Touch-Up Tuesday: Bridal Portraits
My husband’s cousin and I went to college together. In fact, my husband and I met on MySpace (you remember myspace, right?) after he saw me as a friend on her page. I remember that Sayrah was a little shocked that my husband was able to convince me to go out with him…or something to that effect. Anyways, Sayrah has recently started her own blog: Dress Your Best…For Less – she’s got a natural eye for fashion…and for finding the look for less, so check her out. 

While visiting the family a couple of weekends ago, we talked “shop” for a little while and she mentioned that she’d love for me to work my magic on a couple of her bridal portraits. Now, I normally wouldn’t touch another photographer’s work but I know there are a number of ladies out there that would love to touch up some of their bridal and/or wedding photos…and I’d love to be able to share a few tricks with you. Here is the original:
Sarah Bridal 2 Before DO NOT COPY
There’s really nothing wrong with this picture – it’s clear that the photographer was using natural light and kept her processing pretty simple. However, it’d be great to brighten up her whole face. So, I opened the photo in Adobe Camera Raw. I auto corrected the white balance and adjusted the settings: 
  • Recovery: 2
  • Brightness: +51
  • Contrast: -25
I then opened the photo in Photoshop Elements and adjusted the curves. If you’re using Photoshop Elements, you will need to download a curves action. I recommend Grants Tools. His tools will also give you layer masks (you can also download layer masks through Coffeeshop Photography).

Click HERE for my Getting Started tutorial – it will direct you to a number of other actions and tools you may find helpful during the editing process. I am in the process of replacing one of my steps (Squeaky Clean – no longer a freebie, so I need to replace that step for all of my readers).
Sarah Bridal 2 Before 1
Anyways, I should have done a screen capture of the curves action. Typically, I want to pull down the left side just a little and pull up the right side to balance out the light. In some cases, you may overshoot. Fortunately, you will have a layer masks to remove the effect from part of the photo. Remember this: 

WHITE LAYER MASK = Use BLACK brush to paint OFF the effect. 
BLACK LAYER MASK = Use WHITE brush to paint ON the effect.

As you can see above…on the right I’ve included a blank white layer mask. On the left, you can see that I’ve painted off part of the adjustment I’ve made. From that point, I adjusted the levels to again focus on brightening up the left side of her face. The right side of her face is still overexposed, but we will correct that in a couple of steps.
Sarah Bridal 2 Before 2
I typically adjust all of my photos on these levels for a brighter feel to my photos (unless I’m going for some sort of dramatic effect). 

Next, I used Morgan Kervin’s Eye Love Sparkle effect. I’ve included the layers below to reinforce the concept that if you have a BLACK layer mask, you will paint ON the effect using a WHITE brush. Another piece of advice…keep your brush opacities low. I recommend using something in the range of 30% opacity and then using the layer to even further the opacity for a gentle effect.
ScreenHunter_04 Sep. 13 19.11
I then did something that I haven’t done in months…I decided to use Coffeeshop Photography’s Baby PowderRoom action. Rita also has a regular PowderRoom action, but I have always loved using the Baby version. Moderation is really key when using PowderRoom. Use light opacity brushes and lower your opacities for a desired effect…otherwise, your photos will look heavy handed…and no body wants that. I decided it would be helpful to share what that might look like (disclosure – I was trying to reproduce my original edit, so this isn’t exactly what I did with my after shot below, but close). 

A few of you have asked for more information regarding layers. The great thing about layers is that each layer applies a specific effect to the photo. If you don’t like the effect…you can simply delete the layer without majorly affecting the photo. Heck, if you don’t like a series of layers, you can select them all and delete to get back to your original photo. For more on layers, I found this book – Layers: The Complete Guide to Photoshop’s Most Powerful Feature. 
ScreenHunter_05 Sep. 13 19.19
To finalize Sayrah’s photo, I used Amy McMaster’s Berries N’ Cream action (if you’ve paid any attention to my blog, you know this is one of my favorites). I typically lower the berries and raw sugar layers and remove any effect from the eyes. I merged those layers…created a duplicate layer and then used the duplicate layer to burn around her face (and in the corners) until I was satisfied. I also used another duplicate layer, set to soft light (black layer mask) and painted over her lips to bring them out just a hint.

So, without further discussion…here is the before and after. What do you think?
Sarah Bridal 2 Before and After

And just for fun…here is another one of her photos.
Sarah Bridal 1 Before and After

What questions do you have? 

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