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Beef it up!


Time for an update: I still use film, though. Not vast quantities, but I have a darkroom, and I'm not afraid to use it.

I enjoy every image I take: I hope you'll enjoy looking at them.
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Beef it up!

19 Nov 2021 10:31AM   Views : 526 Unique : 313


Very often, thereís an incredibly simple thing to do to give a picture a slightly more impressive feel. So often correct exposure means but many of the tones are a bit wishy washy. This blog is about two simple ways to deal with this and give your pictures a bit more weight.

One of them Ė quite typically for ways to improve things Ė is expensive. Buy Imagenomic skin-softening software as a plugin for Photoshop and you wave bye-bye to over £100, though I have to say that I havenít regretted buying it and I love what it does to the tones in pictures. Iím particularly fond of the low-key option, and often apply it then reduce the opacity.


But thereís a simpler and quicker route, and itís much cheaper. Simply use Levels and move the midtones slider to the right. This will darken the midtones, and I find that this often makes the difference between an image looking pale and lightweight, and looking full-blooded and impressive.

Give it a try today. And if youíre feeling flush, Imagenomic tend to offer a discount around Black Friday.



dudler Plus
19 2.0k 1967 England
19 Nov 2021 10:31AM
Top to bottom: SOOC, Imagenomic version, and Levels edit.
chase Plus
17 2.5k 668 England
19 Nov 2021 12:34PM
Looks like almost the same outcome with a simple levels layer carefully applied...I just saved £100 Smile
dark_lord Plus
18 3.0k 835 England
19 Nov 2021 1:15PM
If Imagenomic works well for poprtraits and someone does a lot of them then it's money well spent. If it's just for tweaks that can be acomplished by simpler (and cheaper) methods, then stick with yoiur main editing software.

It's interesting as to how we process images differently so I hope you don't mind me having a go with the top image.

This reminds me of the look of an inexpensive machine print from negative film where, despite efforts by the potographer with regards to expopsure, all the automatic colouir and exposure averaging in the printing process the result is wishy washy. That's no criticism John it's also a characteristic of many digital files. And I guess a reason behind the title of this blog.
So I downloaded the image which incidentally was in jpg and not webp format.

in my mod (I'm in Critique Gallery mode!) I made a Curves adjustment to boost colour and contrast and a second to darkn the midtones. These were followed by some warming of the colour balance.

I could have tried Nik's Viveza but as that's a now paid for plugin we're in the same situation of deciding whether to spend money or use 'conventional' tools.

dudler Plus
19 2.0k 1967 England
19 Nov 2021 2:15PM
Thanks, Keith. Another route to a better result.

My main concern is that everyone needs to polish the image. Straight Out Of Camera is a poor second.
cooky Plus
18 6 8 United Kingdom
19 Nov 2021 8:43PM
But sometimes John, just sometimes, that magic happens...

A lover of as less mess as possible - so shoot me!

James124 Plus
7 61 53 Portugal
20 Nov 2021 11:54AM
I very often use curves (in DxO) to the same end, and sometimes when exposing manually under-expose a fraction, which gives better colour rendition too.
FredColon 3 2 United Kingdom
20 Nov 2021 3:46PM
Another approach:

I use GIMP, but I believe the same mechanisms exist in Photoshop...

Try duplicating the image to create a new layer and then setting the mode to 'multiply'.

You can the adjust the strength of the effect by altering the opacity of the top layer. When you're happy, flatten the image and (if necessary) adjust brightness.

I find it's a quick win for boosting both contrast and saturation when shooting in slightly hazy conditions - or when taking photos through a window where the pane[s] of glass don't help image quality.

If you're really adventurous (or want to spend some time experimenting) try also applying an unsharp mask to the duplicated layer.
dudler Plus
19 2.0k 1967 England
20 Nov 2021 4:26PM
Curves is the sophisticated route!

Boosting contrast and colour are also useful adjustments that most pictures need, though darkening midtones is sometimes whatís required, and itís not an adjustment Iíve read about much.

As soon as you use the highlights and shadows sliders, youíre altering contrast. What Iíve outlined doesnít. But the change is worth it!
AltImages 2 4
20 Nov 2021 10:59PM
John you made reference to Imagenomic skin-softening software. For quick skin retouching I use Portrait Pro (the cheapest version is free standing and works with 8bit images as tif files. You can pick it up for not much more than £20 with online discount codes and coupons). You can change everything from face and mouth shape, model's makeup, and even the direction of your lighting! Here's an example of what it can do: Beyond that I use Color Efex and Silver Efex. I bought the original Color Efex when it was $199. Then I bought the whole Nik suite just before Google made it free! Anyway my point is that the Google Nik suite was and still is legitimate fully functioning freeware as a Photoshop plugin (and can be run alone with a little effort too) and is still widely available for download for free on the Internet.
dudler Plus
19 2.0k 1967 England
21 Nov 2021 12:27PM
Thanks, Paul.

I've got a version of Portrait Pro, and use it very little indeed. It tends to excess - I know it's controllable with care, but really, I can't be bothered. Imagenomic is different, and softens very subtly - and it does wonderful, interesting things with tones, as here. I'm not saying that everyone should have it - but for me, it's become as much a part of my technical armoury as my Lensbaby optics and beauty dish. In the same way, while I love my Alpha 7 camera, I know some people hate them, and can't get on with them. And there are definitely cheaper ways to achieve the same quality, at least for a few pictures (that would be large format film...)

My big point was that the Levels adjustment can improve many shots in 5 seconds, and at no extra cost in software. That stands...
AltImages 2 4
21 Nov 2021 1:07PM
I suppose that it depends on what we're used to. I must say that it made me chuckle to hear that you said, as a lens baby user, that Portrait Pro wasn't subtle enough for you! Lol. Fyi, Portrait Pro does have a slider at the top of every menu that allows you to reduce that effect down to zero. I don't use it much either, maybe for just one shoot in maybe 20.

I agree with adjusting levels. That's definitely important and a quick fix, though I tend to use curves instead and start with a bulge in the middle, but have the option to go towards an S-shape if need be.

I've still not done much with my beauty dish, but will do in time.
dudler Plus
19 2.0k 1967 England
21 Nov 2021 3:14PM
I suppose that I have a bit of a bias against digital trickery, but can live with weird lenses more easily...

There's some sort of integrity to an imperfect lens: I find it hard to see the same thing in software that is intended to distort, rather than something that fails to render clearly. We all have our mental kinks...
AltImages 2 4
21 Nov 2021 3:29PM
I'm sure you're right. I must admit that I still prefer the look of images where the soft focus is added in-camera (like here with the glass from a 6x6 anti Newton in front of the lens rather than doing it in Photoshop). NSFW warning:
dudler Plus
19 2.0k 1967 England
21 Nov 2021 3:45PM
Dare I say that doing things in camera is a more elegant solution? Like a 3-line geometrical proof, rather than a 25-liner...
AltImages 2 4
21 Nov 2021 3:56PM
Definitely. Photoshop is for those who can't, or are too lazy, to get things right first time in-camera, which explains why I've been reliant on Photoshop since version 4 came out in 1996!!!
Robert51 14 11 133 United Kingdom
21 Nov 2021 5:33PM
I also use a Levels adjustment layer just as you described above to bring that final balance John.

I think PS does take a time to learn and by the time you get the hang of it your too old to remember where everything is...
dudler Plus
19 2.0k 1967 England
23 Nov 2021 3:54PM
For anyone interested, Imagenomic have announced their 30% off sale (this is on 23 November, 2021).

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