with some slight edits
A friend asked me to do a headshot for her for business purposes. I was happy to help her out, since she's a good friend, and I am always happy to get practice doing something new.
I set her up in front of a dark background - a neutral, blue-ish sheet. She got herself ready, then we tried various poses and lighting setups.
I liked the natural light, but it was too uneven, leaving half her face in shadow. So I set up an EzyBox with a 580EXII immediately to her right, just outside the frame. That gave even more dramatic light, which we didn't want. I put up another EZBox with another 580EXII on her left, a couple feet away, just to fill in some of the shadows. I set that EZBox as unit C, then dialed the exposure compensation up and down. (It might have been more 'pure' to call that unit B, and change the ratios among that unit and the primary, but her 3 children, as well as my 11 month old daughter, were all climbing and jumping around our feet, so I took the most direct route.)
Anyway, after about 15 shots, the kids' patience wore thin, so we decided to call it a day.
Once I got to the computer, I did some processing. I tried not to go too far, as I didn't want the edits to be obvious. I didn't need to preserve any sense of photorealism, but I didn't want her to look plastic-y either.
Here's what I did in PS:
Adjusted tint because the white balance was weird, with light from the 580s and some greenish ambient light from the trees outside.
Recovered detail from the highlights.
Reduced the natural shine from her skin. I found a great technique for doing this: I created another layer, changed the blend mode to multiply, and cloned from the existing layer, and the layer below. With some soft cloning, the shine gradually disappeared. I LOVE this technique.
Next, I whitened her teeth. Naturally, they are just fine, but photos bring out the details, so I wanted to polish them up a little. I used Viveza 2 to isolate the teeth, desaturated them, boosted their brightness, and lowered their warmth. While I was at it, I cloned out a couple silver fillings.
She had a few fly-away hairs. I removed those by adding another layer, then using Gaussian blur to defocus everything until the hairs disappeared. Then I added a layer mask and painted in only those parts that had the flyaway hairs. This was hard, because I didn't know exactly how smooth to make her hairline. I might have gone too far.
There were some hairs on her jacket, too, that I just cloned out. Ditto for some lint/fuzz on the dark material.
Next, I used the healing brush to take care of a couple of natural blemishes, the things everyone has.
Finally, I applied the Imagenomic Portraiture plug-in filter to smooth her skin slightly. I love this plug-in because it is smart enough to act on skin tones, while leaving other parts of the picture alone. So, the skin around eyes becomes smoother, but the eyelashes stay sharp.
Finally finally, I created a b and w version, just in case she might need that. I used Silver Efex. None of the preset seemed especially great, so I downloaded a new preset, 'business portrait.' I applied it, then tweaked things a bit more (adjusted contrast, tried an orange filter).
Software used: Lightroom 3.2, PS5, Viveza 2, Portraiture, Silver Efex.
Total time in processing: 4 or 5 hours.
Helping a friend: Priceless :)