A Recipe for Soft, Natural Newborn Images

A Recipe for Soft, Natural Newborn Images


Today’s feature is from .

Kelly’s Photography Tip About Soft Newborn Images:

For this particular session, my clients wanted to keep it really simple and make each image purely about capturing their baby. To make sure I was able to accommodate their desires, I chose to use soft, neutral tones and textures so as not to distract.

My studio has an abundance of beautiful natural light. But, to keep with the soft, natural images, I used my sheer curtains to diffuse the light. I personally prefer this type of lighting because it gives the images that beautiful, soft look while also highlighting all of the baby’s features.

When positioning the baby, I like to light the area from a 45-degree angle. Then, I look for where the light falls across the baby – changing my exposure in camera to suit.

For camera settings, I generally shoot wide open at f2.8 which also contributes to that soft feel each image has.  In post, I used my ‘workflow action set’ to adjust the contrast, skin reds, and  give the images a nice warm tone for these newborn images.


Kelly used a Canon 5D Mark III with a Canon 24-70 f/2.8L lens to capture these images.

Kelly Brown is a Brisbane, Queensland, Australia Maternity and Newborn photographer.

Click here to see more tips on Lighting, Editing, and Camera Settings.

Online photo galleries are a great way to deliver your lovely images to your client, manage sales, etc. But a great way to maximize your sales per client is to do an in-person sales session with each of your portrait clients.

If you’ve never done them before, this can sound pretty intimidating – but believe me when I say you wouldn’t be the only one to feel that way. If you need a little help figuring out how to do an IPS (what to say, when to say it, etc.), there are guides out there to help you get started.


Sunset Minus 2 Hours For Romantic Pictures

Portrait in Forest

Today’s feature is from Sussie Mellstedt.

People are always looking for romantic pictures for inspiration.  This photographer has a great tips for creating portraits with that edge of romance. With some practice, you can make photos like these, too!

Sussie says:

“I was in a smaller city called Nettuno, 1 hour from Rome in Italy. I wanted to have variety of locations. So, I brought the beautiful couple to a forest, then later into the medieval city and ended the session by the ocean.”

Sussie’s Photography Tip for Romantic Pictures:

The gear that I use is Nikon d800 and the lens is Sigma FineArt 50mm. That’s it.

Less is more. I like to feel free as a photographer, to be able to be present as much as possible in the moment. So I prefer to work with natural light and that’s what I also did in this photo shoot.

I took the photos just a couple of hours before the sunset, in order to get softer and romantic light.

I usually use Pinterest or Belovelyyou to get some inspiration for the poses, but during the photo shoot I try to take it as it comes. Maybe I see something different or find a creative subject that I can play around with.

I also like to think in colours, so I always suggest the colours of the clothes that will suit the location. I’m a big fan of VSCO, it matches my photography style. It’s a filter that you can add either in LR or PS and it adds the film feeling over it.

I would say that the majority of my photos are romantic, dreamy and soft, so that is my goal during the editing process.

Hands in Forest
Legs in Forest
Portrait in the city
Kiss in the city
Jump of joy at beach
Portrait in forest, headshot.SussieMellstedt_7

Sussie used a Adorama Nikon D800 with a Sigma art 50mm lens to capture these romantic pictures.

Sussie Mellstedt is a Stockholm, New York, Rome Weddings, Portrait, Maternity, Fine Art photographer.

Click here for more tips about lighting, editing, and location.

Film images definitely invoke a certain feeling and emotion. But if you’re not comfortable shooting film, don’t worry!  There are tons of amazing film presets and actions out there to help you capture that film feel.

Creating Composite Images

Foxy baby boy final composite

Today’s tutorial is from Shannon Jilge.

When working with clients that are difficult to give direction to, you may need to what are called composite images. Shannon has some great ideas how to achieve this result!

Shannon says:

A composite image is final image that is made up from several similar images. Some of the most common types are eye swaps and head swaps. This technique is also used regularly and often in newborn portrait photography.

Being able to create a composite image in Photoshop gives you the freedom to do some newborn ‘poses’ that may be otherwise considered dangerous or unsafe if you were actually executing the pose you want to portray.

In this tutorial, I’ll walk you through the steps I take in creating an image composite of a newborn shoot that I did.

Things To Consider Before and During the Session

If you are shooting a difficult pose and know ahead of time that it will be a composite image, take extra shots and be very attentive to detail during the session to help reduce the amount of editing that you will have to do during post-processing.

Also make sure to try and take a shot of your setup before the client is posed; this will give you an image that shows all the elements of your setup that can be added via a layer mask as needed.

With the newborn fox image (at top of post), I knew it would require a spotter that would need to be edited out later so when I was shooting that pose I made sure that my images would line up easily by keeping my camera in the same spot and at the same angle.

The majority of the final image for that pose was made from 2 images – one for the left side and one for the right side (below).

Base image used for left side of final image

Base image with spotter's hands, used for right side of final image

Before Working on the Composite Images

Before I begin to work on a composite, I adjust the color balance and levels of all of the images I took in the session by doing a batch process in RAW.

