I’ve mentioned this here before, but I always take test shots as I am applying my makeup to be sure it’s going to appear as I want it once I start shooting. Sometimes I luck out and get an interesting photo out of those shots; in fact, I often discover that some of my expressions in those one-off shots are more interesting than my posed ones, and I regret that the makeup and outfit wasn’t complete when I took it. Sometimes I can still get a decent shot out them though, like this one:
Anyway, I discovered one such shot Wednesday evening and played around with it a bit, so I thought I’d share its evolution. This is as close to an original as I have, but it was not shot in black and white originally:
Obviously my makeup was not complete here, nor was it well-blended, as I discovered after taking the photo. But the extreme highlighting and contouring did make for an interesting look in its own right. However, one of my regretful side-effects of getting older is the sun damage that is starting to show itself on my skin, my neck in particular. I admit it is getting more and more difficult to disguise it in shots without it being obvious, and at some point I’m just going to have to embrace it or quit taking photos of myself (which isn’t likely). I doubt anyone notices, but it does bother me (more in photos than in day to day life, when it isn’t as noticeable but is slowly getting more so). The sides of my neck as well as my decollete are both getting red and splotchy; I used to try to cover it with makeup but just ended up with a red, splotchy neck AND a foundation-stained shirt, so I don’t bother anymore. But in this photo, the hyperpigmentation showing on my neck, as well as the crappy pajama t-shirt, were really bugging me, so I decided to try something new instead of just my usual softening and lightening:
With my nominal Photoshop skills, I used the patch tool to blend the background into my skin and hair; I also blended out some of the harsher contouring around my hairline and softened the skin to conceal the fairly sloppy powder-blending job I’d done right before taking the shot (I also got rid of the headband I was wearing).Then I pulled the photo into Snapseed to sharpen and define it:
To blend in some of the rougher edges where I’d blended the background in, I also added a texture to the background, keeping it very faint so as not to overwhelm the nice clean lines of the face (I did this in Paint Shop Pro, since I don’t yet know how to do it Photoshop). This was nice enough as is, but it was tempting me to give it a little Pixlr treatment to make it extra-special, so off we went:
I added a vintage effect to add contrast, a space overlay for a ghostly feel, a tie-dye overlay for a little color, and an ink border for depth and visual interest. I still like the plain old black and white version too – but this one is probably going to get my top vote, ultimately.
I may look through my test shots and find a few more to work over this way. Blending the background into the subject in a portrait is something new for me, and I had fun giving it a go. As always, problem-solving when editing leads to new and creative processes and solutions. At least, that’s how it works for me.
Here’s a collage of the work in progess: