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Design, Photography, & Fashion

Post-Processing: Portrait

Jimmy Chin

Lesson time 7:28 min

Learn Jimmy’s techniques for retouching portraits as he moves through wide shots of Conrad against the horizon to portraits of him atop the wall.

Jimmy Chin
Teaches Adventure Photography
National Geographic photographer teaches his techniques for planning, capturing, and editing breathtaking photos.
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When we went into the shoot originally, we had a few different scenarios we had in mind. We ended up only really getting two scenarios. We got-- we got pretty focused on getting Conrad on the wall and really trying to hone in on getting some good images of Conrad climbing. A classic situation is you've run out of light. And unfortunately, you can't control when the sun goes down. So we got up to the top, I was hoping to get some really nice backlit sunset shots of Conrad up top, but we lost the light. So in that moment, we pivoted. I thought, OK, well, let's get some nice portraits. The light was, you know, fairly soft up there. But the sky was really bright. I wanted to get a shot of Conrad in his environment, in the mountains, being kind of, you know, the iconic mountain man. But I still wanted to focus on his portrait. I still wanted to use the horizon line, because it's such a beautiful jagged horizon line to kind of give it some depth as well. And so, I shot a fairly shallow, meaning I shot it at a, probably, like 2.8 f-stop, and it wasn't an ideal condition at all. But I think, for the time that we had, and for, you know, what was happening, we got a nice portrait. Now, this image I like the skyline there. We are fighting like this really bright sky, but I put his head kind of above the skyline, so that it would really frame up nicely. I think that leads your eye to what you want them to see, which is Conrad's face and the look and Conrad's face, along with his like kind of really intense eyes. What we'll probably do here is, you know, try to bring the lighting down a bit around him so that he kind of is more accentuated in the frame. So let's try that. Let's put a radial mask in and see what we can do. Yeah. So that looks a lot better already. I think you can-- yeah-- bring it up higher. I want it on its face more than-- POSTPRODUCTION TECHNICIAN: Just focusing on just his face? JIMMY CHIN: Well, a little bit more. No, I think we're good there. Yeah. I-- I like to experiment. I wonder if the image would be stronger in kind of a black and white situation. So let's just take a look at that. Okay. I think I like the color better. But you can see in this image, there is a nice bokeh and the background is slightly out of focus so that your eye is being drawn to Conrad's face. Actually, I do like that. Let's-- let's try to do some work on the black and white. Let's bump up a little bit of the contrast. Let's see what we get with it. The sky is still a bit bright for me. I think we can drop the highlights. I mean, what do you think? You have an idea? - Yeah, let's drop the highlights and then bring back up the white point. JIMMY CHIN: Okay. POSTPRODUCTION TECHNICIAN: See? Now we're not clipping. JIMMY CHIN: Yeah. That looks better. Okay. And let's maybe-- let's draw a little bit of a vignette into it-- see how that feels. Okay. POSTPRODUCTION TECHNICIAN: Is that too much? ...

Push the limits of your photography

Jimmy Chin has built his career taking photos at the top of the world, earning him the cover of National Geographic and multiple awards. Now he’s taking you on location to teach you techniques for capturing breathtaking shots. In his photography class, learn different creative approaches for commercial shoots, editorial spreads, and passion projects. Gather the gear—and the perspective—to bring your photography to new heights.


Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

I learnd realy alout tanks for the great class

I learned that taking a lot of photos is just part of the work, and that it is important to analyze other photographers work for composition, objective and story.

Loved it. Excellent ability to communicate both intellectually and visually. Thank you.

though i am not an adventure photographer I found Jimmy's life info very interesting and is transferable to all forms of not only photography but life dreams and ambitions have to want it be prepared years of this dedication too be ready when that "break" comes and being able to recognize that does come in whatever form and putting your whole self into it and enjoy the ride thanks Jimmy.


Daniel E.

I completely agree with Andree on this. I suppose in the production of this type of tutorial one might need to dumb things down a bit to cater to a larger demographic, which works well for some and not others. Hard to please everyone. The locations are epic (which most of us will NEVER have the chance to see) and Jimmy is articulate with his thought process as he goes into a project and explains the coverage hes looking for. I like how he talked about the light and what worked for him and Im honestly surprised he dosnt bring any artificial light with him, even if its an LED for fill. (Obviously for the shots that this would throw to) But the post work is certainly where things felt glossed over and not up to Pro standards. One particular method I found unusual is when he was culling a set he would look at them individually rather in the comparison window, a much easier way to see the selects side by side. Rather then go into some of the other workflows others have mentioned here, in general this portion of the class fell very flat and offered no insight for me. I did expect a more comprehensive or revealing class, but still very much respect and admire Jimmy's career and endeavors.

Andree M.

I find Jimmy pleasant to listen to and he comes across as sympathetic. But the post workflow here seems incredibly inefficient. I don't know if it is a consequence of this being recorded, but to voice control Sam who then makes pretty arbitrary and broad corrections... that would never work. It might very well be that when Sam is left alone, he makes much quicker and decisive adjustments, but that he is holding back here out of respect for Jimmy who shot the photos. The first thing you do on a BW portrait is to make sure you are mixing the RGB channels correctly. In this backlit example where Conrad is a bit under lit (and his gear is RED) you want to make sure that the RED channel is the dominant/bright one in the conversion. That would brighten Conrad and his jacket, while automatically creating nice contrast with the sky and foliage. You can get 'color separation' even in BW images—in fact that's key to maximise impact.

Peter S.

Pretty much all of these classes are completely Worthless. I came into the MasterClass with a lot of questions and expectations. Should I get a teleconverter lens? Tell me in your 20 classes many scenarios that you use different lenses. Tell me why this f-stop is preferable. What are the settings of your national geographic photos? What are ideal combinations of f-stop, Iso and aperture to get proper photos outside vs inside. Midday vs night time, etc. Jimmy Chin ends up talking about things like "you need to allow yourself to fail." Yea, no kidding, I already learn those lessons everyday in my own life and my own career. This is a waste of money. I literally learned more about photography from the first 5 minutes from ANY YOUTUBE VIDEO or from the first five minutes of any photography book or the first 5 minutes from taking a photography class. He just wastes your time telling you stories about when he was a kid, waiting tables, working for his mentors, how Conrad is his best friend, etc, etc, etc.

A fellow student

I found it refreshing to see the main importance left to the initial shot, with minor but efficient edits (and just in lightroom, no photoshop). It is becoming so rare today with the trend of overprocessing images especially for landscapes. It was also interesting to see the complete flow, I like the approach to image rating and selection.

A fellow student

"Let's drop the HIGHLIGHTS and then bring back the WHITE point. Now we´re not clipping." Amazing how this little detail makes a big difference in photography!

Ricardo A.

I personally love B&W, with a tendency to go a bit heavier on the contrast.

Jim C.

Obviously very helpful if one has strong manipulation skills in a program like Lightroom or Photoshop. Or has someone that is skilled. They are the modern day version of a skilled darkroom person. Not stated aloud so far, but obviously shooting in RAW to be able to make these adjustments. Show that an image can be in black and white or color based on what makes the image look best Sometimes it’s color Sometimes it’s B&W.

Cam D.

It’s always fascinating to watch someone else’s editing process and thought process! Any reason why you use the radial adjustment instead of the adjustment brush for a more fine-tuned adjustment?


I do like that BLACK and WHITE photo editing process. It's amazing how it changes from the original photo.

Ronald E.

Is it me, or did it seem like the portrait they are retouching looks like they made their own light on him. The sun was behind them, so I’m curious where the catch lights came from. Anyone else?