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Sunday, June 7, 2009

TOOLS OF THE TRADE: Photo Editing Software

A new category! :) There are so many tools used by a Photographer that I thought I should start a new category. So introducing: "Tools of the Trade"

I'm in the middle of doing a lot of photo edits and I thought I should do a quick post about the tools I mainly use for editing.

Many Photographers will tell you that there are 3 pieces that make up a photograph:
  1. The skills of the Photographer
  2. The quality of the equipment used by the Photographer
  3. The post processing done by the Photographer
I'm of this belief as well. There are many posts and articles about this. I'll try and find one to link to once I'm more caught up :)

For post processing, I primarily use Photoshop Elements. I find that it has most of the functionality I require, without being too complicated. I've recently downloaded a trial version of Photoshop CS4, but haven't had much opportunity to test drive it. It's quite a bit more complicated and has functionality I probably will never have the need to use. It's also quite a bit more costly than the Elements version.

When I do process a photo, I typically do the standard things like crop, adjust contrast, saturation, etc. Nothing to fancy. I've been known to 'fix' up backgrounds and other things that need adjustment.

When I started editing the Boudoir photos, I wanted to give them more attention to the finer details. Things like skin smoothing, blemish removal, taming a wild hairdoo, etc. are petty much standard. You can do these things in Photoshop, but there are also other tools available that specialize in such processing techniques. The one I've been using is Portrait Professional. It's relatively simple to use if you're familiar with using editing type software. But you do need to understand how the adjustments will affect the portrait and make sure you don't end up with an over done skin tone/texture.

You've seen this photo in a previous post. The first version is before any significant post processing has been done. The second is after.

Prior To Post Processing

In the original version, my client looks quite nice. But one of the parts of doing a Boudoir session is to give the client a bit of a boost and draw out her natural beauty.

After Post Processing

In the after shot, you can see that the photo is softer and things are evened out a bit more than the original and of course is darker with a higher contrast than the first version).

The tricky part is not going too far. What's too far? It's quite subjective and is a personal preference of the client. Some clients want to have every blemish removed, while others don't. (I think I have about 6 or so different versions of this one photo)

Every client is different, and that's what makes things so fun and interesting!

Processing photos can be quite time consuming, depending on what types of edits you need to do. It's important to have software that will make your job easier and quicker, so you can spend more time shooting. :)

-- Lisa P.

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