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I am just getting in to photography (as a hobby), and both me and my wife really like the style this photographer uses. See her website for some examples.

I don't know how to describe it other than it is almost a bit foggy (especially in the 2nd one), and sometimes it looks like the background is washed out; yet the color still really pops.

I'm not asking to re-create the effect. I just want to learn what techniques are being done, so I can adopt something similar, but tweaked for my taste.

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5 Answers 5

up vote 8 down vote accepted

Although post-processing may have been involved, it is not necessary. What I see:

  • Shallow depth-of-field: Means a bright aperture, F/2 or brighter most likely. This is a type of lens you buy and the photo has to be shot that way. It creates separation between background and foreground.
  • Over-saturated colors: Most cameras now have different color modes and image parameters in the camera. If you select Vivid on some cameras you will get colors such as those or worse! This you can easily do in any image processing program. Look for a slider called 'Vibrance' or 'Saturation'. Be careful that it does not affect skin tones though!
  • Light modifiers or artificial light. Again, this has to be done at the time of shooting. You can use a reflector or off-camera flash directed at darker areas of the photos. This is why you do not see any strong shadows on two out of three of your examples.
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Also, the composition of the photos with contrasting intensities and colors does a world of difference. –  Jon Nov 12 '11 at 18:09

Apart from what others have already answered, i also noticed that there are very few colors in the photos but they are contrasting in nature. Red against Green background, Blue and Red against yellow-green background. So the setup itself is adding to the overall color contrast of the image.

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It also looks like the images (first and last) have fairly high levels of black clipping. In other words, contrast was increased by darkening the shadows until parts of the image that were likely near-black to start, became very black by the time processing was done. This can be done with the black clipping tool in RAW processors, a curve or Levels in Photoshop... It can make an image look more "punchy".

Look at the 3rd image of the girl in the glasses holding her hands up and pay particular attention to her tights. They appear as pure black (particularly the leg on camera right) and don't really have any textures or shadows.

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I am no expert in some of the other techniques mentioned already (cross processing in photoshop over saturated colours, etc.) but the other thing I would suggest is going on is masking of the subject and background to apply different effects to each.

The over saturation and cross processing techniques (whatever the combination) seem to be applied differently between the background and the subject. I would guess that the main subject has been masked and then the technique has been applied to bring out the subject and reduce the background.

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This picture is slightly overexposed and then cross processed. Cross processing is a technique carried over from the film days where a film was processed with a chemical meant for a different kind of film. In digital photography, similar effect can be achieved in photoshop by playing with individual channels on a curves layer. There is even a cross-processing action in Picnik that will let you achieve the same.

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