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Archive 2012 · Processing this senior portrait.
  
 
essphoto
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p.1 #1 · Processing this senior portrait.


Hi there, I'm looking for advice on how to best process this photo of a senior citizen I was recently photographing. I'm happy with the expression and lighting, but the background is a bit distracting in my opinion. I'm thinking that I extract her and put her on a black background, but I want to get some more opinions. Any C&C is welcome at this point - Thanks!












Jan 10, 2012 at 02:45 PM
JesseShotland
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p.1 #2 · Processing this senior portrait.


I don't think black is ever a good background. One style I really like is a unsaturated orangey kind of color. Similar to this shot.




Jan 10, 2012 at 03:29 PM
mike_b
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p.1 #3 · Processing this senior portrait.


How about trying a much tighter crop. I think that much less of the red dress would give the photo more impact, and the background would not then be a problem!


Jan 10, 2012 at 03:48 PM
essphoto
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p.1 #4 · Processing this senior portrait.


Tighter crop is a good idea, but the background still shows through. Is the black really awful? This photo is part of a series, and the others were done with a black cloth background, so that's party why I thought of using it here.


Jan 10, 2012 at 04:13 PM
 

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RustyBug
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p.1 #5 · Processing this senior portrait.


Consider burning (method of choice) the BG to taste. Full black looks too 'unnatural' imo ... plus you avoid the 'extract'.







Jan 10, 2012 at 04:40 PM
sbeme
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p.1 #6 · Processing this senior portrait.


I like what RustyBug (Kent) did and suggested. The black background will make it a studio shot and less natural.
Here is a rework with crop, some burning of the background and vignetting, neg exposure gradient from the bottom, and some general rework with reduced clarity, BW conversion, slight warm toning.
Let me know if you want this removed. If you think its helpful or not.

Scott







Jan 11, 2012 at 02:01 AM
essphoto
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p.1 #7 · Processing this senior portrait.


Thanks Scott. I like the cropping and vignetting, but I feel that there is too much lost with the b&w conversion -- I'd say it was better if she had passed away, but she's still living and that's a big point in this image.


Jan 11, 2012 at 03:10 AM
cgardner
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p.1 #8 · Processing this senior portrait.


Given the fact the way her dress looks in the shot isn't very flattering my first suggestion irrespective of your background concerns would be crop tighter, above the bustline to eliminate that defect/distraction. Doing that will eliminate the problem of the distracting background. Here's a suggested editing approach...







Your lighting strategy with cross lighting and very little fill is revealing age and character, but that heavy look is one I personally find more in context with a gnarly grump old man than a sweet old grandmother like this so I softened the overall look using the middle slider of levels. But I did this on a duplicate layer in CS5 and used a mask to selectively blended in the lightened areas only in the shadows of face, hand and clothing leaving the background dark as in the original.

Normally I'd soften skin keeping eyes and mouth sharp. Your image as posted is a bit OOF and soft so here I just selectively sharpened the eyes, mouth and the pendant to recreate some specular highlights and sparkle lost due to the soft focus. Eyes without catchlights read as vacant and dull in photos so I also added catchlights to the eyes which are lacking in the original because the face was turned so much away from the "key" light. They are easy to fake naturally if you use a separate layer, a light gray (off white) color with a feathered brush, then adjust opacity visually.

Tightly cropped headshots above the bustline will often look cramped and unbalanced but the overall visual balance can be restored by adding a mat around the image. Here I used a simulated gold rule to match the gold pendant focal point, and a black mat, which perceptually makes all the shadows in the image seem lighter with more detail by comparison with the mat.



Jan 11, 2012 at 03:16 PM





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