Posted on January 24, 2019
Although I spend a lot of time creating composites, I also enjoy portraiture work. On being asked recently how much work goes into a portrait, I replied, “Very little”. But, as often happens, that little question stuck in my mind and, conscious of how time can fly by when I’m engrossed in working on my computer, I decided to keep a record of just how many steps it required to move from “taking” a “photograph to “making” a picture.
This photograph of Mason, complete with clown make-up and wearing a bowler hat, had been lit in exactly the way I wanted it and then with the ‘right’ lens so, having ten minutes to spare, I thought I would just ‘tickle it up’ a little bit. Frame 1 in the screenshot below is the original RAW file in Lightroom, where I adjusted exposure etc fractionally. All other frames are either in Photoshop or Silver Efex. By taking a screenshot every time I made an adjustment, I soon realised that my spare ten minutes had stretched into an hour.
For a while now, I have been carrying out dodging and burning by using the Curves tool. For instance, to lower the whiteness of Mason’s shirt, adjusted in a Curves layer, reversed the mask and painted in the area required. By doing this, I accumulate quite a few Curves layers which require precise naming, if I want to back and adjust them. Frames 2 -8 are records of just such adjustments, as well as a mini crop, enhancing the black lines and painting in the rim of the hat. Frame 9 is a flattened layer, where I used the healing brush and the clone tool to neaten up the image. Frames 10 – 11 are where I copy-pasted a small section of the hat brim, reversed it and added to to the other side of the hat where there had been a break in the fabric.
Frames 12 – 14 are a series of small adjustments in Liquify where I gave Mason’s mouth a bit of a down-turn, narrowed his eyes a little and changed his jawline, all in pursuit of making him appear a little meaner. Frame 15 – 16 reflect an excursion into Silver Efex to render the image into monochrome. Once this had been saved back into Photoshop as a layer, I masked off all of it except Mason’s face, making the ‘whiteface’ more startling.
The strangely coloured swirls in Frame 17 are a picture of waste printers’ ink I took many moons ago when I was gainfully employed. I overlaid this as a layer, choosing Pin Light at 45% and masking off Mason’s face to give the effect you see in Frame 18. Mason’s eyes are heterochromatic (one is green, the other is brown) and Frame19 is a Curves layer to enhance the colour … Frame 20 is the finished article.
As I said, just a bit of a tickle up …