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Extracting a Single Subject

Lesson 34 from: The Business of Professional Headshots

Gary Hughes

Extracting a Single Subject

Lesson 34 from: The Business of Professional Headshots

Gary Hughes

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Lesson Info

34. Extracting a Single Subject


Class Trailer

Class Overview


Getting Headshot Clients


Headshot Pricing Models for Individuals


Headshot Pricing Models for Groups and Companies


Payment and Delivery for Groups


Six Styles of Business Headshots


Headshot Lighting Gear


Posing Basics for Headshots


Basic Standing Pose for Headshots


Basic Seated Pose for Headshots


Head Position for Headshots


Expression Sells the Image


One-Light High Key Headshot with Male Model


One-Light High Key Headshot with Female Model


Two-Light High Key Headshot with Male Model


Two-Light High Key Headshot with Female Model


Two-Light Standing Pose Headshot with Male Model


Two-Light Standing Pose Headshot with Female Model


One Light Low Key Headshot with Male Model


Two Light Low Key Headshot with Female Model


General Q&A


Constant Light: Low Key Classic Headshot with Male Model


Constant Light: Low Key Classic Headshot with Female Model


Constant Light: Standing Pose Headshot with Male Model


Constant Light: Standing Pose Headshot with Female Model


Setting up the Background for Extraction Shoot


Shooting for Extraction Headshot with Male Model


Shooting for Extraction Headshot with Female Model


Shooting Low Key Modern Headshots for Extraction


Basic Headshot Facial Retouching Techniques


Basic Headshot Eye Retouching Techniques


Basic Headshot Retouching Techniques: Dodge and Burn


Basic Headshot Retouching Q&A


Extracting a Single Subject


Creating a Headshot Composite


F-Type Headshot Lighting: Equipment and Principle


F-Type Headshot Lighting: Execution


Shooting Headshots in Volume


Lesson Info

Extracting a Single Subject

You guys ready to extract? I just wanna look at this picture real quick. (purring sound) (audience laughing) That's super badass right? Oscar, I hope you appreciate that. Alright, so let's go down to ... I've selected these two images at random for extraction. So let's open these in Camera Raw and get to work. Now it's important also that you want to definitely make sure that the images are sharp. That looks pretty sharp to me. I can see all those hair follicles right on his head. We're good with that, cool. Alright, so everything looks pretty much in line. I might wanna bring the highlights down a little. Okay and maybe reduce the exposure just a touch. Alright, select them both, sync the settings. It's extremely important here folks that the images get the exact same treatment when you're processing them. So you don't wanna have the image be completely different. But you can make individual adjustments here. Here's an example, he's wearing a dark suit so the light control here is bui...

