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Exploring Low-Key Portraiture

Lesson 9 of 15

Developing the Raw for Low-Key

Chris Knight

Exploring Low-Key Portraiture

Chris Knight

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Lesson Info

9. Developing the Raw for Low-Key


  Class Trailer
Now Playing
1 Class Introduction Duration:12:53
2 What Is Low-Key Lighting? Duration:11:11
3 Bringing in the Subject Duration:05:01
4 Lighting Patterns Duration:19:21
6 Giving Your Light a Job Duration:12:07
7 How to Create Separation Duration:06:58

Lesson Info

Developing the Raw for Low-Key

as we mentioned a little bit in the beginning of the first segment. This is important, almost just as just as important, relatively Aziz the actual shooting process. Because when you're working with all of this dark information, it's important. That translates to this Elektronik screen successfully. And so we have to think about the approach to post production, how it can lend itself to the results that we are after. And so there are two really important components of this process. You have the development process and you have the retouching process, and they're two very different things now, probably before the development process, you actually go through what's known as the editing process, so there's usually a lot of words that get thrown around things like editing, retouching, developing. Editing is actually not do whatever you want with with the word. But traditionally, editing was all about selecting images. You have a photo editor who selects the images, so anything was about fi...

ne tuning and picking your selects. You may also hear this referred to as calling the images like you'd call the herd, so we call the images. We ultimately select what we're after, and that's the whole thing. But we're just gonna go with this one image that we have selected for now. And we're gonna be developing this image. And I'm a big believer and spending a lot of time or the right time developing your image. You can get your image most of the way there in whatever raw processing software you use. I myself am a light room user. I like the catalogue system. I like the develop module. It works for May. It works for the files that come from my camera. So I'm gonna be using light room and we're gonna be transitioning into photo shop. But you're going to see that we're gonna get a lot out of light room and in terms of the look and in terms of where this image is ultimately going to go. But before we actually dig into the sliders and everything else, we have to talk about general light room or developing theory, right? So we have to think about what it means to develop the raw for the low key image. So we have to pay attention to the information and the hissed. A gram will guide you in the top right hand corner of the develop module. You have the hist agreement tells you what you're looking at. You can't always trust your are. You can always trust your monitor, your I can adapt. And your monitor isn't necessarily always going to be the absolute, truest representation of what you're looking at. Because it depends on what the output of this is. We're to talk about developing for the print versus developing for the screen in just a moment. But we're gonna We'll come right back to that. You have to let your exposure dictate the overall feel, which is this right here. All right, that exposure slider. There we go. Exposure slider dictates your overall feel. What this does. This grabs your hissed a gram. This right here from the middle, and it moves everything. Okay, We're gonna double click on that. Zero it out. Now that's gonna determine everything that we're looking at. We also have to pay attention to the constraints, right. So we have to pay attention to our clipping guides. And I'm a big believer in using the clipping guides. And that's these two little tiny triangles. The top right hand corner of your wrist, a gram, and this tells you where you have reached pure black or pure white and pure black is represented by blue and pure white is represented by read. Okay. And generally speaking, be careful about using pure black or pure white. You may have a reason to do that. You're shooting on pure black. It need to be black. You're shooting on Pier Whiten. It needs to be white. That's fine. But be careful about where that clipping occurs. Maybe a little bit of black clipping in the shadow corner of a jacket, maybe. OK, but a white clipping on skin when the light is soft may not be what you want, because what that ends up looking like is this. May you can see it in the skin. It doesn't look right because of the lighting. Now let's say you have hard speculator. Light, hard speculator Light is a contrast. The light. When light hits a shiny metal object or glistening skin, you get that strong high contrast bright highlight that may be okay for it to hit pure white. It totally depends on what the object is and what kind of light is happening onto it. So usually I talk about when we're talking about developing the wrong is I always say that you want to stretch out the hissed a gram as much as possible, really play with the elasticity of that file. But if I were to do that in this particular case, that skin would look rial. Right. So what I'm gonna do is I'm gonna bring it down to the the level that works, right for the image. Based on what? It's an image off. Right? So we do have to be very cognizant, very aware of what's actually happening in the scene. There are no absolute rules, their guides, that air that are meant to help you. Now we're gonna be stretching out the image. I'm gonna talk about that a little bit more in a second and then finally Sorry. Then we also have down here because in a low key image, we have to deal with creating separation of the subject, usually right between tones and textures of why I like to use textures because it helps this next step be a little bit more successful, which is the use of clarity. And you can kind of see how clarity starts to create a little bit of separation. Now clarity does tend to look really bad when used to extreme degrees. And so I'm gonna show you ways to use it well in high degrees on also how to use it selectively. Clarity is actually something called mid tone contrast. It creates the illusion of depth or the illusion of detailer sharpest, but what it's actually doing if you pay attention to the hissed, a gram up here is it's affecting contrast in the middle tones primarily, whereas if you use the contrast lighter, it's affecting the entire image, and that's what those to do separately. But we'll talk about that a little bit more in a second. Lastly, the important thing here and this is this is something I can't stress enough is developing for the print versus developing for the screen, and there are two very different mentalities when doing so. If you develop something for the for the for the screen, it tends to need a lot of tweaking or a little bit of tweaking to work for the print. If you've ever gone about and you've try to take an image that looked exactly how you wanted it on the monitor, and you tried to print it. You usually find it ends up dark. That's usually how it works unless you have a screen that's calibrated to look like a print. What you can do. But that's usually not the case. That's because they're two very different systems. This is known as an additive system, and it's backlit on additive system is where you start with a black lightless space on the colors combined to create white, so you have RGB. Those are the colors in the additive system red, green and blue combined. When they are fullest, their fullest intensity, they make white. Okay, let's help. The light works in here. Now the print is different. The print. You start with white or relative white of the paper, and you add cyan, magenta yellow to create your dark colors. Now cyan, magenta and yellow create a very dark, muddy brown. They don't quite create black, so we use black ink. That's the kay or key. So you have RGB that make white cm. Why, okay, make black. So in the print colors combined, great black in the screen colors combined to create white, and that's why your images always look brighter on the screen because they're backlit. So generally what ends up happening is people develop for the screen and they brighten up before they go to print. My or you may have found that if you like that faded, look to the image where you kind of bring the blacks up in the whites down a little bit. That almost always looks terrible when you go to print, and that's because what's happening is you are manipulating what's happening here. You're manipulating history. You're actually removing information off the edges, okay, And depending upon the paper, you use the way that information maps to the paper the way it translates to the paper. You may already be losing information. Matt paper, for example, is usually a lower contrast. Paper doesn't reach as pure of a black. And so what happens if you have an image that already looks like a mat image on your screen and you try to print it on that paper? You're throwing away tons of information, and usually it looks very washed out flat, so you got to be careful about that. Now, if you want that aesthetic totally fine, save it for the end. The absolute end. Flatten it right before you put it on the Web. That way, when you want to print the file, you just turn it off. So I like to tell people to develop for the print because of print very easily works for the Web versus the other way, which is usually a little bit more complicated. I think when you're in photo shop and you have to add, like that adjustment to brighten up to print, you actually throwing away a little bit of information. Why would you want to throw away information when you're printing, when you actually need as much as possible? Whereas if you develop for the print to begin with, you can throw away that little bit of an information for the Web, and you're totally fine. So what I dio for May is I have two screens. When I work at home, I have one screen that's the that's darker and it's set for the print. And so what you could do is you can actually just dial the brightness down, and sometimes that takes a little bit of experimentation to get a good a good reference point for yourself, NEC's Eyes O's and a few the other monitors. They actually have the ability to calibrate for the print. And so what you can do is they'll be a naturally darker screen, and it's gonna give you a better indicator of what the print looks like. And so I have one screen that step for the print, and I have one screen that set for the Web and I work on the print screen. And then if I want to see how it looks, I just drag it over, okay, and then when I go to print, I know exactly what it's gonna look like. But when I export for the Web, all I do is brighten it up a little bit and I may be shave a little bit off the end. And so, in the speeding up photo shop class, we're gonna create that as an action. I'm gonna show you how to create a safer the Web action, which is going to show you how to just write it up, shave it a little bit off, and it becomes an automated process, and it's ah, it's just something you run at the end, and it makes my image is ready for the print versus Sorry makes me image is ready for the Web on. I have it for the print readily available for whenever I want it. Now, if you're never printing, this may not be something that you have to worry about, but I do find that once you start printing your post, production generally gets much better. I mean, once I started printing my my post, production got a lot better because you start paying attention to certain details and tones and how to render things. If you just crank the contrast up and you have lots of clipping, it's not gonna look good in the print. But you learn to develop for the print, and it will make your overall retouching better, I promise. So that's my approach. I like to always work for the print and then because the Web translation is very simple. That's that's kind of my methodology to it. So what generally happens is I work a bit darker on a darker screen, so I'm making and developing a little bit brighter that I would, and then if I'm putting it on the Web, I just darken it down

