So there’s maybe more bungles that people would make if they didn’t know any better or were just starting off. I figured that there could be some extra help in identifying some of the more recent blunders that have been popping up more often in communities that I’m associated with. Before you read this, make sure that you’ve read Beware of these 5 Beginners Blunders in Post Processing Portraits. It’ll help you put all of this into good light. It really isn’t a big super deal if you do any of these. If you find yourself doing something that’s on the list, make a change and hopefully you’ll be able to keep progressing towards the photographer you’d want to be! We want to see progress! So, without further ado, lets get into it.
In the previous post about post-processing portraits, we painfully poked at plastic skin. I’ve noticed more and more beginning photographers using the blur tool directly on the skin. Personally, I don’t think anyone should ever use the blur tool on skin. EVAR. Let me clarify that. There are techniques that use blur for retouching skin, but it isn’t directly applied to the skin. In fact, just don’t ever blur the skin. Blur can be effectively applied on backgrounds and on layer masks to help remove distractions and soften the edges of a transition or even as an underlying process to editing skin. But let me reiterate just one important thing… don’t blur the skin. EVAR.
Liquifying can come in handy when post processing portraits. It is so powerful and can be pleasantly and unseeingly applied to images if done correctly. If it’s done wrong, then it can easily be nominated for one of the “Photoshop Fail” awards. It’s safe to say that the liquify tool is what people relate to the most when they think of the pseudo-verb “Photoshop”, and there’s good reason to. When it’s done wrong, it is done horribly wrong and everyone is able to tell. The biggest give away of a horribly liquified image is the obvious bent or strangely curved line that is supposed to be straight. When you’re liquifying, you want to remember that subtlety is your friend. Small movements.
3. Super-punching the eyeballs
There are many people with gorgeous eyeballs. Sometimes they are captured well, and other times, they aren’t. But when you’re trying to add some “pop” and “punch” to an help enhance those eyeballs that are already pretty punchy, something strange happens. I’m pretty sure her eyeballs are a pretty and rich brown, not a radioactively glowing brown, although I do admit that she does look pretty cool like that… That punch sometimes is caused by abused tools, which leads me to number 5 in today’s list.
4. Overuse/misuse of Clarity in Lightroom
Much like a bunch of other sliders that are abused, the clarity slider is often misused in place of another slider or tool. I’m pretty sure that it doesn’t say “sharpen”, so stop using it to actually sharpen your portraits– there is one dedicated slider for that (which is one of those other abused sliders)! A couple months ago, everyone was all about the clarity slider, much like how people still are heavy on the contrast sliders today (although they won’t be able to help it, it’s like every app has an few enabling presets). It was a quick way to get an HDR style shot for landscapes. It quickly turned into a way to pull detail out on the skin for portraits, pullout details in eyes, and perhaps restore some other details that weren’t captured correctly when shot. This edit creats a very interesting (and sometimes cool) picture that screams “I maybe used other sliders, but I sure cranked the clarity up.”
5. Over vignetting
Oh the word “vignette”, it’s totally one of those photographer’s terms that makes you sound more legit, although half the photographers out there don’t know what it is, or what causes it… besides image editing software. Vignetting is a natural occurrence that is caused by light fall off– to be super simple and basic about it. Typically, this occurs naturally on wide angles lenses, but have often been artificially imposed on portraits through image editing software, add on optics to lenses and other accessories. A small amount can definitely draw some attention to the subject, but too much causes the subject to be drowned out by the dark edges and circular forms– even though it is often called “artsy”. Just like the first five I explained before, “While editing is a necessary skill to learn in photography, the best way to improve your photography is through the learning and application of the elements of composition and lighting. Once those are learned and applied, editing becomes much easier, and you’ll feel less of the need to over-do things and crank sliders to the MAX.” There shouldn’t be any shame if you end up doing something on this list. There definitely are pictures, sometimes portraits, that call for some extra oomph. Just be careful of overdoing an effect… or dragging a slider to the right.
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