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Portraiture Post-Processing in Lightroom: How Many Faces Can One Portrait Have?
NOTE: Images with an icon next to them have been artificially shrunk to better fit your screen; click the icon to restore them, in place, to their regular size.
Stéphane's First Shot of The Day of me, with a touch of “deer in the headlights”, but usable on something like a driver's license 撮影勉強会の一枚目のスナップ.... ま〜ま〜オK photo by Stéphane Barbery; minor processing by me  --  Copyright 2012 Stéphane Barbery, http://www.flickr.com/photos/barbery
Nikon D4 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/200 sec, f/8, ISO 3600 — image data
Stéphane's First Shot of The Day
of me, with a touch of “deer in the headlights”, but usable on something like a driver's license
撮影勉強会の一枚目のスナップ.... ま〜ま〜オK
photo by Stéphane Barbery; minor processing by me

A week ago, I posted about another portraiture practice session with Stéphane Barbery, but then I lost my computer to the repair shop for two days. I've gotten it back, but have yet to look at the photos of me that he took, beyond the first two photos.

I've not looked beyond the first two photos because I've been busy.... such as with the new Lightroom plugin that I released yesterday, and with another portraiture/lighting practice session on Monday with Stéphane... but the main impediment to me looking at the photos has been my Lightroom curiosity with the second shot of the day.

Here's his second shot of the day:

Second Shot touched up just a bit in Lightroom 撮影勉強会の二枚目のスナップ. 何となく好き、これ。 photo by Stéphane Barbery; minor processing by me  --  Copyright 2012 Stéphane Barbery, http://www.flickr.com/photos/barbery
Nikon D4 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/200 sec, f/8, ISO 9000 — image data
Second Shot
touched up just a bit in Lightroom
撮影勉強会の二枚目のスナップ. 何となく好き、これ。
photo by Stéphane Barbery; minor processing by me

I'm still not comfortable seeing myself, but this has a certain something that I actually like, so for some reason I started playing with it in Lightroom, and was astounded at the range of looks I could come up with. (It perhaps helped the creative process that I was drinking beer and eating my favorite chicken, at Kyoto's ever-delicious Uroko restaurant, while working on these the day I got my computer back.)

I shouldn't have been surprised, because I've known for a long time that shooting in raw format gives you a lot of latitude during post processing, and even five years ago I was exploring the wild interpretations that Lightroom's controls afford, a learning concept I've repeated numerous times, such as here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here; these links are also listed, along with their post titles, in the “related posts” box at the end of the article.

Perhaps my surprise was merely because this is the first time to try this with a portrait.

Anyway, some of what we'll see below has artistic merit, I think, and some is just silly crazy, but the exploring is fun, so let's take a look at some of what I came up with. All images on the rest of this post are from the same original image as the one above, with the only difference being the treatment in Lightroom's develop module.

下の十四枚写真は上の「二枚目」と同じ原作ですが、違うのはアドビLightroomでのいろいろの現像の遊び。

Bit Moodier  --  Copyright 2012 Stéphane Barbery, http://www.flickr.com/photos/barbery
Bit Moodier
“Dave Hill” Look  --  Copyright 2012 Stéphane Barbery, http://www.flickr.com/photos/barbery
“Dave Hill” Look

Dave Hill is a photographer/Photoshopper who gained prominence five or six years ago for pioneering (or, at least, popularizing) a highly processed über-edgy high-contrast style. It's cliché now, but still works for some subjects (of which I am apparently not one).

To The Hilt All exposure sliders (plus clarity and vibrance) slammed to the hilt  --  Copyright 2012 Stéphane Barbery, http://www.flickr.com/photos/barbery
To The Hilt
All exposure sliders (plus clarity and vibrance) slammed to the hilt

Let's take “Moodier” and run that way a bit further...

