In this month, I am going to go over more detailed image processing from start to finish. This tutorial uses pictures form a cell phone and goes over how the image is processed.
So to begin, I am going to show the image we are working with. This is directly from the cellphone, and is a simple jpg. Nothing special. In fact the picture came out pretty blah, and I realized it needs quite a bit of fixing, and what is missing.
Also, background props like the hanging rig, removing or brightening the background and removing wrinkles is necessary to be up to my standards. Generally, this sort of pic is way below my level for quality because of cell phone limit, lighting and may represent quality many people will see from poor cameras.
So we need to fix this, and anyone can do this with a bit of work and a photo editor..
Ckick on image above for full size and galley
Here I can see contrast and brightness needs changing. So we modify this in PS (photoshop from Adobe OR paintshop pro from Corel), but any decent photo editor does this. Just play with the sliders to improve the pic.
Next, we adjust the LEVELS. In either editor, levels are adjustable, and this changes relative amount of exposure via a histogram. Sometimes, there are many overexposed whites and this fix can correct for too dark blacks too.
Next, we adjust the color balance. Sometimes on indoor shots and fluorescent lamps can create a cold blue toned light, as opposed to incandescent, which produces a warmer tone. You can adjust this in some cameras as a white balance setting, but for this experiment, we will not, and rather adjust it in post to something that looks natural.
Next, I will do a DODGE in PS terms, that means to brighten the backdrop with the dodge tool. I select MID tones, a smaller brush and lower opacity. This step helps remove the background similar to what high end key light setups do from the get go. In this simple set up, a very basic lighting was used, and it creates poor lighting and lots of wrinkles in the cloth as shown, which is removed in the next step -
Now another important fact to consider is the perspective distortion you get with portrait angles (vertical shots) and low mm lenses found on these cameras. This type of distortion may be corrected by some cameras on the fly, but not on mine. I'll do a simple lens camera adjustment.
Here is the result.
So far so good. Next, we need to remove the background hanging rig I use for posing the doll. On some shots it is very obvious. We can crop it out or in this case, I painted it over with white color and a small brush and the Dodge tool as before. Now more difficult shots from the back require PS and content aware object removal which is beyond the scope of this tutorial. But basically, frame your shots so that you get minimal problems later. The last picture shows this.
Now the rest of the editing effects are really needed if you have time and a really critical eye. I would stop here unless I'm doing a one off print or a promo pic, then I would go for another few steps to refine the pic. Remember to work in layers and that will help create a timeline and quick undo. If I'm unhappy with a setting, I would go back to that layer where it can be corrected, and then all layers above it will reflect the change.
Lets improve the shadows. Here you can DODGE again and get rid of dark areas to normalise the shadows. See the end result. Also I played with the corset color brightness to make it pop out more. Also notice the shoes, arms, corset and panties - all needed a bit more brightness. Also, these can be done with better lighting, so these steps are needed in this case.
So in about 10 minutes, I have corrected the above picture to better standards that you would get out of a high end lighting setup and better camera. So this is why we invest in better gear so we do not need as much post. However, professional editors will fix many more things when producing covers for a magazine, and can go way beyond anything you can imagine.
For some pictures, I will spend a week in PS working on a pic for printing, and these can generate many layers. Now for promo's, I will stop at just the background adjust, and all steps before that. However, I still can go a step beyond, and create a a composite layer where I create a B&W image and overlay that over the color one at a layer of 75% opacity. This is what high key lighting produces in studios, and these guys get this from multiple lights, rim, key lights, and expensive strobe flashes. This requires a lot of costly equipment and I achieve this effect from this PS post effect quite well. Here's the image I get as a result
So, I'm pretty happy with it, and these steps took me 12 minutes in total. For a promo set of 12 pics, it will take an entire evening. I am a perfectionist, and my pictures reflect my style. Also make-up, clothing, backdrops, hair do-dads etc.. are embelishments, and improve the picture. What about new pantyhose or stockings. Are there runs?
Did you align the stockings correctly on the leg? Is the dress fitting well? All these are considerations for a great promo set.
So here's the before and after.
And another pic where similar concepts are used. More of the hanging rig needed to be removed.
Thanks for reading!