I though I’d just quickly go through how I post-process images these days, because I’ve changed up my workflow quite a bit recently. I used to do a lot of manual adjustments, but recently discovered the Totally Rad actions and plugins through an awesome travel blog that I follow. I still have a bit of work to do as I don’t always get my camera settings just right, but if you’ve ever wanted a ‘make look awesome’ button in Photoshop, this is pretty much as close are you’re going to get. I know that sounds a bit gushy, but since I go through a lot of photos this stuff is seriously making my life a lot easier.
So for this photo I set up in my living room, as I’m still too self-conscious to take self-portraits outside in the sunlight! It meant that I had to use a mounted flash, which I just pointed up mostly towards the (white) ceiling and pointing a bit towards me. Thankfully the walls of my apartment are all white and light bounces around reasonably nicely, although it still came out a bit darker than I wanted. The camera with mounted flash was on a tripod, and I got fed up with the timer and just used a remote (which you can see in my hand). For the geeks out there, this was shot in RAW format on a Canon 7D with a 16-30mm f2.4L (not ideal, but I don’t have a large space to work with) at 26mm, f4.0 and 1/20s with an ISO of 1600.
So anyway, this is my new post-processing process:
- Import photos in RAW format. If your camera can do this, I really recommend it – it gives a lot more options when editing and leaves you greater room for making errors when shooting (which is something I do a lot…).
- Since this photo was a little dark and yellowy, I played around with the levels and white balance in RAW mode to get it to the look that I wanted. Usually I aim to not have to do this and get things correct in camera, but I’m not really there yet!
- Bit of vanity – I removed dark circles under my eyes, smoothed out skin-tone, darkened and sharpened around my eyes and made my cheeks rosy. Mainly this is because I was too lazy to put on makeup! For a closer portrait I would definitely bother though, as it’s a bit more difficult to paint in makeup in Photoshop when it’s under closer scrutiny.
- My magic buttons – I ran my current favorite Totally Rad Photoshop actions, starting with “Boutwell Magic Glasses” which does some sharpening and adds a bit more depth to shadows, and “Lux” which gives a bit of a vintage effect. Both of these actions are a bit over-the-top at full strength, so I usually tone them down a bit – “magic glasses” usually at a bit below full opacity, and “Lux” at quite a low opacity or not at all depending on the look I’m after. My other favourite (not used here) is “Bitchn’ B&W” which produces much nicer black and white photos than I can do manually.
This is actually more complex than what I usually do with food and random out and about photos, which I tend to spend less time on. I’ve set up actions that also contain the TR actions, which resize the photo to fit on my blog then run “Magic Glasses” to sharpen and contrast things up a bit. Then I can tone it down a bit if needed and save it out ready for the blog, all with just a few mouse clicks. So much easier than what I was doing before! I’ve been using these actions for all the photos on here since my Singapore trip. Here’s a photo that shows things a little better: