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? ...

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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.

Thank you Jimmy! Your commitment for adventure photography and outdoor extreme sports are both amazing. The clear and authentic style you talked about it makes your class very good experience for beginners and advanced photographers as well.

Excellent way to see the process of a photographer being from the scratch to the top somebody amazing

Loved it. Inspiring, useful and down to earth.

I really enjoyed the chapter reviews at the end which helped me remember the information that I just heard. Being able to read after listening and watching really helped me remember the information.


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?