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Low Key

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  #1  
Old 01-23-2009, 04:04 PM
gladesman gladesman is offline
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Low Key

I want to render some images in low key. This means among other tweaks, that I'll need to darken backgrounds and I'm wondering which is the best way to select and invert the subject? Or does anyone have other methods with which to take a properly exposed image and make it low key?
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Old 01-23-2009, 06:58 PM
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mistermonday mistermonday is offline
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Re: Low Key

You might achieve the effect you desire by adding a Channel Mixer Adjustment layer above the background. Check the Monochrome box. Adjust the sliders (try reducing R and G a lot and raise the B). When done, change the blend mode of that layer to Overlay or one of the other blend modes. You can also play with the opacity to obtain a wide range of adjustment.
Regards, Murray
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Old 01-23-2009, 07:04 PM
gladesman gladesman is offline
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Re: Low Key

Thanks, Murray. I'll give it a go.

Wayne
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Old 01-24-2009, 02:11 AM
William Wilson William Wilson is offline
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Re: Low Key

Low key isn't about darkening the background it about lighting the contour of the subject to produce a sense of drama, emphasis say a profile with light skimming over the subject. The egret is a properly exposed subject on a dark background giving a high contrast but not low key.

If you create a contour from one edge of the bird, imagine a very low or angular light source striking one side of the bird rather than from the camera axis like a sliver of light cutting through the foliage or if from above the tree canopy leaving the background you would be closer.

I hope this gives you some ideas on what approach to take.
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Last edited by William Wilson; 01-24-2009 at 09:31 AM. Reason: added image
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Old 01-24-2009, 02:37 AM
William Wilson William Wilson is offline
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Re: Low Key

Pardon my crude D&B it's just to show you what's more in keeping with a low key image.
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Old 01-24-2009, 07:47 AM
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0lBaldy 0lBaldy is offline
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Re: Low Key

I didn't invert the subject or change the light direction

You might also do something with PWL (Paint With Light)
or
As William said, some D&B (Dodge & Burn) might also serve you well to get a more dramatic effect

using multiply ~ using a plug-in
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Old 01-24-2009, 10:49 AM
gladesman gladesman is offline
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Re: Low Key

I'm not sure that there is any one way of producing low key from normal exposure, at least not in photoshop, but rather there are several methods that lead to it, and its these I'm asking about.

I'm aware of the components of low key lighting from my film/portrait days. Low key possesses all the tonal attributes of a normal exposure, but is more direct when it comes to mood shaping.

I think that to produce low key from my example image it will require shaping the light on both background and subject, although separately. By shaping I mean producing gradated darkened tones.

Appreciate the techniques you all have mentioned, and if there are more I'd like to hear about them.
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Old 01-24-2009, 10:35 PM
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Re: Low Key

One more final stab at it from me..

Tis hard going to be pretty difficult getting a Low Key interpretation with such a bright subject against such a dark and contrasty background Good Luck!

I started out getting a good shadow highlight rendition sort of a bright HDR
Then ran a Color range.. selecting Brightness, Midtones, Shadows for each pass and feathered each selection.. then did a curves/levels after each run
Burned the highlights around the bird (branches)
Ctrl+J (Copy layer)
Ctrl+Alt+Tilde to get selection, feathered selection
mask from selection Inverted mask.. darkened shadows on mask
On layer with mask.. darkened bird (curves/levels)
Shft+Ctrl+Alt+N+E (new layer combined all showing)
Ctrl+J (Copy layer)
Channel Mixer as explained by Murray
mode set to difference @26%
Shft+Ctrl+Alt+N+E (new layer combined all showing)
Ctrl+J (Copy layer) Reduce red a bit, invert layer, Overlay mode @26%
Curves Adjustment layer with a B/W Radial Gradient (white center on bird)
Copy of adjuster starting picture brought to top, mode set to luminosity @12%

Plus stuff I probably forgot but this is the essence of my trial and error approach to the results presented here.. which probably ain't even close.. but I had fun!!

Good Luck and looking forward to see YOUR results when you nail it down!!

Start Image ~ Dark N Moody
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File Type: jpg Darkened.jpg (197.5 KB, 41 views)
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  #9  
Old 01-25-2009, 04:50 AM
William Wilson William Wilson is offline
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Re: Low Key

Of course it's difficult to know the posters skill set if you aren't known or have seen your work before, at least you have the background knowledge making it much easier to give advice.

Dark and moody yeah that sums it up painting with light to sculpt the 2D white bird into a low key lighting style is going to be time consuming and might never look convincing I know I tried to improve my effort and ended binning it.

Backlighting was my approach that way you reduce the subject exposure then rerun the edge highlights through a mask. Of course simply doing that and moving the intended light source around the frame wold show where it was best to create the mask giving lots of potential.

Once you know what lighting you are looking for it should be relatively easy using any of the methods to build up the effect. I would leave the background as it is so it wouldn't get totally blocked up a it's pretty well low key as it is
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Old 01-25-2009, 09:54 AM
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Re: Low Key

Here is a cheat as i personally do not know what makes a
"low key"

used nik color efex 3 low key filter then masked back to the original bird

Nice capture

would of helped if i had attached the image


Palms
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Last edited by palms; 01-25-2009 at 02:32 PM. Reason: forgot to attach
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