Swimsuit Catalog Process Workflow

For a recent swimsuit shoot for Ola Style, with model Hayley Ridall, I decided to try a slightly different fashion workflow.  The main driver for the change is the availability of the Nik Software suite as Photoshop plugins.  Formerly I only the Lightroom Nik plug-ins, which meant that a 250MB TIFF file had to be generated for each step.  In Photoshop, each Nik tool creates a new layer, with the added advantage that the opacity can be fine tuned.

Nikon D800
Nikon AF-S 50mm f/1.4 G
Broncolor studio strobes
USB 3.0 tethered to a laptop using Nikon Camera Control Pro 2
Full screen review in Nikon View NX2
Exposure: ISO 100 @ 1/60s @ f/9 @ WB Daylight

Safety and Cataloging
Backup day’s shoot (about 1,500 images) to Windows Home Server 2011
Import from the server to Lightroom 4 on a workstation
Catalog, sort and flag.
Create a Lightroom collection just for the picks.

Lightroom Preparation Workflow

For each shot picked to finish, I apply some pre-Photoshop processing.

  1. Adjust color to 5300K based on X-Rite Color Checker Passport.
  2. Apply Lens Correction and CA Correction.  The 50mm is very sharp, but is has a very strange trapezoidal cylindrical anamorphic distortion.  The Lightoom Lens Correction corrects the trapezoid problem, but there is volume anamorphis the still needs help in Photoshop.
  3. Apply the Skin Smoothing brush to legs and tattoo areas.
  4. For medium and log shot, I find that the eyes and teeth whitening Brush tools in Lightroom work very well.  Hayley didn’t need much here, so I reduced the brush flow to 50%.
  5. Launch the image with Lightroom adjustments in Photoshop

Photoshop Processing

The order of most of the steps in Photoshop is very important.

  1. Nik RAW Pre-Sharpener at 50%
  2. Apply Nik Dfine Skin process
  3. Apply Nik Vivenza adjustments, in this case +10 brightness, +10 contrast, +10 shadow detail, -7 structure.
  4. Add auto Levels adjustment, then adjust mid-tones to 105.
  5. Create new merged layer.
  6. Fix cylindrical volume anamorphis problem using a transform formula I developed for the lens in my kit.  In this case, volume is reduced by 2.5%.  In general, the longer the lens and closer it is to the subject, the more correction is required.
  7. Use healing brush to clean up hair, pore-by-pore spotting, correct shine, remove threads, etc.
  8. Use clone tool to remove tattoos (Normal, 100%, soft brush, actual pixels view)
  9. Merge all layers.
  10. Create duplicate layer (Crtl + J), add Gaussian Blur (7 radius), create black mask (Alt + click new layer), then brush blur on the sunglasses, avoiding the eyes.  This removes dust and makes for a smooth sheen.
  11. Merge layers.
  12. Create duplicate layer (Ctrl +J), change blend mode to Soft Light, create black mask (Alt + click new layer), then brush extra contrast on the lips to make more shiny and increase color.
  13. Launch Nik Color Efex Pro 4 and apply a custom recipe that includes Color Contrast, Detail Extractor and Dynamic Skin Softening filters.
  14. Merge all layers.
  15. Save stacked in Lightroom as a TIFF
  16. Make Lightroom virtual copies for conversion to monochrome, “300” look, etc.

model: Hayley Ridall
designer: Ola Hawatmeh/Ola Style
hair: Zach Taylor
makeup: Courtney Robinson
producer: Logan Griesemer
photo stylist: Susan Page
intern: Brenna Clementz
photography: © 2013 Preston Page


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