I just shot some photos of a newborn....very amateurish to be sure. But, where can I learn more about editing portraits of newborns? Specifically, having the effect of soft light, smoothing the skin, appropriate skin tones for a newborn, etc. I used only natural light, shooting with a prime 1.8 lens. If you can point me to some tutorials/books for editing using my PSE7, I'd appreciate it.
Yeah, too soft.
I searched the Web for "newborn photography photoshop" and got thousands of returns, some of which are tutorials. Some of those sites have specialized actions for sale for smoothing the skin, getting rid of the red, etc., but be aware -- not all Photoshop actions will work in PSE. If you decide to purchase an action, make sure it's compatible with your version of PSE, and get a money-back guarrantee.
In general, to keep an area sharp while softening the rest of the image you need to duplicate the image layer, soften that duplicate layer and use a layer mask on that softened layer to reveal the sharp image beneath it wherever you paint on that layer mask. It's easy to add a layer mask in PSE10, but a little more complicated in PSE7 (which I've never used), so someone who has PSE7 will have to jump in here on that....
You can also use Levels to brighten skin and reduce reds. Move the middle slider on the RGB channel to the left to brighten, then change the channel to red and move the middle slider to the right to reduce reds.
OK, I figured out how to get a layer mask for your blurring using the features available in PSE7 -- it's called "hijacking" a layer's mask:
Your layers will look like this:
And the final image:
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