Fun with Photoshop

I'm feeling quite proud of myself today. I did something amazing in Photoshop (Ps). I've been teaching myself the program with the help of online tutorials, friends, and trial and error. My goal is to learn enough to do basic post-processing. Ideally, I'll be spending more of my time upfront before I ever take a photo but there will be cases in which knowing my way around Ps will be advantageous. I'd prefer to spend more attention and time in pre-production vs post-production work. Pre-production work as in setting up the lights, composition, details, etc before taking a photograph. I still have much to learn about the technical aspects of photography but as I increase my competence, I hope that my reliance on post-production work will decrease and be more about interpreting my images than correcting or improving it!

That said, this post is about improving a photograph for a client who hired me to do his head shots. I made the mistake of buttoning his collar for a dress shirt that he was wearing with a suit jacket. I did this because the collar looked a little odd to me. I did not know that the only time you button a collared shirt with a suit jacket is if the individual is wearing a tie. Ooops. Now I know for future shoots!

The proof from his head shot session that he liked best has a great expression; however, his shirt collar buttoned. He hoped to simply crop out the shirt collar but being a recovering perfectionist I was not happy with that solution. Since I had to retouch his photo in Ps anyways I decided to play around and see if I could improve his photo while learning some more for myself.

Here's the proof he and his pool of friends and colleagues liked best solely based on facial expression.

 Handsome guy, eh?

Handsome guy, eh?

I looked through the other shots I had taken of him with an open collar. I lucked out and had a few that didn't look too bad and in which his body position and the background were similar enough. I wanted to see if I could swap out his collar.

Here's the photo I chose to experiment with.

 Yay, an open collar! But his expression is not as relaxed.

Yay, an open collar! But his expression is not as relaxed.

So at first, I actually tried copying and pasting his suit jacket and shirt onto the first photo that he liked best. That was a disaster that I'll not share here.... Then I was like, huh, what about transplanting his face onto this photo?!! But first, I brightened up the exposure on the above photo, since this was taken in more shade and without a reflector.

Here's the photo after an exposure adjustment:

 A little brighter, no?

A little brighter, no?

I did some minor retouching to enhance his already handsome face: evened out blemishes and skin tone and roughness. I also made his eyes pop a bit more.

Here's his face before and after retouching.

And now for the Ps face transplant....

 Ba-bam!

Ba-bam!

Wait. Still not done. I wanted to see if I could match the skin tone of his neck to his face. The difference may be subtle but here it is--slightly warmer.

 Oh yeah!

Oh yeah!

From playing around in Ps and being a bit of a perfectionist, I learned how to match skin tone using the Levels and Hue/Saturation Adjustment layers, and transplant a portion of an image to another using the Select tool and masking. I also practiced and reinforced my knowledge of enhancing eyes. (For other photographers and Ps'ers, bold text indicate hyperlinks to the online tutorials I found useful.) My client has seen the transformation and was super impressed and pleased. I celebrated with a slice of chocolate cake afterwards!