Jessica Watson Photography | Portland and destination wedding photographer »

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••• How I do that •••

I’ve recently had several e-mails from people asking how I “do it” or if I teach any workshops.  I’m very flattered, but no, I do not at the moment.  I’m always open to getting a group of photographers together to share ideas and network, though.

I think it is extremely important for photographers to know how to edit the images they give to their clients because the editing is half the image.  It takes a lot of time and practice to be able to tastefully and creatively edit images, however, here are a few examples of my editing process, which I hope is helpful.

This image of the beautiful Natalie and Josh is straight out of camera (SOOC), only resized and sharpened for web.  It was shot with a Canon 85mm 1.8 on a Canon 5D Mark II, manual mode, ISO 100, f/1.8, 1/1000, spot metering mode.

Here is just the edit I did in Adobe Camera Raw 5.3, or ACR (I switched back to Bridge from Lightroom, just my preference).  I changed the color balance, contrast, blacks, added a vignette and lightened up their faces a bit with the brush. This would be considered a proof, or the basic edit, and is good for smaller prints.

Here is the final image, or a “fine art” image.  This editing would be good for an album, large print or gallery wrap.  I used the Totally Rad Actions (I have both sets) to smooth out their skin, the Jesh de Rox Colorshift Actions, and the Kubota Image tools.  When I took this image, I knew I’d have to do something to the sky, so in editing I added a Jesh de Rox Fine Art Texture.  So, to answer someone’s question that was e-mailed to me, no, it wasn’t a filter on the lens.  I played with the opactiy of most of the actions and the texture because they can sometimes over power an image instead of enhance it.

The next image is from a model shoot with the lovely Lavenda.  I used the same camera and lens, but my settings were: manual mode, ISO 400, f/2.0, 1/160th, spot metering.  Here it is SOOC:

Here is the basic ACR edit before I take it into Photoshop.  Slight exposure bump, color balance, contrast, vignette, and the brush tool.

With models, the editing is a little more extreme since they are judged on their looks, although I still like to keep them life-like.  So, I used the Totally Rad Pro Retouch, lightened and sharpened the eyes, and I believe I used a Colorshift Action at a low opactiy, but I can’t remember exactly which one.

After Lavenda got the image, she thought she needed a little liposuction, so she did this, although I think it makes her look a little too thin.  But, I guess in the modeling world you can never be too thin.

Lastly, here is an example from a wedding back in January.  This was shot with a Canon 5D, 24mm 1.4L, manual mode, ISO 200, f/4, 1/250th.  SOOC:

I bumped the exposure +45, white balance, recovery slider, fill light, contrast, and added a vignette.  Here it is at the proof stage:

I have two final images.  One is more extreme than the other.  When I do this, I don’t expect the couple to print up the more extreme version as a 4×6 to give to grandma.  I am thinking more along the lines of a large gallery wrap, which is why I include a less extreme version.  I used the Colorshift Actions, Totally Rad actions and Fine Art Textures on these, btw.

A little more color shift than the basic image, but not as extreme as the one above.

  • Lisa - May 13, 2009 - 1:57 pm

    It made me happy to see the SOOC shot of Lavenda just to know that it was touched up…I was blown away at how perfect her skin was in the shots you originally posted. Then again, I do know you use Photoshop so I’m not sure why I didn’t realize it before. Very informative and interesting, even to a non-professional!

  • Diane - May 14, 2009 - 12:05 pm

    Even though I know nothing about photoshop and digital editing, this was a REALLY interesting post. It’s always fascinating to get a glimpse of the creative process. Now I know how you made us look so good! I bet our SOOCs looked a LOT different than your finished edited product!

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