lt in to his clothes. She's got really bright bare arms here. And so I would probably do something like take an adjustment brush. which again, this is not unique to Bridge. This is something you can do in Lightroom as well. And maybe reduce the exposure about 20%. Now I do a lot of burning and dodging in Camera Raw. I will recommend that you go in to these brushes and you can create a preset. So it's really easy to create a preset for yourself in Raw or you use new local correction setting and I can call this Burn cause I'll do different levels of burning. If it's only a quarter of a stop, that will be burn1. And then if I wanna burn ... Oh that's a dodge actually. My bad, let's go ahead, we'll eliminate Burn1. Let's change Burn1 to minus a quarter of a stop. I know what burning and dodging means. (laughs) So then if I want to reduce it half a stop then I might make another one called Burn2. So then instead of selecting the tool, going and making the adjustment, you just go over here, you grab your brush and you go Burn2 and then it's already set for you. And then you're gonna just bring those arms and body down a little bit so that her face is the brightest thing. Are you with me on that? Super easy stuff and then we're good to go. So what I'll do now is we're going to the point, we're going outside of Camera Raw because in Lightroom and in Camera Raw, as far as I know, there may be somebody out there, the extraction is either not able to be done or it would just be kind of a pain in the butt so well, Photoshop is your best bet. There actually are software that you can buy that specializes in extraction that can pretty much extract anything. You'll see it a lot at corporate events and stuff. They'll hire a company that does green screen photos. I was just working with one last week. They do a terrific job. But those, you don't need to go spend all that software for something that you're not gonna do day to day when you already have Photoshop. So we're gonna open both of these images in Photoshop. Doing pretty good on time. Alright, we're about to enter the mind blown zone here. So guys just brace yourselves. Anybody needs to change their underwear after we do this. Alright, here we go. So I'm gonna start here with Oscar. Now we've got, we've got clean solid lines all the way around. We've got no highlight or blow back from the background. This should be, I haven't done this in events. This is the first time I'm looking at this, pretty easy. So the first thing I wanna do is I will grab my quick selection tool which is right there with the magic wand tool and the W, select the W key. Now, this quick selection tool is a really neat tool that kinda learns as you go, how to grab the edges of something. So it gets it right on the first time a lot. But as you start to correct it a little bit, it will get smarter which is pretty cool. In the individual image, not like overtime like Skynet. It's not gonna take over, the machines will win. So you just literally can ... And you see the contrast is so obvious. It just grabs it, there's no problem. Boom ... because we shot it correctly, alright. How easy is that? Now here's a mistake. People if you just go, oh, let's just copy that on to a new layer. You're gonna have some issues. Particularly when you get to the hair. That kinda looks crappy. Now, watch what happens if we were to let's say, put a white background behind it or a black background. Let's try white. It still mostly it's good but look kind of the ears messed up over here and your edge is not very precise you know. Anywhere where there's fine detail is gonna be kind of ruined. Why? Cause it's not feathered because there's no attention paid to those things. So let me show you how we circumvent that a little bit. Okay, so here we are we're selected ... You really need to just take a second and go around the image and you see little things like this collar. You see, the collar was a little too close to the background but there's enough there to where ... Oh I'm gonna grab my quick selection tool. You can still do that. Just make a quick round around the edges of the image and make sure that like this little bit of ear right here. You see all the little hairs that is missing and stuff like that. I'm gonna teach you how to get those. And little bit of ear right here, little bit of ear right here. All that stubble there. Okay, all that looks pretty good, right. Good solid lines on everything. Okay, I feel good about ... Oh, that ear still looks kinda jacked up, let's get up there. What's going on with the ear? No, that's just his ear. That was, you're suppose to laugh at that. (audience laughing) I appreciate you laughing at my jokes. The rest of you, alright cool. So let's do this. Now that we've got our image selected, roughly selected, see how easy it is to do when you shot it correctly. You got the right amount of contrast around the edges. Now we're gonna go right above and beyond to the point that other people will not be able to go because they don't know this trick. And this is the trick I learned from a good friend of mine, Richard Sturtevant. He was one of the masters of Photoshop compositing. And the first time I saw him do this, I had to go back and watch the video like five times to just to make sure that I saw what I was seeing. And this is a trick that's been around for a little while. So it's not like a, you know, a revelation for some of you. Some of you already know this but we've got the quick selection tool still selected right here, okay. And you've got this little button up here that says, refine edge. I want you to hit that. Now, these are settings that I kinda put in. You're gonna wanna find your own little groove. But basically, these are good place to start. I don't recommend the smart radius. I wouldn't really use it. Or the decontaminate colors. Make sure that those are unselected. But if you go down here to the selection, just take a note of those numbers and write those down. That's actually gonna be pretty safe place to start. And remember once you've set your numbers in, and you find out what works for you, remember to check this ... This they just added to Photoshop like two versions ago where you can actually ... When a dialog box open up, you can tell to remember the settings and this is something that ... why they didn't they think of this earlier but they finally did. Do that and you won't have to put those in every time. Just make sure that says remember settings. Now, right up here, you got your view mode. Right now, we're on what's called Reveal Layer. So let me show what that means. That means that you know longer see the marching ant selection I just made but it's still there. Your view mode, I can view it in marching ants, I can see it as an overlay, I see it on black, I can see it on white. You can see what your image is gonna look like cut out with the settings that you just put in there which is really cool. Now, you can see as black versus white. And this is where you start to really see how bad that cutout will be if I just go ahead and hit start putting on a new layer, okay. So I would say, start on a reveal layer and you're gonna zoom in, okay. Now what you get is this brush, the refine radius tool. This is where we're gonna do the real magic of cutting stuff out. Bring that refine radius brush tool over here to the hair right. Now I want you see it in the white on black. You see how chunky and garbage-y that looks. Go back to reveal layer, grab a little bit of this background that we're trying to get rid off, and then I want you to just sort of take a small brush and just paint the edges of where you want to eliminate that color from. And now watch this, you see the detail? And we're gonna do it again. See all these little hairs right here? I go like this. You see the detail? We were lost a little bit there. Go back, here we go. Okay, back to that reveal there. Up here, I'm gonna grab this, just a sample. I'm starting to teach the brush what I'm doing. You start to see that these are gonna come through. See, now you can start to see that it's actually gonna look like hair when I cut him out. So, you can actually do it in larger swats if you like, like so. (humming a tune) Boom, you see now, you got the detail in the hair around there. Is that that cool? Nobody said whow, I was really hoping somebody would be really impressed with that. (audience laughing) Maybe tell us again what you're doing so that we're all realizing ... No I think you should listen the first time. The how (laughs) Alright, let me back up