POSTPROCESSING OF OUTDOOR PICTURE

April 16, 2014   4435 views

When you are making outdoor pictures you always face comprehention that your pictures will be a subject of heavy postprocessing. And this is a consequence of very hard condition of light all over the picture. And at first during postprocessing you have to correct this "hard conditions". Every photographer has his own algorythm of retouching such pictures and in this article I will describe my own. But it has to be added that the better raw file we get during outdoor shoot the less possibility this picture will face to be retouched.

At first the little story about this picture. I took it during my workshop in Bali. I used here Profoto AcuteB2 600 AirS with umbrella reflector to get hard light which seems like sunlight. It is always so hard to work in sunny conditions because you need very powerful lighting unit to get the same amount of light which could work with sun light. As you know you cannot use shutter speed shorter than 1/200 sec when use pulse lighting units synchronized through hot shoe. But shooting in sunny weather you have to understand that using 1/200 shatter speed you will get at least 18.0-20.0 aperture. The sun light is powerful and you need to close aperture to expose your picture well.

Is it enough to use 600 Watt/second battery pack to get such power? Yes. But only if you use direct light from your lighting unit with standard, umbrella or Magnum reflector. Using of softbox or umbrella as a lighting modifier will reduce the power of light and you will get maximum 8.0-11.0 aperture. I mean in full body picture. Portraits need to have lighting units more close to model and you will not face problems with getting high power in this case. But if we are talking about full body pictures only direct light will help you to achieve 18.0-20.0 aperture.

When you take outdoor pictures you have to put right parameters for continuous light that surrounds the model and then to adjust the power on strobe lighting unit to the level to get the model well lit. And here I got 18.0 aperture working even on one stop less power from maximum ability of the battery pack. But I can stretch the light over the model using lighting head very close to the model and facing it down. But if you use simple lighting setup, directing lighting head exactly to the model, you will probably will work on maximum power of the unit.

Well, to get such picture I had to turn the model from the sun and if I didn't use lighting unit here I would get black silhouette instead of the model. Using 16 mm lens helped me to catch the sun into my picture. Look how it looks like a star having as much rays as the lens has diaphragm blades.

Here is the picture.

Oleg Ti Postprocessing of outdoor picture

Location: Rice terraces, Bali, Indonesia
Lighting unit: Profoto Acute B600 Air.
Lighting modifier: umbrella reflector

Lens: Canon 16-35 L
Focal length: 16 mm
Aperture: f/18.0
Shutter speed: 1/200 second
ISO: 100

The picture is well but let's look at imperfections. I see tree subjects to change: hills behind the model, they are dark because of position of the sun, slightly overexposed clothes and clouds and not well colors on the photo: skin of the model, grass beneath her.

That is why I start with converting several tiff-pictures with different exposure and other setting which I chang in Raw-converter. (I use Phocus. It comes with my Hasselblad camera). Why I do it in Raw converter, not in Photoshop with curves? Because of quality. You know that there is only one way to get the best quality of picture - to make changes in Raw converter, not in Photoshop. But let's start.

I start with correction of underexposured areas. I get one additional tiff-file with +1.5 stop correction of exposure in raw-converter. Then I add this picture as a layer to my Photoshop project, add black mask and paint with white brush over necessary areas. Take a look, the hill behind models becomes right-exposured.

Oleg Ti Postprocessing of outdoor picture made in Bali

Oleg Ti Postprocessing of outdoor picture

But nor at all, and I add one more tiff-picture with +2.5 stop correction to add details to areas which are still in darkness. Here it is! It is better:

Oleg Ti Postprocessing of outdoor picture made in Bali

Oleg Ti Postprocessing of outdoor picture made in Bali

The next step is to remove overexposured areas. I add one more tiff-picture now with -1.5 stop exposure correction. As in preview case I add this picture as a layer and paint areas which need correction. Look, white shirt and white clouds get detail and look better.

Oleg Ti Postprocessing of outdoor picture

Oleg Ti Postprocessing of outdoor picture

The next step I do is traditional dust removal and skin retouching. But clean sensor and good quality of model's skin don't give me a chance to show you my ability to do it. It took only half a minute to make all corrections I need. Let's come to the next step. Color correction.

Oleg Ti Postprocessing of outdoor picture

Oleg Ti Postprocessing of outdoor picture

The grass beneath the model is withered and the hill are not very green too. So I need to make them more green. I add new Solid Color Layer with green color and using Soft Light blending modes paint with white brush necessary areas around the model. Look at the picture above. You can see there one additional layer with green color.

Now it is time to make color correction of whole picture and I add new layers.

As I always wrote there are not recipes there. Using of our own ideas of color correction forms our unique style. So the best way on this stage is to try different solutions. And here I starts with deep yellow Solid Color layer with Subtract blending mode. Then I change the opacity to 30%.

Oleg Ti Postprocessing of outdoor picture

Oleg Ti Postprocessing of outdoor picture

Then new layer with yellow Solid Color layer with Soft Light blending mode with 30$ opacity. It makes the picture more warm.

Oleg Ti Postprocessing of outdoor picture

Oleg Ti Postprocessing of outdoor picture

Then Curves. I increase contrast of the picture and change the green and blue channel curves. And again: this is not a rule. I am trying to find necessary level of them.

Oleg Ti Postprocessing of outdoor picture

Oleg Ti Postprocessing of outdoor picture

And desaturation of the red part color with using Hue/Saturation adjustment layer. I used it to make the color of model's skin not so reddish.

Oleg Ti Postprocessing of outdoor picture

Oleg Ti Postprocessing of outdoor picture

And! And here it is! We've got it! The final picture! With sometimes barely visible adjustments, but everything we did made this picture more beautiful, effective and goodlooking!

Bali Oleg Tityaev

Good Luck!