Scott’s Guest Post: Play-By-Play Post Production on This Popular Photo

[We have received hundreds of questions asking how this shot was post produced, so we thought it would be fun–and a good use of this blog as a central conversation point–to do a post about it. A play by play. So let’s join our retouch guru Scott as he walks us through this popular shot of mine from the desert in Dubai….take it away, Scotty…]

It’s fair to say that a number of Chase’s images have earned the title of iconic. The images that fall into this designation generate a fair bit of discussion within our community. How was it done, where is the location, what were the camera settings, etc. A few of these iconic images have seen just enough time at my desk to make the post production a topic of conversation.

As I am able, I enjoy sharing the techniques that were used to create a certain effect and do so in response to questions that come my way via comments, posts, and emails. In the last couple of years I have found myself time and again sharing the steps that went into creating the unique look in the highly visible “sand jumper” image. Since there is so much interest in this image, and since the techniques applied are so universally useful, I thought it would be fun to pen a quick blog post giving the breakdown of the post production.

Here are the RAW files straight out of the camera. Two things worth paying attention to. First, the images are very low contrast, especially for a backlit shot. This is the result of a 5AM start, a soft haze that diffused the sunlight, and the reflective properties of sand which did a good job of bouncing some light back up on to the subject. The net result is that there is a great deal of information to work with in these files. Second, the finished file contains elements from both of these images. This brings us to the next step. We selected both a primary image based on the position of the model, and a sister image that was framed a bit wider to the right and included a sand explosion that Chase and I agreed gave some additional reference and sense of movement to the image.

The image as you’re seeing it now represents the combined files with their initial RAW adjustments from Aperture: white balance, darkening of the shadow and midtone values, increased saturation, increased definition, and a broad vignette. The two files were combined using the Edit>Auto Align Layers command in Photoshop resulting in this image which would be further tweaked to become the final file.

Now we get into the part of the process that gives the finished image a unique, eye catching look. I often find it very productive to break down an image into distinct sections that can be evaluated and treated individually. Our aesthetic generally calls for very rich colors and accentuated textures. That is the end goal for this image, however if you were to try to apply the same level of treatment to the sand, the sky and the model, you would find that one or more of these elements would suffer for the benefit of the others. To solve this problem, we make a selection of each of these three elements so that they can each receive a separate custom treatment.

First, the sand is adjusted with a curves layer that masks out the rest of the image. The curve is a standard contrast enhancing s-curve where the darks are made darker, and the lights are made lighter.

Next the sky gets the same treatment, a masked curves layer. This one however is a darkening curve, where the values are all brought down to bring out the rich tones in the sky.

And last but certainly not least, the model gets his own masked curve adjustment, which is almost an exact opposite of the adjustment given to the sky. The result is that the midtones and highlights on the model are brightened and accentuated.

A quick note on making the masks. There are about ten thousand ways to make selections in Photoshop. There’s the magic wand, the quick selection tool, the pen tool, quick mask mode, masking with a black brush, isolating a selection with individual channels, using one of the myriad of third party plug ins, the list goes on and on. Play with all of these tools, but be very critical of the results because a poor selection can instantly ruin the illusion you’re trying to create. And, don’t be afraid of doing it by hand, the old fashioned way. Almost fell right over the nerd edge there.

OK, so we have the three elements of the image balanced and enhanced. Looks pretty good. Now a little signature spice and we’re there. My very favorite way to add punch is to use a Channel Mixer layer set to overlay mode. Let me break this down a little bit.

The overlay mode makes the darks darker and the lights lighter. Any layer you create can be put in overlay mode and it will serve to enhance the contrast. The beauty of using the Channel Mixer as your overlay layer is that you can decide what channels you want to apply the overlay to, which in simple terms gives you a great deal of control of how and where you’re adding contrast.

To illustrate, here is the image with two different Channel Mixer settings being used as an overlay, both at 100% opacity. The image on the left has the Channel Mixer set to “black and white with blue filter”. The image on the right has the Channel Mixer set to “black and white with red filter”. You can see that the image on the right with the red filter adds nice contrast but does a better job of preserving the values in the sand and the model’s skin.

Both treatments are a bit heavy, so I’ve toned the opacity down to 30% in the final file, which is the second important part of this overlay trick. By playing with the different color channels and the opacity of they Channel Mixer layer, you can get some very cool, super fine tuned results.

