Tips and tricks galore from John Gardner

On Monday evening 20th March an eager audience of members at Brookhouse was treated to an insight into the processing techniques used by John Gardner to achieve the tremendous images we keep seeing (oh, it helps to start off with a great image in the camera!). John pointed out that he can’t afford to spend a lot of time processing when he is doing commercial work so he had developed a workflow and various techniques which can give results quickly.

He started the evening with an example of his approach to beauty retouching on portraits. Often there is a requirement to smooth the skin but if not approached carefully then the “structure” is lost and the skin begins to look too smooth and plasticky. He used Lightroom for this demonstration starting with camera calibration and moving on to lens correction and removing any chromatic aberrations (the purple and green fringing which can occur in areas of high contrast). Any normal adjustments could then be made using the sliders. Then the image was opened in Photoshop and 2 background copies made and John showed how he modified these copies for his frequency separation method, which allows him to use targeted blur without losing the structure. He then used Nik Filters Colour Effects Pro detail extractor to finish the image.

In the second half John used an image from Steve Wood to demonstrate how he would produce a black and white conversion. His aim was to create an image with the full range of tones from pure black to (almost) pure white. First he worked on the colour image and brought up the shadows and toned down the highlights, followed by taking the whites up and the blacks down. Again using Nik Filters but this time Silver Effects the image was converted into black and white. Using the sliders in all the options John showed how the desired effect could be achieved. He finished the image off by using Colour Effects Pro detail extractor to get the right level of structure into it.

Following this he demonstrated a variety of short tips which could be used to transform an image. These included a non-destructive method for dodging and burning, iris enhancement for portraits in Lightroom, changing skies with the “blend if” in Photoshop and using radial filters in Lightroom. In all it was a fascinating evening giving a wealth of information which I am sure will be being tried out this week by many of the members. Special thanks should go to John for the way he battled through a variety of technical problems that may have floored a lesser presenter.

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