Improve Photography Plus is a treasure trove of video tutorials for photographers. From post processing to how-to articles, it pays to be a member of the website. In this installment for Improve Photography, I am going to review Connor Hibbs' tutorial “High-End Retouching Workflow” that is available.
ABOUT CONNOR HIBBS
If you are not familiar with Connor, you should be. Connor Hibbs is a photographer located in Colorado Springs, Colorado and specializes in portraiture. Connor is also a regular co-host of the Improve Photography Podcast “Portrait Session,” which is available through your preferred podcast app. Connor will also be holding a portrait and retouching class, along with Sandy Dorau in Las Vegas, NV March 25th-26th. Lighting for Portraiture Workshop Information. Sandy is a Las Vegas, NV-based commercial photographer and regular co-host of the flagship Improve Photography podcast.
Although I would not classify myself as a portraiture photographer alone, most of my business comes from local seniors, along with a family session here and there and some weddings. While some folks might not associate “high-end retouching” with seniors and families, having the knowledge and skills to perform high-end retouching techniques might come into play with some clients.
There are many post processing techniques that can achieve the same thing. In my opinion, as long as the techniques come to the same conclusion, it boils down to the photographer's preference.
When I decided to watch Connor's tutorial, I was already at a point where I felt comfortable in my skills to perform retouching techniques. Yet, I am always open for more learning because it's just about guaranteed that no matter how much I might know about something, there's going to be at least one, or many gems that will help me become better.
ABOUT THE TUTORIAL
The tutorial runs around 150 minutes. Don't let that turn you off. The tutorial is broken down into 7 segments with 3 of those segments devoted to different workflows. Included in the tutorial are an action pack and a follow along RAW file. While the tutorial is devoted to post processing, the first little gem included is a quick time lapse of Connor getting the shot that he used for the tutorial. From there, the tutorial moves into the third segment in which Connor shows and describes his selection and culling process after the shoot is over.
The fourth segment jumps into post processing techniques. When I decided that I would go through this particular course and review it, I wanted to use one of my images for this article. I even lined up a shoot with a friend to have a little more material, but like I told Connor, I messed up my lighting setup so the shots that I had planned on using from that shoot did not survive my selection process. Instead, I had an image from one of my senior sessions that I decided I would use. The goal behind using one of my images was simple. I had already processed it my way and delivered it to the client.
ALL ABOUT THE TECHNIQUES
Before I write a little bit about the technique portions of the tutorial, here is a before and after of the image that I used for this review. On the left is straight out of the camera image and the right image is the final product. On the surface, there was definitely some issues with this image. After I made the basic adjustments in Lightroom, I went into Photoshop where I ran an action that cleans up and pops the color little bit. I then utilized frequency separation to bring out the eyes and smooth out the skin. So with that, let's see how Connor's techniques work on this image. For the basis of this article, I will be using the Lightroom adjusted file, which is not shown.
The first technique that Connor covers is retouching in Lightroom. Lightroom may not be the preferred software for retouching, it fits when the workload volume is pretty high. Connor runs through the process using the spot removal and brush tools. With the brush tools, he uses the Lightroom brushes available to Improve Photography Plus members. While I do not have these brushes, I am familiar with the settings to achieve a similar result.
Here is my before and after using the Lightroom only method:
Connor goes into Photoshop for the second technique. This particular technique is pretty straight forward with the use of frequency separation, healing and dodging and burning. The one thing that caught my eye was Connor's dodge and burn technique. Out of the post processing videos that I have seen over the last few years, this was the first time I had seen someone utilize curves layers to dodge and burn. I have never been a real big fan of dodging and burning because I never could dial it into the point where I like it. I am definitely going to use Connor's technique in the future.
The Workflow #3 segment is the longest portion of the tutorial. It comes it just short of 90 minutes, so I would suggest you set aside a block of time for this segment. This segment is devoted to an in-depth, full-scale retouch using Photoshop, which I can attest to takes time. Along the way, Connor does a great job explaining his process, offers up quality insights and explains the process the best that I have seen to this point.
I was blown away by this tutorial. Even though I had my process down, being able to watch Connor's tutorial has allowed me to hone my skills just a little bit more. I also learned several things that I either did not know or was doing wrong. Although the tutorial is titled “High-End Retouching,” if you are a portrait photographer, or dabble in portraiture, I highly encourage you to watch this tutorial. If you have not already, there will probably come a time when you will need to do some minor retouching to a portrait and having the skills and knowledge to be able to complete the task will come in handy. This tutorial will definitely get you to where you need to be.