portrait, photoshop. dramatic

So You Think You’re Finished

I am a proponent for getting the shot right in the camera as much as possible.  Get the exposure right. Get the depth of field right. Get the shutter speed right. Get the lighting right. The result will be a better photograph!

That doesn’t mean your job is necessarily done after firing the shutter and capturing the image. So much of the fun of digital photography is the step that comes next. Granted it takes a bit of creativity and (even more-so) a mastery of the various software tools available. I highly encourage you to take the time to learn powerful tools like Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom. Explore the various plugins currently available. Push yourself to go beyond just taking the photograph. Use your digital editing skills to make art!

Since you can do so much with a digital photograph to edit and enhance it, or perhaps even totally change it, sometimes it is hard to say “I am finished with this photograph.” The more proficient you become with your photo editing skills,  you will discover new ways to edit your old photographs. You can even combine different photographs taken at different times with different cameras. 

Here are a few examples:

Here is an original image, as shot in-camera. It already is a good starting point. Nice dramatic light.  Nice composition.

The photo really is a good starting point.  I could just crop it a little bit, and it would be fine as-is.  But, when I was shopping recently, I noticed a placemat that looked interesting, so I took a photo of it with my iPhone:

Then, with a little Photoshop “magic”, using layers, layer masks, blend modes, etc., I replaced the background with the placemat, just darkened a bit.

photoshop. post processing, dramatic portrait

The point is, you can create all kinds of variations from an original image and it is a lot of fun just seeing what you can create.  Be creative. Open your mind to use most anything as a possible background.

Use the tools at your disposal, Lightroom, Photoshop, and various plugins to enhance images. Don’t be afraid to combine images shot with a DSLR with images that were shot with an iPhone.

I created one other variation from the same original image. I cropped in much tighter and then used a plugin from Topaz Labs, called ‘Topaz Glow‘.  (At only $69.99, Topaz Glow is a great tool to have on hand.) Here are the results:

topaz labs, topaz glow, plugin, photoshop

Or here is another example. In this case, I started with an image created in my studio during one of the Studio Lighting Workshops I teach. (Actually, ALL of these were shot by me while teaching a Studio Lighting Workshop.)

portrait, dramatic

I then went back through some old photographs I had taken years ago with a different camera while traveling through Austria and Germany. I found an image among those that would work well in merging the portrait above.

With a little Photoshop editing, blending, masking, etc., here is the result:

Here’s one more example. This image was also shot in my studio:

dramatic portrait

I then grabbed this image from one of the photos from my Austria/Germany travels:

Then I combined the two images:

dramatic portrait

Really, once you have taken the photograph, the fun has only just begun.

Here are some of the tools you should check out for photo management, editing, and enhancement:

  • Adobe Lightroom
  • Adobe Photoshop
  • Topaz Labs Software
    hey make a wide range of products for image enhancement and excellent artistic effects. My students get 15% off Topaz Labs products!
  • Alien Skin Software
    They also make a wide range of products for image enhancement and excellent artistic effects. In fact, their Exposure X2 software might be an alternative for you to consider if you just don’t want to use Adobe Lightroom. My students get 10% off Alien Skin products!
  • Google Nik Collection
    A collection of great software for photo enhancement, and it is TOTALLY FREE! Available on Mac or PC.
  • Macphun Luminar
    A powerful photo editor.  Mac only. My students get 10% off.
  • If any of you are experimenting with HDR (High Dynamic Range) photography, make sure you check out:
    • Photomatix by HDRsoft
      Runs on Macs and PC’s. My students get %25 off their products.
    • AuroraHDR by Macphun
      Runs on Macs only. My students get 10% off their products.
    One other alternative way to have fun with your images is to create a slide show!  Check out ProShow Producer by Photodex (for PC’s). Or ProShow Web which works on any platform.
  • Ready to make PRINTS from your great photographs?
    Check out Color Inc Pro Labs. They do excellent work, plus my students get special discounts!

Want to Learn More About Photo Editing (or Photography)?

I occasionally teach classes on Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop and many other topics. Make sure you are subscribed to my email list so you’ll be notified as I add more classes.

I also offer private instruction on almost all photographic topics. We could set up sessions where I just teach you what you need to know the most, to get you started.

Happy Picture Taking (and Editing)!

Kevin Gourley

Kevin's book "30 Practical Tips for Better Photographs" is available in print and on Kindle devices!

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