By working in a batch, I guarantee that all of the images will have the same base adjustments and will blend together better in the final composite.

Choosing the Images

Once the basic adjustments are completed, I choose  the images that will be combined into the composite. When I do this, I make sure to choose images where the subject is posed at similar angles. If I can get the backgrounds to line up a bit too, that’s even better.

For this image of the twin girls, I had two cute photos but really wanted a final photo with both girls looking straight at me.

Here are the two images I used for the composite:

Twins base image, used for right side

Twins base image, used for left side

And here is the final composite:

Twin girls composite

Creating the Composite.

To do a composite like the one above, just a few steps are required.

After the basic level and color balance adjustments click have been made, click and drag one image onto the other in Photoshop, creating a new layer just above the background image.

Lower the transparency of the new layer to about 50 percent and adjust the size and placement of the layer so that your images line up.

Screen shot of layered files. The opacity of the second layer is lowered so it is easier to line them up.

Once the layers are lined up, increase your opacity back to 100 percent and create a layer mask by clicking:

  • Layer> layer mask> hide all.

This will make the top image invisible and you can begin painting in just the parts that are needed.

Make sure black and white are selected as your foreground and background colors, then click on the black layer mask and use a soft round brush and begin painting in white.

Start with an opacity of 35 percent and increase or decrease as needed. If the images are lined up well, simply paint over the parts that need to replaced and the hidden layer will appear.

If you find the images weren’t lined up quite right, just drag them into place as needed. As you paint watch to make sure you aren’t leaving extra hands, fingers or pieces of clothing where they shouldn’t be.

Masking in progress. There are one too many hands at this point and I need to paint a bit more.

Use a larger brush in big areas and decrease the brush size near edges and small details. If you paint too much, just switch to black and repaint the area.

Pro Tip: increase and decrease the brush size quickly by clicking the left and right bracket keys and switch easily between the foreground and background colors by clicking the X key.

After the main parts are completed, zoom in and check the little details, making sure there isn’t anything in the background that is out of place.

Zoom to check background details and paint the layer or clone out as needed. A final composite should look like a single image.

You may have to do a little bit of cloning in some areas but most of the time I’ve found this to be pretty minimal.

For the last step, save the file you’ve been working on as both a layered PSD file in case you need to come back later and make any further adjustments and as a jpg.

That’s All There Is To It!

Composites do require a bit of practice to master but once learned, it is a technique that will allow you to do more creative photo shoots and to present images that look just the way imagined them.

Shannon used a Canon EOS 50D (affiliate link) with a Canon 50mm f/1.4 lens (affiliate link), but this can be done with any lens and camera setup.

Shannon also recommends using Adobe Camera RAW and Photoshop CS 6 (affiliate link) to accomplish this particular technique.

Shannon Jilge is a Oklahoma City Newborn, Children, and Maternity photographer.

Click here to see more tips on Editing.

If you still need help navigating Photoshop, look no further than (affiliate link). There are hours upon hours of tutorials on various aspects of Photoshop.

Plus, click here (affiliate link) and you can check it all out for free for 7 days!

2014 Best Photography Editing Tips

Editing is where a lot of us put the finishing touches on any portrait session, and each of us has our own style.

We’ve collected some of the best photography editing tips we’ve received throughout the year and compiled them into one article, as well as listed out some of our favorite editing tools and resources. 

Shooting Hybrid

Some photographers even like shooting a hybrid of both digital and film, and using presets to match the digital images to the film images.

This is accomplished by using what’s called an anchor image, and specially-created presets that mimic the look and feel of film (see the examples below).

*Click on each image above to embiggen.

These images above were edited by Kirk Mastin using the aforementioned specialty presets, and he gives a detailed explanation on how to use them along with a detailed explanation of how to edit film + digital images in this article here.

Skin Tones

But regardless of whether or not you’re shooting all film, all digital, or a mix, nailing the skin tones is still one of the most important parts.

One of our featured senior portraits artists discusses her method for making sure her skin tones are on point every time, using a combination of an ExpoDisc while shooting and information from the histogram during editing.


Of course, sometimes even when you’re following the tips above, the skin tones still aren’t quite what you’re looking for.

This is especially common when working with infants and newborns, who can tend to have red, blotchy skin. To remedy this, one of our featured newborn photographers suggests reducing the reds (with a preset, action, or on your own), which will create a beautiful, creamy looking skin tone.


Image Detail and Background

Once you’ve gotten the skin tones exactly where you want them, it’s time to turn your attention to the rest of the image.

Many times while editing, you’ll expose for the subject’s skin and face, but it will leave the background/foreground completely washed out and lacking detail.

Which sometimes can be ok, if you’re going for that bright, hazy afternoon look like this example from one of our senior portrait photographers:


Even so, it’s still recommended to bump the contrast just a bit to make sure you keep in some of the image’s details.

If that still isn’t doing the trick, there’s more you can do in Photoshop like using the multiply adjustment layer with an inverted mask to help bring the detail and richness back into the images.

