Battle of the Edits: Portrait Edition

Battle of the Edits Portrait Edition

Once again, we are bringing you two different editing styles for a single photograph. This time around, it is a portrait. Zoner ambassador Zdeňka Povolná and promising portrait photographer Gabriela Goffová edit one RAW portrait and get two completely different results. How much can the editing process differ in ZPS X? Apparently, quite a bit. 

Editing by Zdeňka

I started like I always do, with adjustments to Exposure. I didn’t make any major changes because I did many of the brightness adjustments later using the Luma curve. 

Battle of the Edits
My Exposure settings.

I didn’t do many curves adjustments either. As I already mentioned, Luma helps me balance the highlights and shadows how I want. I chose not to use color curves since I prefer Color Shift, which I’ll get to later. 

Battle of the Edits
For curves, I decided to only adjust the Luma and RGB curve.

Color Shift is my favorite tool and the main source of my color editing. I combine any adjustments to Color Shift with adjustments to Shift Primary Colors. This lets me see how everything works together. I do a bit of jumping back and forth between the two and some trial and error. Colors must be adjusted carefully because you have to keep your eye on the skin tone. This is why color work is the most time-consuming.  

Battle of the Edits
Color Shift, toning, and RGB curve adjustments.

I wrap up with Split Toning to spice up the color adjustments a bit.  

Battle of the Edits

Finally, I go back to Color and adjust Saturation and Vibrance. 

Battle of the Edits
Saturation and Vibrance adjustments.

The Radial Filter (R) is something I use on occasion for two reasons. The first is as an alternative to vignetting. I like to bring a lot of attention to my subjects. For the subjects to stand out, they need to be seen. They need as much light as possible to become the main focus. For this reason, I use the Radial Filter to increase exposure locally on my subjects and decrease it for the surroundings. 

So, how’s it done? I used one filter where I increased exposure on the model. Then I duplicated it, inverted it, and adjusted the exposure to negative values. I also brought out the color of the leaves so they didn’t look so washed out. The photo was taken in February when there isn’t much color to work with.

Battle of the Edits
The Radial Filter for the model and its duplicate surrounding her.

Another thing you can use the Radial Filter for is to add fake Sunlight. Using ZPS X presets which you can download for free, you can find a preset for the Sun Radial Filter.  

This is exactly the one I used. But be careful. Only add this type of filter with care. The sunlight must have a light source coming from the sky. If your photo is dark and doesn’t have a logical place for sunlight, don’t force it.  

Battle of the Edits
The sun is shining from the sky above and makes sense in this photo.

Next, I used the Filter Brush (B) to bring out the eyes. The model’s eyes are quite dark, so to bring them out, I added exposure to the irises and left them looking a bit haunting.  

Battle of the Edits
Filter Brush.

The last step in the Develop module was smoothing the model’s complexion. For smoothing that is subtle and not overdone, I use the Smoothing Brush (U). I selected the model’s face and set Intensity to only 35%. There was no need for more. Retouching should be subtle. 

Battle of the Edits
Smooth the model’s complexion, leaving out the eyes and lips.

I put on some finishing touches in the Editor module, where I first used the retouching tools to remove pimples and other blemishes. Then, I used the same tools to remove the model’s tattoos. I mainly did this just to show it can be done.  

Tools like the Clone Stamp and Healing Brush in the Editor are truly powerful. Personally, I prefer them to the tools in Develop. You have more control when working with them. For example, I am constantly adjusting Opacity and Density settings with nearly every stroke. Working with them is precise and I generally recommend working slowly with small-diameter brushes. Retouching took me about 10 minutes.  

Battle of the Edits
Example of one of the many settings I used for retouching and blemish removal.

Editing by Gabriela

I started my adjustments with the Healing Brush and Clone Stamp to remove skin blemishes, mascara build-up, and other things. 

Battle of the Edits
Retouching using the Healing Brush.

For the next step, I chose the Smoothing Brush (U) to even out skin tone.

Battle of the Edits
Smoothing Brush settings.

Then, I moved to the Filter Brush (B) and brightened the eyes, which looked covered in shadows and sunken in. I also increased the exposure for the ear and a couple of flowers in the headband. 

Battle of the Edits
Adjusting the Filter Brush settings which I applied to the eyes, ear, and a few flowers.

The Radial Filter (R) helped me bring together the brightness of the face. Using the Radial Filter, I was able to work locally, so the adjustments did not affect the surroundings in any way.  

Battle of the Edits
Radial Filter settings and placement.

Then, I moved on to general adjustments and fine-tuning the photo. I slightly increased the photo’s exposure and contrast as well as moved around White point and Black point.

Battle of the Edits
Adjusting Exposure settings.

Finally, I changed the White Balance setting to Daylight.

Battle of the Edits
White Balance.

Next, I moved to Tone Curve, where I slightly adjusted each color channel.  

Battle of the Edits
Individual curves and their settings.

Next was Color Shift. First, I adjust the Hues for each color based on my own preferences. Then, Saturation for these colors, and finally, Luminance.

Battle of the Edits
Color Shift settings.

In Shift Primary Colors, I adjusted the settings until I liked the overall look of the photo’s colors.

Battle of the Edits
Shift Primary Colors and other details.

Finally, I tweaked a few issues that I hadn’t noticed using the Clone Stamp under Retouching Tools (J) and the Filter Brush (B).

Do you also have a photograph that can be edited in two different ways? Try doing your own Battle of the Edits with a friend. Try Zoner Photo Studio X free for 7 days limit-free and with access to all its features. Don’t forget to show off your results in the comments!

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AuthorZdenka Povolen

I haven’t been a photographer for long, but I certainly love taking photos. I like creating atmosphere in my photographs and adding emotion. I think it’s important that a photo has substance. I predominantly photograph people, often in costumes, sometimes nudes, and photographic storytelling series. I value effective communication and a pleasant atmosphere in my photoshoot. I like to use practical effects such as smoke, fire, sparks, light, or movement of cloth and fabric. I know that I still have a lot to learn, but that will come with 20 years of experience under my belt. I believe in lifelong self-improvement.

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