Simple Portraiture Editing

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Shooting portraits with either your smartphone or your camera is fun, but the next step is to edit the photos before sharing them or archived in your image library.


This quick tip tutorial will look at desktop tools such as Lightroom, Photoshop and smartphone apps that you can edit while on the go.


In Lightroom, you can crop and straighten the image using the Crop & Straighten Tool in Lightroom.


Step 1: Cropping


Try to capture as many details as possible when shooting portraits using an 85mm lens or even a 105mm lens to get closer to the subject. Or you can try to shoot an environmental portrait using a 35mm or 50mm lens.


However, there will be times when the subject is further than necessary, or you want to exclude certain elements from the frame, and cropping is the way to do it.


If you are cropping way too much, be prepared that you may not have enough resolution to keep the quality of the image for printing. So the best policy is to shoot as close to what you envisioned but give yourself a bit of space to crop just in case.


Step 2: Straighten the Image


The portrait may look good, but any elements in the picture, such as a tree in the background, will make the photo look odd if I do not straighten it.


The horizon is another element you must take care to straighten in post-editing.


Correct the image by using the rotate tool and use other elements such as a tree, a building or even a lamp post to help straighten the picture.


White Balance Selector Tool (that looks like a Lab Dropper) is used to determine where is the white colour in the image and Lightroom will adjust the colour automatically.


Step 3: White / Colour Balance


Colour balance means how the image should look like natural lighting. While it is fun to tweak the colour temperature and tint to evoke a particular look, it is best to take a photo as a regular photo and create a copy to experiment with colour.


Use the Colour Balance tool to correct the colour using a white/grey dipper tool to choose subjects in the frame that are supposed to be white. You can then fine-tune the colour using the temperate and tint sliders.



In Lightroom, once you select the Masking Tool (that looks like a wheel) at the top, you can choose the Brush Tool and increase the exposure setting. Take the brush and draw on the iris to brighten the eyes.


Step 4: Brighten the Eyes


Take the brush tool and add brightness to the eyes. Brightening the eyes will have two effects: it energises the subject and creates a more dynamic image overall.


Step 5: Spot Removal


Use the clone tool to get rid of slight blemishes such as dark spots, pimples or perhaps. When using the clone tool, ensure that the source is close to the cloned area to maintain the same exposure as the rest of the area of the face.


Go to the same masking tool on top and then choose the Effect setting as “Soften Skin” and brush through the face.


Step 6: Smoothen


You can utilise the Adjustment Brush Tool in Photoshop for this by selecting the brush tool with the Skin Smooth option under the Effect menu.


I usually would not use this effect as it takes away too much of the natural skin tones and natural look, so use this judiciously with long strokes along the contours of the face.


Step 7: Mouth Operation


Another enhancement you can do is to do a bit of dentistry to the image. Use the brush tool with the exposure set to +0.3 to make the teeth stand out a wee bit.


You can also use the brush tool to add a bit of vibrance to the lips. Make sure you don’t go overboard with the editing, otherwise, it will just look like a typical Meitu look.