Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Photo Thoughts: Sexy Mrs. Claus 2011 Product Shot

Mouse over to see before, mouse out to see after
Sexy Mrs. Claus 2011 – Miss Erica May

I have been busy behind the scenes working on blog content, so I wasn’t able to get a real article out. As a result I thought I’d do one of my quick photo thoughts for fun.

This shot here features a before (hover over it) and after of  shot I processed tonight. It was taken with a Canon 1D Mark IV using a 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens set at 32mm for 1/200 sec at f/13 and ISO 100. It was processed using Lightroom (using X-Rite’s ColorChecker Passport Camera Calibration Profile), and then sent to Photoshop CS5 where I did the following:


  1. I  started by removing the background which in this case wasn’t too difficult. You could do it using techniques found in Scott Kelby’s The Photoshop Channels Book  or you could use a product like Remask or Perfect Mask (aka Mask Pro). This one was pretty easy except for around the fly away hairs. I decided to use a new feature of Photoshop CS5 and techniques in Photoshop Compositing Secrets, and found them to be both quite good and very fast. My background was gone in about 10 minutes or less.
  2. Next up I needed to soften the skin, so I used Portraiture as I usually do. It worked great, but there was still a little skin touchups to do so I used a healing brush on a new blank layer.
  3. Next up were the eyes where I spent most of my time. I used the techniques described in my favorite portrait editing resource - Professional Portrait Retouching Techniques for Photographers using Photoshop. I probably spent more time than I needed to on this shot and I deviated a bit from Kelby’s advice, but I’m happy with the results.
  4. Next I wanted to sharpen the color checker by itself as it was on a different plan than the model so it was out of focus. I brought back the focus sharpening just it on its own layer (which I created using the quick selection tool).
  5. Finally my final touch was using Tonal Contrast’s Fine preset (only available in Color Efex Pro 4). I moved the saturation down to 2, and the mid-tones down to 0. This gave me what I wanted from the look and avoided making the skin look funky.

Total editing time was about 2 hours – of which over an hour was spent on the eyes.

UPDATE: Where did all of that eye work go?

One of my readers, Tommy Williams, asked me this morning – where did all of that eye work go? He couldn’t see it on the small web image. Well here’s what I started with:

The before eyes weren’t actually that bad.
This is straight out of camera
RAW with no adjustments.

After my hard work here’s what they look like in the final version:

The After Eyes

Now to be fair I probably spent too much time on these eyes as  I probably wouldn’t have used a shot larger than the original one in this article. As a result it was a bit of a wasted effort. However, photo editing is my passion so I do it for fun and to practice my skills. I figure if I’m going to edit, I may as well do it right on the large scale image.

If I were to print a larger version I’d likely see the fruits of my labor on the eye editing. Sloppy work for known small output files has cost me dearly now that I’m printing more, so I just attack every photo as if it will be printed at 24x36”.


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