Photoshop and Lightroom have changed my life. Ok, you can see my inner nerd really shining now but it is true. I’m proud to fly my nerd flag high! I’m a different person and a different artist because of the creativity afforded to me by Photoshop and Lightroom.
Growing up I never really considered myself an artist– I didn’t paint, I didn’t draw, I wasn’t too crafty. I took tech classes instead of art classes. It took me a long time to start to see myself as an artist and to accept myself as one. Photoshop played an important role in this realization.
Photoshop has opened my mind to creativity I never imagined possible before it. Photoshop has made me a better photographer. I can say that without hesitation. I use Photoshop to help refine my vision and I actually perceive my world differently knowing what magic I can bring to life in Photoshop. It’s not a crutch, but instead a tool to free my mind.
Photoshop, however, wasn’t second nature to me. It wasn’t like I just sat in front of the computer and everything was just natural. Instead, after a couple of years of clicking around… suddenly it just clicked (literally and figuratively!). Suddenly I understood layers, layer masks, and adjustment layers. Suddenly it made sense and it was a tool to help, not hinder me. This is one of the reasons I teach– to help bring these freeing ‘ah-ha’ moments to others.
I’ve been a subscriber/lover/member/fan of Creative Cloud Photography plan for more than 2 years now and I am excited to now call myself an Adobe brand ambassador.
Through several projects I am teaming up with Adobe to educate, challenge and inspire you! Let’s take a look at a new challenge we’ve worked on together!
Let’s take a look at one of my favorite portfolio images, and see what you think is ‘real’ or achieved in post. Can you guess what changes I made in Photoshop and Lightroom? What do you think the changes were and where did I do them? Make your best guess! I’m going to share the process of bringing the image to life and then let you know how I processed it.
Camera: Canon 5D Mark 3
Lens: 70-200mm 2.8 lens at 100mm
Shutter Speed: 1/125
White Balance: Daylight
Developing the Shoot!
Before I do any shoot, I plan the overall theme and concept of a shoot. Typically I put together a mood board, or a collection of inspiration images that show the overall direction of the shoot. I have reference images for hair, makeup, wardrobe and mood. I select my subject based upon the ideas in the mood board. Once I have my concept and model, I show my creative what they need to bring to the shoot to bring the idea to life!
In fact, I often title a shoot long before the actual shoot day. By titling my shoot, I start to envision the types of images that would best illustrate the concept. The title of the shoot allows me to imagine the shoot’s story. Where should this story take place? What clothes would the subject be wearing? What lighting would fit the mood of this story I’m telling?
For this particular shoot, I titled the editorial “Golden Goddess”. I wanted a model who would be tall, regal and even goddess looking. I wanted her to have long and elegant limbs, and to be adorned in gold. I wanted gold crowns, gold necklaces, gold dresses, golden makeup, and more. I wanted the end result to be as if an African queen had risen to goddess status, living in a world all of gold.
I created a mood board for this editorial to show the makeup artist that she needed to prepare gold paint and makeup. My wardrobe stylist would need gold necklaces, crowns, golden chains and more.
During this shoot I shot tethered into Lightroom using a TetherTools tether cable into my Macbook Pro. I knew that I did not need to paint the entire model golden to get that warm sheen to her skin, and by shooting tethered I could see what adjustments I needed to make in Lightroom (in the development module) to achieve the desired look. To give a glisten to the skin, we would need to cover the model in baby oil, and light the subject in a way that would create a shine.
By shooting tethered into Lightroom, I was able to make changes to achieve that golden and view it ‘real-time’. I achieved just the right adjustments and then created a Lightroom preset that was automatically applied with images tethered into the computer.
For each shot I was able to see what the end creative effect would look like!
This image was lit with a three-light setup intended to show off the model’s features and create drama. I used a white beauty dish with a grid on the face, and two back barn doors to give her rim light.
Most of the creative changes for this image were achieved in the Develop module of Lightroom.
- Drastically warmed up white balance (to give that golden glow)
- Added clarity to increase the ‘pop’ of the image
- Dramatically increased contrast
- Increased vibrance and decreased saturation
- Added more of a black point for drama, darker shadows
Here you can see the actual information of the Lightroom changes that really made the bulk of the high impact of this image.
Relatively little was done to edit this image in Photoshop. I cloned out the reflector and hand that were visible in the lower left-hand corner of the image.
When you understand what you can achieve in Lightroom and Photoshop, it actually changes how you see the world around you. Understanding Lightroom’s capabilities helped me envision what was possible when creating this golden effect. I knew that I could achieve that golden skin in Lightroom, and by shooting tethered could see the effect immediately on each image. This helped my team and I envision the end result of the shoot, and to capture something really fantastic!