I've been wanting to do something like this for a while since I saw a couple other fellow photographers do it. It was just a matter of putting something together. What you'll see below is a set of 4 photos. The first one is labeled 1-RAW, which means that I shot it in RAW (as opposed to jpeg or tif). RAW creates a much larger file, but allows me to correct any "off" exposures or white balance (or a whole slew of other) issues later on. But this photo is shown as is. It's not a bad photo, but when I look at it, I see a gray overtone to it and think that Miriam's face is slightly underexposed.
This brings us to photo 2 labeled 2-ACR, which means that I tweaked it in Adobe Camera Raw. When you open a RAW photo (or NEF as Nikon calls it) in Photoshop, it automatically opens in ACR first. Typically I will bump up the exposure slightly, the contrast a good bit and add some vignette (the slight shading you see around the corners and edges). My camera tends to shoot things on the "cooler" side (read: blue) as well, so I often bump up the temperature to make the photo warmer.
Photo 3 is labeled 3-Boost & Crop. After the initial tweak in ACR I usually will then run at least one action on it. My absolute favorite action is Boost from The Pioneer Woman download star wars episode iii revenge of the sith dvd . My other oft-used actions are PW's B&W, Define & Sharpen and then several from the Totally Rad Action download contender the free set, including PRO Retouch (although I use PW's Bring on the Eyes! a lot now too). I will then save a jpeg version of the file and possibly a Photoshop version too, depending on the individual treatment of the photo.
Sometimes the photo or event calls for a different kind of treatment, which is what I did in Photo 4--Vintage. On this one I ran PW's Soft & Faded to give the image a unique look. Makes it look kind of old school, you think? After I run a unique action on a photo in a set, I will save it as an alternate (usually as "b") version of the original so that I can keep both.
This photo was originally shot at 1/320, f3.5, ISO500, 80mm zoom.
The good news is that the ACR work can be done in batches, especially if the same settings were used for the whole session, or bunches of photos at least. So that speeds up the process, but it can still be slow-going sometimes, which is why it usually takes me a few days to get portrait sessions up and usually a few weeks to get weddings up. I want your photos to look great, so it is worth the time and effort to me!
Let me know what you think about this post and the differences in the photos. Do you like them? Do you have questions about any particular part of the process? Email me or better yet--leave a comment!! :)