Low key or High Key

Definition time:

A low key photo is simply a photo that is “overall dark”. Like this one, of Serenity, made yesterday:

(Black backdrop, 200 ISO, 1/125 sec, f/8, softbox on left as main light, softbox on right as fill light, snoot behind right as hairlight, gridded gelled speedlight on left for red accent).

The nice thing is that the subject stands out because she is the only light thing; in particular, her eyes are.

A high key photo, you guessed it, is a photo whose overall brightness is high. Like this, of intern Daniel, also made yesterday:

There you have it.

Which histogram belongs to which photo?

Answer tomorrow!



Can be good. As in this recent low key portrait of my friend and colleague photographer Joseph Marranca:

Joseph Marranca

Photographer Joseph Marranca

A low key portrait is a portrait where background and clothing are dark, and only a small part of the image is lit.

We used one small beauty dish. Straight above Joseph. And the white studio walls, because they got no light, turned dark. This is key: umbrellas would have spilled light onto the background. This small directional light allowed the background to remain dark.

(The dish failed to perform: it did not make Joseph beautiful).