and do this again for you. So what we've done here essentially, is we have used our quick selection tool to make a rough grab of our image and because of the way photographed it, and we got this contrast over here, between the background and the person, it's gonna be really really easy for the quick selection tool to know what to select, okay. So what we've done now that we've selected this, is that we have come to the point now where we're gonna go in and do some fine detail work which is where gonna get into refine edge. So what this does is that you're adjusting the edge. I'm telling you that I want to smooth the edge out a little bit. I wanted to feather it. This is what's gonna make it look not cut out is to make an edges just a little softer and friendlier. Even on the once that was really easy for it to find, you wanna just smooth those edges just a little bit. And then the contrast, keep it about 8 or 9% and shift edge will bring that selection in just a little bit, just on the off chance that there's like a weird highlight or something that's around the edge. Are you with me? And so, this is gonna do that globally all the way around the selection. But I have these to contend with. All these little hairs right here. So I'm going to use my refine radius tool. And using the view mode on reveal layer and I'm just gonna go in there, which you can use by select by R and K will show you the black on white. This is what you start with. It just is gonna chunk it up and make it look really kinda generic. Around the hair, it is the area where you see the most problems in doing this sorts of extractions. So, if you grab on the reveal layer, grab a sample of that background that you're looking to take out of the detail, let it learn a little bit and then you just go around the edges just like so. Are you guys ready to say, Whow? Whow! Whow! And now, you have all that detail when you cut it out. Does that make sense? That's easy right? So we have a lot of wows and whows coming in Yeah? from folks at home so they're giving you that. Dan referred to your photo, says, "Blows my mind. I'm so glad I bought the course." And if you wanna buy the course, you can, you. That camera, that camera? No. Tell us again how you're selecting what to sample from. Oh absolutely, let's go back to that reveal there. What I'm selecting is I wanna select the tone. You see in between the hairs, you have background, right. In between every little hair, you see that gray background. So what I wanna do, is I want to remove all the gray background from in the middle of his black hair. And so, you could see this will be problematic if you had somebody with gray hair then you have a really hard time to zoom. But there's enough contrast between his dark hair and that gray background ... If you wanna go in there and do this by hand, you could, it would take you like a month and you have a beard and starve to death or you could do it this way. What I'm doing is sampling this background. And I don't even know this is necessary. This is just my force of habit. But I want it to know what I wanna get rid off. I'm going to an area outside the selection and showing the brush what I don't want in the picture. And then I'm going to go all the way up the side and it's gonna start removing that tone from the background. (humming a tune) And then I'm gonna double check by looking at that layer and now I've got all that beautiful detail in the hair all around the edges. Is that cool? Yeah, so just to clarify for some folks who are asking, are you having to click like an alt key or anything your sampling or just that the step is ... No All it is, yeah, sample and then show. Just use the left-click of your mouse or the weird push of your pen tablet thing if that's what you do. Okay And now, if I've done this right, if you look at this on black, looks pretty good. Look at it on white, good. And we look at it on its own layer and I've got all the hair. Looks like I might be feathering a little too much. So let's bring that feather back just a touch here. Okay, and let's look at that again, get that contrast up a little. Look at that on white, there it is. I feather a little too much. Look at it on black, here you go. So what I've got is I've got a little natural sort of ... Around there from the light but you've got all the detail in the hair and here's the other thing, you can use it for ... If there's a beard, it works just the same way. But just a little bit of stow that I'm worried about. So then we're gonna hit okay, pull it out to a new layer. Boom and we've got a really nice extraction. Let's zoom it in and take a look. Or you've got all these detail and these little hairs all the way around his head. How cool is that? See that, it's all, what you can see through is hair into the clear background. It's pretty wild huh, alright. So, now we've got part one of the real estate team. Here we go so we can move him around. (humming a tune) (audience laughing) I'm sorry I'm just having fun up here by myself. Okay, time to close, alright. So just for the sake of not wanting to screw this up completely, I wanna go ahead and save this cause I don't trust this computer, cause it ain't mine. And we'll save this as newsTeam1, save, alright. Number two member of the news team. And this is quite a bit more real estate to cover, don't you think? On the extraction, far as the hair is concerned. So let's do this. Let me grab our quick selection tool. (humming a tune) I can't tell, I'm sorry, this monitor is a little far away, how sharp, okay, it's nice and sharp. (humming a tune) Good, see how easy that is? When you shoot it for extraction, cool. (humming a tune) Then you're gonna go around the edges. And you just gonna make sure everything's there. Aha! (making zooming sound) Enhance, enhance, there we go, alright. Now, in order to unselect the part of this selection that is the background, you are going to hold the alt key or option key and you'll gonna go ahead and grab that and make it nice and small. I'm working a small area here. And I'm just making sure that this comes out of the image. I do not want that to bite me in the butt cause this you'll need to be able to see through to the background. Okay, there we go. Still using the quick selection tool, haven't change that. Cool with me there. And there, oops, wrong button. Using the option key slash alt key and there. Unselected that and we're gonna go around and I wanna make sure that I get this and there. Even though I got some of the background in there, we know how that's gonna turn out and make sure all that hair is in there. I'm gonna go this way and that's ... Let me go here. Select all that, maybe not all that. And so basically, I'm just selecting a rough outline and I would probably retouch out all this flyaway stuff anyway. So I'm gonna leave it out of the selection and I'm gonna trust my feathering to get rid of it. Okay cool, we are, you guys seeing anything I'm missing? All good? Okay. So now, we go to the refine edge, just like we did before. Boom and so you can see that if you just look at on a black background, that it's really chappy. And you can see that background to the hair. Are you with me? So I'm gonna put on the reveal layer Boom and we're gonna do the exact same thing we did before. We're gonna zoom in, oops R. And I wanna grab this refine radius tool which by the way is selected by default when you open up this dialog box. And you're going to grab a little bit of this background. And gonna show it what you want it to get rid of. And then we're just gonna go for it. And we'll see how this turns out. This might take a couple of passes just because there's a lot of hair. You can see right away that we start to get detail. Did you say Whow? Oh, Sheldon, you sweetheart. Alright, boom, see? You got a question? Go for it, Meghan. You've earned it. Thanks, are these skills then transferable to like ... If I've got a family and I've got a kid who had a screwball face and wanted to head swap that out? Head swapping is actually even easier than this. But we can still refine the edges and things like that. Pull them out, stick them in. Absolutely, yeah. I mean to swap a head, I typically ... Actually swap the face. If you grab the marquee tool and just grab their face, as long as the images are similar in size and perspective, you feather the edge and just drag the face over and put it on the kid and you're usually pretty good. That's really a quick way to do it. But yes, some of this might apply.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

