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.