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I shot this beautiful set with the wonderful Sam a while back, and we worked in a couple of different ways with this corset from Wyte Phantom - with one of these being this over-the-top, larger-than-life Marie Antoinette inspired set. In this blog I'm going to give you a little flavour of my workflow in post-production, the choices I made and how I went about making them. As always, I love seeing your photos and anything you've been inspired by - so do share your creations with me!

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I always start by importing my RAW images in Capture One. I make my selections in there, and will sometimes throw some initial colour toning on in there (not for this one, however!). I've always found that using Capture One retains slightly more detail than importing using Lightroom for example, and helps make it super easy to make my final edit selections from a potentially huge set of images.

This set we'd played around with a couple of different setups, hence the blue background, pink sidelight etc., but I knew for at least one I wanted to spend a bit more time doing a composite image with a replaced background, as it's not something I do often, and I felt like this one was the one!

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After selection in Capture One, I moved into Photoshop. If you're thinking about changing the backdrop, in my opinion it's always worth having a rough idea of the sort of thing you'll be editing in - otherwise you can spend ages colour toning and then it just doesn't fit with your background choice. Because I knew I was going with this baroque-y interior, I knew I had to do some major changes to the colours in the original file. Here I've desaturated a lot, taken the pinks down, and toned down all the blues as an initial step.

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Next up was to take down even more of the pinks - especially because at this point I knew the background I wanted had more of a green / gold palette - and the pink was probably going to clash. I added a fair bit more of a warm / yellow tone into the highlights to help with this as well. I wasn't interested in the outcome of any adjustments on the background, because I knew it was getting replaced, so it looks pretty horrible!

The theme being Marie Antoinette I made some colour adjustments to the skin to give it that 'ivory' type look and cool down some of the oranges in the skin tone.

I also matched the roses in the hair to the yellow gold of the necklace to make it tie together, and match the cake slice and the gold tones I knew were in my background image I was adding on the next step.

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Now for the main change! I used a backdrop I had been meaning to use for a while - a beautiful baroque wall and ceiling shot from stock. Obviously the angle is all sorts of wrong, lighting doesn't match etc., but my aim for this is not to create a hyper realistic 'person in setting' image, but rather just replace the backdrop for my model. Personally, I love nothing more than masking out the entire model with a pen or brush in Photoshop (it's super time consuming, but I like the detailed work and it's something I can do while I watch a series...!). There are a lot of different ways of doing this, and you can find plenty of tutorials online, so not going to delve to much into that on this particular blog. 

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This step doesn't look like a huge difference from the last one - but it's important to show that once the background has been changed, I always make some minor colour adjustments to the image as a whole (background and subject). This helps tie the two together, and make them a little more cohesive as a whole. If you look at Step 4 and 5 next to each other for example, you'll see I've added some colder tones to the highlights, and balanced the yellows/reds together.

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Another stylistic choice for me here was to change the corset from silver to gold. There were two reasons for this: First, I thought the gold would push the opulence just that little bit further, and tie in with the necklace, yellow roses, and the gold border running round the ceiling; Second, I already had a lot of other images for the model and designer of the 'original' piece which I think is super important - so this was more of a fun change for me to get creative!

I also made sure the legs from the last shot were lightened and colour toned to make them look less 'shadowy' and help them fit in with the backdrop which is super light. I quite liked that there was still an element of shadow of the model against the light of the background and vice versa, because it balances the overall photo in my opinion.

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If you compare this image to the last, you'll see this is where I did all the skin work and made some changes to adding or enhancing some of the beautiful highlights - especially on the skin to create that 'dewy' look. It's a minor step, but one of the most time consuming, and also helps make the image look that much more refined - it would be a shame to have done so much and leave some of the basics of retouching!!


Last, but certainly not least.... some minor liquify action on the hair to create a little more volume and add presence to the model in the top half of the image, and also some sharpening of the image as a whole just to make all the small details 'pop' more. 

And that's it! 8 major steps from RAW image to final Marie Antoinette inspired fun pastel extravaganza! What do you think? Have you been inspired to do something similar? Let me know your thoughts and show me what you've been up to on my social accounts - I always love to see them. 'Til next time!

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