Portraits: part two / 6 comments + post
online tutorials

In this tutorial we will take a detailed look at how to post-produce both high-key and low-key portraits from otherwise ordinary photographs. The topics discussed include: how to shoot and optimise your initial exposures, how to repair an otherwise imperfect background (in terms of lightening the background for high-key portraits, and darkening it for low-key shots), how and when to mask different areas of the images, and how to creatively recompose an image by extending the canvas.

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comment by Steve at 02:07 PM on 24 September, 2009

I think of all your pictures, it's the portrait category that I like the best, especially the haunting high-key portraits of the girls. I was really pleased then that this tutorial includes two of my favourite portraits (image 1 and 2) for download and deconstruction through layers. What I love about the tutorials is the way that we can break down the layers and see why you've made each change. In many cases it's the basic methods you've been showing us but it's the imagination to apply them to the best effect that is your real skill.

For me, this is the best tutorial for a while (textures aren't my thing) and I was selfishly pleased to see that this had the leap-frogged the Digital workflow part 5 one! Keep up the good work.

comment by Nicki at 06:27 PM on 24 September, 2009

I agree absolute with Steve - this is one of your best tutorials. What I like here are the easy showing steps to get the result. I think portraits are one of the difficult fields for a photographer, particulary the postprocessing. Thanks a lot for sharing your skills.

comment by Sean at 12:33 AM on 20 October, 2009

Is it wrong to now want a kid solely for photographic purposes?

My nieces are no longer willing to be photographed and the images of your children have made me want to rediscover kids photography.

Great tutorials. I really like high-key photography and have learnt some new things here. I didn't know about using the white slider in the Selective Colour adjustment until I read this.


comment by djn1 at 05:46 AM on 20 October, 2009

Sean: go for it, there are plenty of worse reasons to want kids :)

comment by Ian Mylam at 06:36 PM on 30 July, 2012

Dave, is there any reason why you chose to use a merged new image layer in conjunction with the Multiply Blend Mode to selectively darken the final portrait? The reason I ask is that: 1. I know you love the Curves tool, and using the Multiply Blend mode layer in this way is for all intents and purposes largely functionally equivalent, as far as I am aware - particularly if used with a layer mask and appropriate layer -opacity adjustment; 2. A Curves adjustment layer offers the advantage of a smaller final file size (assuming you preserve layers) compared to the image layer with Multiply Blend Mode.

Just trying to ascertain whether there is some benefit I have missed in using the Multiply Blend mode on a duplicate image layer.

comment by djn1@chromasia.com at 04:25 AM on 31 July, 2012

Hi Ian, as I mentioned in the tutorial "there are probably quite a few ways to get from the initial image to the final one that are a) simpler, and b) more efficient", and your suggestion would fit with both points, i.e. using a curve would have been the logical choice. As I mentioned though, the initial post-production for this image was partly exploratory, so as much as anything else I was playing around with a variety of different techniques. In this, despite the fact that it probably wasn't the logical choice, it did work.