There are now just a couple of finishing touches. If you’ve been paying close attention you might have noticed that the image has not been exactly rectangular ever since the two images were combined in the early part of the process. There were two possible solutions to this, one would be to crop and the other is to stretch the image. We opted for the stretch in the lower left corner in order to keep as open a feel as possible. This was done with Filter>Distort>Lens Correction. This was followed with a very small increase in saturation and a gentle darkening of the midtones in curves.

That’s the whole story. You may have taken note of the fact that I haven’t shared the exact values of the adjustments. This is not because I don’t want you to have the secret recipe. It’s because they’re actually irrelevant. Each image is an individual and should be treated as such. What’s important is that conceptually you understand the idea of isolating elements in your images to do custom treatment, and that you get excited about some different sorts of polish you can add to your images. Photoshop is an incredible program and more than anything it gives you infinite options to create art. Keep an open mind and have fun!

If you have thoughts or would like some clarification, drop a comment at the bottom of this post and I’ll do my best to keep the conversation going. Thanks for taking the time.


Scott Rinckenberger

134 Responses to Scott’s Guest Post: Play-By-Play Post Production on This Popular Photo

  1. Cody August 19, 2010 at 9:15 am #

    Thank you so much for posting this. I really have been wondering how you do your post production. Thanks!

  2. Edward Droutsas August 19, 2010 at 9:20 am #

    Excellent post, I’ve always admired the photo and wondered what went into creating it. This just opens up my mind up more to new ideas in which to get the image I am looking for. Thanks for sharing, most photographers wouldn’t have done that. I had also thought a strobe may have been used, but if that’s just a “curves” adjustment, that’s pretty damn good.

  3. Bryan Whitehorne August 19, 2010 at 9:31 am #

    Awesome Scott! Great write up! Thanks So much for showing us all how the dirty work is done!

  4. Dave Wilson August 19, 2010 at 9:32 am #

    Thanks for this! Never considered using a Channel Mixer layer that way. Every tool helps gives options for every new image and this one will be handy often! Cheers!

  5. Ben Fullerton August 19, 2010 at 9:36 am #

    Great write up, thanks! So is there no strobe lighting going on in this shot? The final image looks like there are multiple light sources in play, but the original raw doesn’t really look that way, and you made it sound like it was all ambient. Amazing what targeted contrast adjustments can do.

  6. Jon DeVaul August 19, 2010 at 9:45 am #

    Thanks Scott, and Chase. I do some selection type work, and I use the quick selection and refine edge tools. I’ve always been tempted to try one of the programs…onOne, Topaz, etc. Have you tried these plug-ins and discarded them? I wind up just dragging my selection to the background image, take it up to 200% and erase anything that needs to be erased. It takes me quite awhile and quite a few eye drops :D How long would you say it took you on this from start to finish…and let me finish by saying you(both of you) do amazing work

  7. DPinDC August 19, 2010 at 9:49 am #


  8. Scott Rinckenberger August 19, 2010 at 9:53 am #


    We’ve experimented with multiple selection plug ins and they tend to be great for rough work, or images with relatively simple selections. When the selections get difficult (hair, change in focus from one part of the subject to another, etc.) I generally find that I have to do some clean up by hand using a brush of varying hardness and opacity. For the super fine work I use the Wacom tablet because you have a lot of control with the pressure sensitivity. This image took the better part of a day the first time we worked it up, but that takes into account quite a bit of experimentation in order to “find” the look that was best for this image.

  9. Chris August 19, 2010 at 10:01 am #

    Awesome post, thanks for sharing! Do you guys do any sharpening either in RAW or Photoshop/3rd party program or plugin?

    • Scott Rinckenberger August 19, 2010 at 10:09 am #


      We’ll generally do some gentle RAW sharpening in Aperture and then sharpen the finished file to different degrees depending on the final output (print, web, etc.). I like using the high pass filter in overlay as a final sharpening step because it protects the areas that should remain smooth while sharpening the edges.

  10. Ben August 19, 2010 at 10:08 am #

    Thanks Scott – great post!!

  11. stephen August 19, 2010 at 10:22 am #


    You killed it with this post. Nice job, thanks for sharing.

  12. Guillaume Kayacan August 19, 2010 at 10:28 am #

    Hello! Nice post. It’s indeed a really strong image with a real impact.
    There’s mouvement and a lot of energy.

    There’s aswell plenty of ways to get your masking.
    Using Brushes, Pencils, Channels, Calculations, Color Range etc etc etc.
    I like using the last two, Calculations and Color Range. 99% of the time it gives me results i was looking for. Except in some “hard composites” where i need more pencil/brush/refine edge things to make it work.

    Thanks to CJ and all his crew for that blog.


