers so when I saw this software being available for a price that’s hard to argue with, well, I had to try it out.
First of all, the photo. Not much to discuss here, check out the previous post for the technique used, it’s exactly the same as I did here. LP160 in softbox and through a Lastolite trigrip, a nice, big and soft light source. I took a bunch of shots but it’s difficult to get really good results when you have to be both in front and behind the camera. However, in the end I got a couple that looked decent. The only problem was that I looked better in one of the shots while my wife looked better in the other one. See below for the straight-from-camera results.
I first edited both shots the same way in Lightroom until I was satisfied with how they looked. Then I removed the part that I didn’t want from respective shot (see below). I didn’t do that part very thoroughly, just went over it with a brush and lowered the exposure. That left me with two halves that needed to be put together somehow.
The next step was to move the two images to Perfect layers and blend them into a single image. Since the background was black I used the lighten mode for blending them, which meant that the brighter subject got blended over the black background. Other than that I just had to move the layers around a bit to make them align properly. I’m sure there are lots of different ways to do this and I’m all for hearing how much better each of them are compared to what I did, so fire away in the comments. Still, I think the result turned out pretty OK, not perfect, but OK.
Going all crazy with layers isn’t something I intend to do very often but it’s still nice to know that the option is there if I need it for some tricky shot or other (I have some ideas where it might be useful). It’s still a bit intimidating but it feels more doable than before. You can’t really go wrong with free software either, so be sure you check it out if you’re interested in doing some experimenting of your own.
By the way, how do you like the new look of the blog? I have to say that I’m quite happy with it and I’m also hoping to add some different content to it eventually. Browse around a bit and let me know what you think.