Saturday, 30 April 2011

Real Beauty

Over the years I have upgraded my kit and now I'm lucky enough to have a good Nikon full frame camera and a selection of lenses that a wedding photographer would be happy with. I also have various flashguns that I can trigger remotely in soft boxes and umbrellas which allow me to take photos that would be very hard without this equipment.

The problem with all this kit, apart from the weight and the fact that I look like a Japanese tourist when using it, is that sometimes it is too good!

Point a full frame camera with a 2.8 aperture lens lit by an off camera flash in softbox at a 40 year old woman and she won't compliment you on the perfect catchlights in her eyes, she'll scream and shout that she looks old. The fact is the camera pics up every line and imperfection in her skin and that is not what anybody over 19 wants. There's a good reason why I'm rarely in front of the lens and always hiding behind it.

So I sometimes use some tricks to gently soften the results that the camera produces, pushing the fill light in Lightroom and converting to black and white is a nice simple method, for example.

I downloaded Portrait Professional 10 to see if it would improve my workflow and had a bit of a play with it today.

It is amazing how much you can change a picture in very little time and how subtle the individual steps are but how much of a difference the combination makes.

I have posted a before and after photo here so you can see.

This is my wife Claudia with Jessica, the latest addition to the family. I am doing a 365 of Jessica where I am sharing the best 7 photos I take of her every week for a year. As you can see, Claudia is pretty easy on the eye and looks great for her 41 years, which is more than can be said for her husband.


5 minutes of touching up and this is what you get


Hover the mouse over either picture and you will see the before and after effect better.


I'm a bit torn with this, I'll be honest, I think she looks great in both pictures, but more herself in the original so I will probably be using the tool very sparingly.

The point I wanted to make though, is how easy it is to do, it only took a few minutes, and how subtle it is.

Nearly every advert, feature, cover, glamour shot has been edited far more than this. I hope by the time Jessica is old enough to look at them she is bright and confident enough to understand those photos are not something to aspire to.