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08-16-2015, 09:23 PM   #1
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changes to my retouching style. please let me know if I'm cooking too much

Over the past year I've changed my style a lot, and in the past few months refined what I'm doing. However, I'm starting to feel at this point like I could very well be at the point of knowing enough to be dangerous, and maybe "overcooking" my images. So here are a few of my most recent edits in my current style. I'll run through my post production work flow at the end along with original images.

Remember, I'm looking for post production critique not critique on the model/composition/etc. The style I'm going for is a blend between film emulation (colour profile) and commercial fashion.














My post-processing process is as such:

Lightroom CC:
1. select image with grey card/colour passport
2. select colour profile (If using my D800/D810: VSCO Portra 160 NC or Polaroid 665N / If Pentax, select equivalent from VSCO preset chart)
3: select white balance using grey card
4: adjust sliders to balance exposure as much as possible
5: sync all images from the shoot
6: select image to process
7: crop to preference (usually 8x10, 16:9, or 2.35x1)
8: adjust exposure toning
9: perform noise reduction
10: do some minor dodge and burn
11: export to Photoshop
12: create and setup layers for frequency separation
13: Apply Google's Nik Color FX Pro4 skin softening on the colour layer of the frequency seperation
13b: Color FX is set to a very mild correction, usually 23% small features, 17% medium, 12% large.
14: apply any skin touch ups required after Nik Color has done its job (I use the Nik color on the color layer only as it seems to do a better job of retaining texture than just letting it work by itself.)
15: create stamp layer
16: adjust hue/saturation to even out the tones and reduce reds on the skin - save preset once I have it where I like it
17: adjust curves by individual colour to colourize my image as I see fit - save preset
18: adjust levels for exposure - save preset
19: touch up hair if required
20: touch up eyes if required
21: create a stamp layer
22: go into Nik Color FX4 and build a "look"
23a: this usually involves a modern film FX, detail enhancer, cross-processing, glamour glow, and a frame)
24: save image back into lightroom
25: do any minor touch ups in light room (I'm more comfortable with dodge/burn tools in lightroom)
26: export as a print quality file in full resolution in ProPhoto format at 300dpi
27: export duplicate to photoshop
28: place water mark
29: save back to lightroom
30: export as a web quality file in reduced resolution (usually 5" on the long side) in RGB color format at 200dpi

08-16-2015, 10:49 PM - 1 Like   #2
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To me, (on my monitor) the first one looks pretty overcooked, her face is almost orange, hair is almost green. Eyes too blue. Just too much colour/saturation all around.

I'd say the rest look fine, if you want to get a bit picky: the second (especially) and last have a touch of a red cast (maybe intentional). Four and five maybe a touch too much saturation, but depends on taste.

Its always hard to know when and where to draw the line, especially when youve been staring at an image on a screen in a image editor for too long hehe. I use LR 4.4 and a couple Nik plugins mostly.
08-17-2015, 11:46 AM - 1 Like   #3
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Does the model in photo 1 have green highlights in her hair? If so, you captured those well. I think the skin tones in all images look very good, with the exception of photo 2, which may have a reflective red skin cast from the set and clothing, but I like the effect and believe all your shots met your described objective. High saturation seems to be the norm in fashion photos.

I like all of them and they make me want to go buy what they are wearing for my wife!
08-17-2015, 02:06 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Deimos Quote
To me, (on my monitor) the first one looks pretty overcooked, her face is almost orange, hair is almost green. Eyes too blue. Just too much colour/saturation all around.

I'd say the rest look fine, if you want to get a bit picky: the second (especially) and last have a touch of a red cast (maybe intentional). Four and five maybe a touch too much saturation, but depends on taste.

Its always hard to know when and where to draw the line, especially when youve been staring at an image on a screen in a image editor for too long hehe. I use LR 4.4 and a couple Nik plugins mostly.
QuoteOriginally posted by waterfall Quote
Does the model in photo 1 have green highlights in her hair? If so, you captured those well. I think the skin tones in all images look very good, with the exception of photo 2, which may have a reflective red skin cast from the set and clothing, but I like the effect and believe all your shots met your described objective. High saturation seems to be the norm in fashion photos.

I like all of them and they make me want to go buy what they are wearing for my wife!
The first one I was doing some more dramatic colorization to tone the image a certain way. Can you believe the door and her dress are actually brownish grey and not blue?! I never noticed the green highlights, but I did push the green in curves a bit. I do agree now that I look at it on an uncalibrated monitor and my phone her skin is orange. I'll have to watch that. Her eyes are untouched and masked from any color push in PS. They are really that vibrant and big! It's what drew me to shooting here in this dark look, I wanted those eyes to just pierce right into you. (actually shot in daylight)

I don't see the red cast in the second image... maybe I'm missing something? Keep in mind the pink smoke (is actually red) is real smoke and not added in post. shot outside along a mirrored wall. I actually tried to tone down the reds in this image. I'm slightly confused I'm not going to lie. but if two of you are saying it, there must be something there I'm missing!

the last one definitely has a red cast. not on purpose.


Thank you. I appreciate at.

A quick note, I do not ride the saturation or vibrancy sliders very much at all. Most of my color work is in the curves. Very little (maybe a +5 push) is done in photoshop on individual channels. usually I try and pull back as I find that Nik software usually ups the contrast and saturation when you run their software.


Last edited by Wired; 08-17-2015 at 02:14 PM.
08-22-2015, 01:30 PM   #5
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Only the first image comes across as overbaked.
08-22-2015, 03:02 PM   #6
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Thanks for not doing the "instagram faded film emulation" by greying out the shadows and pulling the highlights into an equally dull mess. Full points for using the dynamic range you're given!

Really, I don't think any are overbaked, but all are a bit "moody" in terms of saturation and shadows. Well, maybe not #4, but even that one doesn't have the brightness I'd associate with a white dress on a sunny day. The others are obviously keyed for extreme contrast, so not really your retouching style, although I come from the school of "light and luminous skin, and popping the eyes and hair." Horses for courses, of course.
09-07-2015, 09:23 PM   #7
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Like others say, the first has too many enhancements. Colors look too saturated and the whites of her eyes are too white.

Why export back to photoshop for a watermark? It can be done in Lightroom.
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