Post-processing a colour portrait

This is a quick walkthrough of my method to post-process a portrait taken with my fuji x-pro2 and 90mm lens. The method works essentially with any camera/lens combination. I use lightroom only.

The portrait I am using is from my collection of portraits from Thaialnd (see here). Here is the original imported raw file:

portrait_import

As you can see, I have not cropped or straightened the photo, the exposure is pretty good too. I used aperture mode with a minimum shutter speed of 1/125s (that I need to change to 1/250s with the 90mm lens to avoid blur). I also use auto-iso set from 200 to 12800 which is the whole range.

The first thing I do in the Develop module is to scroll right down to camera calibration and choose a profile. I hear a lot about classic chrome but personally, I use Camera Pro Neg Hi a lot more. I like the contrast and the muted colours.

calibration

portrait_1

The thing I like about the recent fuji cameras is the ability to change film simulation in Lightroom. You can do this with all cameras in lightroom but the choice will depend on the make of the camera. The list with fuji is impressive and interesting in the different outputs you get. With a Leica M10, you just get one choice : “Leica M10” and with the M240, just the “embedded” option. A bit poor in my view.

The next step in too do a few global ajustments :
Shadows +3
Highlights +12
Clarity +5 (I prefer this to ajusting the sharpness because fuji files don’t sharpen well in lightroom)

As the Pro Neg Hi gives a desaturated colour to the skintones, I go to the HSL tab, click on the button circled in red below and then click and drag upwards on a part of the face where the colours are too muted. This saturates the colours a little while keeping a natural look to the photo.

untitled-2
Here is what I get :
portrait_2

Each step is subtle but it all adds up…
Time for some local ajustment on the face. I always brighten up the face a tad and I rarely touch anything else. After all, in a portrait that is what I want you to see. With the local Ajustemnt Brush, I paint over the face and increase the exposure, clarity and saturation. This is to taste and I can change my ajustments quite a lot from one photo to another. Lately I have taken to drawing a T shape across the eyes and down through the nose and mouth instead of covering the whole face.

portrait_brush

I then add a bit of a post-crop vignette (-17 here) et voilà!!

fuji-x-t2-2016-10-26-09h19min54s

 

 

 

 

 

In search of Fuji colours.

If you have taken any notice of the hype around fuji cameras recently, you will have heard about photographers raving about “fuji colours”. Most of my work is in black & white, I rarely keep a photograph in colour. My viewfinder is in black and white as I use a film simulation in the camera while shooting in raw. I have been using the acros green simulation recently with my x-pro 2 and I find it great to see the exposure and the light in the frame. I have browsed many a time through wonderful landscape pictures on 500px wondering what kind of photoshop magic the photographer is doing to get such lovely colours… my own landscapes always looked a bit on the drab side, maybe it happens to you too.

All this until this summer when I experienced a truly magnificent sunset. I was camping with my family and one evening I saw a bit of light in the sky. I took my tripod, my camera and a couple of lenses and headed out to a bridge across the river Dordogne, about half a mile from the campsite. When I arrived, the sky was on fire! I have rarely witnessed such a beautiful sky. I set the tripod down and took a few shots, bracketing to make sure I got the right exposure. When I got home the files (that are often a bit disappointing) were full of beautiful oranges and pinks.

Fuji X-T1 + 23mm f/1.4 @ 1/4s + f/8 + iso 200
Fuji X-T1 + 23mm f/1.4 @ 1/4s + f/8 + iso 200

As far as processing goes, I use lightroom to check the highlights and blacks, then pop into Color Efex Pro 4 where I use colour contrast and dynamic contrast. I then dodge and burn a little and voilà. Less than 5 minutes on each photo.

Fuji X-T1 + 10-24 f/4  @ 1/35s + f/8 + iso 200
Fuji X-T1 + 10-24 f/4 @ 1/35s + f/8 + iso 200

The beautiful sunset light didn’t last long, you can see the contrasts changing in the shots. This second shot was taken 5 minutes after the first. I had time for one last photo.

Fuji X-T1 + 10-24 f/4 @ 1/8s + f/8 + iso 200
Fuji X-T1 + 10-24 f/4 @ 1/8s + f/8 + iso 200

I blended 2 exposures in Lightroom, effectively making an HDR photo here because the bridge was getting too dark but the sky was still quite bright.

The conclusion of this article is simple : landscape photography is really hard! It is all about location, timing and luck. I really like the output the camera gives me and I can also now say that fuji colours are great, but I was lucky enought to be in the right place at the right time on the right day. I admire photographers who can turn out photo after photo of lovely landscapes, they are working hard!