March Madness: 23; Retouching a Headshot

March Madness: 23; Retouching a Headshot

Portrait/Head shot Retouching Tutorial:

By Alex Baker

Most portraits need some amount of retouching in Photoshop to help them look their best, and to an extent, many clients expect it. The most important thing to remember when retouching is to do everything on a separate layer so that you can easily go back to an earlier stage in the process, delete a layer or reduce the opacity of a layer if things have gone a little too far. My final PSD files have more layers than an onion! A really great retouch in my opinion doesn’t look as though it’s been retouched at all – the skin should retain all of it’s texture and not look plastic or soft, and (especially important with a portrait or headshot) the subject should still look like themselves (albeit after a really great night’s sleep!). I especially find working on skin to be quite rewarding (maybe I don’t get out enough…) and below you will find my methods for retouching. As anyone familiar with Photoshop will know, there are many different ways to achieve similar results, this is merely my preferred method. As you will see I almost never use frequency separation unless I absolutely have to so this will not be covered in this tutorial (there are many great ones online for this). I always keep the brushes at 100% opacity and just adjust the flow.


March Madness: 20; Making the Image by Making the Shadow

David Travis is a Project 52 member, and a quite wonderful photographer. For the Still Life Class, the assignment was to create powerful images using a “point source” light which would create a powerful shadow.

In fact, the shadow should define the subject in many ways/

This image uses the shadow to make a visual pun. Can you see it?

Lighting setup below.

Without the shadow, we would not have much information about the subject.

Lighting setup below.

March Madness: 16; Photographing a CD Cover

March Madness: 16; Photographing a CD Cover


By Alex Baker

I was asked by a local string quintet to create some images to be used for their debut cd which they recorded in December. I’ve made a few album covers before and although you can go in pretty much any direction, there are a few things to keep in mind in the process. There are three routes you can take in general:

1. Portraits or group portraits of the musicians. This is very appropriate for a new or starting out musician or ensemble, an individual artist, or one which is establishing a strong brand or identity.

2. Images inspired by the mood of the music, the composer or period of time the music was composed in. This could be a landscape image or piece of art contemporary to the time of composition and is a very common approach with classical music.

3. A more conceptual approach. This is also common in pop or rock music, or contemporary classical and jazz. You can pretty much go anywhere with this one, let the music or lyrics inspire you.

We chose a conceptual approach that would represent the 5 string players through still life images of parts of partially made string instruments and wood (see the bus video below).

The technicalities were very simple: one strobe, shoot through umbrella, a myriad of reflectors and flags. I used a shallow depth of field (f2.8) on a 50mm lens.

The post processing was also very simple as we wanted to retain a very raw natural quality: a small amount of healing out any impurities that were distracting, color correction, slight desaturation and contrast added.

We weren’t given the final dimensions of the cd so I submitted Tiff files to the record label of both a square crop and the uncropped image. The record label has the final decision on which images will be used.