SAphoto Blog

March 25, 2009

Toronto Mafia style wedding – Before and After series – Overexposed

Filed under: Before and After,Photoshop — saphoto @ 12:06 am

This is the first of many mini-tutorials to come on processing pictures.
This one is about dealing with pictures that are overexposed and how to come up with creative solutions.

Please note that our BLOG moved. Go to to get the updated version of this post.

This mafia style photograph is one of the most complimented “before and after” picture I have ever processed. This is from Marilyn and Jason’s wedding a little while back, and apparently it’s a popular blog entry since my stats show that Google sends me a lot of people looking for “mafia style”!

Ok so time for the dirty laundry… Here’s the raw file unadjusted as it appeared in ACR (Adobe Camera Raw):
It’s not bad, but it lacks punch. The best thing to do would have been to expose for the sky, and heavily light the subjects with off-camera lighting.

As you can see the sky is overexposed. The good thing about shooting RAW is that it gives you more flexibility when it comes to processing overexposed pictures. In this case, we are able to recover a lot of details from the sky by adjusting the recovery and exposure slider. The problem is the cloud above the groom’s head. It’s overexposed beyond recovery…

So what to do then..

If we can’t correct the mistake… embrace it!
Here I thought we might as well emphasize the brightness of the sky by making it look like powerful beams of light. This also gives the groom more importance.

In today’s wedding photography, a good photographer has to be able to combine many talents. I will elaborate more on that in later posts, but for now I would summarize by saying one has to have good photography instinct, good technical skills, and good post-processing skills.

So here’s the secret photoshop recipe for the sunbeams:
1-Duplicate layer
2-Go to Filter -blur -radial blur, blur method: zoom, amount 100%, click on the blur centre so that it’s approximately where you want the beams to come from (you will learn with time what makes sense).
3-Change the blending mode to screen
4-Mask/delete areas of that beam layer that don’t make sense..
5-Apply regular processing to taste (in this case most of the “punch” comes from the sky, in which I applied high radius sharpening, and duplicated the layer -set blending mode to multiply.)

Of course nowadays when I do mafia-style boys shot, most of the magic is done right then and there with the right camera settings and off-camera lighting (big thing right now):
toronto wedding

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