Profile photo editing walkthrough


I made a neat profile photo.  And when i put it on facebook some folks asked me how I did it.

Here’s way more detail about how that happened than anybody asked for: I was on the couch thinking about this post on fstoppers about double exposures and how they were made in-camera on some new digital cameras.  I knew my iPhone couldn’t do that stuff in-camera (with the stock camera app, that is).  But I figured i could do something rad like them with the app that I did own – image blender.


So I took a photo of the awesome painting my good friend Mike Hyder made and gave me back in ’96 or so: Isn’t it the raddest? so then i needed to take a photo of me to turn the painting into “me”. I figured that I needed to take a photos of me on a white background and make it black and white for this to work.  I thought i knew this from just working with photoshop and knowing that lots and lots of times you’re working with black and white images to let things “through” to other images…it’s a whole thing called “masking”.


So i turned on the front-facing camera and snapped this: Thrilling, yes! (no)

I just wanted a neutral face and some side-eye…and that’s what i got.  I thought, “that’ll work” and started the next step.


The next step was to turn the image black and white using Afterlight: and then swiped the contrast slider to the right a couple of times. Ah! Now.  That’s looking better.  Now, i just need to get rid of the stuff i don’t want by cropping it away.


Ok…so now it’s just me….(you can see where i tried to clone some things using photogene2, but that didn’t really go anywhere.  So instead, i decided to just paint white where i wasn’t.  and then I had this:


I hoped this was good enough to get going with the actual masking/blending.


so now it was time to fire up Image blender           After some experimentation i found out that the blend mode of “Color Dodge” had the right effect i was going for.

You can see how the other modes in the screen shot don’t do the thing i was after.


Then i found out I had to put the background on the left, and the foreground on the right. Lessons learned :

  • I was too excited about the effect as it was.  Had i moved that slider over to the middle i would a have gotten a little more detail and contour shown in my cheek that make the effect pretty cool.  Too much in the middle though, and the background made me look like i has whiskers like a cat around my nose.
  • Also – i did no experimentation with placement – It was a happy happy accident that the blue started right at my upper lip and moved down my throat.  I saw that and was like “BOOOOM” and stopped working and published the photo.
  • I was worried that the low resolution of the front-facing camera was going to be problem, but it wasn’t at ALL.  word.  ( i was going for a kind of crudded look anyway)
  • I think this technique could be used with all sorts of background images….