The Making of Babyface

A couple of weeks ago we went to Arles to see the annual Fete du Costume – lots of people dressed in traditional old Provencal costumes and taking it very seriously. As luck would have it, this was the only day where the weather fell short of unbroken sun and blue sky (just thought you would want to know that!).

As usual with such events, getting good images is hampered by the bustle of the crowds and distracting backgrounds. Whilst I was running around trying to capture “serious” portraits, Dorothy just wandered and clicked away with her small Canon Ixus point and shoot.

Reviewing the day’s images that evening,  this photo of Dorothy’s stood out because of the “haunted” look on the baby’s face, as well as the absence of crowds.

In many ways just an ordinary “snap”, but worth tidying up I thought. First I straightened the horizontals and cropped the image to bring a tighter concentration on the figures. Then I brightened the image with levels and then contrast using Adjustment layers, but masked the effect of these on the white pillow in the pram which was showing signs of burnout.

I then wanted to brighten the three faces, again using an adjustment layer masked to prevent the adjustment on the whole image, and then “painting” a hole in the mask over the three faces. The effect is to brighten the faces without affecting the rest of the image.

I then put a thin border around the image to produce this version –

Finally, I found the background a bit distracting – often difficult to avoid with a small point and shoot camera. So, selecting the background using the quick selection tool in Photoshop, I masked the rest of the image (which I wanted to remain sharp) and then I blurred the selection using Lens Blur. I then applied a gradient mask to allow greater blurring to show through towards the more distant buildings ( see the Layer 1 on the Layers Palette shown below).

The end result is this –

Although these adjustments sound a lot when written down, they took me less than 5 mins. The Layers Palette looks like this after all the adjustments.

Worth it? You can make your own mind up about that – but I like it.  

Perhaps more to the point, you may have ideas or comments about other adjustments to the image and it would be interesting to hear them. Gary


One response to “The Making of Babyface

  1. Excellent – framed above the mantlepiece should keep the grandkids off the fire during the long winter months!

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