How to Light and Edit a Classic Portrait

ACDSee recently asked to sponsor a video where I use their new Photo Studio Professional software. I thought it would be fun to do an entire portrait session from start to finish. 

My buddy Nick Milak currently has a glorious full beard and I thought he would be a great model for this shoot. I asked Nick to show up with a few different coats with large collars. I wanted to create something that looked like a classic painting/portrait. 

Gear Used

FujiFilm GFX 50R

FujiFilm GF 32-64mm

Profoto B10

Profoto White Dish with Grid

Profoto Softbox

I started by setting up my key light which was a Profoto Beauty Dish on a boom stand. The "spill" out of the side of a beauty dish is much brighter than the reflected light coming from the front and it was throwing way too much light on my background. To contain the light I added a grid to the dish. 

At this point, the light was far too contrasty and I added a large softbox directly next to the key light. Most photographers add a fill light on the opposite side of their key light and I think this is almost always a mistake as it kills the directionality and mood of the light. By placing my key and fill light on camera right, I was able to make it "feel" like a single light source. 

Once I had my lighting set, I didn't change it again. I simply worked on posing, composition, and getting the right expression out of Nick. 

To edit the shots I used ACDSee's Photo Studio Professional software. It's basically a replacement for Adobe Lightroom for a flat $60. In some ways Lightroom is better, but in others, ACDSee was a clear winner. Loading raw files was extremely fast and culling my images was a breeze. I also found many extra options and filters in Photo Studio that are not natively in Lightroom. 

Luckily you don't have to take my word for it, ACDSee is 100% free to try

Big thanks to ACDSee for sponsoring this video and if you'd like to learn more about portrait photography, check out our full-length tutorials at

Log in or register to post comments


Jeena Paradies's picture

I don't get the skin retouch, it's not like he has any problems with it and after the retouch he looks fake. The other stuff neat but I'd like to mention which does the same stuff but is free software (free like in liberty, but also beer).

Lee Morris's picture

This is the least skin retouching I've ever done on a photo. I just took out a few extremely small blemishes, no dodging, burning, blurring, desaturating, frequency separation.

Andy Day's picture

Always good to see Lightroom alternatives. Just downloaded the Mac version and hope to have a play in the next few weeks.

Pawel Paoro Witkowski's picture

I'm unsure if it's a ACDSee issue, but colours seems pretty off and inconsistent between each other :(

glad im not the only one thinking this...

Lee Morris's picture

Between the images I posted above? Well ya, I did something different to each one.

Excellent tutorial – As a long time user of the ACDSee pro line of software, it was as nice to see your workflow and how you handle portrait retouching. I hope ACDSee sponsors you doing a tutorial with their Photo Studio Ultimate program on creating a complex image using layers. It is a powerful program and a great alternative to Adobe products.

Wolf Dieter Haselsteiner's picture

You did not use a Canon EOS R.
You would have noticed ACDSee can not read CR3 files :-)

Lee Morris's picture

Oh ya? Why is that? Are they just behind?