Professional Portrait Retouching: Frequency Separation

I admit it!  It's been way too long since I've done a blog post.  I could rattle off excuses, but what's the point?  Let's get on with the blog post:  Recently I put together a photo project with a local company, Pro Kneads, who was looking to create some images for their web site.  I'm surely going to post some of them to my portfolio, soon.  However, I wanted to make a quick blog post of some of the retouching work that I did.  Retouching faces can be quite challenging.  As a photographer, I want to preserve detail while eliminating blemishes, color patches, and any blotchiness.  So many photographers do it the easy way and remove all the skin texture, giving almost a smooth, plastic look.  In all honesty, that approach is fine for the right client, for certain budgets.  I prefer more realistic retouching techniques.  I'll often use a technique called frequency separation.  Name aside, it's a technique that allows me to retouch the color separately from the texture, which allows me to retain a natural looking appearance, and who doesn't want that?

Below is the before image, alongside the retouched, after image.  I think you'll agree that the transformation is not only amazing, but also very beautiful and flattering.  

Portrait, before retouching

Portrait, after retouching

   Furthermore, I do want to add that the client was looking for a dramatic, contrasty image that had blues in the shadows and blacks.  That's the reason for the color tone and treatment here.  Here's the final image as delivered to my client:  

Final portrait for client's web site

Final portrait for client's web site

Lastly, the client was looking for an image that conveyed the fact that their services were mobile--that they come to their client's home.  That's why we captured this image outdoors using studio lights to get that great light for the client.  

Headshots & Portraits of Actor / Model

I'd met Indianapolis actor and model, Arron Patterson, quite some time ago, and we'd been wanting to get together and do a shoot, but he also wanted to get some new headshots and portraits.  He was looking for something a bit edgy with a lot of contrast, so I setup a three light setup to get a really great effect.  

Headshot of Actor Model

Headshot of Actor Model Black & White

We shot against a grey seamless background.  I used my Nikon D610 with my Tamron 70-200 lens.  I had three Paul C Buff Einstein E640s:  one in a gridded octobox to camera right, and two in gridded strip boxes behind the model to both the right and the left.  Those two strip boxes gave some really nice edge light to the portrait.

Portrait of Actor Model

After capturing the images we wanted we started playing around a bit.  He also took a call from his wife, and I kept snapping away, capturing a few life style shots of him with his phone.

Portrait of Actor Model with Phone

Arron also wanted to mix it up a bit by doing some martial arts style kicks.  These were fun.

Portrait of Actor Model Kicking

All in all we had a really fun shoot, and were able to get the professional looking images that he was looking for.

Mountain Bike Stuntman, Jeff Lenosky

Last weekend I had a chance to work with Jeff Lenosky, an American world class professional Freeride and Trials Mountain Bicycle Rider.

Jeff Lenosky jumping his mountain bike over some brave little fans.

I connected with Jeff on Facebook, in hopes of catching up with him for his show here in Indianapolis at Bicycle Garage Indy, and making some great images of him doing his amazing stunts.  It was an absolute blast getting to know Jeff, and working with him.  I shot five of his six shows, and by the fifth one I was starting to dial it in, and get myself positioned in better and better spots to get some good shots.  I even wiggled my Jeep into a spot behind his stunt obstacles and trailers to get an elevated shooting perspective.  I wanted to be able to get Jeff some great photos that he can use with his sponsors (e.g., Giant Bicycles, Vittoria, and Ergon Bike).  All in all, it was a really good shoot.  Next time I want to focus a little more on some of his key sponsors and get some detail shots of their products.      

Flashback Cardinal Photo Composite

Almost two years ago it snowed--much like it did last night--and I set out to do a composite of all the cardinals that were flooding our back yard.  I set the camera out on a tripod to capture multiple images of the cardinals as the flew around, perched on the fence, and plucked seed from the bird feeder.  Then I layered all the images together, pulling out the cardinals from each image layer in order to build the final composite.  I wish it had been a sunnier day, but I really like the final image.