Here’s a lovely example of one of our glamour photographers that’s done just that with these gorgeous backlit images:


Using Levels in Photoshop

To put the finishing touches on an image, using Levels in Photoshop can help in a couple ways.

First, if you’re still not happy with the amount of detail in the background, you can create a duplicate layer of the image in Photoshop and then open up Levels and increase the blacks (which will make it look less washed out).

That’s what this family portrait photographer did to keep all of the background bright and fresh in this winter session:


Levels is also another great way to bump up the color of an image and really make them pop.


The photographer above used levels to adjust the colors just how she wanted, using a combination of the highlights/shadows/etc. sliders available in Levels.

Then, since sometimes that can create odd colors and affects in areas it’s not wanted, she added a photo mask over the levels layer and used the black paint brush to remove the effect from areas of the images it was unflattering.

And finally…

Editing can be a lot of fun to really play with new styles and looks. Some photographers think it’s important to pick one and stick with it, but there are others that argue that it’s not necessary and even believe it can help them stand out in a market that’s become somewhat saturated.


So don’t hesitate to play around, whether you find a new style and stick with it or are always pushing your own boundaries – hopefully these tips will get you started!

Here are some products that we recommend for editing post-production:

10723218_10152742030955926_649590239_nFor editing digital images to look like film, Mastin Labs film presets are really a great place to start. Crafted by someone who regularly shoots hybrid (digital and film simultaneously), it’s a tried and tested product with highly accurate results.

Screen Shot 2014-11-14 at 2.46.15 PMPhotography Concentrate creates some of the best guides and how-to tutorials that we’ve come across. And their Super Editing Photo Skills tutorial is no different. If you’re not familiar with Lightroom but would like to step up your editing game with one of the industry standard post-production programs, then we absolutely recommend this guide.

Screen Shot 2014-11-14 at 2.50.18 PM

If you’re looking for a way to switch up your editing, Colorvale’s actions (and presets) are a great place to start.  They have a variety of styles and color palettes, and all are easy to use and come at very reasonable prices.


Skin smoothing and blemish removal can really give an image a clean, finished look. Doing it by hand can really eat up your time though. We love and recommend the Portraiture plugin from Imagenomics, which automatically does a lot of the skin smoothing for you in just a click of the button.

before-after-72111-1024x337Black and white images are a great way to evoke emotion, but oftentimes just cutting the saturation doesn’t quite have the same affect because it’s important to remember that you must edit a black and white image differently than a color image, and Photography Concentrate has created a guide to show you how to do just that.

Screen Shot 2014-11-15 at 9.09.00 AMIf you’re not 100% comfortable yet with Lightroom or Photoshop, has dozens of videos on all things digital taught by industry-leading professionals.  Plus it allows you to have a 7-day free trial, so even if you don’t stick with it you can still learn a ton in one week!

Giveaway: B&W Before/After Guide

Black and white images can be a great way to really amp up the emotion in an image and re-focus an image to a certain expression or aspect in a way that a colored version just can’t.

You can try the automatic black and white settings, but a lot of times that just doesn’t cut it and your image doesn’t have the same pop you’ve imagined.

And there’s a reason for that – you have to approach editing black and white images differently than you approach editing colored images.

For example – that bicycle that was green in the colored version of the image is now the same color of gray as the background.

Here’s a great example to illustrate my point:


Many of the colors in the image on the left, once turned gray, were roughly the same color gray as the rest of the colors in the image.

But with a little knowledge on how editing black and white images work, you can really transform the image on the left into the very dramatic and stunning image on the right.

Here’s a little snippet of some of the things you’ll learn from Photography Concentrate in the tutorial:


Pretty cool stuff, huh?

To enter the giveaway, use the form below. If you’re on a mobile device, click here.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

If you’d like to get started with the guide right now, don’t wait to see if you won the giveaway – head on over here and check it out!

Good luck!



*Please note: some of the links in this post are affiliate links, and don’t affect you as the buyer but do help support us and keep this site free for everyone.

The Secret to Shooting Hybrid (Film + Digital)

Shooting both film and digital images at the same time is tricky, and many photographers avoid it because it’s difficult to get the digital images to consistently match the film images, and vice versa. Film + digital makes an effective hybrid.

How I Pull Off Film + Digital Images

The secret to shooting hybrid (film + digital) effectively is to use anchor images – in other words, a scan of a film image that you take during the session that you can refer back to when editing your digital files (see below for examples).

*Click on each image above to embiggen.

When I started incorporating film into my paid work I would shoot only a few rolls of film throughout the day. It was all I could afford to do in the beginning and still make a profit for that session.

I would shoot an anchor image every time I had a change in lighting conditions: ie. backlit for a portrait, and then open shade with a family formal or ceremony photo. As the lighting changed I would take a few more anchor images that I could use to refer to later.

Later, in post production when editing in Lightroom, I use the second monitor button in the bottom left hand corner of the Lightroom Development screen (shown below) to hold the anchor image in place and then use that image to match a similar digital image using my Mastin Labs presets.