  13. Karen Knapper August 19, 2010 at 10:30 am #

    One of the more effective tutorials on this that I’ve seen yet, Scott…thanks.

  14. Matt M August 19, 2010 at 10:30 am #

    Really enjoyed this post, not to mention the choice of photo for the subject of the post. I am a big fan of isolating the elements and addressing each of them individually. I have been doing this for some time with my own photographs, but I often reach a point where I question if it really is the image I saw and envisioned as the final photograph.

    Many people argue that photoshopping an image to this extent isn’t so much an art form as it is a process (I disagree), but I learned photography on BW film. All processing was manual and done without being able to achieve everything you can in Photoshop. Because of this I learned to look for the final shot before taking it.

    Any thoughts on altering a shot to the point where it is no longer what the photographic eye saw (maybe it is now the photographic mind, and one can envision where the image will end up via post production)? How would you respond to someone who said you created this image rather than captured it? Personally I think the art is in the fact that you have to do both capture and be able to envision what you want to create with the end product. Curious on your take.

    • Scott Rinckenberger August 19, 2010 at 10:42 am #


      My two cents is that there are many different goals one can have within the genre of photography. Those who are looking to accurately portray reality through an image have one philosophy, those who see the initial capture as raw material for further artistic exploration have another philosophy. The goal of most of Chase’s work is to have raw visual impact, stopping power.

      To that end we use all means available. This includes casting the right models, finding the right locations, using any tools we need to in the field, and using any tools we find helpful in post production. I think you were on to something by referring to the photographic mind as opposed to the photographic eye. The eye can only work in the present, but the mind can conceive the image months before it’s captured, and can further fine tune the vision months after the image has been created.

      • Matt M August 19, 2010 at 11:07 am #

        And stopping power they have. Thanks for the response.

  15. Andriy August 19, 2010 at 10:31 am #

    Thanks for sharing this, really cool stuff. As usual main problem is seeing what you want to do with raw image, the rest is just bunch of little adjustments.

  16. Patrick August 19, 2010 at 10:42 am #


    These tips are so killer – thanks for sharing your techniques!

    Now, it’s certain that this image was created prior to Cs5. As a result, is there anything you noticed in Photoshop’s current version that would make these editing techniques a lot easier than during the version you were using at the time of this photo? Or would the techniques be primarily the same?

    Thanks again!

    – Patrick

    • Scott Rinckenberger August 19, 2010 at 10:50 am #


      The refining of selections has gotten better in CS5, so that would speed up the process of creating the masks. The alignment of multiple images has improved as well. Other than that, the concepts remain the same, they may just take a little less time to execute. Gotta love software improvements!

  17. Sam August 19, 2010 at 10:59 am #

    I’m guessing that the answer is no, but do you guys use a plug-in for noise reduction?

  18. Scott Rinckenberger August 19, 2010 at 11:06 am #


    We have done some work with Noise Ninja, but more often we do noise reduction in Photoshop or in the initial RAW processing. We’re also generally only concerned with color noise, as the ISO range and the “grain” quality of the D3 series of cameras is so good that it can actually add some pleasing texture to the image.

  19. Matt August 19, 2010 at 11:17 am #

    Very cool! Its always fun to get a sneak peek behind the scene. That’s what makes this a great blog. Thanks for sharing.

  20. Cesar Gallo August 19, 2010 at 11:20 am #

    Hey Scott,
    Thanks for posting this! I had never used the channel mixer before and I think I’m starting to like that technique a lot! :)

  21. Chad latta August 19, 2010 at 11:25 am #

    Thanks for sharing. I noticed in one of the photos, you have your curves adjustment layer set to luminosity mode. Is this correct? Why? Thanks. Chad

    • Scott Rinckenberger August 19, 2010 at 11:40 am #


      Good question. The curves tool has the ability to shift and/or intensify the color of an image, especially when adding contrast. Holding to this idea of breaking an image down to individual sections, I also like to use each layer toward a single goal. In this case I want the curve tool to change the brightness/contrast of the selected area, but not the color. In order to do this I put the curves layers in luminosity mode which limits the effect of the curve to just the ‘light’ values.

  22. Ian Harding August 19, 2010 at 11:53 am #

    Thanks for the tutorial Scott. Always fun to hear the image enhancement strategies by others.

  23. Nick August 19, 2010 at 11:58 am #

    Really surprised to find out that this shot is all natural lighting! Big props to you guys for sharing the PP details – most photographers would consider this kind of info proprietary and at best would give vague info about PP. Thanks and keep up the great work.