Photo Composite of Cardinals from (Originally shot 2/2/2014)

Squirrel Brunch - iPhonography

Our little friend came for brunch on this rainy, Saturday morning. We can tell him apart from the other squirrels in our back yard because his right ear is shorter than his left. And, because he's the friendly one. He's been coming around for a couple of years now. We can feed him from our hand, as you see my wife doing here.  I snapped this picture with my iPhone, and edited it with Snapseed. 

Our little squirrel friend coming for brunch  

Our little squirrel friend coming for brunch  

Source: http://tttytyyt

Photo Composite & Manipulation - Boy on Rhino

I just created a new photo composite.  I spent some time over the Christmas & New Year holidays practicing and working on my Photoshop compositing and photo manipulation techniques.  I grabbed multiple images that I had taken, and slowly started putting them together.  For the background I used an image of Multnomah Falls, in Oregon, that I captured when I was there.  I used an image of my nephew to add a human element--plus, he's just plain cute.  I composited in images of a rhinoceros, an elephant, and a bird that I had taken at the Indianapolis Zoo.  The Parthenon was taken in Nashville Tennessee.  The bridge was from Meadow Park Lake in Crossville, TN.  The steps and doors were taken here in Indianapolis, but the alligator was not--it was from our trip to New Orleans.  There's a few other pieces from here and there, but all of them were captured by me.  

Photo manipulation & composite of a boy on rhinoceros near a waterfall

Photo manipulation & composite of a boy on rhinoceros near a waterfall

Real Estate & Exterior Architecture Photography in Indianapolis

I had a great opportunity to work with a local Indianapolis resident to create some images of his beautiful, new home on Eagle Creek Reservoir.  We worked with a local aerial imaging company to make some great aerial images of the property, highlighting its waterfront location.  I also wanted to create a real nice 'hero' shot of the home, by using a multiple strobe technique to highlight various features of the home, that would otherwise fall a little dark or a little flat.  With both the aerial images and the ground-level images I made a number of retouching enhancements in Photoshop:  cleaning up the driveway, doing a little virtual lawn maintenance, removing distractions, dodging and burning a little bit, and I even did a little sky replacement to add to the overall feel.  

Here are a few of the aerial images that we created, and fully retouched.

Aerial Real Estate Photography Indianapolis (1)

Aerial Real Estate Photography Indianapolis (1)

Aerial Real Estate Photography Indianapolis (2)

Aerial Real Estate Photography Indianapolis (2)

Aerial Real Estate Photography Indianapolis (3)

Aerial Real Estate Photography Indianapolis (3)

Here is the final ground-level image of this beautiful home.

Exterior Architectural Real Estate Photography on Eagle Creek Reservoir, Indianapolis, IN

Exterior Architectural Real Estate Photography on Eagle Creek Reservoir, Indianapolis, IN

CX Photo Store Launch -- Indy Downtown Poster

Today I launch the CX Photo Works Store.  I've had a number of folks interested in my panoramic photo composite of downtown Indianapolis Indiana.  I've been working with a great local printer to have these printed as 12" x 36" posters, suitable for framing.  

CX Photo Store OPEN for business -- Downtown Indianapolis 12" x 36" poster.

CX Photo Store OPEN for business -- Downtown Indianapolis 12" x 36" poster.

Purchase on-line, right on my website.  These will begin shipping in early December.  If you're looking for suitable frames, I've provided several links to 12" x 36" frames on Amazon for your consideration, right in the store.  

I'm pretty excited about this Store launch!  But, what I'm most excited about is the future opportunities that this may bring.  I'd definitely much rather be out creating more new and exciting images.  I love creating new works.  I'd love to work with some interested businesses, cities, or organizations that might want to put together creative photography projects to represent their brand.  Contact me, if you'd like to--or if you know anyone who would like to--talk to me about such a creative project:  for advertising, web site, marketing, etc.  

8 Things to Consider When Hiring an Architectural Photographer

Do you have a home, office, building, or venue that you want to have professionally photographed?  There are a number of things that you should think about and consider when hiring an architectural photographer.  I hope these few tips will be helpful for you.

