Image Breakdown - "Unapologetic"

Updated: Jan 27, 2020

In this post we walk through the editing of my picture of Tobi, titled, "Unapologetic".

Original, Lightroom edited and Photoshop final edit.
Original, Lightroom edited and Photoshop final edit.


Ever need an easy bright and colourful shot? Head to an arcade or theme park. This picture of Tobi was taken on a shoot for YFA Hair in a pop-up theme park at the RDS Dublin. It was actually fairly easy to edit. The picture is substantially back-lit, but plenty of fill light to light the subject. The colours in the image are quite strong and vibrant making for my favorite type of image to edit.

Analysing the original photo..

If you look at the image prior to Photoshop (Ps), the way it was taken leans into a certain direction while being shot at a low angle to create a sense swinging motion and sense of flow. I slowed down my shutter speed (while compensating for exposure), tilted the camera slightly and shot it at a low angle to get this. I didn't want to slow it down too much as I'd lose sharpness of my subject. I asked her to hold out her hair to further effect the motion, kinda like she's swinging into the shot. An issue with the image being backlit and very bright is we kinda of lose our subject, especially with so much going on in the background. This could have been corrected in Lightroom (Lr) but I prefer to take it to Ps as it offers more control. I was thinking to add more motion blur to the image and make colour adjustments to increase colour contrast and separate her from the background.

Lightroom Edit


I'm not going to go through the individual setting in Lr cause we'd be here ages but I kicked off the edit with a preset I recently developed. The presets I use, I've developed over the last few years. I'm always making adjustments to them or making new ones all together. They tend to do the heavy lifting in terms of setting the base colours before I head into Ps to tweak them. Of course applying a preset is never the end of a Lr edit. As every image is different, adjustments always need to be made. The ones I made in this include, tint, temperature, shadows etc. as seen here.


Heading into Ps, I was feeling to add more motion blur to the image to further separate her from the background. You have to be careful how much as it'll look unrealistic if you don't account for depth perception. This was done by drawing out her outline using the Wand tool and then invert my selection, and creating a layer mask. A layer mask allows you to apply settings to certain parts of the image (the parts which we selected by drawing her outline and inverting it in this case). Layers mask selections can be altered in many ways including but not limited to; the Brush tool, Gradient tool, Lasso tool, etc. The motion blur effect is then applied to the picture containing the mask and everything apart from her will be affected.

Using the same layer mask I added a dust spec image to the picture and added motion blur to this dust spec layer. This was done to add a bit more drama to the photo.

I followed up these edits with adjustments to the colour using the Hue & Saturation adjustment layer. A cool trick is to use a clipping mask and attach it to the layer mask (clipping mask 'clips' a layer to another) that has the background selected. This way, again only the background will be affected. A bit of colour theory can be applied here, i.e. complementary colours. Complementary colours in an image is one of the best ways to naturally create contrast and make your subject stand out. In this case I made adjustments based on what I thought looked good. I could have added more greens to contrast the reds but I was feeling a more turquoise/blue hue. Plus with the oranges in the picture, it worked

well (Orange contrast's blue well, here's a link to the colour wheel).

Final adjustments to the image were Dodge & Burn to add a bit more definition to the subject and a few final adjustments which include settings to achieve my "look".

A lot of information there and I'm not sure how much of it you'll be able to understand but I hope you learned something. I am looking into making YouTube videos soon. Also, I offer a 3 hr introductory class into editing in Lr & Ps. which would help you get

into the right mindset for taking and developing your photos. Hit me up with a request here to book a class.

42 views0 comments