Worth having arms of lead...

Recently I was asked to shoot Burlesque Idol at the Century Club in Shaftsbury Avenue. I was using my Sigma70-200mm f2.8. The heavy lens! After nearly two hours of shooting my arms felt like lead.

During the shoot, one of the performers was Fräulein Litchi Klein. I reviewed the pictures and found one that I made a note of to work on later. The next day after the photos of the whole show were sorted and sent to my contact, I turned my attention to the photo.

Now this is not a bad shot to begin with but there were a number of things that stood out for me that needed changing.

  •     a light flare above the talents head
  •     a line of light opposite the right knee
  •     the audience in front of the talent
  •     the light on the talents face
  •     the background in general

After sorting out the light flare above the head, I then threw the image into Portrait Pro. PP can sometimes exaggerate features so I always tone it down to taste. The first thing was the to clean up the skin, not that there was anything wrong, I was after a certain look. I smoothed out the skin, reduced the shine on the right cheek, even shifted the light source around to the front of the face a little.

The focal point of this photo for me is the expression of the face especially the eyes. The whites of the eyes were brightened and the eyebrows, lashes and lips were darkened and enhanced.

The hair tool was also used. I love this tool as it is similar to the Oil Paint filter in Photoshop CS6. I highlighted the entire head of hair (not the initial area chosen from the program) and ramped up the effect. This filled out the hair and made it more wavy, also added a little bit of purple to match the lipcolour.

You may notice the hair decoration have been changed to little heart shapes. This was from a program I am trialing called Exposure 7. I wont go through each of it features but the one I like is the Bokeh feature. You can de-focus and blur areas while causing the highlights to take on certain shapes, from triangles, hearts and squares among normal aperture lens types.

You are given tools in Exposure 7 to de-focus areas; a circular tool to draw attention to certain areas, a single line type, I suppose this would be good for landscapes and a double line type useful for making tilt shift effect images. Neither of these options worked for me though. So I removed the default and blurred the entire image. Even the talents face was a blur of hearts.

This image was saved with the Portrait Pro version and thrown from a great height into Photoshop as two layers. I then added a black layer mask to the Bokeh image. Then used a soft white brush to bring the Bokeh image back through, therefore being 'selective' about where I wanted the Bokeh effect to appear. This also had the effect of blurring out the audience members quite nicely to as they were a little too sharp in the original photo and tidied up the background too.

The last point that for me was a bit distracting was the streak of light opposite the right knee. This was sorted out by Lightroom using the spot healing brush, covering up the light source with a patch of darker curtain close by. Finely, used an adjustment brush to add vibrancy to thecostume.

Before and After

Fräulein Litchi Klein is a performer who is strongly influenced by dance outside of Burlesque some of these include Blues, Lindy Hop, Dance hall and Tribal Fusion Belly Dance. You can find her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/lythienco.friedrich