  24. Matt August 19, 2010 at 11:58 am #

    Great work!
    Great Tip with the luminosity mode to lower the color shift. Thx.
    Do you have a personal Blog? Would be great to follow your work.
    Thx Matt

    • Scott Rinckenberger August 19, 2010 at 12:26 pm #


      Thanks for the kind words. As to following my work, you’ve come to the right place. The CJ blog, facebook, youtube, etc. are chock full of projects that I have had the good fortune to be part of.

  25. Scott McD August 19, 2010 at 12:17 pm #

    Great post, I have admired Chase’s photography and your post production for some time, great to see you guys sharing the knowledge, certainly given me a few new ideas, now to go back to some of my old images!
    Thanks again!

  26. jeremy mayhew August 19, 2010 at 12:20 pm #

    you couldn’t have picked a more iconic photo to share the process about, defiantly. thank you one bazillion times.

    as for the whole ” capturing vs creating the moment” discussion, as a food photographer I am always creating the moment. I can’t just capture the food as it is…cause sometimes..well, it needs some help. we’ve been “creating moments” for ever…i mean, lobsters don’t normally crawl out of vcrs, and i bet you to find a bowl of pasta that just naturally had no ends showing…

    so to me, its normal to “massage” a photo, but scott, you do it with “flair” :-)

  27. John Batdorff August 19, 2010 at 12:50 pm #

    Great information. I’ve always been curious how this image was made….

  28. Chris Giles August 19, 2010 at 1:05 pm #

    PHOTO PORN!! Thanks a ton for putting a halt to all of my work this afternoon to read and learn about this photo was done. :) Like many others, I swore that strobes were used in this shot. I’ve experimented numerous times to recreate this photo/effect to no avail. Nice job to all of you and kudos for your generosity!

  29. Scott August 19, 2010 at 1:15 pm #

    Thanks for the walk-through. I was wondering about the image since seeing the video of this shoot, in which the light and colors are very different. This inspires me to look more closely at my own post-processing.

  30. Mark August 19, 2010 at 1:19 pm #

    Great post, great to see this type of explaination and teaching. One of the things I like about Team Jarvis is the openess to sharing tips and techniques. I’m sure many photogs would NEVER do this typ of post, preferring to “keep their secrets.” That’s fine. But with a post like this, Scott, you and Chase do really inspire us (well, me, at least). Process is one thing – it still takes vision (and well, stopping power). Chase has his, hopefully we have ours. Kudos.

  31. Demian Velasco August 19, 2010 at 1:47 pm #

    Wow. Amazing tutorial! Thanks.

  32. Jeremy Hall August 19, 2010 at 1:51 pm #

    Excellent break down of your process and very insightful how you took a relatively simple approach with powerful results. I applaud your comment about leaving out the values; too many people get caught up in the specifics of a recipe rather than understanding the tools and how to apply them.

  33. Dimi August 19, 2010 at 1:56 pm #

    Brilliant, sharing this one for sure.


  34. Todd Williams August 19, 2010 at 2:14 pm #

    “Almost fell right over the nerd edge there.” -ROFL. Great post…thanks so much for sharing your skill and insight…it’s truly appreciated.

  35. Brian August 19, 2010 at 2:28 pm #

    Hi Scott, thanks for this post. I have always been curious about your post work on this image. Very interesting and helpful. I was also wondering, in some Chase’s video shorts you mention the term – “adding some grit” to the image. Is this a specific technique you use is PS or just your post work in general?

    • Scott Rinckenberger August 19, 2010 at 3:06 pm #


      It’s more of an over arching aesthetic than any specific technique. We just like to have a lot of texture in most of our finished files.

  36. arttriq August 19, 2010 at 2:49 pm #

    Q for Chase; Did you had this image in mind when shooting? Or did you decide to fix the image afterwards?

  37. adam August 19, 2010 at 3:12 pm #


  38. Tom Bricker August 19, 2010 at 3:26 pm #

    Thanks for sharing. I’m always interested in trying out different ideas in Photoshop, but I love this statement, “You may have taken note of the fact that I haven’t shared the exact values of the adjustments. This is not because I don’t want you to have the secret recipe. It’s because they’re actually irrelevant. Each image is an individual and should be treated as such. “

  39. Spencer August 19, 2010 at 3:43 pm #

    Thanks so much for posting this. It’s interesting, I use almost all of these techniques, but come up with very different results. It shows how useful the techniques you outlined are, they can be used in so many different and very cool ways.

  40. brooke August 19, 2010 at 4:32 pm #

    thank you! wow thank you, so many of us think it has to be right from the click, this explained so much, so fast!

