WORKFLOW WIZARDRY
 
Imagenomic's plug-ins for retouching skin, reducing noise, and applying film-like looks take the pain out of postproduction. By Dean Zulich
 
 

From left to right, Zulich’s image for the Hasselblad Masters photo contest; his final retouch of a beauty shot; before and after default correction in Portraiture 2. Below left and right, default corrections in Portraiture 2 and Noiseware Pro.
 
 
When it comes to running a successful photography business—or completing a school assignment to your satisfaction—a proper workflow process is key. This is especially true for those of us who prefer to do our own retouching. I was recently introduced to Imagenomic’s Professional Plug-in Suite consisting of Portraiture 2, Noiseware, and RealGrain. This group of programs has dramatically improved my workflow, and has possibly saved my sanity.
 
As a recent graduate of the Art Institute of Seattle, I remember how there never seemed to be enough time for all the postproduction work I wanted to do. I often ended up editing assignments well into the evening for the next day’s classes, an anxiety-producing habit that continued straight into my professional career. Now that I’m a pro with tight deadlines and a busy travel schedule, it is absolutely critical for me to save time whenever possible. Imagenomic’s suite—especially my favorite plug-in, Portraiture 2—does that amazingly well.
 
Though my work is conceptual in nature, its creative and aesthetic aspects are its main selling points for my clients. Getting the right lighting, skin tones, and color balance is essential. At first, I was skeptical about a plug-in that would take a certain amount of control away from me, especially when it came to skin retouching. But after using the software to retouch images from a couple of shoots, I became a true believer. Even though Imagenomic’s software provides every creative control I could want, I’ve found the default settings so accurate that I end up tweaking them only on rare occasions. Usually, it’s one click and I’m done—no kidding!
 
The soft mask that Portraiture applies does not take away from the natural look of the model, yet it saves incredible amounts of time that I would otherwise spend with patch and clone tools, in addition to endless layers and countless brushes. At right is an example of what I was able to achieve using Portraiture 2 with a single click in the software’s default mode. At this point, I can make adjustments if I want to just by using the sliders.
For noise reduction, I have yet to find better software than Imagenomic’s Noiseware plug-in. Once again, Noiseware gives me all the control and Custom Preferences I want, but I’ve found its default setting to be outstanding. The image above shows the results of applying Noiseware’s default setting. It dramatically reduces noise without degrading the quality of the image itself. Being able to reduce noise so effectively with the software gives me tremendous latitude with my lighting, especially in situations where I want to use natural light or in low-light environments where I’m unable to use strobes.
 
The third element of the Imagenomic suite, RealGrain, not only enables me to "convert" my digital images into photos with grain structures that mimic my favorite silver-halide based films, but also offers numerous special effects. I find the program especially effective with monochromatic portraits. Imagenomic’s software tools operate as plug-ins to popular image editing applications. The Professional Plug-in Suite is designed to extend the power of Adobe Photoshop, including the Creative Suite series and Elements. New Imagenomic product extensions, starting with Portraiture, are being released for use within Adobe Photoshop Lightroom and Apple Aperture. They fit in very intuitively with the workflows of these major tools of the trade, providing added power, flexibility, and creative control.
 
Following the latest trends and technologies related to workflow processes has been one of the most important ways I’ve found to improve my skills and provide a high-quality product for my clients. And incorporating advanced imaging software into my workflow has saved me hours in the postproduction process. That allows me to spend more time shooting and promoting my business—ultimately increasing the revenues I earn.

 
Reprinted with the Permission of Pop Photo College Edition.
Portraiture Plugin for photo  Portraiture Plugin for video