In the unclear

Maggie, my oldest daughter, around 3yo. This portrait followed most of the approach as my previous post, but lifting from the original posed a greater challenge and a few more tricks were added to the mix. Also like previous, click here to see the original.

In regards to the original, this is another example of the unexpected capture. My daughter had outwardly been resisting photography on this day, which was a trip to the art museum and surrounding park grounds. We had a play blanket around the trunk of  a tree out for the twins for the twins to play on. As we walked away, she flopped down on the blanket and I snapped this picture in passing. Her posture and eyes came out great, but since it was unintended, the background and lighting were not ideal. Furthermore, since the backdrop wasn’t something monochromatic, extracting her from it was not an option (especially with the hair. Hair is the killer for background swapping). So stuck with this to work with, here is what I did.

1) Since the lighting of the face & skin wasn’t as directional and uniform as desired, I opened the image in LAB color mode in Photoshop. The LAB mode, in oversimplification, gives you three channels to work with: lightness and a A & B, with A being magentas & greens on one channel, and B beung blues & yellows on the other. In short, it’s a great tool for neutralizing tone and providing uniformity since the color data is separated from the luminosity. You just drag a curve in the channel to bias whichever color you wanted. I essential worked the curves to cancel out and create a black and white with a slight warming to the yellows.  This is where the skin was smoothed. In sum, I took a few hairs out her eyes, neutralized the tone in LAB, and then brought it back to regular RGB mode. 2) From there, I processed it the same as my last post with Curve tools and the B&W tool. The only other major step was to do something with the hideous background. If I had been ready for the original shot, I would have dialed up the camera dope to focus on her and blur the background. Since that didn’t happen, I had to pretty much emulate that standard “pre” process in “post.”  3) To do this, I duplicated the original and blurred it until the detail was nearly marbled. Then I masked it and wiped away the blur on the portrait areas of the original. To conceptualize, imagine two photos of the same thing except one is blurred to where you can’t tell what it is, and the other is a crisp picture. Then you would put the blurred over the top and erase the areas on the blurred where the portrait was underneath, letting just those details bleed through. 4) Lastly, there was some vignetting to smooth out the extreme color noise that occurred on the edged from the compressing.

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