This makes it super quick to get an exact match between your film images and your digital images and see how film handled that lighting situation in terms of white balance (warm/cool) and tint (green/magenta casts).

Once I have a similar digital image adjusted I can apply the same settings to all digital images in that group and make everything look like a cohesive set of film images.

As I started making more money from every shoot I increased the amount of film I shot, while still matching the digital images to the film images later in Lightroom.


I still prefer to shoot film for anything I can, as it goes beyond the look for me. I just love the method of working with film cameras and how it forces you to be in the omen with your subject.

It is also far less distracting for me to have no LCD screen to look at after every shot, since that seems to become a habit that is nearly impossible to break. Shooting film removes this ‘chimping’ habit completely.

Here are a couple final tips I have for you as well on combining both digital and film photography:

1. Film Development. Be sure to have your film developed at a good lab like The FIND Lab. They have skilled technicians that will produce great, high-quality scans on Fuji Frontiers, the king of all film scanners, for amazing color and depth.

2. Digital SOOC. Make sure to expose your digital images for proper or slight overexposure. This will give you a good base for applying film emulation presets like the ones I created for Mastin Labs, and will help you better match your digital images to your film images.

And to make it even easier for you to mimic my method, I’ve even provided a tutorial video of me editing an image in Lightroom here.

And there you are! I hope I’ve shed some light on shooting hybrid, and maybe convinced some of you that it’s not impossible and to give it a try. Please let me know if you have any questions about my article or my presets.



*Please note: some of the links in this post are affiliate links, and don’t affect you as the buyer but do help support us and keep this site free for everyone.

Achieving the Sun Flare

Bellevue, WA 2014 Senior

Today’s feature is from .

Felicia says:

“This was my defining session, where I decided that Senior Portraits were my “thing”. When you meet that perfect client, and have the most magical session of your life (so far), you better pay attention and make changes to your life and business to keep that good thing going.”

Felicia’s Photography Tip:

The back lighting in these images was the defining factor in my client choosing me as her Senior Portrait Photographer.

She loved the “glowy” feel, as she said, in some of my other work – a “glowy” feeling that before this session I would have described as a happy accident. Now, I know how to purposefully achieve this effect and get consistent results.

The only vital piece of equipment you need is a reflector. I love my 40″ 5-in-1 Westcott reflector, and for this shoot I used the silver side to get more contrast and highlights in the image (since back lighting your subject takes away from your details).

Here’s the fun part- you’re going to shoot right at the sun. The trick to not blinding yourself is to keep your eyes low in your viewfinder, and then adjust your camera until you can see your subject.

The more sun you keep in your view, the more of a glow you will get. For best results, take a few shots of the same pose, slightly adjusting each time to let in less sun.

Once you find what works for you, you’ll be able to power through the rest of your session.

The amazing thing about back lighting is that it can be done for any style of session, at any location, so long as you can find the sun.

Shooting during the Golden Hour will give you the same warm glow that these images have, whereas back lighting earlier in the day will give you more of a clean, white haze in your images.

In either case, the only adjustment I make in post is to increase the contrast levels to put a little more details back into the image in case I let in too much light in a certain spot. From there, edit to your personal taste!

This Senior wanted a Floral Crown, so of course I made that happen.
It's amazing what $8 in a Thrift Shop can get you!
Basking in the first sunny evening light of March.

Felicia used a Canon 6D with a Canon 85mm 1.8 lens to capture these images.

Felicia Sinclair is a Seattle, WA Senior Portraits photographer.

Click here to see more tips on Lighting and Editing.



*Please note: some of the links in this post are affiliate links, and don’t affect you as the buyer but do help support us and keep this site free for everyone.

Noiseware by Imagenomics Product Review

Beginning Note: A lot of these images will look better once enlarged, so I highly suggest viewing this post on a regular computer so you can click on each image and see the detail.

It will work on a smart phone or mobile device, but just be prepared to click on each image and zoom in – and you’ll be set!

Let’s face it. Not all lighting conditions are perfect. Sure, for a good portion of portraiture photography, you’re able to have pretty good control over the session’s lighting by use of off-camera flash, modifiers, studio lighting, etc.

But there are still times when either your equipment (or your location if you’re out of the studio) falls short of substantial amounts of light. Or if you also do weddings, you are all too aware of the effects of shooting in dark, non-ideal lighting conditions.

And your photos end up with a substantial amount of noise.

Sometimes, noise can be good, and can add another element of style to your images. But for the most part, it’s usually just really super annoying and degrades the quality of your image despite your best efforts to prevent it.

Programs like Lightroom do have a built-in noise reduction feature, but it can leave the subject’s skin looking a bit on the plastic-y side like the image shown on the right below (feel free to click to embiggen the image in a new tab to really see it well):


Photo courtesy of Amy Corrigan Photographer

I mean, sure, it worked, and the noise is gone, but it’s also a bit fake looking.

