We’re all quite happy with the technical capabilities of cameras these days and their ability to capture the finest of details, though sometimes it’s best to do a bit of clean up work so as to end up with a truly flattering portrait.
Brightness, color and contrast adjustments: To make the best of prints with detail everywhere, it’s best to take pictures a bit “flat”, without much contrast, with the exposure optimized for the highlights. Hover over this picture of a balcony terrace on rue Beaurepaire to see the picture as I took it.
Perspective correction: hover over this picture of Sacré-Cœur to see the uncorrected version.
Digital trickery: remove bothersome elements from your pictures as you wish! Hover over this picture to see the truck disappear; take a look at a bigger version of this example.
Image sharpness optimized for display on a web page. Hover over this picture to see the results of a reduction from a high-resolution scan, without boosting the sharpness.
The “Image Size” dialogue box where you can set the print size, and if necessary, the number of pixels in the image.
The “Curves” dialogue box is the best choice for working on the brightness, contrast, and color balance in a photograph. I prefer this method by far as opposed to others, notably Levels. This screen shot shows a typical curve for increasing the contrast of a picture.
These Photoshop lessons, entirely tailored to your needs and what you would like to learn, can help photographers with these subjects:
Above: an announcement for photography lessons by David Henry printed on page 154, in the October 2005 edition of one of the leading photography magazines in France.
Questions and answers about Photoshop workshops:
I’ve been taking pictures since the age of thirteen. Most of my work consists of tourism and travel photography, for advertising agencies, graphic designers, architects, books, magazines and other kinds of publications. I first started digitally manipulating photographs at the beginning of the 1990s. A few years later I was preparing pictures in layouts for high-resolution offset printing. The great leap forward occurred in February 2001, when I bought a film scanner and a computer up to the task, worthy of making prints of truly photographic quality, at very large sizes.
A typical scene with lots of contrast: It’s frustrating to not be able to expose for the foreground and the background at the same time. In this example, the easiest way is to take one picture exposed for the stained glass window, and another exposed for the interior of the church, and to combine the best of the two images. Along the way, I corrected the perspective in this picture also.
Quite simply because no one makes proof prints at 16x20 inches: if I’m going to spend dozens of dollars on an enlargement I want it to be my print, not a machine-made print. Of course one can have pictures taken with a digital camera printed without doing the least bit of retouching and if the pictures have been exposed well enough, many of the prints will come out fine. In the history of photography, truly the best prints are ones made by hand by someone with an enlarger; seventy years ago there was no such thing as “custom printing”, because automatic printing machines had not been invented and every print was made by hand in a darkroom.
For twenty years I developed my negatives and made black and white prints in the darkroom with my enlarger. When doing so, I systematically made areas lighter or darker, activities known as burning and dodging. When I started using a scanner and Photoshop to make my prints, I retained these same habits, except that now I can do all this in color, something too difficult, slow and expensive to do in a darkroom. I have retouched all the pictures you see on this web site, some more than others, but always in the spirit of making “custom, hand-made prints”, as opposed to machine-made prints. I’ve found that any digital image benefits from a boost in sharpness, adjustments of color balance, and above all, pulling out details in the highlights and shadows. Doctoring pictures isn’t my thing, and I don’t often engage in what could properly be called trickery, beyond picking up litter or removing trees rising up behind people’s heads. That said, I know perfectly well how to completely doctor photographs, there are a few examples at the bottom of this page.
Just about any computer made in the last ten years can run Photoshop, as long as it has enough RAM (two gigabytes is a comfortable minimum) and has at least a dozen gigabytes of free space on the hard drive. If you do not have Photoshop installed, Adobe offers a trial version which lasts 30 days. If you will be using Photoshop more than a little bit, I strongly recommend a graphic tablet, like those made by Wacom.
It must be said that Photoshop is truly a flexible program, used for dozens of kinds of work on images, having to do with science, graphic arts, cartoons, astronomy, video, etc, as well as… photography. If you take traditional classes on Photoshop, you’re likely to learn plenty of things of no interest to photographers: typography, vectorial drawing, drop shadows, “artistic” filters. My approach is to teach Photoshop for photographers, the most important parts of the program for bringing out the best in your pictures, as you would if working with an enlarger in a darkroom.