Class Description

Embrace the dark! No longer be afraid of shadow and murky tones. Explore the low-key portrait with Chris Knight. Learn how to maximize the detail in dark imagery through lighting and post-production. Chris will take you from concept through execution covering simple (yet effective) lighting techniques as well as tethering tips with Adobe® Lightroom®. He'll also discuss how to develop the raw image and retouching tactics to make your image appear powerful and purposeful.


Brenda Pollock Smith

Thank you Chris Knight and Creative Live for another excellent class. I appreciate both the actual shooting and post instruction. Right before your eyes you will see how simple applications of light, shadow combined with post production can create gorgeous, dark images. Chris has a great relaxed manner, easy to follow while offering a ton of tips and tricks. I can hardly wait to try my hand at producing some hauntingly beautiful images like Chris.

a Creativelive Student

I don't have a ton of time to spare and largely catch segments of courses on short breaks. One of the things i like best about this course Chris's ability to communicate so effectively and efficiently. He covers a lot of ground in not a lot of time, but the course doesn't feel at all rushed. He's just a good speaker/instructor. One of the other reviewers mentioned that this instructor brings no ego to the stage, and I have to agree. He's a confident and competent instructor without being obnoxious. Rock solid course with terrific instruction. I will definitely check out more of Knight's classes.

jos riv

The detail and order in which the information for this class was presented was just perfect. It was like a perfectly prepared meal with each bite more delicious than the last. It had exactly what I needed to move forward with some of my techniques. So glad to have the class so I can enjoy/learn over and over.