Before and After — Paola in Black and White

The Before and After series focuses on the two or three key creative choices, in terms of composition and processing, that go into creating an image.  Specific technical details about the shot have been left out — you won’t hear me talking about tone curve adjustments and whatnot unless it was a key component of the end result.

Paola poses in the late afternoon sun.


  • Shutter:  1/400
  • Aperture:  f/2.8
  • ISO: 400
  • Camera:  Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III
  • Lens:  Canon EF 135mm f/2.0L USM

Composition and Processing

  • It’s pretty common practice to apply some degree of smoothing to the skin when you process a portrait shot.  There are lots of great methods and tools for doing this (I favor the Portraiture plug-in for Photoshop), but the risk of overdoing it is that you lose all skin texture and your model turns into a plastic mannequin.  In this case I went really light on it and manually touched up a few spots in order to preserve the nice gradients resulting from the lighting setup and Paola’s inherent skin tones.  On a pale blonde that might not have worked so well.
  • This is a pretty conventional pose, but a useful one.  The arms both fold back up toward the face, leading the eye in that direction.


March 04 2012 07:18 pm | Photography

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