Archive for low key

Glow – Light and Dark

Posted in Editorial with tags , , , , , on March 16, 2013 by Art of Photography

I’m on a roll this week!
While reviewing my Flickr account I noticed a couple of pictures that used a glow technique I have worked out for myself. Since this blog is about what can be done as well as what has been done, I thought I’d share these two images and talk a little about some of the issues in making them.

Light Glow (Hi Key). If you are adding romantic gauze (haze, fog, blur) to a high key image the area to watch for is highlights. Highlights, when done right, are a razor thin line away from blown out. Very bright, possibly heavily saturated, but with details showing. While it never easy adding any sort of glow to an overly bright composition, when it is done, what usually happens is colors end up desaturated in an unintended way. For Photoshop users, I recommend your last layer always be a Hue and Saturation adjustment applied globally (not clipped to the layer below unless the layer below is a stamped layer).


A low-key, dark image on the other hand wants to hide detail from the viewer. What made Ansel Adams’ rep was his ability to make dark areas very dark without hiding any details. You don’t really romanticize dark areas of a work, you soften the de-facto highlights of the details. By de-facto, I mean brighter areas that may not be traditional highlights but because they show light against dark areas of the composition, they become its highlights.


That’s it, housework and homework is calling. Have a terrific day and I’ll see you soon.


P.S. Stamped layer – making a new layer out of all the visible layers in your Photoshop composition (Shift + Ctrl + Alt + E (Win) Shift + Ctrl + Cmd + E (Mac))

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