  41. IPBrian August 19, 2010 at 4:36 pm #

    Brilliant! Thanks for doing wonderfully informative posts like this that will only help to elevate the community!

  42. favian August 19, 2010 at 5:10 pm #

    Great lesson for today. Keep them coming.

  43. Max Kusiawski August 19, 2010 at 5:11 pm #

    I love your work Chase and you’re a great photographer. But you need to stop doing this. It’s killing the beauty and joy of photography, the very essence and magic that makes us grab a camera in the first place. The people who wonder how an image was made don’t have a clue what photography is. People should experiment and find their own style rather than copying someone else’s work. This doesn’t elevate anything in my humbled opinion.

    • Nathan August 19, 2010 at 5:26 pm #

      You’re wrong.
      This most definitely elevates something, in my perspective at least. Learning new skills and techniques gives people a chance to experiment, try something they wouldn’t normally do, and expand their skill and style. If everyone kept every technique they used to create something a secret, how would their be any progress in art?

  44. Paul Pride August 19, 2010 at 5:39 pm #

    Wow! You have made my day! Now I too know the secrets to making photos ‘pop’. Thanks!

  45. Max Kusiawski August 19, 2010 at 5:52 pm #


    I would be more tolerant of your point of view if our culture was filled with originally and creativity but it’s not. I see the same images everywhere and social media/technology has given mediocre talent a stage. Yes, it sounds elitists but I do aspire to see greatness. There is an absolute incomparability between technique and talent; between art and craft. Trust me. But I suppose this is a pseudo plebeian democracy. Expanding one skills has to be an internal process. Surely, we’re all influenced by others, consciously or not, but if you rely on this art-by-imitation practice you will end up in frustration and why would I want to hire you if I can hire Chase? I see hundreds of portfolios every month and guess what? Most of them look the same. Some even have the same models. Of course I will select the quirky artist whose style I have never seen before.

  46. Handy Man August 19, 2010 at 7:29 pm #

    Nice post, Scottie and Chase!

    Take a look at my take:

    It would be really cool, if you could post original RAW file, cause the small PNGs are a pain to work with.

  47. Kailash Gyawali August 19, 2010 at 7:41 pm #

    thanks to chase and scott for this awesome photo post production blog post, hope you have more to share with us in the future so it helps us to extend our photography skills little bit more

    Cheers to you both.

  48. Randy August 19, 2010 at 8:20 pm #

    So Scott seems you have demonstrated that Chase is just an average photographer with a GREAT crew of post production people! ;-) JK Chase! Thanks for sharing. This is one of those images I have looked at and wondered about.

    I have always appreciated Chase’s openess about his craft – to me it demonstrates his confidence and more importantly passion for the elevation of photography and the creative process in general.

    The time you guys put towards sharing is greatly appreciated!

  49. Chris Giles August 19, 2010 at 8:27 pm #

    I’m sorry, I disagree. Its up to any creative artist to create their own vision. Just because we see in the black box of what Chase & Co does, doesn’t mean that we will all create what Chase & Co does. Explanations like this allow us the opportunity to learn and grow, and hopefully expand on what is possible. I’m not a master but I know fair amount of techniques in camera and in post. This blog post just gave me the inspiration and drive to experiment for the last six hours using techniques taken from Scott’s knowledge. I have a ton of ideas that I want make happen and this technical explanation is going to open the door on a lot of things that I’ve been banging my head on.

    Scott, Chase and everyone else, please keep raising the bar and pushing us all to do the same!

  50. Timothy Herrin August 19, 2010 at 9:09 pm #

    You guys consistently start with some really great photos, mix in some solid post processing, and end up producing truly stunning images.

    Thank you for sharing the genesis and concepts in creating these final images. Keep them coming!

  51. David August 19, 2010 at 9:23 pm #

    Right on Scott. A lot of people are really appreciating this post.

    I’m curious about your tablet settings on the pen. Do you set things up so the pressure sensitivity controls the size of the brush, or does your pressure control strictly the opacity of a fixed size brush that you increase / decrease with the bracket keys as you do.

    Hopefully that made some sense. I’ve played with both ways, but don’t seem to be sold one one over the other just yet. I’m curious to hear your take.

    Thanks again!

    • Scott Rinckenberger August 20, 2010 at 8:47 am #


      On my Wacom tablet I control the brush size with the pressure sensitivity. Opacity for me is something that has to be very tightly controlled as it is hard to undo different opacity strokes. The variable brush size on the other hand just gives the ability to make broad strokes where you have room to do so and fine strokes as needed.

