A friend of mine at work has a sister-in-law who’s getting married, and are considering having me shoot it. I showed them some of my portfolio people shots I took and they really liked them, but asked to see some wedding photos I’ve taken, so I started pouring through the 2 weddings I’ve shot to pull out some shots, and came across this photo and decided to completely reprocess it. It’s from my mother-in-law’s wedding to my step-father-in-law (and that’s a lot of hyphens!). Here’s a quick write-up on my post-processing step-by-step.
First I did a little bit of sharpening using Smart Sharpen, and cloning out any major blemishes and distractions I found.
Secondly I did some skin-smoothing. I have an action set up, but I’ll briefly describe how this action works. I make 2 duplicate copies of the image as-is. One called Skin Cleanup, and one called Sharpen and put into a folder. I then link the Sharpen layer to the Skin Cleanup by pressing Cmd (Cntrl in Windows) + G. Then on the Sharpen layer you go to Filter > Other > High Pass and set the Radius to about 10 and after running that set the layer to Overlay Mode. Then you switch to the Skin Cleanup layer and do a Gausian Blun of about 12 pixels on that layer. Then I add an inverted Layer Mask to the Skin Cleanup layer by option-clicking the Layer Mask icon at the bottom of the Layers Palette. At this point on screen, nothing has happened. Then you grab your paint brush and paint white onto the Layer Mask with a soft-edged brush. Wherever you paint white, the skin will smooth out nicely. You want to be careful going near eyes, ears, lips, and strong facial features like jaw-lines. If the effect isn’t smooth enough for you, simply adjust the opacity of the Sharpen layer. If the effect is too strong, simply paint back over your mask with black with your brush opacity set down to like 30.
Then I made a Monochrome adjustment layer (using the Channel Mixer adjustment layer tool… CS3 has a nifty Black & White adjustment layer, but I’m using CS2, so the Channel Mixer is the way to go for creating great black and white shots) and set it to Soft Light which upped the contrast and desaturated the shot nicely. I adjusted the opacity so that the effect wasn’t overpowering.
A note about how to use the Channel Mixer adjustment layer tool. First check the separate RGB channels of your image separately to see which one matches most closely to the Black & White look you’re going for. Then open up your Channel Mixer adjustment layer, click the Monochrome button. Then you want you RGB values to add up to 100. I generally start with 60%, 30%, and 10%. Remember which channel looked best from your separate RGB channels? Make that one your 60%, the second best your 30%, and the worst one your 10%, and then just play around with the values, making sure your three values add up to 100 exactly.)
Then I added a cross-processed look with a Curves Adjustment Layer that I have saved so I can re-use it, and set the opacity of that to 50%.
I finished it off with a vignette layer set to Color Burn and turned the opacity down to 50% to knock it back some.
Hope you guys found the write-up helpful.