High key conversion

A reader Dave asked me how I created the high key look of a particular image so rather than going into a wordy explanation I thought I would do it visually, I am a photographer after all.

The image asked about was this one and how I modified it to get that particular look.

The first thing I did was to decrease the colour temperature of the image by 450 degrees to make the image cooler.

This is the result of that change.

The next thing to be done was to add a slight green tint also to modify the overall colour and feel of the image.


 I then increased the exposure about 1 stop.  This is could be done at the time of capture as well but in this case I had a properly exposed image to begin with.

The last step was to desaturate the image and add a small amount of fill light which opens up the shadow side of the tree giving a flatter yet more silvery final image.

Of course any one or more of these parameters could be treated differently and while I like presets for convenience I also believe it’s necessary to treat each image individually to get the best look.

4 Responses to “High key conversion”

  • dave Says:

    thanks for explaining how you did this, it’s very interesting to me, it’s almost ( but not really of course ) like a black and white, or even more it reminds me of a watercolor wash drawing. i like it.

  • Nikhil Ramkarran Says:

    I always start with one of my favourite presets, then season to taste. This is a nicely succinct tutorial, but hides the experience necessary to judge which tool to apply and in what order.

    The temptation always is to hit the gas pedal on one aspect (like exposure) trying to get what is a multilayered effect. The key is having the experience to know what you want to end up with, and the restraint not to overdo any one tool.

    Nicely done.

  • Wallace Says:

    You are welcome. I am pleased with how this image worked out. Some images lend themselves to processing like this adding to the overall harmony.

  • Wallace Says:

    Thanks for the comments Nikhil. I often find that as I work on an image that I start off with effects that are maybe a bit to much and then back off towards the original image. A small change can go a long way as you have said.

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