“Mysterious” (?)  --  Copyright 2012 Stéphane Barbery, http://www.flickr.com/photos/barbery
“Mysterious” (?)
Dark Face  --  Copyright 2012 Stéphane Barbery, http://www.flickr.com/photos/barbery
Dark Face
“Mysterious” Flip Side  --  Copyright 2012 Stéphane Barbery, http://www.flickr.com/photos/barbery
“Mysterious” Flip Side
Bright Face  --  Copyright 2012 Stéphane Barbery, http://www.flickr.com/photos/barbery
Bright Face

Now let's try some black & white.

I'm a bit hesitant to try B&W in one sense, because I chose the particular Uniqlo ¥500 T-Shirt I was wearing because I knew I would post some shots, and knew my mom will like the color on me. But, for the sake of science, we'll forge ahead....

Sort of Standard B&W  --  Copyright 2012 Stéphane Barbery, http://www.flickr.com/photos/barbery
Sort of Standard B&W
A Bit More Edgy  --  Copyright 2012 Stéphane Barbery, http://www.flickr.com/photos/barbery
A Bit More Edgy
Really To The Hilt Same as “To The Hilt”, but with Saturation slammed to zero as well  --  Copyright 2012 Stéphane Barbery, http://www.flickr.com/photos/barbery
Really To The Hilt
Same as “To The Hilt”, but with Saturation slammed to zero as well
Duochrome getting silly (and not just a little creepy) now (Anthony said “It's... alien!” and got a bit freaked out)  --  Copyright 2012 Stéphane Barbery, http://www.flickr.com/photos/barbery
Duochrome
getting silly (and not just a little creepy) now
(Anthony said “It's... alien!” and got a bit freaked out)

Having just updated my “Freaky” Lightroom tone-curve presets for the “Razor Wire in Nagoya” post the other day, I was tempted by the challenge to see whether I could, in Lightroom alone, replace the blown-out white background with a dead black one:

Darkfield B&W  --  Copyright 2012 Stéphane Barbery, http://www.flickr.com/photos/barbery
Darkfield B&W

And really, once you start down that slippery slope of silliness, why stop there?
(It's a rhetorical question; don't answer.)

Cubic?  --  Copyright 2012 Stéphane Barbery, http://www.flickr.com/photos/barbery
Cubic?

It's sort of not fair to show all these versions on the same page, because your perception gets colored by what you've seen before; it would be more telling to look at each in isolation, if that were possible. Anyway, I think it's fun to explore (and at times overstep) the boundaries of what one can do with a portrait, both in artistic concept and in the practical sense of what Lightroom's develop controls allow.

For completeness, here's the original shot with no adjustments in Lightroom except for color balance....

Raw Shot straight out of camera, except for color balance  --  Copyright 2012 Stéphane Barbery, http://www.flickr.com/photos/barbery
Raw Shot
straight out of camera, except for color balance

Continued here...


Comments so far....

Interesting effects in your photos. In my own work I try to find a compromise between the styles that I like, compared to those preferred by the person in the portrait. Sometimes it helps to show the subject a “look book” of different portrait styles to help them decide what they like. Regards, Tom

— comment by Tom in SF on September 27th, 2012 at 4:12am JST (2 years, 1 month ago) comment permalink

Interesting series: it is always both enjoyable and illuminating when you share something new with us. I wonder whether the white background is ideal, though – indeed, does a formal portrait have to have a plain background ?

Have you read any books on portraiture that you would recommend ? The only one I have read is a 1939 Focal Press book that belonged to my father (a keen Leica-man): Photographing People, by Hugo van Wadenoyen. It is still worth a read, covering the range from 19th century formal portaits, to what must have been considered rather daring and adventurous in 1939, and has much about different lighting set-ups. I have to admit I have no idea what constitutes a formal portrait in the 21st century. Hoping for more posts on the same theme.

— comment by Peter in Wales on September 28th, 2012 at 12:53am JST (2 years, 1 month ago) comment permalink

Goog Job, I like so much this work.
Bye from Bologna- Italy , if you come here sen me an e-mail.

— comment by Marco Bersani on September 29th, 2012 at 10:46pm JST (2 years, 1 month ago) comment permalink
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