Every photographer wants to see some RAW on cooked images.
I’ve prepared this post to give people an idea of my workflow.
Here’s how my uncooked file looks like (Converted to JPEG for smaller file size)
Gear: Sony A7R II, 70-200mm f/4 OSS FE G @109mm, F/4, 1/125sec, ISO-400
Broncolor Scorro E + parabolic 122 for my main light. Sidelights are just the broncolor 1600w with reflector. (only used Modeling lights for this shot)
Blue gel, camera left. Red gel, camera right.
1. skin retouching. Separation frequency. Trust me, it’s far more superior than your ordinary clone stamp/healing brush.
Dodge and burn is your friend. This process even out all the blotches of the skin.
Digital skin texture. After stirring your ingredients, it’s time to blend some of the flavors back to make sure it doesn’t look artificial.
Make sure to edit all skin shown as much as possible or else your edit will look incomplete. People seem to leave out arms, hands, fingers and only edit the face.
Image above is a 100% crop. See the details retained by proper skin retouching.
2. Eyes. The windows to the soul. When shooting portraits, this part gives life to your image. So on the raw files, make sure you get those catch lights.
Never remove eye bags unless you’re a pro retoucher. I’m not, so I just try to lighten them. It gives me a more natural look, any person has one.
3. Liquify. There’s always a nip or tuck somewhere and this tool is your scalpel. This tool makes you a certified digital surgeon. No one is a perfect but make sure not to overuse this tool.
4. Color Grade. Before I proceed with this step, I go for a coffee break or do something else for about 5 minutes. Why? because your eyes are tired from looking at the image and anything you do at this point will only look amazing to you. Seriously. Only after resting your eyes will you be able to see accurate colors again for your edit. This is my final tweak for colors. Contrast is added on this stage too.
5. Sharpening. Even if I shoot with a 42 MP camera. I still need to sharpen my images somewhere from 20-30%
I do all the retouching before converting an image to Black and White.
These are the added steps for my black and white images:
2. Dodge and burn.
3. Gradient map.
That’s it for my workflow. Go give it a try and let me know what you think. Cheers!