      • David August 20, 2010 at 12:32 pm #

        You rule, thanks for the response!

      • Doug August 21, 2010 at 6:47 am #

        Scott, fwiw, alt clicking on the mask seems to give me a decent ability to undo opacity and start over .

  52. Pablo Espinoza August 19, 2010 at 9:35 pm #

    Thank you Scott and Chase for being so honest and generous. I will definitely experiment with this knowledge I just acquired, which in time (along with other experiences) will help me find my own vision and “style”.

    You guys are part of my inspiration, and symbol of success.

    Thank you!

  53. Rafa Villa August 19, 2010 at 10:01 pm #

    Scott nice of you to share your knowledge. My respects from Caracas, Venezuela

  54. Jesus Hidalgo August 19, 2010 at 10:03 pm #

    Awesome job guys. You guys are like the dynamic duo. Thank you so much for sharing the tutorial; there are many ways to skin a cat, definitely applies when talking about photoshop, but it’s good to know what other people are doing out there.
    Thanks a million!

  55. Chase Fan August 19, 2010 at 10:26 pm #

    Chase Jarvis – one of the most successful photographers out right now. Max Kusiawhatever – who? There is a reason Chase Jarvis and company are doing so well, there is obviously a market for this work. They were gracious enough to share their techniques, how dare you tell them to “stop doing this”. Go create a Mr. Negativity/Hater blog if you wanna complain.

    Chase and Scott, thanks a ton for the insight, I”m a big fan of your work and your desire to inspire others. Please don’t let Max prevent further posts like this.

  56. Gilbert August 19, 2010 at 10:35 pm #

    Thanks Scott & Chase, for so generously sharing your techniques. Like other commenters have said, other photographers would have treated it as a trade secret. It’s great to know what went on behind the scenes in creating this image.

    @ Max: I agree that a lot of photography today looks very similar. Many photographers seem to be using the same visual effects that’s the trend of the day (HDR, for instance) and don’t create photos that stand out.
    However, I think it’s important to gain knowledge of various techniques in order to develop your own style. As long as it’s inspiration, not imitation.

    Personally, I like to keep post-production to a minimum so this particular technique isn’t really my style. But, knowing how it’s done has been very educational and it’s got me thinking about how I can improve the visual impact of my own images.

  57. Christopher August 19, 2010 at 11:24 pm #

    thanks so much!!!!

  58. JD August 20, 2010 at 1:45 am #

    Thank for sharing, it’s great to see how things are done!!

  59. vincent August 20, 2010 at 1:56 am #

    Scott, Thanks for this!! it’s an enlighting post an actually the image looks lots more complicated.
    You are a truly generous gentleman to share this with us. Very educational


  60. Oh- Danny-Boy August 20, 2010 at 2:33 am #

    Just my favourite damn photography blog in the whole wide world! ;-)

  61. Robert August 20, 2010 at 2:52 am #

    Where would we be without teachers like Scott and Chase that help us get to the point where we can fly ourselves, awesome image, great post. Thanks for sharing.

  62. Tim Skipper August 20, 2010 at 3:16 am #

    Thanks for sharing, I have always loved that picture and it is nice to see the process for its development. I really appreciate the way Chase shares information freely.

  63. Gerry Kong Malaysia August 20, 2010 at 5:25 am #

    Thanks scott for the great write up.
    been a fans of Chase page for sometimes.


  64. TJ August 20, 2010 at 5:37 am #

    Great post Scott, it’s reassuring that some of the things we do are similar to the way you guys do stuff. Raw adjustments in Aperture and then tweaking in Photoshop.

    The Channel Mixer is a great tip.

    Keep up the great work Scott!

  65. Brett Arthur August 20, 2010 at 8:45 am #

    Scott, this is great. I like to see photographers and crews of Chases caliber. I think it’s important that people take note that each image is different and if they were to apply the exact same adjustments to an image their own, it wouldn’t work as they might want. I believe that statement is the most important for those looking to get similar styles to those they admire. Each image is an individual. Great post.

  66. andy lai August 20, 2010 at 8:45 am #

    Sweetness Scotty Boy!

  67. Jonny August 20, 2010 at 9:50 am #

    Your a good man Mr Rinckenberger! Great guest post, lots of good information in here.

  68. Michael Ericsson August 20, 2010 at 3:51 pm #

    Great post, this technique is now going to get thoroughly raped.

  69. Clare August 20, 2010 at 5:14 pm #

    Fabulous – thanks for this. Is there a Channel Mixer option or equivalent in Aperture?

