With the light waning on a hillside facing away from the setting sun, I approached this from a photojournalist perspective and just followed Arthur as he cruised around the orchard. What a photogenic guy! 

Portrait Professional 12—first impression

I've only edited a few images with Portrait Pro 12, so I'm sure there's a lot more to learn. My first impression—interesting and slightly disturbing at its extremes.

I think I've learned enough editing a few photos to get a general sense of what this app does well. I'm not sure yet if the relatively minor issues are mine or whether the app has a few tricks that I still need to learn. 

Other than some confusion about the version I was purchasing (which was clunky and cost me an extra few bucks), the app has been stable. I haven't yet used the plug-ins for Lightroom and Photoshop. 

Like Photoshop, this app can create atrocious results, but Portrait Pro's sliders give you a lot of control. Someone with decent Photoshop chops will recognize what Portrait Pro does after experimenting with a few images. This is a good thing. It's easy to tone down the effects, which can be dramatic. 

This shot of my daughter looked nice, but my daughter and her friends felt like it didn't look like her.  


Portrait Pro 12

The results can seem clownish at the default settings. I took this really mundane shot of my wife in the yard to see what it would do with a snapshot. The final shot looks heavy-handed when compared to the original (though most post-processing can seem that way when compared directly with the initial capture). 

Original snapshot

Portrait Pro 12 

Portrait Pro doesn't do anything that you can't do without it, but it expedites a lot of the typical adjustments you'll make to most people photos. It does a great job on skin, provided you fiddle with the settings appropriately. I can see using this for the first pass at least, and, like many Photoshop actions or Lightroom presets, experimentation in Portrait Pro might spark an idea or might highlight an aspect of the image that could benefit from more attention. 

I've found some odd color artifacts when making many of the facial modeling and hair coloring adjustments, though these become noticeable only when trying to make fairly drastic changes. The uneven hair adjustment artifacts are evident in the hair below; I could have corrected this easily in the app or in Photoshop, and I probably will go back and make some additional changes later. Even with the most significant artifacts, I found that the "modeled" face offered some interesting potential when saved as a separate image and overlaid manually in Photoshop. 

From my brief time using the app, it seems like images shot straight on will work best. I struggled with facial geometry in a shot where the model's head was tipped toward the camera, for example. I don't see Portrait Pro replacing Photoshop for regular image adjustments, but I can see using it all of the time for skin, eyes and teeth.

Here's an image that I thought might particularly benefit from Portrait Pro. I've included the "original," which I made black and white in part to avoid some of the color issues in the capture. I don't like the amount of contrast I used initially, so I've toned that down when re-editing.  

As shot


Portrait Pro, converted in Photoshop

No doubt that these quick experiments don't represent what can be done with Portrait Pro 12, and I look forward to trying it out on a few other shots over the weekend.

Beauty and photo-manipulation

In the spirit of the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty, here's another interesting video that shows the dramatic effect of post-processing, underscoring the disconnect between natural beauty and the constructed image.

While I manipulate tones, color and contrast, the extent of photo manipulation beyond that is to remove blemishes and stray hairs. It's much easier to make adjustments to lighting or to shoot from a different angle than to spend a lot of time in post-production; I enjoy shooting more than editing, so I focus on time with the person I'm photographing instead of Photoshop.