The above image of one of our homeless population was taken back in December on a very wet and rainy day. The out of camera RAW image is obviously very flat, but has the detail needed to create a far more dramatic image that draws a viewer in.
The base image seen in the before part above has had levels adjusted to bring out a little brightness in the mid tones. As a character portrait healing and skin retouching layers are dispensed with in this case. So my first step is to duplicate the layers and apply a high pass filter to give more structure to his features, the blend mode was changed to soft light and opacity lowered until I had the effect I wanted. As I only wanted this to apply to his face, hat and beard I added a layer mask and inverted it to black mask then painted the areas required with a white brush.
Next I destaurated the image slightly using hue/saturation (layer was merged and not shown. After which a selective color layer and mask were used to introduce blues into an otherwise drab background
After stamping the layers, it was run through dFine for noise reduction and then exported out to Alien Skin software's Exposure 7 which I was beta testing. The base used was a vintage Kodachrome II film feel with a shift in colors toward cyan to give a very winter feel, adding a small amount of vignette began to darken the blues in the background.
A quick journey into curves, just to increase global highlight and shadow contrast, and also using the blue curve to push more blues into the shadows, along with pulling down the highs for warmer highlights.
Subtle dodging and burning of the image followed, using curves layers with black layer masks, and a very low opacity white brush with very little flow. In days of "apply quick filter" dodge and burn at times seems like a lost technique, it's effects very subtle but it really makes an image pop. By following the existing light on his face in highlights and shadows it truly can make or break an image.
* Where you see below that saturation was increased in areas where I had dodged and burned - I bobbed and had left the D&B layers set to "Normal" blend mode, this is the result. Always make sure to change them to "Luminosity" blend, this will ensure areas are only lightened and darkened, and does not affect the skin tones. I corrected this before the final picture.
Final tweaks to levels, you will note a black and white layer, a quick sanity check on my part to just have a look at the image in B&W before sticking with the color. Then sharpening just the parts of the image that I wanted sharpened rather than using a global "Unsharp mask"
And there you have it, a quick tour through my PS workflow for a street portrait. Stay tuned, investigated the best way to put together a video on a beauty retouch, which is much more involved, and will show how I approach each of these steps.