enter image description here

Much better quality larger version here

I am trying to get this 'pure white' skin effect. Is this just playing with over-exposure or is it more post-processing work?

The above image is not mine. I found it on the web. It is an example of what I am trying to achieve.

EDIT: just for clarification in case anyone eles has the same question - the idea/effect I am looking for is called 'high-key'....yes I am a complete noob

  • Image above does not give a good feel for original. Many versions on web. Most small and unattributed. Larger version here - this may have originally been from "Vogue" magazine - if so just about anything may have been done to achieve the effect. Apr 21, 2015 at 22:29

3 Answers 3


You could play with exposure and post-processing, but the most important step would be the lighting of the shot. I would think butterfly (clam shell) lighting to brighten the face, eliminate shadows and reduce texture on the face.


Image above does not give a good feel for original.
There are many versions on web. Most are small and unattributed.

Larger version here

A small version from what claims to be the original source is seen here

They have dozens of similarly rendered images of young girls.


"artistieke & romantische kinderportretten door Tanneke Peetoom "


"Artistic and romantic portraits of children by Tanneke Peetoom "

Contact details here - she MIGHT tell you if you ask :-).

enter image description here

  • I am all for connecting professional photographers with amateur. I think it is one of the best ways we can learn. The amateur just has to remember to be polite and not be upset if they do not receive a response. Heck, that is the whole reason why SE exists: to connect professionals with enthusiasts.
    – SailorCire
    Apr 22, 2015 at 1:35

Notice that the girls face has hardly any shadows. This means that the light source, from the perspective of the subject, is large and diffuse.

This can be achieved by a ring flash and shoot close to the subject or, alternatively, put a huge white box behind you.

If you have lots of lights, then 4 strip lights above, left, bottom, right of subject can give you very precise control.

The background is photoshopped because the glow around the subject follows her form. I would love to see a version of these works without this glow.

When in doubt, zoom into the pupil of the face to see the reflection of the light source.

Be careful not to confuse the contrast of the image with the way it was lit. While shadows themselves can't easily be added in post processing, the difference between shadow, midtone and highlight can be adjusted through both lighting and post processing. In particular, by pumping up the contrast in parts of the image (e.g. hair), the "flatness" of other areas is accentuated.

Adjusting contrast based on tone can be achieved with plugins -- for example, Nik's Color Efex Pro tone contrast

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.