Digital SLR Photography - - Contents -

Tried our over­head por­trait tech­nique? Here’s how to fill the frame with your sub­ject’s hair in pro­cess­ing

IF YOU’VE GIVEN our last Photo Skills a try but feel your Raw in- cam­era por­trait lacks punch, here I'll show you how to repli­cate the look of the fi­nal im­age by fol­low­ing a few sim­ple steps. Red heads are in­cred­i­bly pho­to­genic, es­pe­cially those with freck­les, so you want to try and bring out their vivid colours and strik­ing de­tails. If, like me, you also un­der­ex­posed the im­age slightly for depth, you'll need to know how to con­trol the ex­po­sure post- cap­ture. You may also want to fill in any sparse background space, if their hair isn’t long enough or spread out cor­rectly, and that’s what I’ll show you how to do here…

1 RE­TOUCH As there's not much light to fill in any shad­ows, there's a lit­tle un­der­eye shad­ow­ing that could ben­e­fit from be­ing filled in to brighten the com­plex­ion. To do this, cre­ate a new layer ( Layer> New), se­lect the Brush tool and sam­ple the skin tone next to the edge of the eye by press­ing the alt key. Draw the Opac­ity slider down to 20% and brush over the area. You want a sub­tle re­sult that re­tains vis­i­ble tex­ture.

2 ADD DEPTH To in­crease con­trast and de­sat­u­rate the skin tone, bring­ing out Emily's strik­ing freck­les with­out over­sat­u­rat­ing the im­age, ap­ply a Black & White ad­just­ment layer from the Ad­just­ments but­ton at bot­tom of the Lay­ers pal­ette. Change the layer’s Blend Mode to Soft Light and re­duce the layer’s Opac­ity slider down to 30- 50%, or un­til you reach your de­sired re­sult.

3 BRIGHTEN AND SAT­U­RATE Us­ing mul­ti­ple Ad­just­ment Lay­ers and their Layer Masks, you can se­lec­tively brighten and darken ar­eas of your im­age to in­crease con­trast. For in­stance, use a Hue/ Sat­u­ra­tion layer to add a touch of sat­u­ra­tion to the im­age, mask­ing off the skin, then ap­ply a Lev­els ad­just­ment layer to fo­cus on the highlights in the hair and face, and a Curves ad­just­ment layer to in­crease over­all con­trast.

4 FLIP THE HAIR The hair on the left- hand side of the frame is a lit­tle sparse. To fill it out, merge the edited lay­ers to­gether by se­lect­ing them all and press­ing alt, cmd, shift and E to merge to a new im­age layer. Take the Mar­quee tool with the Feather set to 0px and se­lect the area you want to du­pli­cate, in this case it's the hair on the right. Click Edit> Copy and paste to a new layer, then drag it to the op­po­site side.

5 BLEND THE HAIR With the new hair in place, use the Move tool to re­size as nec­es­sary. Add a Layer Mask to the new hair layer, then us­ing the Brush tool set to Black and with a low opac­ity, work over the new hair to re­veal some of the main im­age be­low, con­cen­trat­ing on blend­ing the straight edges from the se­lec­tion. This will be much more for­giv­ing if you’ve shot the im­age wide open and the hair is blurry.

6 AD­JUST HAIR COLOUR To add some ' oomph' to the red hair, add a Curves ad­just­ment layer and se­lect the Green chan­nel from the drop- down menu. Move the Shad­ows slightly right to shift the his­togram and in­sert a touch of ma­genta. This gives a boost to the auburn hair but also the skin tones, so you may need to use the Brush tool with a soft edge and Black paint to re­duce the ef­fect on the skin.


HAIR EX TEN­SIONS Se­lec­tively edit­ing the skin tone, hair and highlights can give an oth­er­wise flat por­trait in­stant im­pact.

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