Karma's When I Feel Like It Blog

September 25, 2010

My Try at Portraiture

Filed under: Photo assignments — Karma @ 5:08 pm
Tags: , ,

As I usually am with Scott Thomas’s photography assignments, I was a little nervous about what I’d get for results when Scott said the challenge this time around was portraiture.  I have two teenaged girls, I think I’ve mentioned before.  They are wonderful people, but not always happy to have the camera pointed at them!  Today, we were out doing something the whole family enjoys, apple picking (post coming on that as well), so I decided to give the portraits a shot while we were outside on an absolutely gorgeous fall day.  The timing wasn’t the best light-wise, but I gave it a go anyway.  I had them stand in the shadows of the apple trees to try to prevent squinting and harsh shadows.  It would have been the perfect opportunity to try fill-in flash as Scott has often suggested, but I forgot, dang it!  So, I looked to Photoshop Elements to give me a helping hand.

Here’s the first picture of Meghan, SOOC:


The shadows made her skin tone look sallow and highlighted the creases and undereye circles.  I consulted my PSE7 book by Scott Kelby and followed some simple steps for softening her face and improving her skin tone:

I think that’s an improvement.  I followed similar steps for Sarah’s portrait.  Here’s the original:

And after a spin through PSE:

 I think I managed to create some nice looking color out of not perfect shooting conditions.  Was this cheating, Scott?  I know the idea was to create nice conditions with your camera and light, but I’ve had some people tell me the post-processing is nearly as important as the original picture taking.  I’m not a huge fan of processing.  Most of the shots I post are SOOC except for some cropping, but I thought these subjects benefited from some tweaking.  I’d love to hear your thoughts.


  1. Those are beautiful! I’m still working on portraits of my girls… got Sara the other day, and the plan was to get Mel today, but we got rained out. There’s always tomorrow (I hope!)

    I don’t think you cheated at all. Of course you should always try to get the best image in-camera, but there’s nothing wrong with a little post processing.
    The originals do look a bit cool, and you could have gotten warmer tones by changing your white balance to shady. I made that same mistake with Sara’s portraits the other day 😛

    Comment by thedailyclick — September 25, 2010 @ 7:22 pm | Reply

    • Thank you, Michaela. Oh, yeah, white balance! That really would have helped – I left white balance and ISO on auto because I just wasn’t sure what I was going to see when we got to the apple orchard, then I started clicking away and forgot to give those things consideration. I will look forward to seeing your portraits!

      Comment by Karma — September 26, 2010 @ 8:54 am | Reply

      • Yup, my white balance is on Auto most of the time, too, except for those rare occasions that I remember to change it.
        ISO I keep at 200 and change that if necessary.

        Comment by thedailyclick — September 26, 2010 @ 11:24 am

  2. These are beautiful shots, Karma. You had beautiful subjects to start out with, of course. 🙂

    I don’t think post processing is cheating (but I don’t recall Scott’s rules so he may think differently). There was a time when I didn’t care for post processing but it has grown on me over the past year or two. I did an engagement shoot (for my youngest son and his, then, fiancee). Post processing made some of the not-so-good shots look almost-great.

    Comment by Robin — September 25, 2010 @ 8:29 pm | Reply

    • Thank you, Robin. It will be interesting to see what Scott has to say on the subject. I keep wondering if I should try for a “do-over” before Wednesday’s due date, but I don’t know what the chances of catching the girls again, willing to pose before then!

      Comment by Karma — September 26, 2010 @ 8:57 am | Reply

  3. Isn’t it great what you can do with post-processing these days… The work you’ve done on the shots is amazing and really warms the images up…

    Comment by FS Photography — September 26, 2010 @ 4:53 am | Reply

    • Thanks, Brian. I’ll never be great with photoshop, unlike one funky photographer, but I do like having the option to improve a shot.

      Comment by Karma — September 26, 2010 @ 8:59 am | Reply

  4. Great job and beautiful subjects! The post-processing that you did improved to coloring immensely. As the previous commenter stated they really warmed up the shots!

    Comment by Becky Sue — September 26, 2010 @ 4:37 pm | Reply

    • Thanks, Becky – I know you’ve said in the past that posed portraits aren’t your thing, so I’ll take this as a big compliment! 🙂

      Comment by Karma — September 26, 2010 @ 8:37 pm | Reply

  5. […] involves Portraiture.  Karma tried her hand (or camera, as the case happens to be) at it here.  Kathy helped spread the word about the assignment here.  With all that blogging about it, I […]

    Pingback by The Queen of the Mums « Life in the Bogs — September 26, 2010 @ 5:43 pm | Reply

  6. Oh what gorgeous pictures of them! Great job and I am actually thrilled to see you embrace a little post-processing! It’s great when you can get it just right SOOC, but I don’t think there’s anything at all wrong with bringing out the best with a little Photoshop, discretely applied.

    Comment by Jennifer A (Bread and Putter) — September 26, 2010 @ 8:05 pm | Reply

    • Thank you. It’s especially nice to hear from you that you feel my photoshopping was “discreetly applied” since you know the girls. I did do a bit of >>ahem<< blemish removal in the course of softening their skin!

      Comment by Karma — September 26, 2010 @ 8:39 pm | Reply

  7. The warming up of the colors made such a difference! The only thing I can do with Photoshop is crop pictures and re-size them for the web so I’m lost about settings and such things. But I think the portraits are beautiful and I like the changes you made. What do your daughters think of them?

    Comment by Barbara — September 27, 2010 @ 10:17 pm | Reply

    • Believe me, Barbara, that was pretty much the only thing I could do too until I got my book. Scott Kelby writes in plain English and gives straightforward directions on how to do the things most people want to be able to do with their photos. I use the book virtually every time I edit!
      Sarah thought it was pretty cool that I could get rid of certain teenage facial blemishes in her shot. I don’t think Meghan has had a look yet.

      Comment by Karma — September 28, 2010 @ 12:20 pm | Reply

  8. Nope, not cheating. The digital darkroom is a big part of today’s photography. Photos we would have had to put up with years ago from a lab can now be saved. Of course, next time, try the Cloudy white balance setting which is perfect for subjects in shadows.

    Comment by Scott Thomas Photography — October 5, 2010 @ 8:04 pm | Reply

    • Thanks, Scott. In addition to “cloudy” my camera also has a white balance setting for “shade” ! **smacking self in head for not thinking of that**

      Comment by Karma — October 6, 2010 @ 10:25 pm | Reply

  9. Both the cropping and the warm tones has really improved both photos, even they were sweet from the beginning.

    Comment by giiid — October 6, 2010 @ 10:15 am | Reply

    • Thank you, giiid! And thanks for stopping by the blog.

      Comment by Karma — October 6, 2010 @ 4:38 pm | Reply

  10. I like the warm tones of the portraits,and would never have thought to use the Cloudy white balance setting suggested by Scott.

    Comment by Nye — October 6, 2010 @ 10:05 pm | Reply

    • Thank you, Nye, and thanks for stopping by. I’m wishing I remembered to stop and change that white balance. I even have a “shade” setting that probably would have been just right.

      Comment by Karma — October 6, 2010 @ 10:26 pm | Reply

  11. […] Karma was also out picking apples with her family when she captured her daughters under the trees.  Though the portraits didn’t come out of the camera to her liking, she used the digital darkroom to adjust them into lovely autumn portraits. […]

    Pingback by Assignment 9: Recap « Views Infinitum — October 11, 2010 @ 6:34 am | Reply

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