Here’s a quick sample comparison of my levels of post processing under certain lighting. The first set of Abby, in the black, was lit from a continuous light. The rest of the lighting was from the remaining ambient light coming through the side window, helping to separate the background a bit. I hung a reflector on Abby’s right side. I shot at a high ISO, allowing more light, and to introduce some noise. The second set of Abby, denim shirt, was pretty much a direct strobe. Nothing special or specific here.
As far as the processing, the first set, I consider it to be pretty heavily processed. There were adjustments in colors, the channel mixer, as well as the usual curves adjustments post-RAW adjustments. It wasn’t needed, because Abby has excellent skin, but the retouching on the skin textures was to just give the shots more of a flat clean look, instead of a more natural gritty one. I actually prefer simple natural shots with natural skin textures, but everything serves a purpose. The rest of the work included simple healing, dodging, burning, and then I capped it off with a little more artificial noise for the finish.
The second set of Abby has very minimal adjustments. The biggest change is in the bump in contrast through the curves adjustment layer. I also gave the colors a slight bump to give this overall set more of a punch. I usually consider the context of the shots when deciding if I want the pictures to have more of a high contrast, versus a low contrast feel. If this shoot was more stylized, and the actions and directions involved, were more distant and aloof, I would’ve probably gone more in a low contrast direction with the adjustments. These shots were more natural, slightly sexy, and showcased Abby just being herself in my eyes.
To wrap it up, this second set had no other adjustments or any forms of retouching done. I cropped the shots to the proper proportions to arrange, and resized accordingly. The first set, had heavier post processing, more than I usually like for my personal works. Whatever direction you decide to go with, for your own works, will depend on how you personally feel about it. There aren’t any rules, so don’t let others dictate what you should do. Don’t get too involved and stuck in having your work look like this persons’ or that persons’ …do you. Discover what works best for yourself, share your works with others, be open to constructive criticism, humbly accept compliments, and continue to grow and evolve.