Each artist must find a workflow that suits them, so by no means is what I’m about to outline any sort of portrait editing scripture. This is what works for me! Let’s walk through my entire process with one image so you can see what I see.
STEP 1. LIGHTROOM
Ah yes, the ever-present Lightroom versus Adobe Camera Raw debate. Lightroom is where I got started prior to learning to edit in Photoshop. It was my comfort zone, it still works—no complaints! Once I’ve selected my chosen image, I always enable profile corrections to remove any lens distortion and then crop to my desired ratio. For portrait orientation, my preferred crop is 4:5. I typically shoot underexposed, as you can see from the RAW image. I find this helps me to achieve my desired look in post-production, and I make any initial modifications to my tone at this point. My super secret: I almost always hit auto just to see what Lightroom will choose! About 50% of the time, the program’s choices are not too far off from my personal preference, and I will make small tweaks from there. As seen in the accompanying screen shot, I’ve brought my highlights down completely and have raised my shadows to prepare the image for a “painterly” look. I have scaled up my whites to balance the loss of highlights. Since the color in this image is fairly simple, I have not made any changes to my HSL; however, I will should an image call for it.
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