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Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Portrait Photography Digital Touchup & Processing

In the days of print photographs many photo studios touched up photographs by hand using paint. There was a lot of skill involved in getting the right color, then applying the proper pressure and stroke.

These days the art of portrait photography retouching has been digitized to match the digital workflow:
1. INPUT: Digital Camera (lenses that are specially made for digital cameras); computerized Flash
2. PROCESSING: Computerized Processing (Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Lightroom 3, Portrait Professional
3. OUTPUT: Digital Format (computer/iPAD/Tablet: websites, email; phone/PDA: SMS, email)

We will be focusing on the processing aspect today and see some digital processing results. For the photoset by Lucas Huang (GP Lucas) please check out this link:

The images have been reposted for this blog. Used with permission.

There are a few goals for processing:
1. Remove unwanted details
2. Smoothen and blur
3. Highlight areas
4. Make the photo look better (of course this is the most important goal! Note there may be certain photos that are beyond help)

Software Used:
There are 3 key pieces of software used:
1. Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 (website:
2. Portrait Professional 9 (website:
3. Adobe Photoshop CS5 (website:

These software packages should help you process most portraits unless the lighting or focus is drastic beyond reach.

Adobe Lightroom 3
Adobe Photoshop Lightroom is how Lightroom is referred to by Adobe. Lightroom is what everyday users call it. It is essential software used in the photographer's digital workflow. Lightroom has made a name by allowing photographers easy access to their entire photographic (and LR3 video) library in a snap. Groups of photographs can be highlighted and effects can be uniformly applied when necessary.

Importing and organization into logical directory structures are its strong points. After Version 3 was released it offered photographers one great addition to its toolset. Namely noise processing. Now one can eliminate a level of desired noise from a photograph shot in dark or high ISO scenarios without launching another piece of software.

Portrait Professional
Portrait Professional is a specialized software that is designed solely and extensively to improve portraits. It can enhance your photo more easily and in a lot less time than Photoshop. This software can be used as a one-stop shop for beginners, intermediate users, and even professionals who need retouching services.

Portrait Professional features:
* Face shaping
* Skin smoothing
* Eyes & Teeth
* Lighting
* Spot Reduction

Anthropics, the company that makes Portrait Professional introduces and uses their "ClearSkin®" skin improving technology and, "adds greatly to the realism of the skin after enhancement. It enables "blown" or burnt out highlights on the skin to be successfully retrieved and realistically re-textured in seconds. To the best of our knowledge, this innovative feature is unique and puts clear blue water between Portrait Professional and other skin enhancing packages. For the first time, the ClearSkin® technology enables anybody to achieve ultra realistic skin enhancing effects literally in seconds."

If given a choice I would select the Studio 64 version (especially for a version of 64-bit Windows) because it includes:
* Adobe Photoshop Plugin (standalone plugin included)
* Enhanced color profiles and RAW support
* New batch mode

For techies, the plugin will make full use of multi-processor and multi-core systems (woohoo!) In plain English: Much shorter wait time.

Adobe Photoshop CS5
Before any specialized portrait software was designed, Adobe Photoshop has been the King of photo editing. It has been referred to as a digital darkroom. Version CS5 has bumped up the level of editing power by offering capable software for web, design, and video professionals. Photoshop is still the King of digital darkroom when one needs to get down and dirty with layers, effects, and processing large amounts of photos that require these specialized and custom effects.

Before and After photos and processing by Lucas Huang (GP Lucas).  Used by permission.  Link to original work here:

Before and After photos and processing by Lucas Huang (GP Lucas).  Used by permission.  Link to original work here:

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