June 14, 2011 /

Technical Tuesday: Doug Landreth CreativeLive Weekend & Photoshop Editing Walkthrough

Quick overview of the previous weekend's creativelive class with Doug Landreth and walking through the editing of Sunday's engagement session in Photoshop


In honor of this weekend’s recent CreativeLive event, I am sneaking in yet another blog post this week. Don’t worry, besides talking about some training classes I took over the weekend with the amazing Doug Landreth I also have an engagement photo from this past Sunday’s session in Centennial Olympic Park!

Doug Landreth creativelive Weekend

Those of you who have read this blog know that I am a huge creativelive fan, Chase Jarvis and his collaborators including B&H Photo & Video have teamed up to deliver world-class instruction in a variety of creative subjects completely free over the internet. I’ve supported their efforts purchasing both of the Jasmine Star workshops and the most recent Zack Arias workshop. I’ve also watched just about every single one that has come out besides the ones I listed above including an informative session on HD DSLR filmmaking with Vincent Laforet and a posing & lighting workshop with Bambi Cantrell that I blogged about here.

So what was this weekend’s class about and why should I spend time watching classes on both Friday and Saturday? Because Doug Landreth is a master at post-production, the magic that goes on after the wedding has ended or the newly engaged couple heads home. This weekend Doug really blew my mind with his knowledge of Photoshop, I mean just wow. I am really inspired to get out there and continue learning more of this powerful program. I mean I thought I had a pretty good grasp on the features but it’s their is still so much more out there!

Back when I attended Photoshop World last year I attended a session on compositing – combining two or more photos into one final art piece. Doug took that concept to a whole new level this weekend with some of his amazing artwork. I mean I’ve used the occasional texture here and there, but this is a whole new level with some photos having at least a dozen adjustment layers and photos merged into one masterpiece. One of my Summer projects in between wedding season is to really step up my own personal projects and this weekend really got my butt in gear. With my planned Summer sabbatical to California already in the works for August, I can’t wait to get back form it already and start editing the photos!

So where does this tie back into what I mentioned above, this weekend’s engagement session in Centennial Olympic Park with Nasrine and Amir? I’m going to walk through my editing process for an intensive image. Granted every image is different, here is one example from something I edited this morning. I don’t really mind giving away my “secrets” because just like I said, every image is different and takes different massaging to express your own creative intent.

Here is the photo straight out of camera, no editing at all. This was taken at Centennial Olympic Park this past Sunday, June 12th, 2011 by myself using the Canon EOS 5D Mark II and Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L lens in Manual Mode for total control over how the image will look.

Blog Photo: Naz & Amir Straight Out of Camera

What happens next is I import all of the photos from the wedding, engagement session, portrait session, etc into Adobe Photoshop Lightroom and apply some basic adjustments to the images to make the colors pop a bit more and balance the subject. Sometimes, all the photo needs is this quick 30 second Lightroom adjustment because the photo that came out of the camera is exactly how I wanted it to. That is the beauty of shooting in Manual Mode, everything that happens to the photo happens because of a deliberate action. These quick adjustments give us this, almost there:

Blog Photo: Naz & Amir Lightroom Adjustments Only

Now actually the photo looks pretty decent, but if I want to give it that little extra kick I’ll edit it in Photoshop CS5 or spend a bit more time fine-tuning adjustments in Lightroom. Since this was one of my favorite photos of the couple and one that I took a little more time shooting using some Strobist flash techniques, I brought the photo into Photoshop for some more tweaking!

Early in my photographic career I started using Totally Rad Actions, which are sort of “guidelines” and presets to give photos little bumps and boosts here and there depending on the desired effect. Mastering the use of some of these actions is almost as challenging as mastering Photoshop itself, you can’t simply press a button and get a masterpiece, this process now only takes me about 5-10 minutes but before it took me much longer, trust me!

Photoshop Layers

Here is my step-by-step in Photoshop:

1. Edit in Lightroom
2. Open in Photoshop
3. Duplicate layer; remove trees, poles, blemishes
4. Totally Rad Pro Retouch on both faces with brush at 67% opacity
5. Totally Rad Eye Bump on both eyes with brush at 67% opacity, fade layer to 50% opacity
6. Totally Rad Prettyizer faded to 75% opacity
7. Totally Rad Big Blue; painted to sky with 67% opacity brush, fade layer to 40%
8. Totally Rad Green with Envy; painted ground with 67% opacity brush, fade layer to 39%
9. Totally Rad Yin/Yang, Yin; Paint in darkness on buildings and spot on left corner
10. Totally Rad Yin/Yang, Yangt; Paint in lightness on couple with 100% opacity brush, fade layer to 20%
11. Totally Rad Boutwell Magic Glasses; Fade layer to 80%
12. Save, crop in Lightroom

That might not make a lot of sense to someone who is not a photographer, but all that matters is the end result, right? Here is the final image that was posted to the FengLong Photography Facebook Fan Page:

Naz + Amir Engagement Session | Centennial Olympic Park | Atlanta Indian Wedding Photographer

The effect is not immediately noticeable and that is part of the point! I want to make my awesome couples even more awesome, to photograph and showcase them at their best without them looking overly “photoshopped” and unrecognizable.

Thanks for reading along with a more technical post today, I think I am going to write another technical review for Wednesday so skip over that if that’s not your thing. We’ll be posting more engagement photos and wedding photos with a teaser on Friday for the following Monday’s blog post, we’re still not caught up!


Equipment Used in This Shoot (B&H Affiliate Links):

Canon EOS 5D Mark II Digital SLR
Canon EF 16-36mm f/2.8L
Nikon SpeedLight SB-900
2x PocketWizard PLUS II Transciever
Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 (Mac)
Adobe Photoshop CS5 (Mac)


Zachary Long is an Atlanta Wedding Photographer and also a total geek at heart, if you couldn’t tell that already from this long technical post. Zac balances his geekiness with his creative expressions in photography and would love to photograph your wedding! Email Zac at to check rates and availability.


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