More Christmas Pics – Edits

Here are a few photos from Christmas Eve with edits I wanted to share, just because I enjoy doing such things.

This first one includes edits I do regularly to portraits; I think it’s a good example of how to use The Photoshop on lines and imperfections without going overboard. As an artist I admit that there are certain imperfections I like to eliminate; I have no issue with these things in real life, but a photo is a captured moment, where a neck wrinkle that may have existed for a split second when the head was turned at a certain angle can become permanent (I admit to finding neck creases in particular distracting in a photo for some reason). The same for dark circles under the eyes or any other number of things that draw too much attention in a portrait. When I take a photo of someone I want them to see the picture and think, wow, I look amazing. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that, but at the same time I don’t want to go overboard. I am still a stickler for clarity in my photos, so I want there to be lines and definition. It’s all about balance and restraint when it comes to editing, and sometimes I don’t get it quite right, but I’m always trying.

Here’s an example of removing some lines and discoloration in faces here and there to improve the photo. First, the original:

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My brother, sister-in-law, and niece

And here’s the final version. Aside from the wrinkle- and dark circle- polishing, I also cropped it in a little tighter and improved the light, color, and clarity.

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You can see that even with Grace, my niece, her crinkled eyes and the poor lighting created dark shadows beneath her eyes in the original that I softened a lot, and I added some color to her lips and cheeks as she was a little washed out. I’m not trying to make anyone look like a supermodel here, but I did do some improvements that I think contributed to everyone being quite happy with how they looked in the final version, which was my goal.

I did the same for this shot of my sister and brother-in-law, as well as trying to minimize the presence of a very cluttered background and a poorly framed shot. I realize now that a lot of these photos would have been well suited to the nice bokeh of the 85mm, but it’s too late to change that now. The 17-40mm kept a lot of the background stuff more  in focus and, in my opinion, made it distracting. So I edited the light to try and drown some of that busy-ness out and make the two of them more prominent in the shot.

Original:

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Final:

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You can see I did a little wrinkle-softening here as well (gosh, I hope no one in my family minds me pointing their wrinkles out here, but I don’t think they would) as well as teeth whitening and the whites of my sister’s eyes (another thing I edit as often as I can as it really makes the eyes pop – pun not intended). I added vignetting around the perimeter to draw the light into the center and focus the eye better on them, since there was so much going on behind them here.

For this next one, the original shot just had too much going on in the background for me to be happy, and I decided to do the best I could to change that. But, being only marginally skilled at such things, I had to be tricky. Here’s the original – I loved the picture of my niece but, as I said, hated where she was standing for the photo.

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The edge of a doorframe, a framed photo behind her, someone’s elbow in the right-hand corner…just too, too much going on for me to be happy. So, I used the clone tool in Paint Shop Pro to cover up the doorframe and the elbow in a very piecemeal fashion, because I don’t know a better way to do this although I am sure better ways exist. I then pulled the photo into Photoshop and used the patch tool to blend the cloned sections better, as something like a wall will have so much color variation from section to section that getting a perfect blend isn’t possible – at least not with my rudimentary skills. You can also see the added clarity and light edits in this photo.

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You can see that I also added grain to the photo to try and conceal my patchwork edits, but to me the color still looked spotty and uneven (and I’m not a fan of grain, so if you see it in one of my photos I probably added it to conceal an edit or something). I decided to go ahead and make this one black and white to see if that helped, especially since the color wasn’t anything outstanding here to start with.

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Done!

I ended up quite liking this one in B&W, and I think in the end all that editing turned out well. I have another one of this particular niece, Myra, that I’d like to share – the original was considered a ‘mistake’ photo at first, because right when I hit the shutter she blinked and her resulting expression wasn’t flattering. But the more I looked at it, the more her face in this shot intrigued me; it isn’t pretty, but it is interesting. There is something almost sinister looking in her face that made me want to play around with it a bit and see what might come out of it.

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She would probably kill me if she knew I was sharing this.

I decided to have fun with this one, and gave it the good old Pixlr treatment:

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And just because I realized I never shared this one in a previous post, here’s one last shot from Christmas Eve – another niece, Maegan, and my nephew Trey:

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In other news, there’s a little bit of talk about another possible job prospect – but it’s just talk at this point, and is a complete departure from anything I’ve discussed doing in the past. So I’m going to hold off on getting into that in any detail for a little while (it’s not even an actual created position at this point, but a proposal has been made and should be approved or nixed soon – so as I said, just talk at this point).

In the meanwhile, it’s time to put these holidays behind me and get back to the grind bright and early this morning. And as I’m sure many of you are also experiencing, it’s gonna be a cold one – something like 19 degrees at some point during the night, which is ridiculously cold for my neck of the suburban jungle. Bundle up, buttercups, and let’s get this 2014 thing moving!

7 thoughts on “More Christmas Pics – Edits

    • It is fun – BUT it works much better when you have a high-quality shot to start with. That is one problem I run into at work – people take pics and want me to perfect them, but they are already reduced so much in quality I can’t edit them without making them look terrible. I guess that’s something else I can talk about in a post sometime!

  1. It makes sense to edit and improve pictures. One reason I hate people taking candid shots of me and then pasting them all over FB, is that some angles are unflattering and amateur photographers do not seem to notice. I avoid them like the plague. So your family must appreciate the trouble you take to put them in their best light, so to speak. Informative post. Stay warm.

    • That is a really good point! I never thought of it from that perspective but like you I hate it when people post those unflattering shots of me on Facebook! So yeah, why wouldn’t someone want me to give them a little bit of tweaking 😉

      • I often wonder if they have ever even LOOKed at me. They will say, ‘it looks just like you’, when I know it doesn’t. Then they will say I am too vain, but frankly, why bother with makeup, jewelry, nice clothes, hair dye, staying slim much less any other embellishments, if we are not supposed to look our best? I say, look as good as you can. If you can look even better on paper or on the internet, then good! That is what made Hollywood (and the porn industry, for heaven sake), so why not?

        • I decided to embrace the word “vain” a while ago – when i started taking all the self-portraits actually. I figured I’d get ahead of all the people who were going to call me that anyway; I am fine with the idea of being vain now. Why shouldn’t I be dammit? And as we get older, we get to own our vanity even more I think, because it becomes something to admire in us rather than something to judge. As if it’s so brave to be middle-aged and vain or something. Silly, but I’ll twist it to my advantage if I must.

  2. Hey, I’m with you 100%. I always adjust the lighting in my photos, mainly because my cheap camera tends to overexpose everything.
    I tried a piece of software called Perfect 365 that came with Windows 8 and although it was fun to play with, it went a bit overboard and I no longer looked like myself.
    I have reached “That” age where all of the lines, cracks and crevasses are becoming more obvious ever day. (Make that every hour) It’s also “That” age where there is little I can do about it.
    Ah, “That age” sucks.

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