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.

This is absolutely your best class on photography, and top 3 overall. Jimmy's teaching style and topic strategy strikes the perfect balance of aspirational and tangible/practical. I found myself taking notes on specific things to improve my technical abilities with a camera. Would love to see more fro Jimmy

It is the attitude and preparation that make the difference for success in adventure photography.

Jimmy really broke the technical aspects to shooting down brilliantly. I like the way he explained the tedious editing process in a way that makes it manageable. Great class!

I thoroughly enjoyed Jimmy's presentations, but Chapter 17, to me, was key. Jimmy is a good storyteller, but most of his content was more geared to those who might be leaning towards a career in photography, which I am not.


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?