So how do you decrease the noise while still maintaining a real-looking photo (with non-plastic skin)?

Luckily, Imagenomics created a set of software to do just that – and it’s called Noiseware.

Yes, that’s right. The program is built just to handle photo noise.

I was able to take it for a spin recently and while I expected it to be a pretty cool piece of software, I wasn’t actually expecting it to be quite as thoroughly awesome as it really is.

Getting Started with Noiseware

Installation of the software was slick and easy. Literally, probably took me like, 30 seconds. To activate it in Photoshop (after you’ve imported a jpeg into Photoshop of course), you go through your Filters menu from Filters –> Imagenomics –> Noiseware.

And BOOM. You’re already rockin’ and rollin’.


Photo courtesy of Amy Corrigan Photographer

The plug-in is very easy to navigate, with three main sections you really need to pay attention to – the Settings panel (left-hand side), the image preview panel (center), and then the Navigator panel in the bottom right-hand corner that shows you where you are in the image in case you want to zoom in super far.

It’s not cluttered, it’s not complicated-looking, it’s laid out simply and elegantly. So we’re already off to a great start.

The Nitty Gritty

Once the image is brought into Noiseware, the software automatically calculates the amount of noise in the image and adjusts it accordingly. (Cool, right!?)

Which is why the image above already looks processed and like it doesn’t need any noise reduction – but you can actually see the original image here, and that it does contain some noise.

For images with a little to moderate amount of noise, I’ve found that the default import settings that the software applies are pretty spot on.

But of course, there are images that have a significant amount of noise, and some adjustments to the default need to be made.

First off, you can start with the presets, which are located in the upper left-hand corner at the top of the Settings panel. There’s a bunch of options to choose from, depending on whether the image you’re working with is a portrait, landscape, has a lot of noise, a little noise, etc.

noiseware-presetsAnd sometimes one of the presets will be good enough to do the job too.

But sometimes, it won’t. And this is where it gets really cool.

(…..ok I’m really excited about it, so just smile and pretend you’re excited too, ok?? For me??)

The Noise Level panel is where you control telling the software how much noise is present in the image, and the Noise Reduction panel allows you to actually perform the noise reduction.

Of course, the settings panel allows you to control the luminance for the overall image.

It also allows you to tell the software whether or not there’s more (or less) noise in the image than the software originally detected (that’s what the noise level box is for), giving you even more control over the image’s overall noise reduction. Like a filter, of sorts.

And then the Noise Reduction box allows you to perform the actual Noise Reduction on the image.

Below the main noise reduction panels, you’re left with the Detail, Frequency, and Tonal and Color Range panels.

I’m not going to go into great detail on each of these settings, but I will point out the parts of them that make Noiseware super ultra cool.

settings panel


The tab furthest to the left on the settings panel is the Detail panel.

This is where you protect the details in the image from being smoothed over when the software does its noise reduction.

Now, whereas the contrast slider leaves a bit to be desired, the sharpening option is pretty awesome, and can help redefine your edges once you’ve decided how much noise reduction your image needs.



The next tab over next to the Detail tab is the Frequency tab. And this is where you really get into the fine adjustments of the noise reduction.

When looking at noise in an image, there are predominantly four different sizes of noise grains – from the high frequency grains, which are the smallest, and the very low frequency grains, which are the largest.

The conditions under which the image was taken will affect the size of the noise and the dispersion throughout the image.

The frequency panel also works similarly to the main Noise Level and Noise Reduction box. The frequency Noise Level box allows you to tell the software if there is more (or less) noise in each frequency in the image than the software originally detected, and the Noise Reduction box allows you to control the amount of noise reduction for each frequency (or size of noise grain).

Clear as mud, right?

Let’s do some examples.

Screen Shot 2014-06-11 at 10.35.26 AM

Photo courtesy of Amy Corrigan Photographer

Take a look at the image above (and feel free to click the image to get a larger view as well). You can clearly see quite a bit of noise in the photo.

Looking at the size of the noise, I’m guessing that it falls within the mid- to high frequency range. So I’m going to increase the noise level and noise reduction in the mid- and high frequency range first, and see if that decreases the amount of grain.

Screen Shot 2014-06-11 at 10.36.14 AM

Photo courtesy of Amy Corrigan Photographer

Indeed, most of the noise has been removed from the image. The skin may be a bit smoother than I’d like; however, for instructional purposes this works fine.

Coincidentally, I’m guessing the original image had very little noise in the low and very low frequencies, but to make sure I’m going to reset the mid- and high frequencies and adjust the low and very low frequencies.

Screen Shot 2014-06-11 at 10.38.43 AM

Photo courtesy of Amy Corrigan Photographer

In the last image you’ll notice that the subject’s skin is smoother, but there’s more noise present than in the prior image. In the end, even though the majority of the noise lies in the higher frequencies, you’ll still want to adjust the lower frequencies alongside the higher ones to get optimal noise reduction.

And again, upon original startup of the plug-in the software will apply what it believes the optimal level of noise and noise reduction for each channel, and it may not even be something you need to tweak that much.

