Guest Contributor – Michelle Kane

Today we are so honored to welcome Michelle Kane to the Rock the Shot Blog.  Michelle has generously offered to walk us step by step through her post processing of an image – her “Blueprint” as you will.  Special thanks to Michelle for sharing her Rockin’ post-processing skills with us!

As always, I would normally start any edit in Lightroom to adjust exposure, white balance and make sure my blacks aren’t too dark. However, for those non-RAW editor users, I edited this image completely in Photoshop. The SOOC image is slightly underexposed and the pink tones in the skin need to be addressed first thing. If editing in LR, I would have increased the exposure and possibly the fill light, changed the camera calibration to neutral to help neutralize the pink tones, adjusted the temp and tint sliders for an even, pleasing skin tone and possibly lowered the vibrancy just a few points to again, help reduce the pink from her skin. 

Edit in PS:

This image was shot by Jennifer Jayne Photography.

1. Light All Over at 30% to raise the overall exposure. Because on the right side of the image, her face was already lighter, I masked a little of the Light All Over off too keep it from getting too bright and to even out the brightness from left to right.
2. Anti-Lobster Skin (CS2 version) to reduce the pink on the left side of her face and arm. The CS2 Anti-Lobster action doesn’t brighten like the CS3-CS5 version does, so I ran both to get the proper amount of pink reduction and brightening and masked it on her face and her left arm. (camera left)
3. Glisten- masked onto her irises to brighten and sharpen. Her eyes were really soft and Glisten helped to create a sense of sharpness that popped her eyes in a good way, not an alien way. I do not whiten the whites of eyes. It’s usually garish. Bright sharp eyes = illusion of the entire image being sharper. 
4. Sparkle- masked onto just the catchlights to further enhance the sense of clarity.
5. Bland to Brilliant 80% – This is my go-to action for all over contrast, brightening and clarity. She looks a little pasty at this point, but Posh will fix that. 
6. Posh 70%. Posh is one of the actions from the Rich Set that must absolutely be masked off most of the skin and areas that become too dark and lose detail. Losing details in the darks is a real no-no with me and I ALWAYS mask it off with a real soft, low opacity brush in areas that become black or lose the detail in the shadows. In this case, it was primarily masked off the left side from hair to dress and her hair accessory to maintain detail.
7. Warm Air 50%. Gave an overall gentle pinkish softness to the image. 
8. Flawless Face, masked onto most of the image, background and clothing too. I avoid eyes and hair and any place I need to keep crisp details. I love how this action not only softens and smooths skin, but reduces noise and makes bokeh even creamier.
9. Light Optimizer 24% to brighten entire image without losing contrast. 
10. Ignite 70% inverted the layer mask to black and painted in effect on just a few key places to enhance the rim light on her hair, pop her eyes a bit more, and her lips.
These 10 steps gave me a clean, simple and pretty image. I always start with a clean edit like this, then add in tones to either the entire image or just masked onto certain areas of an image to transform the feel. Toning is where you can really customize an image and give it a very artistic, personalized feel. Here are a few that I experimented with. Combining tones is an excellent way to keep things fresh and come up with combinations that no one else is doing. It’s all about personal taste. 


a- Autumn Sunrise 30% 
b- Brown Sugar 80% 
c- Autumn Sunrise 30% and Brown Sugar 80% (my personal favorite of the toned images)
d- Bloom 15 % and Honeysuckle 21% 
e- Bloom 15% + Brown Sugar 80% + Raspberry Lemonade 30%
f- Bloom 15% + Cosmic Ray 46% + Sweet Maple 10%
g- Cosmic Ray 63% + Raspberry Lemonade 30%


About the Author:  Michelle Kane resides in Wyoming with her husband and two vibrant children. She is the developer of the incredibly versatile Michelle Kane HeARTy actions, which includes the Creative HeART & HeART & Soul collections. Offering one-on-one photo editing mentoring, she works with photographers from around the globe, helping them fine tune their creative editing and post production workflow.

Visit Michelle at her website Michelle Kane Photography

Also, Michelle has offered a special discount exclusively for Rock the Shot readers… enter the code ROCK15 to receive 15% off any purchase.  Hurry, this offer will run only through April 3rd.

