Low/High Key Photographs

The below photo was shot in a studio setup. It was intentional to shoot on a white background and overexpose slightly to minimize contrast and lighten shadows. It was difficult to not overexpose too much and lose the detail in the glass topper. I had to balance that issue with the slightly grey background as it was hard to fully blow out the background to completely white without the photo looking off, even with the adjustment brush. As high key is the opposite of low key, its key tones are high. I used a fair amount quantity flat lighting of the studio lights to help reduce contrast and shadows and so I could precisely control the dark tones. High key photos usually have subjects that are feminine in nature, such as the perfume bottle with the pearls that I choose.

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Low key photography makes use of dark tones and colours; the main feature of a low key photograph is the depth created by the shadows. Low photography means the image’s key tones are low. This particular photo has most of its keys tones on the left side of the histogram. The intention is to direct the viewers’ attention directly to the illuminated subject, by keeping everything else in the shadows. High key images feel airy, light and rich, while low key images feel dramatic and full of mystery.

The lights are reflected on the glass from the window light; there is also some pink form the curtains. The shadows in the upper right side of the perfume bottle hide that part of the subject, like it is disappearing into the shadows as its tone is deepened gradually. The form of the bottle is emphasized here by highlighting all the edges that the natural light hit.

In the below low key photo, solely natural lighting was used. I made sure the subject received more light than its background which was already fairly dark. I tried to keep the side away furthest from the window relatively darker. (It was a dark grey wall) Exposure was further changed with the adjustment brush in Lightroom. By controlling the light I feel I made a fairly boring glass object more mysterious.

IMG_0170     IMG_0170         Before and after post-production adjustments in Lightroom.

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I really like the simplicity of low key photographs by emphasizing the subject with light and contrast.  High key photography also fits with my photographic style as it is effective for product and upscale photography and I like the clean, high quality look it conveys.

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Week #1: Journal Entry

Over the past few years, photography has definitely become a big part of my life. It has given me many opportunities to grow as an individual and get real life experience. Through my current internship, I am exposed to the business aspect of photography. I am constantly learning to better adapt to any situation that may be changed last minute. A certain social aspect and assertiveness was developed on my part, which I was happy about. I never knew that ordering people around just to get the photo they want required as much quarrel as it actually does. I enjoy discovering the unique likes and taste of each individual client. It is very rewarding when you have hit right on the exact preferences of your client. This is one of the hardest things to achieve, but I find it to be one of my favourite aspects.

As for my personal style as a photographer, I have narrowed down a few things I tend to always come back to. I like to manipulate lighting in a creative way, such as creating the star effect in night cityscapes, bokeh to soften backgrounds, and using colour themes to create certain moods. I would describe my photographic style as defined and classic. I like to bring out an elegant or modern mood. Usually I like to get down to the level of the object I am shooting. One of the first things I learned was that the “bug’s eye view” is a very adaptable perspective and can completely transform an ordinary photo. I have been keeping this technique in mind since. Shooting ordinary objects can be tricky, but finding that one part to emphasize or shooting from different perspectives is something I’ve always liked to do. As much a I love shooting Vancouver’s cityscapes, unfortunately it is just not realistic to go down to the coast that often. Post-production wise, I am definitely more focused on enhancing the photo in a natural way to add definition and contrast, rather than completely altering the photo. This year I would like to work on Photoshop techniques and as I want to know how to produce drastic edits when needed. I want to learn how to create more filter tools, such as dreamscape that was shown last year. My favourite thing to shoot is landscapes, as I feel every one tells a story. Playing with the depth within the photo and making sure to include certain foreground and/or background elements is a challenge I like taking on. Those who have critiqued my work have told me that I am better at portraits, though I don’t know why as I am not particularly outspoken. But I enjoy taking landscapes more because I like making each shoot an adventure.

So, I would say that my long term goal is to continue defining my photographic style and to just get out and shoot whenever I get a chance. In the short term, I want to expand on my editing techniques, as I feel am starting apply the same things over and over for every photo. Being able to look at an image and determining what has been adjusted to achieve that certain effect is something I want to be able to do. Generally, I want to try out various different styles and take this semester to try as many new things as possible by stepping out of my comfort zone more.

Here are three of my photos taken within the last year.

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Peer Critique (photo above):

In this photograph, I really like the use of line. The circle of the rings really draws your eye to the diamond. The texture of this photo is also very dominant. The one thing I noticed that could be improved is the depth of field. There is a slight competition between where the eye is being drawn. There is a lot of focus on both the texture and the ring, so if the depth of field were shorter the focus could be more on the ring in the picture.

Everything big starts small

Self Critique:

This photo leans on the dark more than I would like it to. Although the darks help to contrast against the light on the flower, opening up more shadows may have helped add more depth. I also would have liked to also, tone down the saturation of the brown in the background to further bring out the flower. The blurred rocks in the foreground did turn out how I wanted and helped to frame my subject. 

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Self Critique:

I often show the editted version of this particular photo, but today I felt like the original deserved some more attention for some reason. This was taken about a year ago on a trip to the lower mainland. My dad and I went down to the beach (Stanley Park Seawall) to experiment with photographing cityscapes. It was my first ever run at it and I loved it. It would have helped if we had shown up earlier when it was not totally pitch black, so the sky would be able add more dimension. I like the slightly lively mood combined with the calm waters of this photo.