How To Edit Photos With Bleach Bypass Effect Without Having A Meltdown

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I’ve had quite a few people ask me what filter I use on Instagram, so that’s my cue to make a bleach bypass effect tutorial. My “filter” is a variation on the bleach bypass. I don’t completely wash out the photos, but I give it enough of a desaturation and lightening in order for it to pass.

I tend to underexpose my photos and I prefer the moodier feel, but you can apply the effect to normal exposure photos as well. I imagine overexposed photos would look extremely washed out with this technique, but hey, that’s yet another effect you can go for.

This is the basic premise of how I edit the photos, so you might want to adjust the techniques to fit your style and preference.

Related: How To Create a Cohesive Instagram Feed

How To Edit Photos With Bleach Bypass Effect Without Having A Meltdown

The Basics of the Bleach Bypass Edit

  1. Adjust your initial photo to your preference. This may mean lightening shadows, darkening blacks, whitening whites, and cropping to your preference. There are a number of different, small adjustments you can do before actually doing the color adjustments. Focus on straightening up the photo and honing in the subject you want in focus.
  2. Your main adjustment to get the photos uniform and “bleached” will be the desaturation. I typically pull down saturation to -50 or so, and pump up the vibrancy accordingly just to bring out the subtle color tones in the photo.Related: Learn how to save your Lightroom adjustments as a premade “filter”
  3. In these videos, I exaggerated the blue a LOT. I typically tone down the blue a little and tweak them so they’re not so prominent. In general, I try to have the blue tones noticeable just a tiny bit in the shadows.
  4. Try not to get detail lost in the shadows. Strike a balance between lightening up the dark tones and getting a dark black tone. Same goes for the highlights. I pull down the highlights a bit in the photos in order to bring out a little bit of midtone detail. Some people prefer more contrast, so you can skip this if you like a sharper look.

Bleach Bypass Tutorial Video

Part 1: The Prep

Part 2: The Color Adjustments

Nataliya Ogle


Nataliya Ogle likes making sure others live to their full potential. She publishes articles on her primary website and works as a freelance writer for other women's interest sites. Her physical body is in New York but her presence can almost always be found online. The internet is her first love.


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