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I had a chance to tour a few photography galleries during my trip to South Africa. I noticed that many wildlife photographers we processing their photos using a technique called high-key photography (or high-key lighting). The idea is to create a monochrome image that accentuates the highlights and the mid-tones. It usually begins by capturing an image suitable for this process. Ideally, one would look for a scene where the subject is surrounded by uniformly bright items (e.g. snow or tall grasses). I thought I would give this process a try even though my original images were not captured in the ideal fashion.

This photograph was taken during a safari at the Zulu-Nyala Game Reserve. The Reserve only has two adult female African Elephants and one adolescent. There were no males in the park. African Elephants are highly destructive. This was evident as we drove around the park. It was not hard to spot where elephants had been. They feed on grass, leaves and bark for over 14 hours per day, modifying woodlands in the process. Matriarchs lead the elephant family units. Males keep to themselves in smaller “bachelor” groups.


This image was taken with my Canon EOS 5DS using my Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 II Lens set on 112mm. The camera was set on Manual mode with the aperture set at f/4.5, shutter speed at 1/200th of a second and the ISO set at 1600. This was a single image processed in Lightroom and Photoshop. I used Nik Color Efex Pro to create some of the high-key effect. Total processing time for this image was about an hour (not including the post-processing research time and proof of concept processing).

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T. Kahler Photography
© 2016 T. Kahler Photography

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