Standing Out in a Crowd

I'm attracted to many pictures because something stands out in the composition. For example, with a crowd of people, there may be a face looking off in a different direction. When I snap the shutter, I know that I'm probably going to emphasize that person further in post production. And here's a bit more about that process.

highlighted-school-child Highlighted Student - I took this photo because of the girl in the crowd looking off. So in post production I subtly enhanced the tones to help draw the viewer's eye to her.

original-school-kids Here's the original shot. The young female student still stands out, but the camera rendered all the tones more evenly than I wanted.

My favorite tool for this process is "Darken/Lighten Center" in Color Efex Pro 4. I like this plugin (with Aperture) because of it has a variety of helpful filters in addition to Darken/Lighten, such as Pro Contrast and Polarization.

When I'm in Lightroom, I'll tap the Radial Filter for this work. I can make a selection, then work outside it or on the interior. It also has a helpful feather slider for smooth transitions.

In some instances, a standard vignette tool will get the job done. Watch out for corners that get too dark, however. The goal is to lead the viewer down the path of discovery without overplaying your hand.

More Aperture Tips and Techniques

To learn more about portrait retouching in Aperture, take a look at Portrait Retouching with Aperture. You may want to check out my other Aperture titles, including Aperture 3.3 Essential Training (2012), Using iPhoto and Aperture Together, and the latest, Enhancing Product Photography with Aperture. Also, take a look at our Aperture 3 Learning Center. Tons of free content about how to get the most out of Aperture.

Want to Comment on this Post?

You can share your thoughts at the TDS Facebook page, where I'll post this story for discussion.