I hear you, leftnose--and thanks. If you ever want a raw file for any of these, just let me know. I agree there is a emotional attachment to these--for me that might mean that I'm making the skin tones a little too warm/red? Also, my friend keeps recommending that I get an IPS monitor for color correction. I'm using a 1080p 18.4" glossy laptop LCD which I hear isn't the best for editing.
Here are a few from yesterday-I think I did better with these.
Something pretty weird happened with these 2 below:
The top one looked better straight from the camera...the 2nd one was a little over-exposed. In both of them, the guy on the left's face was perfectly sharp and the faces got less and less sharp as you went to the right. I remember center-dot focusing on the guy on the left's face (probably my mistake there--should have focused on one of the girls in the middle) and then recomposed the shot. As they are standing pretty much the same distance from me, I didn't expect it to be off this much. For both of these I selectively adjusted the settings on the 3 right faces (all together, not individually) including sharpness, contrast, clarity, highlights, etc.....anything to make their faces look more sharp. You can't really tell with the size of the pics here, but the faces were pretty soft aside from the left-most guy.
I don't recall, but for all of these shots I shot at either wide open at 1.4 or stopped down a little up to maybe 2.0. It's interesting that you mentioned before that the picture looked backfocused. This sigma 30mm 1.4 (and the sigma 50mm 1.4) are known to have high occurrences of front/back focusing/calibration issues. I was pretty certain my 50mm isn't plagued with this issue, and I didn't think my 30mm had it either.. Maybe it just has difficulty focusing in low light (definitely searches quite a bit).
Even though shot in RAW, I felt like there was an extremely fine line between making this pic look too cold or too warm, too magenta or too green.. Is it because of the light that's cast by the neon lights?
this one was just for the heck of it - but I hope I found the best balance between sharpness and noise. It wasn't very sharp to begin with :(