Cut me some slack…I lived in Texas for 8 years. Shooting in the snow was a new experience for me when we moved to Virginia. And I discovered it is pretty tricky. All that brilliant, reflective snow blinds the eye and really wreaks havoc on your camera’s light meter. Getting a properly exposed shot takes some trial and error. And a little trip through Photoshop.
Here is my original image:
I am actually glad I did not expose the girls correctly because then the snow would have lost all definition. As it is, I can work to bring more light to their faces without further brightening the already very bright snow.
Even though this is a JPEG, I bring it into Adobe Camera Raw, which is akin to Lightroom, by clicking Command+R on a Mac. I do not want to make any universal changes to this image because the areas of highlight and shadow are so pronounced. So I am going to work with the Adjustment Brush. I first applied the brush with an exposure increase over the girls. I then clicked New and used a negative exposure to darken the edges and the snow:
I added the slightest bit of Fill Light, under the Basic Tab:
I added a bit of Sharpening, under the Detail Tab, because I know I missed focus a bit on my wiggly ladies:
My final step in ACR was to add some Vignette, under the Effects Tab, which helped to further darken the edges:
I am now ready to go into Photoshop CS5 with this image:
I want to be very careful, as I work to enhance the girls, not to blow out (more than was already done in camera) more of the snow and the sky. I love using a Curves Layer to brighten my subject, so I start there. I raise the midpoint until I like the brightness I achieve. (Remember, I am only looking at their faces right now. I will “repair” any damage to the background in the next step.) The downfall of upping the midpoint as far as I did is that the dark areas are also effected, making the faces look muddy and lacking density. So I need to bring the dark end of the curve back down.
To erase the brightness added by the Curves Layer, I select the Brush Tool, ensuring I have the black color swatch showing since I am using it on a white layer mask (seen over in the Layers Palette). I chose a feathered brush at 91%, trying to avoid creating a halo effect around the girls, which would make my handiwork in PS more obvious.
I also added a Levels Layer, handling it much the same way as I did the Curves Layer: work on the girls, then go back and erase it on the background areas.
And we have arrived at the Final Image:
The “Before & After” Images
Julie Rivera, owner of Julie Rivera Photography, is an untalented but enthusiastic singer, a dedicated treadmill jogger, a mom to two young girls and one teenage boy and a pretty open blogger sharing her trials and triumphs with photography and motherhood on her blog. Be sure to follow along on Facebook, too!
Now it’s your turn!
Join us in our free Photography Community tomorrow for Fix-it Friday. At that time you will be able to download a high-res version of Julie’s fun photo, edit it in your own style, and share your results with the other members in our forum. Not a member of our I Heart Faces Community? Be sure to join today!
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