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Post production portraits


iwander

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There is this photographer who's work I really love. He does a lot of portrait shots for actors, but I'm not sure where to start. Obviously uses a sharp lens, but the main thing seems to be lighting and post production.

Here is his website: Headshots NYC: David Noles New York City Headshots for Actors

It looks like he uses layering in Photoshop, but I'm extremely new to portraits. The colors look faded but the eyes pop out, so I'm guessing use of the the RGB curve and RGB individual color curves are involved, along with an adjustment brush. Any pointers/examples?
 
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Paul

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I removed the other link not really required as it is the same thing as the other link, lighting is the main thing.
 

Tom Mann

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A lot of things have been done to produce these images, and all effects have been applied in a tasteful, professional manner.

With respect to lighting , let me add to Paul's comment. If you look at the irises of the eyes of many of the models, you'll notice a bright ring of light. This is a dead give-away that the photographer used a light modifier called a "beauty dish" (Google it) on his strobe. This produces almost shadow-less but detailed skin. It also automatically produces a characteristic vignetted look, and, if a wall is not far behind them, a weak and very diffuse shadow. Lighting is the foundation of everything that follows, so, as Paul pointed out, this is essential.

The next aspect of these pix that grabs my attention is that there clearly has been a trade-off between global and local contrast (Google these terms). The local contrast has been increased, while the global contrast has been reduced. This can be done in many different ways. A pro headshot studio would almost certainly do this using a commercial PS plugin like Topaz Detail, but if you have enough time and experience, you can get close to the same effect using only native PS tools.

The next aspect that I notice is that the skin on almost all of the models has been prepared by both makeup and in post processing. Again, there are many, many post processing methods that can give this look, but I would look into frequency separation techniques (Google it) and plugins such as Topaz "Clean".

With respect to your comments about use of a "sharp lens", yes, it had to have a certain minimum degree of sharpness, but to be honest, almost any lens could have been used for these shots. Studio portraits like these simply don't demand that much from a lens. They are probably all shot at moderate f-stops (5.6 - 8) at moderate distances, with all the lighting intensity one could ask for.

With respect to your comments about "...use of the the RGB curve and RGB individual color curves are involved, along with an adjustment brush ...", curves are among the most basic of PS tools, and every pro uses them as a matter of course. Their use is unremarkable. The portraits from this studio uses PP techniques that are well beyond that (as described above). One can aspire to reliably putting out image after image of such quality, but it will take a considerable learning curve, and good equipment.

HTH,

Tom M
 

iwander

Member
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A lot of things have been done to produce these images, and all effects have been applied in a tasteful, professional manner.

With respect to lighting , let me add to Paul's comment. If you look at the irises of the eyes of many of the models, you'll notice a bright ring of light. This is a dead give-away that the photographer used a light modifier called a "beauty dish" (Google it) on his strobe. This produces almost shadow-less but detailed skin. It also automatically produces a characteristic vignetted look, and, if a wall is not far behind them, a weak and very diffuse shadow. Lighting is the foundation of everything that follows, so, as Paul pointed out, this is essential.

The next aspect of these pix that grabs my attention is that there clearly has been a trade-off between global and local contrast (Google these terms). The local contrast has been increased, while the global contrast has been reduced. This can be done in many different ways. A pro headshot studio would almost certainly do this using a commercial PS plugin like Topaz Detail, but if you have enough time and experience, you can get close to the same effect using only native PS tools.

The next aspect that I notice is that the skin on almost all of the models has been prepared by both makeup and in post processing. Again, there are many, many post processing methods that can give this look, but I would look into frequency separation techniques (Google it) and plugins such as Topaz "Clean".

With respect to your comments about use of a "sharp lens", yes, it had to have a certain minimum degree of sharpness, but to be honest, almost any lens could have been used for these shots. Studio portraits like these simply don't demand that much from a lens. They are probably all shot at moderate f-stops (5.6 - 8) at moderate distances, with all the lighting intensity one could ask for.

With respect to your comments about "...use of the the RGB curve and RGB individual color curves are involved, along with an adjustment brush ...", curves are among the most basic of PS tools, and every pro uses them as a matter of course. Their use is unremarkable. The portraits from this studio uses PP techniques that are well beyond that (as described above). One can aspire to reliably putting out image after image of such quality, but it will take a considerable learning curve, and good equipment.

HTH,

Tom M
Tom, thanks for the detailed response. I understand that this is no 1-2 gimmick and will take time to learn and execute properly, and I'm prepared to hammer away painstaking months.

With respect to the beauty dish, someone also mentioned to me that it could be a large parabolic umbrella at work here. I'm trying to figure out the difference and also position of the lights/size of the dish on a few of these shots. Lighting is still very new to me and I'm doing a lot of homework.

Topaz Detail is a hell of a beast. Been messing with it the last few days and it's very easy to over do it. Still experimenting with decreasing global contrast and increasing local contrast. It's been a fun, but difficult ride so far. Not sure about the workflow though, as I think it'd be better to adjust curves/create layers in photoshop before going into Topaz detail. Thanks for the heads up and I'll keep this thread updated with progress and questions.
 
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