I’ve been wanting to start doing more show and tell type posts here on my photographer focused blogs to help others get a better idea about what is going on behind the scenes for me. One of the ideas that I had was to do some moody editing walk-throughs because this is often an area that people struggle with when trying to learn a moodier style of photography, be it boudoir or otherwise. So, today I am giving that a shot if you enjoy these please leave a comment, share with your friends.
Our image today is one that I captured this past weekend while I was in Atlanta teaching at UnCovered (recap blog on that here) of the beautiful model I had for that event, Caity. This is a pretty standard shot for me, both in terms of pose, feeling, and exposure, so I thought it would be a good one to edit with first. Ready? Let’s get into it.
Boudoir Image Info
- Model: Caity Jane Cousins @caityjane_c
- HMUA: Theresa Stone @theresadstone
- Gear Used: Fujifilm X-Pro2, Mitakon 35mm F0.95 II
- Exposure Settings: ISO 200 – 1/250th – F0.95 at 35mm
How I Processed It
Ok, so as you can see in the ‘before’ of this image I did a good job of getting this shot most of the way towards how I wanted it to look in the camera. The shadows are dark, there are some nice highlights hitting her bone structure and the exposure is pretty much where I need it. This is something that doesn’t always happen to work so well, but in this case the image really is mostly where I want it – it is just a matter now of making tweaks to bring out those highlights on her body (drawing the viewers eyes there) and warming up the tones a bit to better fit with my usual style, which is on the warmer side of the spectrum usually.
The first thing that I do in Lightroom is change my camera profile. The Adobe Standard is fine for presets because it is standard across all cameras and computers, but when I am doing hand edits, I like to make use of the Fujifilm camera profiles to better help give my images a little extra oomph. Most of the time I am using either ‘Pro Neg Standard’ or ‘Pro Neg High’ for my color edits, but in the case of this image I ended up going with the ‘Classic Chrome’ setting. I usually try the various options and choose the one I feel looks the best, and in this case, it was the Classic Chrome.
Top: SOOC // Bottom: Classic Chrome Applied
But now that I have my camera profile set, my image is ready for me to really start pushing it into where I want it to be. This starts back up towards the top of the develop module in Lightroom where I start by tweaking my white balance to warm the shot up a little. It is easy to take this too far, and I often set this and come back to it later and tweak it again after making more changes to the tones in the shot. But the first step for me after setting the camera profile is getting my white balance set.
Now I get into the meat of my processing on a given image, where I play with the primary tonal settings in LR to really bring out those highlights on her body. I am also looking to bring my shadows back up just a tad because I feel like the classic chrome killed them a little too much for my liking. I want you to be able to see into the shadows, I am not a fan of clipped shadows. I want it to feel like you are looking into a dark room from a well-lit room -you can see details in the shadow but you have to concentrate on it and use some of your mind to fill in blanks.
So to get the above features effect, I set my exposure panel as follows:
- Exposure: +0.46
- Contrast: +15
- Highlights: -90
- Shadows: +29
- White: +34
- Black: +52
The image is coming along nicely at this point, but we still have a lot to do (in terms of what to go over, all of this happens for me within the span of maybe 5 minutes. But that is because I know what I am going for and roughly how to get there). So now it is time to set my tone curve, which if I am honest is again a minor tweak on this shot, but you will see in other edits that I get more into these sometimes.
Now that I have done this the image looks terrible though, the colors are too vibrant and it is just too much. So now is where I dial it back a little to finesse the tones and colors to where I want them. To do this I will increase my clarity to 11, drop my vibrance to -10, and then move to my HSL panel to play with my saturation. As I mentioned, I like my images to have a warmer feel and this can often lead to too yellows and oranges that are just a bit much. So to compensate for that I dropped the saturation on my reds to -5, oranges to -12, and yellows to -90. The reason that I take the yellows down so far is that yellow has a way of bleeding into all of the highlights of an image, by removing so much of the yellow my highlights remain more of a white tone while the rest of the image maintains a warmer overall feeling.
Do you see the difference? the colors across the entire image come from an oversaturated mess down into a more muted, what I would say ‘realistic’ level. This is, of course, a matter of personal taste, but for me, the vibrancy of the colors was distracting and took away from the image as it was, so I needed to reign them in a little.
Now if you look at the image you will see that we are more or less to the final look in terms of the tones and colors go. But I still have a few things I do to finish off an image…
In this case, I felt like as it was, I wanted to lead my viewer’s eyes into Caity a little more obviously. So I added what I would consider to be a light vignette to darken up those corners and bring the viewers eyes towards the middle of the shot where Caity is laying. I do this in the lens corrections panel though, not the post-crop ‘effects’ version. It feels like a more natural vignette this way in my opinion. So I set my amount to -45 and my midpoint to 20.
Now to finish off the image I go ahead and do my sharpening (Amount to 45, Masking to 35) and add some grain to the shot to add some character. I add grain to virtually every image, I like how it looks and the feeling that it adds to my imagery. I know many people hate grain, so feel free to skip this part – but for me, grain is gold. My gain settings for this shot were: Amount 25, Size 20, Roughness 35. This is usually around my base grain for a shot, but every shot is different so there is some tweaking of those grain settings depending on the image.
And that is it! Besides some skin cleanup to take care of any blatantly obvious imperfections (which I won’t cover for this post, since it is already quite long) like scratches, pimples, bruises, etc, this image is done and ready for me to share or deliver.
Before & After
I hope that this post was helpful to you in trying to wrap your head around how I process my images from what I get out of the camera to what I post online. If you have any questions at all please feel free to leave a comment below or drop me an email. I will be happy to help.
Stay tuned for more of these in the future. I am going to shoot for one of these every weekend, but depending on my shoot schedule we will see how well that goes.