Right, let’s get this thing started. If you haven’t read part 1 yet, you might want to do so first. Above is the shot we’ll be working with, straight from camera. The software we’ll be using is Lightroom 4 and Perfect Photo Suite 7. Both of these have a 30 day trial version available for download, so I encourage you to give them a try if you’re interested. Obviously you could do all of this in Photoshop as well but that’s a bit too much money for a lot of functionality that I have no idea how to use. Maybe in the future. If you use Photoshop yourself, it might be of interest to know that I used this tutorial as a starting point for my own edit.
The first stop is in Lightroom and actually I didn’t do much at all at this stage, just tweaked the contrast a bit and pulled up the vibrance. That last part may seem counter intuitive but I knew I would lose a lot of colour later so I wanted to add a bit from the start.
The next stop was in Perfect Portrait, which is one of the modules in Perfect Photo Suite (and the main reason I decided to get it). Didn’t do all that much there either, just made the eyes a bit sharper and whiter and made the skin colour more even. I didn’t do any skin smoothing.
After that I moved to Focal Point and defocused the background in order to get rid of the wrinkles on the bed sheet completely. This step could have been skipped if I had a proper seamless background, which would be very nice.
Next I moved over to Perfect Effects and here I did several things. First of all I added a texture to the background in order to keep it from being too dull. I didn’t apply the texture too forcefully though, my own background still shows as well, just enough to make it look less flat (maybe an opacity around 40). This step could probably also be skipped if you had a better background to begin with. In fact, I probably spent more time on the background than I did on any other single part of these shots.
You might not see much difference if you compare the above image to the previous one, and that’s because there isn’t much of a difference at all. It’s a very subtle cool tone that’s been added to the shadows, again in Perfect Effects. It doesn’t do much but I like it. I think the opacity of this layer was at 8 or 9.
The next change is more significant and probably one of the more important steps in creating this look. We’re still in Perfect Effects and this time I used a preset called Amazing Detail. It does quite a nice job of bringing out small details and it really helps to give the image more punch. This can be played around with until you find an amount that looks good to you – something that should vary from subject to subject.
The final step in Perfect Effects was to add some vignette, not much else to say about that.
Next up is a trip to Perfect Layers. Here I had prepared two additional layers in Lightroom. The first one was created using the blue channel preset under black and white. Just one click and done.
The second layer also used the blue channel preset but here I pulled down the exposure along with the blacks and shadows. The result is that we don’t see much except for the highlights.
Here’s how I used the first layer. Simply blend it with normal mode in order to desaturate the image. I think I ended up with an opacity around 15. The reason I chose to do this with the blue channel instead of a straight up b&w conversion is that it adds some extra tonality and contrast to the shadows. I’ll have to experiment more with different ways to blend things in the future but for now I quite like the results this gets.
The second layer was blended using screen mode and I masked it so it just affects the skin (face and hand). What it does is that it basically whitens the highlights. Play around with it until you find an amount that you think looks good. I probably overdid it a bit but we’ll fix that in a minute. This, along with the previous step, is a very big part of getting the look that we’re after.
It’s time to go back to Lightroom in order to finish things up. Since we lost a lot of colour (despite the added colour we started with) in the last two steps, I pulled up the vibrance quite a bit and also added some saturation. I opened up the shadows and pulled down the highlights. I also warmed it just a tad.
We’re almost done but this next step is also a very important one. What I did was to play around with the individual colour channels in order to really get a colour that I was happy with. This is something I’m really bad at but this time I got lucky and actually ended up with something I really liked. Red and orange got a push towards yellow and yellow went a bit towards green. There’s some slight desaturation of the reds as well. The green in the background got a boost and I also pulled down the blues in order to get rid of a tint on the shirt.
Finally we finish with a crop, a couple of spot removals and a graduated filter in the lower right to decrease the exposure a bit on the hand and shirt there.
This edit took me a very long time for the first shot I did because everything was pretty new to me and I even redid it from scratch a couple of times to try different techniques. The second shot, the one you see here, probably took me around 20-30 minutes, and that was without really knowing exactly what I did the first time around.
This is the first time I’ve posted something like this so let me know if you find it informative, helpful, annoying or time-wasting. Should anyone have a desire to go more in depth, let me know and I’ll send you the original files so you can play around with them. Until next time, happy editing.