Many amateur and professional photographers have discovered the almost limitless potential of Photoshop software – they can change textures, apply all kinds of artful filters, make additions or corrections to photographs, and even combine unlikely images into a single image. One area where Photoshop becomes an incredibly useful tool is in portrait photography.
For example, most professional photographers are now capturing all of their images in the RAW format because of its functionality in the Photoshop program. The larger file size captures a broader range of color and makes for a much better, less “noisier” print. The traditional JPG format that most people use for their photographs asks for certain camera settings and may eliminate a great deal of the control that photographers want when taking professional and portrait images.
If you are unsure about RAW, think of it as a digital photo that has the original image information as it comes off the sensor before the camera processes it so you can do extra processing afterwards on your computer with Photoshop or other digital editing applications.
To be more precise in this definition, each tiny pixel that makes up your digital photo only captures one color in a conservative sensor. This information is about 10 or 12 bits per pixel, with 12 bits per pixel is really the most common in average digital cameras. This information is easily stored as a RAW file.
Dp review states “Even though the TIFF file only retains 8 bits/channel of information, it will take up twice the storage space because it has three 8 bit color channels versus one 12 bit RAW channel. JPEG addresses this issue by compression, at the cost of image quality. So RAW offers the best of both worlds as it preserves the original color bit depth and image quality and saves storage space compared to TIFF. Some cameras offer nearly lossless compressed RAW.”
Back to our portraits….Even though the portrait photographer generally has control over the environment or placement of their subject there are still many times that corrections or enhancements will be needed on an image. For example, a well staged group photo may still present a case of red eye if a flash was used. Photoshop software has built in tools especially designed to recognize and eliminate this unsightly issue wherever it appears. You can learn how to use it here.
Additionally, the old darkroom technique of “airbrushing” away flaws is a much easier task in Photoshop. For example, wrinkles and fine lines on the face can be masked away, teeth and eyes can be whitened and brightened, and even scars or pimples can be eliminated with a few simple procedures.
Photoshop also presents some incredibly creative options for portrait photographers as well. For example, recreating vintage “pin up” photos has become an incredibly popular way of using the Photoshop tool palette. Some photographers can take a detailed black and white image, convert it to a sepia photo and use the tools in the Photoshop program to add “makeup” or coloration and deliver an end result that is strikingly similar to an old-fashioned “hand colored” photograph.
The software can also make corrections to issues that were not recognized in the studio, such as photographs that were somehow under or over exposed, color saturation that leaves the image incorrectly hued and almost any other issue imaginable.
Millions of professional photographers rely on Photoshop to correct and improve portrait photographs as well as to make both aesthetic and creative alterations. These are the main reasons the program is so incredibly popular and why most photographers are encouraged to learn how to use it for their own work.
By Amy Renfrey