6 Styles of Headshots
Gear List

Ratings and Reviews

Melville McLean

Gary Hughes is possibly the best teacher I have seen here and that is a very high compliment. His business analysis is simple and to the point. His set ups and techniques are simple and straight forward, no easy task in itself. His interactions with his models/clients are finely developed and reduced into the fewest but most important key exchanges. He teaches by example how to interact and direct. If you are a high volume photography with brief time per sitter, you might especially appreciate his tips. It is extraordinarily difficult to keep a tight, well structured class going live for so long at a time. His intelligence, wit and personality are all in his favor but it is the content itself that is most impressive. I am not a portrait photographer but I have 30 years of commercial studio experience. He knows what is most important, leaves out the rest and has organized the material in anticipation of most difficulties that arise so that it rests in a seamless, smooth, coherent learning experience. All of his practical advice is excellent. Just understand that his work is about doing a relatively large number of shots in the most efficient way rather than a lot of time spent on a few clients for a completely different format [presentation like very large prints. In fact he is especially pragmatic. He emphasizes that you do not have to own the most expensive equipment but you absolutely do have to know how to use the equipment that you already have. And I am telling you this as someone he makes fun of in his course with fancy cameras and Profoto lighting gear. He is an advocate of all thought out approaches as well as relying on skills and knowledge. You will understand how and why to make all of his key, conventional light and posing set ups. He makes everything sound simple and doable -- and with his help -- it is. What you have to appreciate is that it is up to each individual to acquire the specialized skills to make our work compelling enough to be competitive. The unspoken truth that we all face is that talent plays a key role as well and that it takes time to become every accomplished. But I have also seen concentration, commitment and hard work result in developing innate talents that blossom in very successful careers. Mr Hughes reduces every step into the clearest, most essential components. He is self effacing both as a photographer and post process retoucher but he is very good indeed and does not waste time overdoing images that cannot benefit from a larger format presentation. Everything is appropriate and practical. He has already removed everything that does not matter for his purposes for us that would only interfere with the concise, clarity of his presentation.


I am so glad that I had the opportunity to watch this course. It has not only provided valuable lighting set-ups, but also great basics for posing.!. The Photoshop extraction technique Gary demonstrated was icing on the cake. Gary did a great job teaching and I greatly admired the technique in which he taught. Thanks for a great class!


This was an excellent class! The class covered so much information and great tips and ideas. Gary is funny and has an easy going approach, which makes the class that much more enjoyable. As a struggling pet photographer, I have been trying to find something to supplement my business with that does not involve children/babies, or shooting weddings again and headshots seemed to be a great option. After watching this class, I feel confident building up a headshot component to my business. Definitely recommend this class!

Student Work