Photo editing tips please!

Hey folks, 

As I get ready for my next portrait, I would love some advice about how to optimize this photo before I get it printed. I'm going to make the painting approximately 3' x 4.5'. I know Mark advises printing the photo to the exact size as the canvas which I may do but that will also probably be quite expensive. Does anyone have any good alternatives to printing the photo as big as the desired painting? I know the concept of the grid method but I guess I'm a little worried about screwing it up if I add that complication to the process. (I refuse to wait until I"m more experienced to try to make the art I want to make. If it falls short it falls short but it seems to me, this is how I'll get there eventually.)

More importantly, I'm not versed in photo editing. The light umbrella on the left I will just omit. I think that's easy. What should I do to this photo to make it a better source? The colors get pretty weird and confusing when I zoom in on the face. I just see such a jumble of orange, red and green pixels. What do you advise?

Thank you in advance!


  • Also, I don't have photoshop. I'm using a combination of open source software programs: GIMP and RawTherapee
  • I guess you would have to make several small prints of sections and join them together like grids. I hear it is not good to have them printed without the white border as it will cut off a bit of the image anyway. The light at the bottom is warm and lively but not higher close to the neck and face. Painting in a warmer color like around the shadow of the chair all the way up would be nice. I would crop off the left side halfway between the edge and the chair back's shadow. And I would omit the tattoos except the one on her forward leg. It sort of carries out of the upholstery. If you crop the side you might also experiment with cropping the top to see what would give you a better composition. I wouldn't have posed her with her arms parallel it makes for a ridged look.
  • Hey @BOB73

    I guess you mean that printing it in pieces would be less expensive? I haven't looked in to pricing but that might be the case. I do know I can get it printed at the full size and they charge by the square foot. Wondering if folks have advice about different photo processes, working from smaller images or computer screen.  

    yeah I agree that the warm light near the bottom of the image is nice. I wonder if anyone has advice for enhancing the lighting with photo editing software? 

    I have played with the cropping quite a bit.

    For the posture, I'm pretty happy with how comfortable and not rigged she looks tho maybe it's not 100% perfect. I don't think I'll set up another shoot.

    Your comments on the tattoos I guess are a matter of personal taste. More looking for help with photo editing, but thanks for taking a look!
  • Before you print ask the pros if you will lose any definition printing it full size. Most digital cameras lose some in the printing when it's bigger than 16x20 inches. But I'm not expert in that area, it's just what I've heard from reliable sources. Yeah, I hate tattoos on women. and large tattoos in general although a military tat is OK on a sailor or soldier and a tiger or dragon on a man's forearm is pretty cool too. In 1961, long before tats became so popular, Truman Capote noticed when he was researching crimes that ALL convicts have tattoos and none of them smoke a pipe.
  • This is just opinion.

    I would crop this differently, taking away some space on the top, left and bottom, adding it to the right, like this.

    I think it would be a mistake to have the toe so close to the edge, so I added space.  I think you should also omit that baseboard heater, and replicate the moulding from the left.  It's unfortunate that all the fingers are jut lined up like that.

    Secondly I would say, and this is no reflection on the model or the pose, that the image is bland.  It lacks darks and lights, and there is an overall orange hue.  There is no black, and it is a long way from white.  I think this can be addressed somewhat by introducing darks by manipulating contrast.

    Here I've reduced the green, and added some darks.  I'm not good with these adjustments, but hopefully the contrast point is made.

  • 3' x 4.5'   -   wow!  Go big or go home (that's a saying here in the US)don't want to offend anyone.

    Okay, I don't know anything about photoshop - I do know about golden mean composition and measurements - Paul has a good eye for composition - I think the light and the composition are going to be the most important things here.

    I would even be tempted to crop her more than @PaulB suggests, but that is me.

    Do you have two light sources here?  The shadows are confusing - showing two different lights - that is usually not a very good thing - Also, the background is not that different from the skin tone - a contrast would give this more interest?  I'm just offering suggestions - what my instincts are telling me - take it with a grain of salt. But, you asked and this is my humble opinion.  I don't think this, as it is, is as powerful as it can be, it has many challenges.

    This is a beautiful woman with a beautiful figure, I wish she were completely nude and lounging on that beautiful chaise - now, that would make for color and value shifts and interesting, romantic shapes...  I suppose what she is wearing is in reference to Indian heritage?  It is upstaging everything - I'd rather her have a headdress on if it has something to do with Indian....   like I said, I'm just guessing. 

    I wish that beautiful chaise were at an angle, that there was ONE source of light, that she was nude, reclining in that chair - I'm seeing some beautiful nudes lately of women with their back to us, or her sleeping or resting...
  • I tried some different crops on this photo using a 4 x 6 ratio, but there is so much dead space in the top right corner. The heat register would definitely have to go. The light source gives her red yellow hue around her legs but the picture turns more green blue towards her face. Very difficult transition. The coloring you're getting from zooming in is from a grainy picture, possibly with a higher ISO as you were shooting indoors without Flash. I don't use Photoshop as much as I should, but I'm sure there is a way to get rid of the graininess. Possibly blowing the picture up but maintaining higher pixel count, then reducing it again with the same pixel count. The attire she is wearing reminds me more of macrame than Native American. Definitely a tribal quality with her tattoos and garb. Just not sure that works in a white-walled room on a chair. Just my humble opinion.
  • SummerSummer -
    edited October 2018
    I don't think the staging does justice to the subject matter. 
  • I'm quite new, so the only thing I can comment on is getting an image ready to paint from. I use Photoshop but Gimp is similar and I cut the image up into 4" x 6" photographs - no border (and yes it's true, occasionally a bit will be chopped off but most of them are fine) and gloss.  They are very cheap at about 10 cents a print, and then I stick them all together.  It's very economical and I find it works for me. 
  • Hey everyone, 

    Thanks a lot for your feedback! I largely agree, especially with the point that the background is too close to the skin color. I will keep working on that. 

    At first I cropped it much more like how you suggest @PaulB but then I wanted to keep the shapes that the chair makes with the floor and the wall and that made it seem more balanced if i kept a lot of the ceiling. I really like large amounts of empty space in a figure painting. But that said, I will have to keep thinking about if it works in this image or not...

    I'm learning a lot about working with a live model and photography. There's no substitute for experience though. All of these mistakes will help me in my next shoot. 

    As for the things she's wearing, it's a macrame wall hanging. The model/artist made it. 
  • edited October 2018
    As I select and prepare the photo I'm getting pretty annoyed with myself that I didn't get better photos though. I wonder what you guys think of this one, and do you find it stronger or weaker than the other? It's less clear, very blurry. 
  • mmccabe

    Yes, better. Good pose but lighting too yellow and placed too low.
    Frontal lighting flattens the form throwing all the shadow values on the background.
    Unforgivable to cut off the toes and have so much of the doorway likely to be de-emphasised.


  • Yeah I like this pose better but it's so blurry-- which might disqualify it-- and the doorway... there's so much contrast in it that i think it might kill the image of the figure. 
  • Couple of things
    You may want to title this NSFW (not safe for work) in case someone is viewing this forum at work)
    For some reason the model’s left arm looks tiny compared to the right. The photo is very out of focus, as you have stated.
    What animal is that skull from? I like it.
Sign In or Register to comment.