Creative Portrait Photography, part 2

Editing a traditional studio portrait

In the first part of this article, we explored two different creative approaches to similar photos. In this part, we’ll see the traditional studio portrait editing against a white background, give it a classic film look, then batch apply that same look to multiple photos!

There is also a video version of this tip at the end, which will cover some of the same info, will have a lot of other tidbits, and may not include everything listed in this article. In other-words… enjoy both!

Thinking about the Batch Process

There are multiple ways to go about this of course; I’m going to process these using Photoshop as the host, and use the Nik Collection plugin Color Efex Pro. The process for doing this is quite simple, actually, but you do need to plan it in advance. All you have you to remember to do is to start recording an action before you jump into the plugin, then whoever you do in the Nik plugin can be batch-applied to any number of images using that action. If you forget to start recording though, I’ll tell you how to work around that at the end.

I find it best to open all the photos you’re planning to batch at once in Camera Raw, so you can get them all looking the same to begin with. Balance their exposure and do any raw retouching here that you want to. You can either open the image normally and retouch on the pixel level, then save that as a TIF, which makes those TIF files ready for batch processing, OR you can do all of your work in Camera RAW, close the app without actually saving anything, and all of your changes will be saved tot he XML file, so when you open the RAW file for the batch process, those changes will already be there. I’m going to do the later; work entirely with RAW files.

Open the RAW photos

So first up, open all those RAW images! Go through and do any color/exposure balancing you need, retouch blemishes, add radial gradients to dodge and burn, etc. This is actually just like working in Lightroom at this point! When you’re done, open one of the images as a Smart Object by holding down the shift key so the Open Image button becomes Open Object.

Start Recording an Action

Under the Action tab (Window > Actions), press the New button, give it a name, and hit OK. It will automatically start recording.

If you forget to hit record before moving into the Nik plugin, or even just realized later that you should have been recording this, that’s no problem. Just save your progress in the Nik plugin as a recipe (preset), back out of there and start recording an action. Head back into the plugin, load your preset, and continue where you left off!

Time to use Color Efex pro 4!

With the Smart Object layer selected, load your plugin of choice. I’m going to choose Color Efex Pro 4 for this one.

I usually advise to start with presets, simply because it’s a great way to explore the possibilities, and potentially be inspired to take your image in a new direction. But in

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