My Complete Photo Editing Workflow: A Photoshop Tutorial


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My Complete Photo Editing Workflow: A Photoshop Tutorial

Good morning everyone! I am coming at you a little late today  because we have embarked on a huge home improvement project and quite frankly…I am exhausted and have the sniffles due to all the dust! So hubby and I went to bed early last night and slept in late! The good news is, we got the original wall knocked down, cleaned out all the nasty insulation and repaired the original reason we had to take the whole wall down! Then, we added new insulation (not a job I want to do for a living) and finally we put up the drywall last night. Now, I will not profess to it looking like an expert hung it…but, after the first initial drywall board..the rest of them look pretty  good. The first one..not so much.
In between the home improvement part of the weekend, I took my#3 daughter out for her yearly pictures. I make it a point each year,  to take each child out, spend a couple of hours with them in a photo shoot, where we laugh and joke and have fun. This is THEIR time to look pretty and be THE ONLY CHILD! We have five kiddos, so this time that they get is precious to them, and I want to capture each ones own personality…WITHOUT the bickering you get when more than one come along. So we set off a little later than usual due to the rain we received that morning, but nevertheless, we didn’t let it rain on our parade! If you have ever been to Texas in July, however, you would know that it is 110 degrees in the shade and when it rains, the humidity is like a sauna….IT.IS. HOT!!!
We had a great time…we laughed about the fact that we could smell ourselves (we stunk). We discussed the fact that modeling was HARD work; there are temperature concerns, bug concerns, painful positions and sore knees from them grinding into little pebbles as you try to get that PERFECT shot. All in all, it was a great session!
So when I came home to process them, I got to thinking that you might like to know HOW I process my pictures. I am always curious about what others do to make their photos look picture perfect, so today,  I am going to share with you my (short) version of processing a photo.
Let me say that first and foremost, above all else, I shoot in RAW.  RAW  images are to digital photography like negatives are to film photography. It is not directly usable as an image, but has all of the information needed to create an image. The digital negative, however, isn’t processed by adding chemicals to it, instead, you use Photoshop Bridge or Lightroom to process the photos. When you open up your originals for the first time in Bridge or Lightroom, you will probably be a little shocked because they are true to form. Nothing has been added like jpeg images. They are dull and void of any contrast…they are in fact, a canvas waiting for you to add whatever you want to the image to make it presentable! Shooting images in RAW,  allows me to fix things like  lightness, white balance, hue, and saturation. It allows ME to control my image and that is what I LOVE about shooting in RAW…it allows you to get rid of a LOT of the mistakes…or at least correct them!
After a session, the first thing I do is open my images in Lightroom or Adobe Bridge. On average, I take about 200-300 photos in a session. I will go through the images real quick..and I will narrow the photos down to about 20 images that I love. These are the 20 that I will work with in Photoshop. Once I have the photos narrowed down, I will tweak them in Lightroom or Bridge.
This is one of  the images from our weekend shoot.
This is actually a pretty good shot. I don’t have any blown highlights or low lights, the temperature of the shot is actually a little blue for my liking, so I increased the blue/yellow temperature control slightly to the right to increase the yellows in the photo and then added a bit more brightness, contrast and clarity. You can work with each picture individually, or you can select more than one photos and make the changes to all of them at once. This is the best way to edit several shots taken in the same location using the same settings.  It will speed up your processing A TON!!
Once I edit my images in Lightroom or Bridge, I open them in Photoshop. This is where the magic begins! First, duplicate your image so that you are making changes on a copy and not your original. Go to Image>Duplicate and close your original image.
Using the Rule of Thirds and a previously written tutorial, crop the image to your specifications. I cropped this picture to a 5×7 size.
Duplicate the  layer (CTRL+J) in your layers palette.Select the newly created layer by clicking on it in the layers palette.
Now, select the sponge tool from the tools palette.(Keyboard shortcut O) .
Change the options in the Tool Option Bar at the top of the workstation to reflect the options below.
Mode: Saturation  Flow 40%
On the new layer, use the sponge tool to add color to your photo, making sure to stay away from hair and skin. If you make a mistake, add a layers mask to the sponge layer and erase your mistake.
You can begin to see little pops of color where before they were dull.  I sponged her shirt and all the greenery to make the colors stand out a little more.  Once you have finished making your corrections, flatten the image.
Duplicate the layer again (CTRL+J) and select the Burn tool from the tools palette.
Change the options in the Tool Option Bar at the top of the workstation to reflect the options below.
Range: Midtones  Exposure: 15%
Paint over all the areas of the photo that are too light.
In my photo, I painted over her arm, the left side of her face and around the edges of the photo to help draw the eye inward. Once you have made the adjustments, flatten your image.
At this point, I will clean up around her eyes to get rid of any dark circles. Create a new layer (CTRL+J).  Select the clone tool from the tool palette.
In the Clone Options Bar at the top of the workstation, change the opacity of the clone tool to 40%
Select a portion of the eye UNDER the bag and clone out the circles. Once you have lessened the eye circles, change the opacity of the LAYER to 50% to bring SOME of the circles back onto the photo…after all, circles are NATURAL!! We just don’t want them to be ALL you see! Flatten the Image.
Next,  soften the skin and fix any blemishes. You can find my Skin Softening tutorial here.
The key to softening skin is to make it VERY SUBTLE…you do NOT have to go overboard because a little goes a long way!
Next, and we are just a few steps from being done, you need to pop those eyes and get them to draw you into the photo! You can follow my eye sharpening tutorial here.
Finally the last thing I do is to add a small vignette to the photo (this will be NEXT weeks tutorial!…so stay tuned!!)  I love a vignette because it really draws the focus of the eye INTO the photo!
and that is it! At this point, I can run an action on the photo if I want to give it a certain look, change it to black and white or, I can choose to print it just like it is!  The possibilities are endless!  Here are a few examples of what you can do once your image is properly edited:
using Florabella Actions
So that is my workflow from beginning to end! I hope that helps you see how all the tutorials I have written for you can work together to help you create an image that is scrap worthy!
Have a great week and Happy scrapping!

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  3. Berniek says:

    So how does this take you to do on, lets say those 20 photo’s you chose? I know you have the skills and you know what you need to do when you see it, but I am just wondering. Does it take you an hour or more or less?I never really heard about shooting in RAW. I think my camera can do that. I’m not sure. I would love to take more photo’s and maybe even do it in a somewhat professional way but there is still so much to learn. I love all tuts online but nothing tops IRL lessons. Too bad they are so very expensive…
    Thanks for the tut Tamara! I love this yearly photoshoot idea!

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