Sometimes it’s fun to take a portrait to the next level and create more of a fine-art look. It’s a product I’ve been exploring in much more detail lately. This is a perfect example of how we can start with a nice photograph and add some mood and drama.
Darrel and Heather had a wonderful wedding a couple weeks ago. We stopped at Forest Park for some staged couple photos in front of the waterfall and Grand Basin. The weather was lovely, if a bit hazy and the occasional cloud floated overhead casting a shadow across the grounds.
The original capture was pretty straightforward. I used a single off camera flash just to the left of the camera to add some directional light. The Art Museum in the background gives us a sense of place.
Still, we want out focus to be on the happy couple, so step one was to isolate the background and remove the color and a lot of the contrast. We want it to be a complimentary element of the image, not compete with the couple.
I don’t want all the color removed, just de-emphasized so I brought some of it back but muted quite a bit. I significantly warmed the tones and also hand painted splotches of blue to give a touch of contrasting color that also happens to give a more accurate feel of the partly cloudy day.
Okay, background finished for the moment, I turned my attention to Darrel and Heather themselves. I did a number of contrast adjustments and hand painted darker and brighter areas to further emphasize the directional light we created with the flash.
Finally, I warmed the entire image and added some texture. I hand painted the dirty edge effects and further drew the eye to our happy couple with selective vignetting.
An image like this is a very manual and time consuming creation. There simply is no “enhance” button that can do it. When we compare it to the original, it’s quite evident how much more artistic and interpretive it is. I’m very pleased with the original, but the end result would look exceptional as a 20×30 inch gallery wrap over a fireplace or living room couch.