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Friday Photoshop Finesse

*I’m not sure if I should make this a weekly post or not. I suppose that depends on if it’s something you’d like to see regularly. Let me know.*

A few days ago at the end of a post I asked the question, “Would you be interested in seeing some before/after Photoshop images?”.
Amanda commented “yes please!!! are you willing to do that???? Isn’t that like being seen without makeup or spanks, or worse… in a t-shirt with no bra on?”

And then I laughed and laughed. I still chuckle when I read it. But I’m not thinking about the subject of the picture. (She’s absolutely gorgeous with or without Photoshop.) I was thinking about a photographer exposing themselves before the world. And it’s true… and a little nervy. I feel slightly vulnerable showing before and after pictures. Because Photoshop (or editing in general) is an art. And it all depends on who is viewing it as to the response you receive.

When I first learned how to edit, I wanted needed exact directions. Tell me how to get from point a to point b and I’m good. I’m the girl who follows recipes… to the letter. Please don’t tell me “add a little of this and a little of that”. I like precise measurements. I own dozens of cookbooks for that reason. I don’t make up my own recipes or concoctions. In fact, these days I go straight to Pioneer Woman to see what she’s cooking up on her blog. And I LOVE her! Because not only does she give me the recipe, but she gives me six dozen pictures that walk me step-by-step through the process!! My sons think Pioneer Woman hung the moon. In fact we all kind of worship her. She’s living a life I’d like to live out there on the Oklahoma prairie.

I digress.

Where was I? Oh yes, following directions. I’m the same way with any process. I lean more toward scientist than artist. In this way photography has been a journey. The hows and the whys are important to me. Until I figured out metering, I felt lost. Until I learned curves and layer masks in Photoshop, I was frustrated. I knew what I wanted to create, I just didn’t know how to get there.

Google is my go to source. “How do I…” is perpetually in my recent searches. I’ve also had the opportunity to meet some amazing photographers and fabulous artists who have shared their time and talents. And little by little I’ve learned which ingredients go together to create what I’m looking for. By no means have I arrived! Far from it! I’m a work in progress. I still Google daily. I’m still looking for workshops and mentoring and training for myself… striving to be better.

Are you still with me? Or did you already skip to the before/after? I know, I’m long winded. Sorry. It’s that detail oriented part of me.

Let me give you some background on this picture. I didn’t take it. Photo credit goes to Carrie Williams. This is her gorgeous daughter, Samantha. I did some one on one mentoring with Carrie last year. She’s super talented and she’s starting a photography business here in Kodiak! The other day I asked her how things were going. She sent me the straight out of camera version of a picture she had taken. (Carrie does know Photoshop, but she asked my opinion on what I would do with the picture) First, I think the image is fantastic. It has all the structure of a great portrait. Good exposure, even lighting, nice composition. I also wanted to try a little Photoshop finesse on it.

Here is the before picture. Like I said. It’s lovely.

And here is my edited version. Among other things, I used Curves to brighten it a bit, give it some contrast and add some warmth. I used the Soft Light Blending Mode to add a little boost. I used the Unsharp Mask to give a little clarity. Once I decided on the look I wanted, it only took a few minutes to complete the edit.

This is where the artistry part comes in. Editing is not a science. Well, yes it is. But it’s mostly art. And if you managed to read my epistle (thank you!) you can see how frustrating that would be to me. That scientist in me yearns for exactness. But I’m learning what I like and what I don’t. Which styles I lean to and which styles I stay away from. I’m learning how to improvise!

And shockingly enough, this has become my favorite part of the process. Isn’t that funny? I think it’s funny. Maybe I’ll go try whipping up something in the kitchen! Umm… then again, maybe not. We all have our limitations.

(And a big thanks to Carrie and Samantha! It helps to have a beautiful young woman smiling at you while you work!)

If you are interested in learning more about how to edit let me know. I’m considering some small Photoshop classes. What to do after you take the picture kind of thing.

Also, the Day With Amy Photography Workshops are starting to fill up. Classes available in Palmer, North Pole, and Kodiak. {Click Here} for more information.

January 21, 2011 - 7:15 pm

Amy - I love this! It’s neat to see how the images are enhanced so wondefully. You have a true talent and a gift. :-)

January 22, 2011 - 2:34 am

Melissa Boyd - Any chance of online style classes? I have so much to learn but I am so far away!

January 22, 2011 - 9:35 am

megan - What about a workshop in Utah? I miss you and you should really come for a visit. Love you!

January 22, 2011 - 10:31 am

Carrie Williams - Love this Amy! But, you are too kind and give me WAY too much credit in knowing photo shop! I soo appreciate your feedback though :) I feel exactly the way you described – give me step by step instructions and I can do it.

The funny thing is, I AM artsy – I draw and paint (without instructions!), do stamping, sew, etc. but I’ve been doing that for years. I think because portrait photography is new for me, I don’t have the confidence yet. Using photoshop on a portrait makes me unsure of myself. I haven’t figured out my “style” yet. I think that’s one of my goals for the year!

Thanks again, Carrie

January 25, 2011 - 5:06 pm

Kristin - I second the online classes! I would LOVE to learn! I NEED to learn! But I am terribly, horribly far away…

April 29, 2011 - 3:52 pm

Colleen McCarty - I completely agree with Melissa. Would be incredible if you’d teach online. What about mentoring utilizing “Elluminate”
like we and our youth already do in our online classes Amy? So many tools and options within Elluminate. Yes, face to face with greatness (You and your gifts of course) is always best for some types learning, but some do lend themselves quite well to Ellumiate as well. Twould be a learning curve at first that true, but after the initials everyone would be flying. You’d be able to carry your gifts, talents and mission to so many more Amy! Helping others to Create Beauty is a beautiful work indeed. Food for thought. Check out “Elluminate” and perhaps together we can encourage you to consider the possibilities during the 30 Day Free Trial offer sometime.!/?id=79
We luv you and your work Amy. Food for thought..XOXO

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