Tonal and Color Range

Screen Shot 2014-06-11 at 11.56.29 AM

The final tab in the lineup is the Tonal & Color Range tab.

Like the Frequency tab, it allows you to tell the software how much noise is present and then allows you to adjust the noise reduction in specific channels, except this time instead of it being for a frequency of noise, you’re changing the amount and level of noise reduction in the shadows, midtones, and highlights tones and in the seven color channels.

How cool is that?!

Ok, I thought it was super cool…..

I’ll give you a couple of examples.

Note the image below.


Photo courtesy of Tosha Cole Photography

You’ll notice a little bit of noise happening mostly around the subject, in the shadows tone and the blue color channel especially. So we have a little bit of noise here to work with.

First, I’ll give you an example of adjusting the noise within the shadow tone.


Photo courtesy of Tosha Cole Photography

In the photo to the left, you see the noise present in the shadows in the trees around the subject.

In the photo to the right, I told the software to reduce the noise in the shadows channel but not in the highlights or midtones channel, and you’ll see that the noise in the shadows to the left of the subject has been significantly decreased, whereas the change in noise on the subject’s face and skin is relatively untouched from one image to the next.

Oh yes, now you’re starting to get why this is so awesome!

One more example.


Photo courtesy of Tosha Cole Photography

In this image to the left, I told the software that there was very little noise in the red and yellow (aka ‘skin tone’) channels. Accordingly, the software did very little noise reduction in those color channels.

Then, in the image to the right, I did the exact opposite – I told the software there was a lot of noise in the skin tone color channels, and the software adjusted the noise reduction level accordingly.

You’ll also notice that from one image to the next the amount of noise in the white shirt and the black skirt is the same – which is because I didn’t tell the software to change the noise reduction level in the neutrals (black and white) channels.

I could have also done it the other way around, and left the skin tone channels the same and adjusted the noise reduction in the neutrals channels. I could even go in and fine-tune each of the seven color channels for maximum skin preservation (and to prevent that plastic skin tone look as much as possible).

Pretty Powerful Stuff, Huh?

By this point, you’ve seen some every in-depth examples of how much detailed control you have over the software and its ability to perform noise reduction.

The true power of the software, though, lies in its ability to control the amount of noise reduction that occurs on a subject’s skin – preventing that plastic-y fake look that is the side affect of some programs’ attempts at noise reduction.

In conclusion, I’ll leave you with some before-and-after shots to get a feel for overall image noise reduction. Enjoy!


Photo courtesy of Tosha Cole Photography


Photo courtesy of Amy Corrigan Photographer


Photo courtesy of Amy Corrigan Photographer


Photo courtesy of Amy Corrigan Photographer


Photo courtesy of Amy Corrigan Photographer


Photo courtesy of Amy Corrigan Photographer


Photo courtesy of Amy Corrigan Photographer

Bottom line?

This software really rocks.  As far as any downsides to the program, the contrast slider in the Details panel wasn’t really that awesome, and I’m still not entirely sure what the ‘color’ sliders change in the main Noise Reduction and Noise Level panel (top of the Settings panel).

However, the program’s ability to make such detailed adjustments far outweighs any of its shortcomings. This really is a must-have plug-in for any photographer at any level, since regardless of what kind of photography you shoot you’re bound to run into some non-ideal lighting conditions from time to time.

Ready to check it out for yourself?

Head on over to their website and give it a looksie!


P.S. Huge shout-out and thank you to Amy Corrigan and Tosha Lijewski for letting me use their images for the product review!




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Editing Consistency: Is It Always Necessary?


Today’s feature is from .

Amber says:

“This was a personal session for me, as the subjects are my sister and niece. My goal was to capture the close bond between the two of them.

I took them out to an overgrown area that, on camera, looks more like a beautiful meadow. The lighting on this beautiful fall afternoon was perfect, and brought out the best of the fall colors.

For their wardrobe, I purposefully dressed them in clothes that don’t really point to any particular era to try and maintain a timeless quality to the images.”

Amber’s Photography Tip:

You’ve probably read about the importance of consistency in post-processing. Knowing how to give your photos consistent editing is important! However, it is not something I feel the need to practice all of the time, or even most of the time.

It actually goes against my grain to refer to what I do as editing, because that implies making a change to something, whereas for me the portrait is just still in the process of being created!

For me, post-processing is my favorite part of photography. It is where I can really see my efforts and vision come together to create something special.

The processing of each photograph involves quite a bit of time and thought, as each images presents it own mood and requires a different approach.

This doesn’t mean I might not try out a few actions during the process, they can actually jump-start you to where you want to be!

Even if post-processing consistency is the cornerstone of your business, I challenge you to pick out a favorite from each of you sessions to process as a fine art piece. For me, even without a specific approach to my editing, I still get messages from people telling me how much they love my style.

Photography is such a competitive arena these days, it can’t hurt to have an edge in this area. See what kind of reactions you get from you clients when you present them with something a little different, a little special.