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Elizabeth Crocker - March 29, 2011 - 2:12 pm

How long did this process take from start to finish? Do you do this to every shot from a session before showing the clients?

Tiffany - March 29, 2011 - 3:08 pm

Of the things that you mentioned like “Light All Over” and “Warm Air 50%” I was wondering if these are in Photoshop named this way or if you were just naming them on your own? I would be awesome if you had a video showing us how to use the step-by-step that you provided above. I’ve been dying to learn how to edit better and this is absolutely perfect but I am a visual learning and have been having a hard time understanding it as words without seeing where to go within photoshop and where to click and stuff.

Thanks for doing this…I am going to try my hardest to implement :)

JenC - March 29, 2011 - 4:55 pm

Thank you Michelle for showing us your amazing editing process and some of your actions!! What a stunning transformation in that photo.

Michelle Kane - March 29, 2011 - 10:00 pm

Elizabeth, the process took about 5 minutes max. I do the same general things to my images in a very predictable order, so I’m usually not asking myself, where do I start or what do I do next. I show my clients soft proofed images out of LR. Whatever they pick to buy, I fully edit.

Michelle Kane - March 29, 2011 - 10:01 pm

Tiffany, this image was edited using my HeARTy actions that I sell. You’d need to have those PS actions to replicate this edit.

sheridan - March 29, 2011 - 10:53 pm

These actions rock! I have to say I was a little hesitant in purchasing them because I had just bought new equipment and spent a fortune! But I will say this purchase will not disapoint! I have action sets from other places and while I love them I now use these more than any other! They also still work great when combining with other actions as well. Not only are they easy to use but if you watch michelle’s blog she does a great tutorial through her blue print steps! Another thing I think is great is that on her blog she has an image sooc that she shoot for you to download and then shows the steps of the final edit for you to try and see you can get the same result! I have never seen anyone else do this, and it was a nice treat!

These actions will take your work to the next level!

ps. after reading this I figured I better mention I do not know michelle or work for her in anyway lol! Just am very passionate that these actions area great investment.

Dana - March 29, 2011 - 11:06 pm

Do you do this edit and then use the different tonal actions? Do you flatten the image before applying the tonal actions?

melissa - March 29, 2011 - 11:10 pm

wow i cannot beleive this only took you about 5 minutes….i’m just learning photoshop(cs5) so i’m hoping in time i’ll be able to purchase your actions as well….i’m not a fast learner but seeing your photos always inspires me to learn that much faster…..

Michelle Kane - March 29, 2011 - 11:33 pm

Thank you Sheridan. That’s so awesome to read! I appreciate your fab raves. Cheers to you!!

Michelle Kane - March 29, 2011 - 11:35 pm

Dana, I usually always do a base edit: eyes, skin fixes, background, clothes, contrast boost, skin softening, tones. Usually always in that same order. It’s very consistent for me and consistency makes for quick editing. Tones are at the end and no, I don’t flatten first. I never flatten unless I have to actually. And I wrote the actions in such a way that you don’t have to flatten before playing anything. =)

Andie - March 30, 2011 - 2:11 am

Hi, your actions seem very nice. I am wondering if you use them on other types of images like landscapes and macros? I don’t photograph many people, and am wondering how you would go about using these in those types of images.

Lynn Quinlivan - March 30, 2011 - 3:49 am

Love your actions Michelle!! They are fabulous!

Michelle Kane - March 30, 2011 - 12:56 pm


Yes, I do use them on all kinds of images. They were not specifically developed for portraits. They are the kind of actions that you combine together, not necessarily play one humongous flattening action and call it good. You are able to get a lot of different effects and looks with them.

Kelly B - March 31, 2011 - 1:24 am

Thanks for this post! Michelle, I am wondering if you ever tint the pictures for your clients or if you only offer them the untinted ones. Also, have you considered making actions for PSE?

Lauri - April 1, 2011 - 1:55 am

Your blog is awesome, thankyou.

Tracy Smith - April 1, 2011 - 11:32 am

I’m a huge fan… all your products. Would love to win any of your amazing beds. I’m also a memboer of Rock the Shot.

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