I promised a blog post about my post processing on one of Cam and Amber’s engagement images. I have always hesitated to do a before and after, which shows the process I use to make my photos “pop”. The reason I hesitate is simply this: my processing workflow, my technique, is rarely the same for any given period of time. Just like any other aspect of my work, it changes and grows over time. It has an ebb and flow to it, and sometimes, the words “learning curve” haunt me.

But putting that aside, I put together a little before and after. And some durings.

So, here’s our sooc (straight out of camera) image of Amber and Cam. Who are naturally gorgeous!

I was pretty happy with my image already, but I always tweak even a couple things. So I opened the image in Adobe Lightroom, as I shoot in RAW and do most of my editing in RAW with Lightroom. After tweaking a few things like contrast, blacks, exposure, fill light, white balance, my image is compressed into a jpeg and here is how it looks:

For images that I blog, print, develop, etc., I do a bit of extra retouching in Adobe Photoshop. For this image, I touched up the bags under their eyes (even though Amber has none), and a couple blemishes. I never remove the bags or wrinkles under the eyes completely, it makes people look really odd. (Yes, I look back at old photos of mine and cringe at my over processing!). I often just duplicate my background layer in Photoshop, retouch that layer under the eyes, then set the layer opacity down to about 30-45%. Then sometimes I run an action that gives a tiny bit of a vintage feel to the photo.

Lastly, and I don’t always do this but I’m currenty experimenting with it, is edge sharpening. Perfect for displaying on monitors and the web, it creates a tiny difference and makes the subject’s features pop, while leaving their skin creamy. Love!

This is my final image!

here’s my original one more time to compare:

I have no idea if how I do things is “right”. I have spent (and probably “wasted”) a lot of hours learning by trial, error, and re-trial what works for me. I am leaning more and more towards simplicity in editing, but I love trying new things. I will constantly be learning, and correcting, and testing, experimenting.

There’s my first before and after blog post!