Generally speaking, I prefer clean simple edits. But sometimes images need a little extra editing to fully realize the vision I had while taking them.
This image is one where I knew what I wanted, but my almost three year old wasn’t really in the mood where I could direct him (at all). He actually only came over to pester his sister who was playing in the floor by our front door. I encourage my kiddos to play near our front door, when the weather is nice, I open it to the storm door so there’s almost always gorgeous light in this area.
When he sat down, I immediately noticed how the soft light accentuated his still chubby little cheeks, he may be growing out of the baby stage way too fast for my liking, but occasionally I get little glimpses into the past. He’s always had gorgeous eyelashes (it’s always my boys that have the best eyelashes!) So when he glanced down at his sister’s toys, I snapped this shot.
Settings: I was shooting with my 24-70L at 60mm | f/2.8 | ISO 640 | ss 1/320.
I sharpened the RAW file in Canon’s RAW editing software (Digital Photo Professional) and converted to .jpeg for further editing.
Then I opened the file in Lightroom 5 and ran one of my favorite presets from the CM (Clickin Moms) Film Art Presets. (These are also available for ACR but since I do most of my RAW edits in DPP, I bought the presets for use in Lightroom which I am trying to use more often). I used Moonstone with no adjustments and it gave the image the deeper, more serious feel I was hoping to achieve. I knew that it would darken the shadows from the empty space behind him and give the light on his face a more dramatic look.
I was tempted to leave the image as is, even though he’s composed with Rule of Thirds in mind, I didn’t really like that he was almost looking out of the frame, and I wanted to get rid of the white door if I could. Remember, when I snapped this shot, I was struck by the quick glimpse I had back to his sweet baby face that is changing every day. I wanted him to be looking back into the frame, “at the past”, instead of forward, “into the future”.
I felt that if I flipped the image horizontally it would help achieve the story I wanted to tell.
I opened the edited image in Photoshop for a little more tweaking.
First I used the Lasso tool to select the dark background to the left and my son.
I made a new layer (from copy) and then from Edit>Transform>Flip Horizontal
I used a soft eraser 55 px, with a 15% hardness and erased the edges around his shirt, as I got up to his shoulder/face/hair where I wanted a more precise eraser, I changed the eraser size to 15 px, and 25% hardness, and then zoomed into 100% view in PS so I could be sure to be as precise as possible. It takes a bit of patience and experimenting, but I was able to get this erased in probably 2 minutes.
I cropped my image a bit more since the highlights in his hair were a bit distracting and I ran another action by Tracy Bradbury called, “Bornite” at 30% opacity to achieve my final image.
This edit is a bit different from what I usually do. I usually try to get the vision to play out as I am shooting so that there’s very little editing to be done. However there are times when your subject won’t be in just the right spot and with a few simple tools and tricks, like flipping the canvas and erasing layers- you can create the image you intended all along.