"Forgive me fellow photographers for I have sinned and fallen short. I confess to having used the latest rev. of Portrait Professional software to help in the retouching of my portraits today. My process is now artistically impure."
Yesterday I was looking at a folder filled with files that needed to be retouched. They were all portraits and most of them were shot against the same gray background and with the same lighting. I confess to being severely unmotivated to go in to each file and meticulously work on skin tone, brightening eyes, cleaning up teeth, getting the skin to look nice and all the rest.
I remembered that I'd used Portrait Professional in the past. One iteration from 2011 and one from 2014, but I'd found both of them, at the defaults, were too heavy handed and obvious. I sighed and made coffee. Then I took another stab at creating multiple layers, smoothing skin via masking and blending the uneven skin tones of middle-aged men who spend too much time golfing.
In a moment of bore-stration (boredom and frustration) I clicked on Anthropic's website to see what, if any, changes had been made to their software package. It turns out that they've fine-tuned and automated a bunch more stuff, including automatic masking for backgrounds, and a panel of controls for picture-wide brightness, contrast, saturation, brightness, clarity, etc. With a much enlarged range of controls it seemed to me that one might be able to do most of the retouching necessary for many portrait files without ever firing up an Adobe product in anger.
There's always a sale going on for previous customers so I plunked down my $29 for the upgrade, loaded the app and took a look around. It was un-buggy this time. No support needed.
Portrait Professional automatically finds the important features on a face and, after asking you if the subject is female, male or a child, it automatically makes a series of corrections which include skin smoothing, face sculpting, and general (but this time much more subtle) image flattery.
I pre-processed my selected raw files in Lightroom CC Classic, matching exposures and colors. I exported the resulting files as 8-bit Tiffs (raws not welcome in PortraitPro...standard edition) and tossed them in a folder. Then, one by one, I loaded them and let the program do its stuff. All but 2 of 21 files were imminently usable without any further intervention. The two questionable files were of a fellow with lots of freckles --- always a judgement call.
I'll estimate that the program saved me about an hour and a half of repetitive work today and also provided (probably) better consistency between skin tones than I would have gotten working in my manual, hands on method.
For the $29 upgrade I felt like I'd just secured another bargain. Wow. First a cheap D2XS and now a cheap software upgrade. The week is looking up for me... It's Portrait Professional 17. No link here, that's what Google is for.....when they aren't busy spying on us all.