    • Scott Rinckenberger August 23, 2010 at 9:21 am #


      There are ways to get close to this look in Aperture by playing with the exposure, black point, and definition. You can also tweak the tones on the individual color channels with the black and white tool in Aperture. The only thing it doesn’t allow for is using your channel adjustments as an overlay.

  70. Juan Pablo Vasquez August 20, 2010 at 6:44 pm #

    Very Very Cool Stuff Scott!! Good JOB!

  71. kareem August 21, 2010 at 1:55 am #

    thanks scott you saved my day the channel mixer tip is exactly what I need today!!! great work….keep it up!

    greetings from morocco

  72. Johnny August 21, 2010 at 7:51 am #

    This is fantastic! I feel like I was given a glimpse of the wizard behind the curtain. Thank you.

  73. Levy Carneiro Jr. August 22, 2010 at 8:53 am #

    Hey Scott,

    wonderful job in explaing the problems you wanted to fix, and what tools you used. Don’t know about others, but this is the best way for me to learn something: problem and solution.

    I ran across a PS action that looks like works great for masking hair. I didn’t have the chance (US$) to test it yet, but here it’s in case you or anyone wants to give a try:

    Have you tried an action or plugin like this one, for masking hair? Or more in general, what are you usual way to mask hair, if say, you want to change the background of an image?

    Thanks a lot!

    • Scott Rinckenberger August 23, 2010 at 9:24 am #


      There are a lot of techniques for masking hair. The best one depends a lot on the specifics of a given image. The amount of contrast between the hair and the background, the color of the background, the sharpness of the hair, the type of hair. These factors all come into play and inform my decision on what technique to use. Try the plugins, they can be quite effective. You may also have luck with select>color range in Photoshop if there is a distinct color (such as sky) in the background.

  74. Tim L August 22, 2010 at 4:45 pm #

    Awesome post, Scott. Great info and very articulately written. Also good to know about the Nerd Edge. I think I’ve been hanging there by my fingernails for awhile now…

  75. Jay August 23, 2010 at 1:26 pm #

    I would wager there are steps missing. Looks like a highpass filter was used at least.

    • Scott Rinckenberger August 23, 2010 at 2:55 pm #

      Jay, no highpass filter here. The layers in the visual aids are the actual layers in the finished PSD. We don’t generally sharpen the working PSD files because sharpening is best saved for the final output (the tiff or jpeg that is created from the working PSD).

  76. Minas August 24, 2010 at 6:04 am #

    Phenominal post Scott. Thank you for sharing it with the photo and graphic community!!. You guys have really set an example for all artists, share ideas, this way we can all grow together.

  77. Evan S. August 24, 2010 at 1:17 pm #

    Scott, that was an amazing write-up. I am always interested to see how photos are processed and it’s always best to see how the master does it! Well done!

    Keep up the hard work!!

  78. Pepijn August 24, 2010 at 1:49 pm #

    Thanks Scott for sharing how you post processed the image! very cool and inspiring.

    Chase nice idea to let someone else of your team write a post.

    Keep it up guys, am looking forward to your next high energy how to video.
    Enjoyed the workflow video.


  79. Eric August 24, 2010 at 7:50 pm #

    super awesome. thanks for sharing!

  80. shan August 24, 2010 at 8:56 pm #


  81. Ich August 25, 2010 at 4:39 am #


  82. thekob August 25, 2010 at 8:56 am #

    Thank you for this post.
    i really like your work

    thank you

  83. Donnie Bell Design August 25, 2010 at 10:00 am #

    Breaking down the different elements is a very smart idea. It’s nice to know that much post production was done on it too.

  84. brandt August 25, 2010 at 9:03 pm #

    Great post Scott and Chase!

    Thanks for being so selfless!!!

  85. Mike August 25, 2010 at 10:30 pm #

    Very cool stuff, almost makes me want to play with Photoshop. Almost…

  86. john hildebrand August 26, 2010 at 9:45 am #

    As a photographer the laws need to change. Everyone do your part and help support this asap.

  87. Geo August 27, 2010 at 2:34 am #

    HI Scott,

    Just curious – do you usually document down or keep a note of the steps/thought process during your post processing workflow for each image? just like how a software programmer would document or comment each line of code….


    • Scott Rinckenberger August 27, 2010 at 1:50 pm #


      Good question. As post production on a given file gets more complex, I’ll generally name each layer in a way that makes it easy for me to recognize the effect/reason for the layer. For instance, I’ll have a first layer that’s called ‘retouch’ where I fix blemishes, dust etc. Then I might have a ‘skin smoothing’ layer later, or a ‘ground texture’. With this information I can easily navigate a complex retouching project.

