Close-up portrait photography: getting accurate flesh tones
Accurate flesh tones can be a huge problem when photographing skin, because white balance tends to fail badly in certain kinds of light.
The left half of the example image shows default Tungsten white balance for a close-up of the inside of a hand. No healthy person is this shade of yellow.
The right-hand side shows colour fine-tuned close to reality. To achieve the correct shade, saturation had to be turned down to –40 in the Raw Converter and some extra red had to be added with the Tint setting.
It’s accurate, but slightly cold. In photography, it’s traditional to warm skin tones slightly. This isn’t very realistic, but it’s subtly flattering. In general, flesh tones are open to artistic interpretation.
White balance by hand for colours that look natural and believable, but don’t aim for literal accuracy.
PAGE 1 – Close-up portrait photography: capturing colour and detail
PAGE 2 – Close-up portrait photography: Getting accurate flesh tones
PAGE 3 – Close-up portrait photography: capturing textures
PAGE 4 – Close-up portrait photography: how to compose faces
PAGE 5 – Close-up portrait photography: using light and shadow
PAGE 6 – Close-up portrait photography: using props
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Portrait composition: how to compose a portrait that is timeless and classic
People photography: composition tips for more diverse portrait styles