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Post Processing a Band Portrait with the Strange Birds


About a week ago I did a shoot with the band Strange Birds as we were walking there was a point that I saw light rays trickling down right in front of us. I told all of the guys to stop and arranged them to my liking.

One of the most important things about shooting for me is having an idea of you want the photo to come out in the very end. I tend to adjust my white balance in camera and set almost everything up so it makes less work on the computer and closer to the final product. Below is the original image:

I took about ten different photos of them in this arrangement, but once I found the image I wanted I imported it and began to edit. I started by adjusting my tones, which involves adjusting the exposure, recovery, fill light, blacks, brightness, and contrast.

It can take a while to get used to finding the sweet spot for each photo, but a lot of it is just experimentation. Below is the product of adjusting all of the basic tones in the photo.

So once I get the tones the way I want them, I move to working on the presence. In this step you basically are focusing on how strong you want your colors to come out and how vibrant you want the photo to be.

Depending on what you want exactly, it is smart to find a good equilibrium between vibrancy and saturation. I tend to drop my saturation significantly so I can bring out individual colors later on with split toning.

Next you move onto the tone curve. Sometimes you won’t even need to touch the tone curve but I wanted to bring out the shadows a tad bit more so I bumped those up as well as my lights to add a bit more contrast.

The final step is the most important part, and that is split toning. Split toning allows you to add some color into the highlights and shadows. You essentially need to find the color that you want for your highlights and adjust the saturation, but also make sure that whatever color you use for your shadows blends nicely.

You’ll often find that you might want to use the balance slider as well to even it out. Below is the final image after adjusting the split toning to my liking (hover your mouse over the photo to compare it with the original):

About the author: Alexander Shahmiri is a photographer based in San Francisco, California. To see more of his work, you can visit his website here.