Perfectly Clear for Landscapes

By Mark

Last week I wrote about how much I like this plug in for quickly and effectively editing portraits.  It also has settings for Landscapes and for fixing dark images.

With just basic Lightroom adjustments

With just basic Lightroom adjustments

With Perfectly Clear applied

With Perfectly Clear applied

I have to say that I don’t think it is quite as good on those as it is on people.   The top level menu is exactly the same.

The presets only impact the top part of the adjustment menu.

They pump up the vibrancy and detail and they certainly have a visible impact as can be seen from this side by side comparison. 

I like the effect on the sky and clouds, but am not thrilled with the color changes in the foreground.

The fix dark images preset actually does a nice job in brightening up those shadow areas while managing the noise levels those areas create. I think that it adds a strange glow however to the trees.  

Ireland3-259.jpg
Ireland3-259-Edit.jpg

Applying it to this nice water and castle crisped up the details and made both the sky and lake much more vibrant, but did nothing really special. 

Ireland3-288.jpg
Ireland3-288-Edit.jpg

I understand that the next update to the software plans on making significant improvements to the non-portrait features, so I am not giving up on them yet.  It’s just not going to displace some of the other tools in my bag of tricks for landscapes.  

Let me be Perfectly Clear

By Mark

 

A thousand years ago, last fall, we attended the Kelby training in DC. We had the chance to visit with Levi Sim and Rich Harrington from Photofocus who were demonstrating their new editing app. Perfectly Clear.  Originally developed to automate and speed up batch processing of photo shoots, they have released it as both as a stand-alone program and as plug-ins for Lightroom and Photoshop. The interfaces are very different from either program and are intended to be much more user friendly.

I've been very impressed at how well the results work and have been reprocessing some of my favorite portraits.  I've always liked the way that OnOne’s Perfect Portrait worked, but in some cases it was a bit over processed and looked too “retouched”.  So far, I've found it easier to get more subtle results much more quickly and in far less time.  Here are the “After “and “Before” images of what I was able to do to a photo of my sister.   

These adjustments took less than 2 minutes of work. 

The user interface is much simpler and the Presets Panel is really the easiest place to start. 

 They have 2 beginning points for people, Beautify and Beautify+.  Since I’m focusing on portraits for this one; this is what they look like when they are applied.   

Beautify

Beautify

Beautify+   Looks like a bit too much Botox

Beautify+   Looks like a bit too much Botox

You can tell that Beautify Plus really smooths out the skin, perhaps just a bit too much.

Luckily there is a very easy to use adjustment panel.  

The panel gives you precise control over most of the attributes you are trying to adjust. 

In the “Portrait”  sub-panel you can adjust just how smooth you want the skin to appear, how white you want the teeth to be and it will help you find and treat any pimples or other blemishes.

Face slimming is a smarter and much more controlled way to basically use the PS liquefy filter.  It subtly and realistically narrows the facial features.  It can counteract both camera induced and any natural jowls.

Jawline and collar subtly adjusted

Jawline and collar subtly adjusted

The “Eye” panel brightens the eyes and even fixes the Dark Circles and lines around the eyes. 

Dark Circles effect at 0, or off

Dark Circles effect at 0, or off

Voila--No more circles

Voila--No more circles

The “eye enlarge” helps achieve the popular model effect where bigger eyes are considered prettier.   You can easily go too far.

The SW also automates adding in a “catchlight” into your subjects eyes.   This gives them that extra “pop”, that you see in most magazine shots.

One of the things that make Perfectly Clear stand out is something you may not have noticed in these brief descriptions.  Nowhere along the way are you required to find and carefully select any of these features.   They have designed the algorithms to automatically and very accurately find them and only apply the effects in those areas.   Once you have made adjustments that suit you and your style, then you can save them as your own preset.   The software lets you batch process lots of images in the background, which can really speed up your workflow.     Next time, we will look at the other tools for working on landscapes and the tools for working on really dark images.

Home for the Holidays-Making a CD Cover

By Mark

It has been a month since Roger and I have had a chance to write and post a blog.  We have been in the midst of corporate transition and have been pretty overwhelmed.  Despite that, we have managed to stay busy with some photography projects.  One that I got to work on was an opportunity to help out a very talented musician surprise her family and friends with a Christmas CD.  The good news is that you can get your own copy of the CD for yourself at https://www.cdbaby.com/cd/amygodeaux

She needed a photo for a CD cover with a nice Christmas background and asked if I could help.  We started with a basic photoshoot.  I asked her to bring a couple of outfits in order to give us more options later.  I didn’t actually have an appropriate background but I knew we could create one later to meet her requirements.  I figured that I could just use the background of my unfinished basement insulation—turned out to have not been my best decision.  The photography was pretty simple.  I set the camera on f/8 and ISO 100.  I was using my 70-200 zoom lens.  It stayed right around the 85mm focal length, which is why Nikon’s 85mm f/1.4 is one of the premier portrait lenses.   We used a two flash set up.  One main one in front with my 60” soft box and the second one behind her right shoulder in order to create a nice rim/hair lighting effect.   Both units were set up with Pocket Wizards for control.   We wound up with the main light at about 50% power and the back light at about 15%. 

I’ve known Amy and her husband for quite a while, but she somehow has not aged much at all, so we got a good selection of shots to choose from.

My processing plan was intended to be pretty straightforward, but it proved challenging in two areas. I needed to:

1.       Perform general image wide adjustments

2.       Apply a minimal level of skin retouching

3.       Extract her from the background

4.       Replace the background with a better one and then ensure that it looked realistic.

I’m going to break the process up into two blogs to provide some details.

For any photo job where color control is important, which should be all of them, I began by having Amy hold my X-rite color checker.  When I started processing I would use that to set up a custom white balance profile for all the images in the set. 

More of a mug shot than a good photo--Sorry Amy!   I told her she didn't need to smile for this one.

More of a mug shot than a good photo--Sorry Amy!   I told her she didn't need to smile for this one.

I did a preliminary select from each pose and outfit to weed out any bad ones—only one with eyes closed.  I then found the best ones and did normal adjustments—mostly opening up the shadows a little bit and applying sharpening to the RAW images. 

I have several applications which are specifically designed to help do portrait retouching.  Typically, ladies skin gets “softened” a little bit, the eyes brightened as well as the teeth.  I actually ran the images through all three of my tools separately in order to compare the results.   I have OnOne Perfect 10, Nik and my newest one, Perfectly Clear.   I was impressed by the results from the last one especially.  

The images just looked better, but it was very difficult to see what was actually different.  At this point, I had 4 very nice images which I sent to Amy for her selection.

All that selection and  preliminary processing hadn’t taken that long, but are an important step before you send anything to a “client” even if they are a good friend.  You never want to show a bad image.  When she made her selection, the real fun and work started.  You can read about that next time.