Amber used a Canon 6D with a Canon 135L lens and a Sigma 50mm 1.4 lens to capture these images.

Amber Jones is a Jonesboro, AR Portrait and Wedding photographer.

See more tips on Editing.



*Please note: some of the links in this post are affiliate links, and don’t affect you as the buyer but do help support us and keep this site free for everyone.

Natural Senior Portraits by Jennifer Batts

Over the shoulder gaze

Today’s feature is from Jennifer Batts.

Jennifer says:

“This was a session with a local high school senior who contacted me after seeing the work I did with a friend of hers. She wanted an outdoors session incorporating fall colors, and I was able to utilize a nearby West Michigan location that had all the elements she was hoping for.

Our personalities clicked, and though the November afternoon was cool, we had an absolutely fabulous time together. As we shot, I knew her session would be one of my favorites to date!”

Jennifer’s Photography Tip:

I have found that most of the seniors I’ve worked with are seeking a somewhat filmy, matte look to their senior photos since many of them are used to seeing photos created with Instagram. I strive very hard to strike a balance between incorporating this trendy look while also creating timeless images that will not look dated in a few years. One way I do that is by making sure skin tones are as spot-on as possible.

Here’s a rundown of my editing workflow (all completed within Lightroom 5):

  1. First I make sure all the images in a particular setting and lighting have a synchronized white balance, and that the skin tones are accurate. In LR, a good starting point to check skin tones is to place your pointer on a midtone area (often on the forehead) that has a Red value of about 85%.
  2. Then I check the RGB numbers in the LR histogram. In general, correctly balanced average Caucasian skin will have a range of about 20 percentage points between Red and Blue, with the Green value somewhere in the middle of that range. For example, R-85, G-77, B-67.
  3. Then I apply the film preset that works best with the image, and recheck skin tones and tweak if necessary. For this session, I used several of the Totally Rad Replichrome or Clickin Moms Film Art presets.
  4. After the correct presets are applied, I sync all the other images in that set (shot in the same scene and lighting) with the same settings.
  5.  Once I am done with one set of images, I move on to the next, and so on.
  6. When I’m done, I check all the images from each set and make sure they fit cohesively together into the final gallery.

Learning to see accurate skin tones and edit them correctly takes a lot of time and practice. The most valuable steps I can recommend towards that end are:

  • Using a grey card or an ExpoDisc while shooting to get a more accurate custom WB in camera, and
  • Studying images of photographers who consistently get great skin tones in their images. The more you see it done right, the more you’ll know when its wrong and how to fix it!

No matter what your processing style – clean, matte, soft, or filmy – working to achieve great skin tones will ensure that your images have a sense of timelessness to them. It will also help you achieve consistency and cohesiveness in your galleries and portfolio.

A serious face
Like a woodland princess
Backlight in the field
Sitting in the woods
Framed by leaves
A fun hat and glasses

Jennifer used a Nikon D800 with a Tamron SP 70-200 2.8 Di VC USD lens to capture these images.

Jennifer Batts is a Grand Rapids, Michigan Senior photographer.


If you need help navigating post-production in Lightroom, check out this Super Photo Editing Skills  eBook. You’ll be on your way to producing perfect skin tones in no time!


See more tips on Editing.



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Beautiful Babies & Toddlers Portraits by Martie Hampton

Little Halina

Today’s feature is from .

Martie says:

“This little blessing was an extra special session. This couple spent 3 years working to get her here. With the help of a surrogate their prayers were finally answered. She is the most beautiful, tiny girl I have come across in my studio. She has gorgeous, long lashes with a head full of dark curly hair. It was wonderful to get to capture these images for them to always cherish.”

Martie’s Photography Tip:

To light this session, I used a 5’ x 4’ soft box placed perpendicular to the baby, shooting down the baby’s body, not up the nose. One large reflector on the opposite side of the light (parallel). Patience! Patience! Patience! Once you have a pose, get the shot and then go back and perfect it. This is the time to act like a perfectionist, wether your are one or not. Pay attention to every finger, toe, hair…

When it comes to editing, editing newborns can be a little different because they tend to have a lot of red tones in their skin. Reducing the reds (with a preset, action, or on your own) will help create that beautiful creamy look to their skin. Sharpen and Darken the eyelashes and lash line to show off those lashes. I also love to use a soft pink brush to add just a touch of color to their cheeks. This helps make for a healthy, beautiful looking baby.

By following these tips and lots of practice you will be able to produce images you and your clients will be proud to have.

Precious Pearls
Pretty in Pink
Sweet baby cakes
Tiny Teddy Bear
Pink Cheeks

Martie used a Canon 5D Mark II with a Canon 24-70L 2.8 lens to capture these images.

Martie Hampton is a Frisco and Dallas, TX Newborn photographer.

See more tips on Editing and Lighting.



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Boho Chic Glamour Portraits by Ann Bennett

cover photo, regular sized

Today’s feature is from .