  88. Alexander August 29, 2010 at 7:39 am #

    Nice work!

  89. Alexfotograful August 29, 2010 at 7:40 am #

    Thanks for sharing!

  90. Shannon Gray August 29, 2010 at 2:28 pm #

    Amazing! Beautiful photo and technique!

  91. Darren Tierney August 31, 2010 at 7:16 am #

    Nice work Scott you should do more guest blogs this one was a great read.


    Darren Tierney

  92. Tom September 10, 2010 at 6:26 pm #

    Hi Scott,
    Great post.
    What process did you use to mask the subject, foreground, background etc? the masking is so clean and crisp.


    • Scott Rinckenberger September 20, 2010 at 10:46 am #

      Hi Tom,

      Since the shape of this mask and the focus were clean and sharp, I actually just drew the mask by hand. I find that this can be faster than using a masking tool and then going back and doing a bunch of clean up work. Since the edge of a mask often varies in “hardness”, working with a Wacom tablet and paying close attention to the hardness of one’s brush, you can get almost perfect results.

  93. Ajit Menon September 16, 2010 at 8:00 am #

    Hey Chase
    Great pic.
    That being said, I have some questions abt the perception of digital manipulation in photography.
    My background is digital and 3d arts; so I started with digital manipulation and graphic styles before I even got into photography. So when I got into photography, I was obviously empowered to digitally color correct/ stylize photos. But there is obviously a huge purist segment that prefers straight out of camera pics as opposed to digital manipulation.
    I guess my question is – in the professional world, what is the general acceptance level of a digitally manipulated image. I would imagine that a bit of color-correct is understandable and can be considered a modern lightroom process as opposed to a “composite” built for creative expression.
    (I ask since I am quite capable of creating such illusions with my skills but I would love to achieve 96% in camera. So what are the odds?)

  94. Charleton Churchill Photography September 16, 2010 at 8:53 am #

    Excellent work Chase! How do I get in your mind? You’re a freakin’ awesome photographer. I love your style and your processing. Thanks for your creativity and inspiration.

  95. Fardan Raffii September 19, 2010 at 2:19 am #

    Thanks Scott and Chase

  96. Will Austin September 23, 2010 at 12:39 pm #

    Sweet write-up Scott, thanks so much! Chase- love, love, love this shot, can’t imagine it any better.

  97. long.david September 23, 2010 at 7:50 pm #

    We can learn a lot from this. More posts like this Scott! Thank YOU!

  98. Angelo September 29, 2010 at 9:55 am #

    really cool post! ive been watching your videos on youtube and is really paying a lot of attention to details and creativity of your work i would really love to see more of your tutorials on how to shoot this and that as i would really learn a lot from it since im just a newbie when it comes to photography and would like to improve in my craft. i hope you post more of tutorials for newbies like me.

  99. John October 1, 2010 at 5:17 am #

    Thanks for the insight into the shoot and the post processing, really like the the look of the overlay layer technique, think it has lots of potential uses

  100. Amanda October 10, 2010 at 11:12 am #

    This was so helpful. Thank you so much for sharing this. Awesome work!

  101. Adam October 15, 2010 at 9:19 am #

    Awesome, thanks for the post i always wondered about this photo

  102. ChrisCMF January 2, 2011 at 7:34 am #

    That is some really inspirational stuff, which is what i like the most about you guys. Also the tip with Channel Mixer is alone worth its weight in gold. As a mental note whenever i look at some of the RAWs and ponder at the lack of coolness in them I shall remember the postproduction part that brings the best out of them.

  103. Caleb March 25, 2011 at 10:34 am #

    Hey scott, ive noticed that in most all of you guys work blacks are always very present. Im wondering if you do something specific to achieve this or if this is just a result of the multiple layers of curves and channel mixer. I feel like blacks really anchor the eye, im just not so great at enhancing them without affecting other parts of the image i dont want affected

  104. carol May 10, 2011 at 10:11 pm #

    thanks for your post, it’s a great work
    but i have some confuse, could you tell me what software to do like the second big photos? i always find many reseach for this style photo retouch

  105. Apis January 17, 2012 at 6:05 am #

    I’ll try to do this. thanks a lot coming from INDONESIA

  106. Alex March 4, 2013 at 12:48 am #

    Phew this step by step is saving my assignment on researching a photographers editing technique! thanks a million!

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