I work with people of all kinds of skill levels, from absolute beginners to people who know Photoshop better than I do in certain ways. Participants need not know anything about digital photography, the only requirement is a will to learn, and the motivation to put in to practice the ideas and concepts I teach.
The keyboard of my 13-inch MacBook Air equipped with Photoshop CC and Adobe’s other leading programs: Lightroom, InDesign, Illustrator and Dreamweaver.
I feel it’s best to teach and learn on your own equipment. That way, I can look over your digital photography process from beginning to end; from image acquisition (your digital camera or scanner), your computer and the calibration of your monitor, on up to your printer, or your habits of working with digital photo labs. Otherwise, I can teach anywhere with my MacBook Air and the latest versions of Photoshop and Lightroom CC.
I’m in the habit of starting at 11:00 am and continuing until 7:00 pm, though we can start whenever you wish: lessons can be arranged any time: the morning, at night, during the week, the afternoon, on weekends.
Workshop sessions are in no way pre-organized, they are scheduled according to your availability. It is best to reserve sessions a few weeks in advance, to make sure I will be in Paris, and not previously engaged. You may look over available dates, below.
There is just one participant: you! That is, unless you would like to participate with friends, in which case the rates are the same. These workshops are entirely customized, one-on-one sessions. You may think of these sessions as an opportunity to learn techniques I have gathered over the years and to “pick my brains”, and ask specific questions that most people wouldn’t have the answer to.
I know InDesign as well as Photoshop, it’s a fantastic page layout program and entirely essential when you are working on projects that are more than a few pages long. I know Lightroom equally well, it has the same “engine” and technology as Photoshop though the interface is very different. One can spend dozens of minutes making pictures look great in Photoshop though spending this much time is out of the question when you have dozens or hundreds of photos to prepare and send out. Thus Lightroom is much more adapted to digital photography, while Photoshop after all dates back to before the advent of digital photography, when image files were created with scanners, not cameras. For “deep digital drawing” and graphic design Illustrator is essential, and I know that program almost as well as Photoshop.
I spend most of my time in Photoshop “developing” my pictures; brightening, darkening region by region, raising contrast, straightening, sharpening, reducing noise, etc. That said, I know perfectly well how to doctor pictures, by copying & pasting, with layers, using the eraser, the Select: Color Range and Free Transform commands, the Clone Stamp and repair tools, and I can teach you how to do all this using these pictures as work examples. Here are a few examples, before and after:
A surveillance camera on the façade of the Crédit Municipal bank, next to the motto of the French Republic: «Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité». Here is the picture as I took it, and the Surveillé and Fiché versions.
The selfie craze is silly enough, though the selfie stick is all the more idiotic and ridiculous, inspiring me to cobble this montage together for the fun of it. Here is the background picture taken on September 11th 2001, the three Koreans in front of the United States capital building, the Koreans cut out from the background of the source image, and the collage of these two images put together.
A photo of me on a Harley Davidson on a very hot day in Budapest. Aside from the usual improvements in overall brightness and contrast, I fixed my posture, brightened my face, darkened my body, fixed my hair, removed a few wrinkles, and enlarged my biceps a bit. Here is the picture as taken and my doctored version.
Here I removed that nasty cast shadow coming from the internal flash. I always take portraits with an external flash off-camera and diffused, which allows one to keep the flash above the lens and the subject. Here is the picture as I took it and the modified version.
A portrait on île de la Cité of Manu and Yun Jiang in Paris: shallow depth of field has been quite trendy after 2005 though I found depth of field so shallow frustrating, luckily I had taken another picture where I had focused on Manu so I was able to copy his head and paste him in to the photo where Yun is sharp: depth of field is a good thing, not a bad thing! Here is the base photo before doctoring, and the montage of the two pictures. To wrap things up I did the classic beauty treatment to smooth out the skin without blurring it, remove the reflections on the skin, and thicken Manu’s hair.
All images are © 2023, David Henry, all rights reserved. Written permission is required for any use.