Ann says:

“I asked a gorgeous friend of mine to model for me for this “boho chic” styled session. I like to occasionally do for-fun styled sessions just to stretch my creativity and get my creative juices flowing.”

Ann’s Photography Tip:

Most of these images are shot “back lit” with the sun behind the subject. Shooting back lit tends to wash out the background when you properly expose for the subject’s face. To bring back some richness to the background of a back lit photo, I use a multiply adjustment layer in Photoshop with an inverted mask and “paint” richness back into the background.

boho chic extreme closeup

boho chic sitting in a field
boho chic grassy field
Boho chic hair scarf
Boho chic styled session

Ann used a Nikon D3x with a Nikkor 85mm f/1.4 lens to capture these images.

Ann Bennett is a Northeast Oklahoma Portrait photographer.

See more tips on Editing.


*Please note: some of the links in this post are affiliate links, and don’t affect you as the buyer but do help support us and keep this site free for everyone.

Modern Senior Portraits by Dani Pfarr

Medusa's Hair

Today’s feature is from Dani Pfarr.

Dani says:

“This was a super fun Senior Session that I took in American Village here on Okinawa, Japan. It was definitely a more challenging shoot as American Village (AmiVil) is always very busy and crowded. And this day was no exception. It certainly stretched my comfort zone quite a bit as we hunted for the “perfect place” to get that shot in. We ended up taking pictures in front of dumpsters, bar windows, and in the middle of the street to create the look that we were going for. I think that in the end it was definitely worth it.”

Dani’s Photography Tip:

I absolutely LOVE strong color in an image. To me it just adds a depth of richness and realism that is sometimes hard to translate into a picture. To achieve that color-saturated look that I crave while not being too “contrasty”, I use Levels.

It is extremely simple but makes a world of difference. First you’ll want to start out with a nice clean edit. Next, open up a new Levels adjustment layer. If you’ve never seen or used Levels before then prepare to be addicted! The resulting pop-up box is your Photoshop Histogram. You’ll see five different sliders with numbers underneath them. The top three control your shadows, mid tones, and highlights from left to right respectively.

To give your image that slight punch of color, darken up the shadows and the mid tones a little bit. I usually slide them to the right by about 10. Now do the opposite for your highlights. Again, I usually slide it by about 10 but this time to the left.

Finally, on the bottom output sliders, I move each one towards the middle by about 5. Please keep in mind that these are set to my specific taste and you can feel free to vary the numbers to suit your look and/or style.

Now you’ll see that the colors are definitely more noticeable, but you may have also gotten some unwanted results on your clients skin/hair. So what you’ll need to do now is add a photo mask over that layer and use the black paint brush to remove the effect from where you don’t want it.

This will give you pictures with colors that pop and images that come alive off of the screen! This is a great way for getting some drama into backlit images as well if there is more haze than you would prefer.

Close-Up Portrait

Perfect Attitude
This is actually a dumpster by a construction site.

Even a dumpster can be pretty when photographed properly.

Dani used a Canon 60D and Canon 6D with a Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 lens and a Canon 100mm macro lens to capture these images.

Dani Pfarr is an Okinawa, Japan Senior Portraits and Models photographer.

See more tips on Editing.


*Please note: some of the links in this post are affiliate links, and don’t affect you as the buyer but do help support us and keep this site free for everyone.

Lovable Family Portraits by Tricia Schumacher

mother and son in the winter

Today’s feature is from .

Tricia says:

“Like most woman and photographers I do not usually enjoy being in front of the camera. This session is very special to me because it is a “selfie” session. This is my family! This session was shot with a tripod and the timer on my D600. It was a beautiful snowy day. We suspected that despite the long winter, this would probably be the last good snow fall. I did not tell my family until right before we walked out the door. I set up my camera, laid out everyone’s clothes, and made a plan before I even told them. Once I told them, they were dressed and out the door to our backyard. The entire session took less than 10 min. I am thrilled with the genuine smiles from my boys. I am so happy I took the risk to get in front of the camera. When I see these images I do not think about my flaws but about the joy on my boys faces and the feeling of love. Isn’t that what it is all about anyway?”

Tricia’s Photography Tip:

The first tip for a family “selfie” is to set up all technical aspects before you bring in your family. The shorter the better so try to keep the entire session less than 10 min.

The second tip is in the processing. For these winter photos, I wanted to enhance the winter feel of the background but still have the subjects be crisp and bright. I created a duplicate layer and then opened levels. I brought the black down then brushed that layer off the subjects. I flattened, created another duplicate layer. I then made a contrast brightness layer. I increased the contrast slightly and then brushed that layer off the background.

If you follow these tips you will have images where the subject pops off the page.

mother and son in the snow
mother and sons
winter family photo

Tricia used a Nikon D600 with a Tamron 70-200 lens to capture these images.

Tricia Schumacher is a DeKalb-Sycamore, IL Newborn, and Children, and Family Portrait photographer.

See more tips on Editing.


*Please note: some of the links in this post are affiliate links, and don’t affect you as the buyer but do help support us and keep this site free for everyone.