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Low key... Comments please
Old 06-04-2005, 10:29 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Here is another shot from my last attempt at low key. Used a single spot light. This shot has a little more light in the shadows, instead of just complete blackness. Are we starting to progress in the right direction? Comments / suggestions appreciated.



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Dean
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Re: Low key... Comments please
Old 06-04-2005, 10:46 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Actually Dean....My understanding is of Low Key is more Blacks than Whites...you seem to have alot of shades of Gray.....and very little black.
you can boost up the blacks without losing everything...
try it with Levels or Curves...see which you like better.
then Bump up the contrast just a bit.
Don.

 
 
Re: Low key... Comments please
Old 06-04-2005, 10:58 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I kinda thought that my self. someone had told me earlier that the last ones I posted needed some fill so the shadows werent completely black *shrug* rekkon some like it , some dont [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif[/img] Will try some PS work. Marcgrant was kind enough to call me one night and help expain some of how to set white and black points. Starting to understand PS (stil got a long way to go though)

This is one of the other images, more black in this one... better?



Thanks Don, appreciate the comments
Dean
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Re: Low key... Comments please
Old 06-04-2005, 11:05 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Yep! thats my favorite of the series Dean!
Don!
 
 
Re: Low key... Comments please
Old 06-04-2005, 11:13 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Thanks, at least I feel like I'm starting to get somewhere now [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif[/img]

Dean
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Re: Low key... Comments please
Old 06-04-2005, 11:22 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Dean...Ive been in your shoes..and I'll probably go back and forth since Im still learning too..... I think critiques are useless...that just point out what someone doesnt like..without a solution for fixing the problem..to me thats just basically nit picking...but everyone already knows my stand on that issue..if your asking for a critique your really asking for help..not opinions..especially us newbies.
so..Im always willing to help if I know how to help!
Keep shooting and watch yourself get better..one of my best images came when I was frustrated with myself..and tried something I hadnt really tried...the first 20 Images in this set...were my same usual stuff...and I was seeing it in the view finder and wasnt happy....so I grabbed a stool and shoved my head into the ceiling..(figure of speech the propeller stopped me)..to get this angle..I wasnt even sure I'd like it....but it turned out to be one of my best images to date
so step off the ledge everyonce in awhile..I was told by someone that I really admire..."Sometimes you'll fall flat on your face, but if you dont try, you never learn!!
So Keep Shooting Dean..and dont get to frustrated, you'll nail them sooner than you realize!
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Re: Low key... Comments please
Old 06-05-2005, 07:29 AM   #7 (permalink)
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I agree about the blacks but this is also cropped much better.
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Re: Low key... Comments please
Old 06-05-2005, 09:16 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Don is pretty much on target with his definition of low-key. A low key image contains mostly lower values. From that standpoint I don't think you're image is a successful low-key image.

I think your basic composition is successful, but IMO the image is too contrasty. I like the curve coming from bottom left that is her right breast, and I like the curve and following line that is her left breast. I also like how the light falls off her right breast. But I think the band of dark values running from left center, through image center, then down to bottom center splits the image in two. My eye has a hard time moving around the image. I'm immediately drawn to her right breast and have difficulty moving off of it. When my eye finally does move, it is drawn to the background (leather chair or sofa?), I think due to the texture. Eventually, my eye is drawn to what I think is fabric on the right side of the image.

There's not much information in the shadows. From middle gray up into the highlights things are wonderful. But everything in the low values seems inky-black to me. The shadows act as visual barriers that keep my eye exploring the frame.



-Chip
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Technique for reducing contrast
Old 06-05-2005, 10:45 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Dean,

I forgot to make a suggestion/recommendation. Here's a technique for reducing contrast using contrast or shadow masks. They're a pain in the a$$ to make in a traditional darkroom, but really easy in Photoshop. One of the few things I like better about a digital darkroom. First a little about contrast masks:

A contrast mask has the effect of compressing your tonal values, bringing up the shadows and bringing down the highlights. I use them when printing Cibachromes/Ilfochromes from slides to bring out the shadow detail without blowing out the highlights. Digital cameras and slide film have similar exposure latitudes, so the same masks work well with digital when you have extreme contrast. Shadow masks really work well with digital cameras because the cameras do a much better job of recording shadow detail than slide film does. You just can't often see it without a little help.

Start with your full-size image and then do the following:

1) Make a duplicate layer and title it "contrast mask" so you remember what it's for.
2) Desaturate the layer, making it B&W.
3) Invert the layer, turning the B&W positive image into a negative.
4) In the layer mode, switch the mode from Normal to Overlay. You will see the shadow detail appear. Your highlights will also come down a little bit, so if your hightlights are borderline blown out, this will help those too.

This is most of the effect you're going for, but we're not done yet. To put the finishing touches on it you need to:

5) Perform a Gaussian Blur on the contrast mask of about 1% radius of the image dimensions. I split the difference between the horizontal and vertical values, so 3000 pixels x 2200 pixels would be in the area of a 26 pixel radius. The Gaussian Blur smooths the gradation around sharp edges in the image where the contrast mask interacts with the main layer. The radius value is subjective and you'll get a feel for it the more masks you make.

6) Finally, you may want to adjust the opacity of the contrast mask to suit your taste. I usually end up needing the opacity set to about 80%, but it all depends on the image. Some look best with opacity left at 100%

There is a refinement to the above technique called a shadow mask that I also use when I only want to bring up the shadows. If I've nailed the highlights I don't want the mask to bring their values down. The refinement keeps just the part of the mask that brings up the shadows and erases the part of the mask that holds back the highlights:

Starting at step 3 above, after you invert the mask do the following:

3a) Hide the main layer so you can see what you're doing to the mask. We're going to remove the portions of the mask that affect the highlights. Looking at the mask, the shadow portions are white, and the highlight portions are dark (it's a negative).

3b) Select the Photoshop tool that allows you to select regions by color. We're going to select the bright portions and then invert the selection. Click on a bright portion. Add to the selection as necessary to select most of the all-white areas. Be careful not to select medium to light-gray portions.

3c) Invert the selection. Now we've selected the mask regions that affect the highlights. Erase or cut away (CTRL-X) the selection. Now you're left with a mask that brings up the shadows, but does nothing to the highlights. If you so desire, rename the layer "shadow mask" instead of "contrast mask".

3d) Display the main layer again and switch the mask layer to Overlay mode (step 4 above). You will see distinct lines where the shadow mask affects the image. You absolutely need to perform a Gaussian Blur (step 5) when creating shadow masks to smooth the effect. Again, set the opacity (step 6) according to taste.

You will probably need to play around a bit with step (3b) to get just the parts of the mask you need, but a little practice get you there. Hope this has been helpful.

-Chip
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Re: Technique for reducing contrast
Old 06-05-2005, 12:08 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Chip, thank you very much for the comments, especially the " how to" in PS. Im going to print that out and try this. I still have a long way to go to learn to use Photoshop. Of course, getting closer when pressing the shutter is my first goal so I dont need to do as much in PS. I must say, it is critiques like this that I look forward to... not that I'm looking for someone to hold my hand, but pointing me in the right direction certainly helps.
Thanks again,
Dean
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