DxO PhotoLab

Quickly add life to a childhood portrait using DxO OpticsPro 10 and DxO FilmPack 5

by DxO Image Master Cath Schneider

Image after applying DxO OpticsPro and DxO FilmPack corrections

I have a very particular affection for portraiture, whether animal or human, and for images that embody childhood. For this photo, I wanted to warm up the atmosphere of the scene and accentuate the emotion that the subjects evoke, as well as the look of the bird at the center, by following a workflow that combines the tools of DxO OpticsPro 10 and DxO FilmPack 5.

Working with a 40mm Canon, the automatic distortion corrections, the noise reduction, and the lens sharpness (“lens softness” palette) that DxO OpticsPro applies are crucial for me.

The value of the software is increased by the ability to deactivate the automatic corrections and to upload a RAW file and use its raw values. I’m thinking particularly about the exposure processing: I love that when I look at an image on the screen, the rendering upon opening respects what I did when taking the photo in manual mode.

To process this image, I first adjusted the white balance with the goal of accentuating the positive image of the scene, by bringing to it the warm colors that are in harmony with the theme of childhood, and by accentuating the blondness of the hair and that very special end-of-summer atmosphere.

Image before/after adjusting the white balance

Having had to hurry during shooting, to capture the scene before the bird flew away, the Exposure compensation slider — set to 0.71 — allowed me to add a bit of light to the whole. To improve the exposure of this photo, I also used DxO Smart Lighting in Custom (37) mode, which let me recover the details in the dark areas of the image.

Image before/after adjusting the exposure

As a photographer, I choose to manage the depth of field directly rather than simply allow it to happen when I shoot. For this portrait, for example, I shot an oblique axis along which one sees sharply the eye, the hands, and the bird. In post-production, I only rarely adjust the sharpness of my images, and if I do, I do so parsimoniously.

At this stage, I concentrate on managing the Selective tone, which I use systematically to make certain blacks lighter or more contrasty. Here, the tool allowed me to diminish some highlights that were a bit too strong for my tastes, and to add a bit more density and detail to the eye and to the bird. The modification is voluntarily slight, but the impact is nevertheless important, because it concentrates on the key points that the viewer reads in the image.

Image before/after adjusting the Selective tone

At this point in my workflow, I often use DxO OpticsPro’s Color accentuation palette, which is indispensable for me, and which constitutes a key point in my post-processing work. Here I set vibrancy on 2, and reduced the saturation to –13.

Image before/after correction using Color accentuation

I cropped the photo slightly to make up for the lack of time for framing when taking the shot. At this point, the image is already close to the result I want to obtain.

Application of a slight crop

I especially appreciate the color management and recovery of details in dark areas that DxO OpticsPro offers. These two key points in terms of processing my images allow me to emphasize the presence of the subject in its environment while preserving a visual unity. I also frequently use the tools and renderings in DxO FilmPack to finish the processing, and that’s what I did here when I used DxO FilmPack 5 as a plugin for DxO OpticsPro 10.

For all of my photos, I try my maximum to play with the color values in order to give importance to certain details. To bring out the blondness of my subject a bit more by avoiding gray or dull tones, I used the Filter palette and applied a Yellow filter with a density of 7. The next step that I systematically followed in my workflow was to desaturate the greens (–52) using the Channel mixer for Black & White palette.

I then worked with the Magenta filter to desaturate it (–41), because it created too many parasitic effects when reading the image — accentuating the details on the shirt and reducing the visibility of the bird.

Image before/after working with colors by channel

To finalize the image processing, I chose to use the Grain palette in DxO FilmPack to apply an Agfa Precisa 100 positive-color film rendering, whose softness I love, and then I added a slight (–12creative vignetting after placing the center on the bird.

Image before/after correction with DxO OpticsPro and DxO FilmPack

Photos credits : Cath Schneider