Interior Architectural Photography by Kevin Medlin of CX Photo Works

Interior Architectural Photography by Kevin Medlin of CX Photo Works

  1. The Photographer’s Approach:  Will the photographer meet with you to discuss your goals, what you’re looking to accomplish, and how you plan to use the images?  It’s always best to begin with the end in mind, in order to put together a strategy and plan to meet the needs of the client.  Creating a shot list with the photographer will help ensure that everyone is on the same page, and clarify expectations.
  2. Styling & Tidying:  Who will perform any needed straightening, or cleaning of the space or venue in order to have a more efficient and effective photo shoot?  And, who will provide the styling:  furniture placement, pillows, flower vases, bowls of fruit, and other details?  These small touches will make dramatic differences in the final image.  Some photographers may have stylists that they can pull in on a project (for an additional fee).  Also, the importance of vacuuming, mopping, dusting, cleaning, and removing streaks and smudges can’t be under estimated.  The smallest things can stick out like a sore thumb in a photo, and they’re much easier to move or remove in advance, than in Photoshop.  Make sure the photographer has considered these things, or even included them in the estimate.
  3. Scouting:  Will the photographer scout the home, space, or venue in advance?  Time of day, angles, and existing lighting can all make a big difference.  A photographer that will take the time to understand the conditions will be better prepared to address challenges and approach the project in a way that will show it in its best light.
  4. Quality & Characteristics of Photography:  What is the photographer’s style?  Most photographers have a look or style.  Generally that style has some level of consistency.  Therefore, when choosing a photographer it’s important to consider whether or not their style is in line with the needs and vision that you may have for the project.  
  5. Time:  A home can take a day to photograph—maybe a half day for one or two rooms.  A larger venue may take even longer.  A skilled photographer is not just going to snap a picture, but will work to identify the best angle(s), bring in additional lighting, or even composite multiple images together, adding accent lights to key focal points one at a time.  Such an approach and techniques take time, and will result in much more appealing results.
  6. Cost:  An architectural photographer may charge between $1,000 and $3,000 per day.  A price like that often includes the creative fee (i.e., the fee for the actual photographic work); the cost of any assistant(s); and digital corrections, retouching, and processing fees.  Such post processing may add anywhere from $30 to $90 per image to the total cost of the shoot.  You may consider hiring younger photographers looking to build their portfolios.  They may charge less as they work to grow their client base and build experience.  Additional assistants, styling, equipment rental, or travel may increase the final costs.  
  7. Image Delivery:  Photography for a home may include anywhere from 8 to 20 images.  Image counts for other spaces or venues may vary, therefore it’s important to agree upon a shot list prior to the shoot to make certain that the number and type of images get captured and delivered.  As for delivery, these days images can be easily transmitted via email or via such services as Dropbox or via FTP, making it very simple to download images via the Internet.  When images are needed for use on web sites, having the photographer provide images in various sizes and formats to fit those specific needs should be considered (i.e., smaller file sizes load faster on web pages).     
  8. Ownership:  A photographer typically retains the copyright for the images.  Clients typically purchase usage, or a usage license that outlines such things as length of time, location(s), media, and specific uses.  Usage license fees often vary based on distribution:  magazines that are seen by millions command greater usage fees than those seen by hundreds.  

CX Photo Works’ experience in this area is growing, but we have the skills, discipline, and professionalism to help make your next architectural photo project a success.  Contact us so that we can discuss your goals, and learn more about what you’re trying to accomplish.

Advertising Photography Mt Dew Cliff Climber On Spec

I had an idea/concept for a guy hanging from a cliff, that ultimately morphed into Mt Dew (on spec) advertisement photography shoot.  All of the elements of this composite image were captured by me:  I scouted and captured the cliff in Shades State Park in Indiana; the bear was captured at the Indianapolis Zoo; I used my roof, and a vine cut from my back yard to get the perspective, angle, and lighting right for the climber; and snapped the Mt Dew shot as well.  I pulled it altogether in Photoshop:  matching color, saturation, luminosity, and adding some light streaks to bring the final image together.  

Mt Dew Cliff Climber concept composite components, and final image.