Photography Lesson #7 – The Miracle of the S, J, B & O’s
Posted by Ryan at November 12th, 2010
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Ahhh… This is where the truth is discovered. Today’s markets of photographs are in the digital age. Thus bringing in the digital darkroom, Photoshop. This is where the “miracles” happen. I am going to coin this phrase: “Not everyone is perfect. That’s why Adobe created Photoshop.” (Copyright Ryan E Hulse Productions, All rights reserved) Just kidding, but seriously, it’s mine!
Now, back to the miracle. If you aren’t using Photoshop then the reference to the S,J,B & O’s would not make sense to you at all or you don’t know the keyboard shortcuts to these wonderful tools. I’ll explain what each letter does below. What better way to demonstrate this process then by showing you the steps in photographs, right? I don’t want to offend any of my clients or animals that I have photographed so I have decided to use my own face to show you how it’s done. (Please, don’t be horrified!)
Okay… here is the original image that I took of myself. I know its flattering, taken from my point and shoot camera. This is to demonstrate the power of these tools. As you can see there is lots of shiny skin, pimples (stress of grad school finals), blemishes, scars, redness, pores and anything else that I failed to mention. Basic mug shot if I’d say so myself. At least my hair looks good right?! Now let’s get to the tools. (As I go keep referring to the original photo)
“S” – Clone stamp tool – This is a tool that copies a pre-selected pixel area to copy. In the original there is a harsh shadow that is to the right side of my face, your left looking at it. I want to get rid of that. By pressing the Alt key, you see a cross hair icon appear. This shows you what you are aiming for to copy. Depending on the size of your brush and softness determines how it is going to copy. Here is what I did to get rid of the shadow.
“J” – These tools are a series of a Spot healing brush tool, healing brush tool, patch tool and red eye tool. I call these the quick fix or the zit popper tools for short. What they do is match the color of the pixels in the selected pixel area and attempt to copy from the surrounding areas. The science behind how its done, I am really not sure of but it works with a few clicks to get rid of pores, pimples, blemishes, wrinkles, baggy eyes, scars and whatever else may be growing or oozing from your face. I used these tools to give myself a free facial treatment. See the results… compared to the original. Starting to look good ehh?! (TIP: the smaller the brush and the more frequent clicks, better results for making a less noticeable change to the image)
“B” – Brush tool – This is where the fun begins! Here you are painting on someone’s face. Airbrushing is more of the term for this tool. What I like to do here is select a color matching in the area I want to brush over using the eyedropper tool… or when the brush tool is selected, press the Alt key. Much like the Clone Stamp tool, click the color you want to copy and paint away. This pretty much erases the pores on the skin and gives a soft skin look. Also helps in getting rid of shine and redness too. Lots of practice is needed with this too! Took me awhile to get used to it, still I don’t know it all. (TIP: the lower the opacity and the softer the brush the more natural it looks)
“O” – These are another series of tools that take time to play with. You need to study the face in different styles of lighting to understand what the darker (shadow) parts are and the lighter (highlights) are. These tools are called the burning (darker), dodging (lighter) and sponge tool (desaturate or erase color – Black and White) Using these tools I replaced the natural shadows on my face and made it look less like I was wearing a ton of caked on makeup. Then I burned the background to make my face stand out more. This is a highly dramatic step I took here but something that I like to do. Vignetting is the technical photo term here. Now you are done! How do I look nice?! Remember, less is more with this step.
These miracle tools are a fundamental part of the editing process for portrait work in photography. There are lots of other tools, filters, blenders, layers and everything that Photoshop has to offer to keep making the pictures better. Me teaching you that over the blog might take forever. Though, I plan on keeping up the posts so stick around, practice these tools, mix and match them on your subjects. I am not giving away all of my secrets just yet, so here is my work on the final image. The before and after is scary in that I can make myself look good! Right?! Keep shooting all… enjoy!