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Editing Newborns in Lightroom

Newborns photos are some of the sweetest images you will ever capture. They are beautiful and precious and all things wonderful. However, newborn pictures can sometimes show the babies to be red, splotchy, jaundiced, with red or purple hands and feet, and so on.

Images of newborns almost always need some help in post processing. This post will show you how to use presets and brushes to remedy the most common problems in newborn images.

If you are simply going for a "clean edit" then start with the global presets first (presets on the left side of the Develop module, in the Presets panel). We will be using presets in the Workflow Collection.

  • Exposure - brighten or darken as needed.
  • Recover Clipping - will reduce or eliminate areas that were over-exposed in-camera. Once I did the lens correction, a small area of the blanket was clipped, so this preset remedied the problem.
  • White Balance - warm or cool as needed (this is the over all color temperature of your image). Try a preset but if one doesn't work, use the eye dropper in the Basic panel to find a better white balance.
  • Clarity Soften - babies can handle the clarity being reduced. This will soften their skin and overall image.
  • Color Casts Fix Reds - this preset will help tone down the redness in the skin but will not remove all the darker splotches; you need an adjustment brush for that.
  • Color Casts Fix Yellows - the Fix Reds is most often used, but if the baby is a bit yellow from either the WB (hospital lights can be awful) or they are jaundiced, then the Fix Yellows is best.
  • Contrast a Little - use this if you feel the image needs a bit of a contrast bump.
  • Sharpen Portraits - this will sharpen the image but not on the skin.

Note: one thing to check is the Lens Correction. For this particular image, my 60mm f2.8 lens put a heavy vignette on the image which darkened it significantly. By turning on the Lens Correction option (right hand side of Develop module), it removed the vignette and brightened the image.

Remember that the presets may need a bit of adjusting. They are not one-size-fits-all; they cannot magically be what every image exactly needs. You may need to increase or decrease the settings a bit to fit your image.

After global changes you are ready for local adjustments like the spot removal tool, graduated filters, and brushes.

  • The spot removal tool is perfect to remove little baby bumps, milk flakes, etc. from their skin.
  • The graduated filters are helpful for balancing light if one side of the image is much darker/brighter than the other.
  • The local adjustment brushes are perfect for toning and smoothing skin, fixing red splotches, fixing red/purple feet, and adding contrast and detail where needed.

With this image, there were a few baby bumps, so I had to used the spot removal tool. I used the heal option with the opacity turned up for most of them. 

Next the local adjustment brushes were used. First the Fix Reds was used to reduce the redness on the ear and spots on the face. The Fix Yellows was used for the chest area and parts of the face. This little fellow had a touch of jaundice which gave him a yellow tone.

Is the image perfect? No, but that is intentional. We could edit them until they are so perfect they look like little doll babies, but that would not be realistic. I prefer to edit an image just to the point where the subject is most complemented without going to the point they look unrealistically perfect.

Below is a quick video tutorial showing the changes made for this image. If you are reading the post in an email or blog reader, you will need to click over to the site to view it.

NewbornEdit2 from Pretty Presets for Lightroom on Vimeo.


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