Photography by Angela McConnell
#tbt again, sort of…
January always seems to produce a bit of down time. When I was working in the health sector, it was the perfect opportunity to catch up on all the paperwork, filing, and database maintenance that had inevitably got away on me during the year. It’s no different for me now with my photography. I have revamped the website, hopefully making it all a bit cleaner and easier to view, and taken some time to retrain in some new retouching techniques.
I have a notoriously difficult relationship with Photoshop. I have definitely been one of those photographers that uses Photoshop under extreme sufferance and only because I can’t do what I want in Lightroom. Since Geoff uses Photoshop for his work in the games industry, I have been known to very reluctantly pick his brains on how to use Photoshop. Invariably it turns into a bit of a bickering session because Geoff shows me how to do something using his workflow, which doesn’t mesh with mine.
Over the past year I have taken more time to actually learn a bit more about Photoshop and have definitely come around, my editing workflow for performance photography tends to stay only in Lightroom but all my portrait and beauty work now ends up in Photoshop. So specifically over the last 2 weeks I have been learning about Frequency Separation and Dodge & Burn to retouch skin. I intend to use these techniques more on beauty shots, as the standard is for a much more precise and refined retouch. My portrait work calls for a more natural retouch, enhancing the features and making them look fresh but still retaining their character.
I don’t have too many strictly beauty shots in my portfolio so I revisted a shoot from 2011 back in Melbourne for Rebel Goddess
This was shot with a beauty dish and a silver reflector to bounce some light back up into the face to remove shadows under the chin. I have cropped the original image to practice on, as I tend to get really focussed on details too much, retouching at a pixel level which then means I work on one images for weeks.
Left (before SOOC) Right (first retouch pass)
The image on the left is straight out of camera and is way overexposed. I had just purchased a beauty dish and this was the first time I had used it. I wasn’t happy with the light I was getting and now I can see that I actually had it positioned incorrectly for the light to have fallen the way it has. I now use my beauty dish on nearly all my shoots, although I use it to bounce light around to try and emulate natural light from a window (since I shoot in a basement).
On the right we have my first attempt at Frequency Separation and Dodging & Burning the skin to retain the texture. This is definitely not up the standard required for a commercial beauty shot like what you would see in a magazine, and it took hours and hours of work just to get to this stage. I admire retouchers that have this process down to 3 hours to complete to standard, not to mention I find retouching a bit monotonous and lose patience quickly.
After some feedback from a retouching forum I had another quick pass at fixing some of the more glaring problems, the iris of the eye has been cleaned up a bit and the shadow on the cheek has been evened out. I am currently working on another image from this shoot to see if I can refine my processes and also to pick up a bit of speed. I also need to be more vigilant when shooting beauty, and trying to eliminate issues in camera or while I am shooting so that they don’t crop up as fixes in the retouching stage.