The desert, the sun and the model…

by Oleg Ti

And Profoto Acute 600 battery pack and me too!

Model Desert Dubai

Here you can see the final picture that I got after several steps of retouching!

But at first about preconditions. I got a nice opportunity to take pictures in real desert when arrived to Dubai for several day this year. With real camels, high dunes, torrid sand and hot hot hot hot sun! We had just 2-3 hours for the shooting and I had to work very fast and effective! Using Profoto Acute 600 battery pack I got “like-the-sun” very hard light with umbrella reflector that directed exactly on the model.

Lighting: Profoto Acute 600 with open umbrella reflector
Camera: Canon 5D Mark II
Lens: Canon 24-105 4.0 IS
Focal length: 24 mm
Shutter: 1/200 sec
Aperture: f/22
ISO 100

But it is made and now needs retouching…

This is the last picture of several images with the model lying on the sand, out of her power to go further. I wanted to get very dramatic style of picture where you couldn’t understand what kind of weather and time surrounds the model. I wanted to get very saturated colors, with unnatural tints that would make that pictures more fantastic, dramatic and overreal!


You can see the original RAW without changing any settings. You see that the picture is not contrast, is very flat and not interesting. Of course you never use RAW file with original settings so lets do the first step of retouching:


At first I got the main image with changing settind in RAW converter. You can see what settings I have used:
– I thought that slighty green tint would be great for this picture and moved tint left,
– I dramatically increased contrasty of the image. Up to 100 points, the highest level I could get,
– To make it more contrast I increased lights and decreased shadows in curves,
– To get more informative shadows I changed Fill Light to 40 points, the middle level of this setting.
– And slightly climbed Clarity.
So here is the image I got (Raw1 layer):

Oleg Ti        


I made a few more images with my RAW converter to get different contrast, brightness and skin colour. For example, this one was made to get more bright sand. I changed the exposure in RAW converter and got this image (Raw 2 layer, below):

This one to get natural color of model skin. Just changed Color Temperature and Tint to get this image (Raw 3 layer):

And this image to remove overexposed areas of model skin moving Exposure to more left position in RAW converter. (Raw 4 layer, below):


Then I collected all these images in one Photoshop project. And create masks for every layer, filled it with black and pointed necessary areas I need to be seen with white brush.  And added one addition layer Raw 3 with 30% opacity to make whole picture more warm and natural. See it below:


Having flattened all this layers in one I got this picture:


It needed to be liquified and I did it. You can see changing on the model’s legs on the picture below:


Then I made sand around the model more bright just using curves and mask pointing the areas I need to be brighter with white brush. Here it is:


The next step is the color management. I added layer of solid color and changed Blending mode to Soft Light. You see the picture had got blue tint.



More radical management I made with new Solid Color Layer with Lighten Blending Mode. You see that the shadows got very bright blue color.



The next step was to make some parts of sand brighter. Just with curves and mask.


And the Last step is to make whole picture more contrast and bright! Here it is! Done!

Good Luck!