Diane K. Miller, Fine Art Photographs | Frequency Separation May Have Changed My Life
fine art conceptual portrait photographFirey

Frequency Separation May Have Changed My Life

September 15, 2014  •  3 Comments

fine art portrait woman's face with flower

Above is a photo I have shared before re-edited from scratch.  In this edit I used frequency separation to edit the skin.  This is a technique I am now just learning and I think it may change, if not my life, my photography from this day forward. 

See my images from this shoot with the original edit using my prior technique.  In my opinion they look over done, over blurred, over soft.  This is because I have rather blotchy skin (thanks rosacea) and it is challenging for me to even out my skin tone and not compromise the skin texture at the same time.

So with frequency separation you create two layers of your image.  I use Photoshop CS5.

Layer 1 is the Low Frequency and it is the layer that you will use to edit color and tone.

Layer 2 is the High Frequency layer and it is where you will edit textures.

Do do this I duplicate my base layer twice giving the layers the appropriate names and then I group the two layers to keep them together.  Then I turn off the High Frequency layer so I can see the low frequency layer.  Using Gaussian Blur I blur the Low Frequency layer so that all the texture details are gone.  It will be blurry.  Do not worry.

Next I turn back on the High Frequency layer.  Click "Image" and then "Apply Image" and set it to reference the low frequency layer.  Under Layer it should refer to the "Low Frequency Layer".   Then under blending click "Subtract".  It will turn a grey color and you will see the texture in that layer.  Last under Scale it should be "2" and under Offset put "128".  Do not ask me why.  I just followed instructions.

What you have done is subtracted out the information in the Low Frequency Layer leaving only what is left in the High Frequency layer.  so combined the two layers make up your original image.  To view it like that take your high frequency layer and change the blending mode to "linear light".  Now you will see the combined image is identical to the original.

Here is another of the re-edits I did using this tecnique followed with a bit on how to edit now that you have your layers separated.

Woman's face with cherry blossoms.
So now that your layers are separate.  You can edit tone and color in the Low Frequency layer using whatever tools you like.  Be sure to use very soft brushes and feather a lot when editing this layer.

Then you can move to the High Frequency layer.  Now use a hard brush and either the "heal" tool or the "clone" tool to fix any areas of texture.  So I removed some blemishes, harder visible capillaries and the like from my face in this layer.  I personally like using "clone" over "heal" as it offers more control.  The beautiful thing about either is that you are only cloning the texture so the color is no longer a concern with this editing.

Once I finished editing the two layers, I duplicated the group and merged it.  Then I did some finishing touch edits on the photos and they were done.  Below are two images with the SOOC image, the first version of editing I did back in June (or was it July???) and last the new edit.  Note that I wasn't trying to replicate the tones or effects of the original.  I started from scratch with the new ones and let myself see where this new technique would lead me and how my final results might vary in multiple ways.

One more final image for today. :-)

Beauty and fashion portrait photograph woman with pink flowers.
And for those who would like more tutorials or prefer actions, some links to other pages.

  • The Amazing Power of Frequency Separation on Phlearn: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ldhG9fmgC7o
  • Free Frequency Separation Action from Fstoppers:  https://fstoppers.com/post-production/free-frequency-separation-action-elena-jasic-3782
  • The Ultimate Guide to Frequency Separation from Fstoppers:  https://fstoppers.com/post-production/ultimate-guide-frequency-separation-technique-8699

Have a great week and if you try this technique, I'd love to see your photos.  Share them or links to them in the comments.






Diane K. Miller, Fine Art Photographs
Sarah and Claudia, thanks so much. If you try it out, let me know and share an image. :-) I'd love to see what you do.
Sarah B.(non-registered)
I'm going to have to try this! It definitely creates an even better final image.
Your new editing method looks amazing! The radiant glow to your face, while still seeing some texture is beautiful. Thanks for sharing.
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