Blog header

Tutorial: Waiting for hair cut

Published by Diana Tula · September 25th 2012

There is so much to learn about photography and we want to share 500px photographers’ pro tips & tricks with you. Last time we featured great PS tutorial on how to enhance the eyes. This week Hong Kong-based photographer Desky Che shares with us editing secrets of his photo “Waiting for hair cut”.


This photo was taken with a small digital Panasonic LX-3 camera instead of DSLR. I used manual mode and adjusted aperture so that I could capture more details in the highlight and shadow area. Then I moved on to editing the photo in Photoshop without any 3rd party plugins.

When post-processing I started with the overall balance of brightness and contrast, trying to simulate the photographic reality as seen by the human eye. After that I changed the color tune aiming to express the Vintage feel. I dimmed the highlights area and balanced the brightness with mid-tones. Also dimming the shadows, but making sure that I kept all the details. For the main subject I decided that it should be a bit lighter than the background, so that it would attract the eye of the viewer. Instead of sharpening the whole photo, I selectively sharpened the details only. Thus directing focus and points of interest.

You can try the same workflow on one of your photos and achieve a similar feel by following the step-by-step directions below. Click on photos to enlarge.

Step 1

First check that there are no over-exposed areas in the RAW image, then move on to post-processing in Photoshop. If there are over-exposed parts correct them in Camera RAW or Lightroom before proceeding with editing. Skipping this step would affect the color tone and would increase the time spent on future processing. Testing your photo for over-exposure before post-processing is a great habit.

Step 2

Add contrast in Highlights/Midtones/Shadows separately. This is what I do on regular basis when editing photos. First adjust highlights, then midtones and shadows.

Select > Color Range > Click drop-down list in Select, and choose Highlights > Adjust > Click OK button.

With this selection go to Curves Adjustments panel to add Contrast for this area.Then, select Midtones area using the above method, and make adjustments to add contrast. Adding contrast in Shadows area last.

Step 3

Dim down the entire photo by pushing down the Curves of adjustment layer in Photoshop. Making sure that you keep all the details. Then use brushes to recover the darker area, since we want to keep the details in the shadow area. By accentuating these details (e.g. the clock hanging over on the wall) you are adding more interest to your photo. 

Main subject. Any photo usually has a main subject, in my case it is the people. I have decided to make the main subject lighter than the background. Applying the principles of classical oil painting - main subject should be lighter than others in order to attract the eye focus. For highlight area, keep it lighter, but the levels should not be over the whole subject. Zoom in and out to check for any irregular adjustment areas. Then correct any irregularities using brushes.

Step 4

Change color tone. After repeating the same dim down editing twice, you could find that the photo gained a surrealistic quality. However, color tone may have changed. You can use Color Balance adjustment layer to correct that OR go to my favor color (+Red, +Yellow), and reduce the saturation.

Sharpen the details. Use Unmask Filter to sharpen the required object (e.g. people, clock, the gate, etc). Do not sharpen the entire photo because it would affect the 3D, and would not sharpen people’s skin.

And you are done :)

If you have a tutorial you’d like to share be it in shooting, post production, or top tips for getting your work out there get in touch. Alternatively, if there's something you're looking to learn please let us know in the comments below and we'll look for a photographer to help you and share his/her tips with everyone at 500px.


Login or sign up to comment on this post.

andy 126 (inactive)  about 1 year ago
Very nice tutorial!! tks
Vik Eftimie  over 2 years ago
Great! Thank you
e. s. strych9ine (inactive)  over 2 years ago
Thank you for this nice tutorial, it is very helpful.!
Sad that we can fav that.
xiStantah Photography  over 2 years ago
Amrita Prasad  over 2 years ago
thanks so much for the post. it was great to actually SEE the different stages of changes you made rather than just reading it through. thank you again! great help!
Awesome Account
Mustafa Tarik Olmez  over 2 years ago
Coulnt have been easier.
Thanks for the post
adeniyi okeowo  over 2 years ago
Aston Ward  over 2 years ago
This sort of post is great, and the photo is fantastic, but it would be great if it was explained a little more simply for those of us that are relatively new into post-editing in Photoshop - maybe a video walkthrough version where we can copy each stage on practice images?
Mark Wisecarver (inactive)  over 2 years ago
Excellent article.
Guess we can't be old Fashioned about PS touch-ups anymore, this is very cool.
Awesome Account
Terrence Pellikaan  over 2 years ago
Thank you!
Luis De Leon  over 2 years ago
Very nice tutorial!! tks
Mathew Courtney  over 2 years ago
Great information... Thank you
Ramón Vasconcelos de Medeiros  over 2 years ago
Great!! Very simply explained and powerfull processing. thanks a lot ;)
Arjun Menon  over 2 years ago
great ! I loved the image till the last color correction bit. Thanks!
Guillaume Guerin  over 2 years ago
Amazing tutorial, thank you for for doing this.
This is really well explained :)
Guillaume Guerin  over 2 years ago
Comment hidden
Sebastián Valencia  over 2 years ago
very nice
500px Team
Tim Gaweco  over 2 years ago
This is great. Would love if you did this more often!

Our thoughts on photography, web development, and life. Join us for updates, interviews, reviews, and stories.

Subscribe to RSS

Popular Photos

BorrowLenses. Get 10% off your next order with the 500px gift code