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Saturday, April 2, 2011

High Key?!

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I finally got around to checking the Scavenger Hunt Sunday challenge list this morning. I was laying on the couch with the hubs and the kiddos reading Ashley's blog on my phone and I was like "what the heck is High Key?!" The hubs - being the source of great wisdom that he is said "why don't you google it?"  The Wikipedia article was very helpful, and so was this one on Photo tuts plus. 

I'm sure a lot of you, my photography friends, already know what high key means - but for those of you, like me who wondered what that meant I thought I'd do a mini-tutorial on high key photography here. 

High key is unnaturally bright with minimal shadows and usually communicates a cheerful mood. It is called "high key" from studio lighting set-ups (from what I gathered from what I read, usually there are three: background light, fill light and key light)  low key is less light, high key is more light. High key photography  usually also has a seamless white background.

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What High Key Photography is NOT:

High key photography is not high contrast.

Monday's POTD
High contrast photography has more shadows than high-key.

High key is not just a bright picture 
Josiah 1 week 9-26-07
This photo was post-processed to brighten it and bring the high tones here a true high-key photo has a greater range of color and at the same time less shadows.

How to set up a High Key Photoshoot without using studio lights:
A "proper" high-key photograph would have a seamless back background with soft lights bouncing light of the background, a key light and a fill light - at least. But I don't have one single piece of studio lighting. So here is how I set up my high key photo shoot. Obviously doing this with a larger subject would require a more elaborate set-up but I knew that I didn't have the equipment or the time to make large enough backgrounds and reflectors to do this shoot justice - so I choose a nice small subject - some jelly beans I bough the other day. Starburst are my favorite brand, though I wish they made jumbo size ones. My favorite flavor is the orange ones - I think they remind me of all of those orange tic tacs I ate when I was a little girl. I really like the purple & pink ones too. But I'm getting off-topic

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I picked a nice bright spot in my house. I do a lot of photography by this window. Then I placed a nice large piece of poster board on the windowsill to give me a seamless white background.

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I set up a nice shiny piece of paper to reflect light back onto my subject. A nice sturdy, stiff paper or poster board work better than a regular sheet of computer paper or bendable computer paper. This was actually an insert from a photo album and it had a shiny protective layer so it worked especially well for bouncing light back onto my subject.

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I set my settings to slightly overexpose my image and framed my photo so that none of the edges of the background or reflector showed.

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Here is my image SOOC. I do wish that I'd been able to fill in the shadows just a little bit more but I think I did the best I could with what I was working with.

high key jellybeans

Here's my edited version ( in photo shop 7): duplicated background. Changed blending mode for layer style to "soft light". Ran High Pass Filter. Created adjustment layer for lighting and boosted light a little. Adjusted lighting levels to brighten a little.   

Here are a few others:
berries

simple summer joy

love this one

25 comments:

Ashley Sisk said...

Great tutorial - my high key image tomorrow is not technically correct but I still went with it seeing how I rarely picked up my camera this week.

Kimberly Gauthier said...

Thanks for explaining, but I didn't understand either. It cracks me up how much there is to learn about photography!

Michelle said...

I was also wondering what high key was, lol. I did something very similar to yours - on my desk next to the window with a piece of glossy white photo paper bouncing the light haha. But I used crayons instead of jellybeans :D
Now to finish the rest of the items!

Jessica said...

Excellent tutorial! I had to look up high key, too. These look wonderful!!

Jenn said...

very awesome!! i'll have to play around with this idea a bit ! <3

Jaymi said...

thanks, this was a great tutorial!

Ashley said...

I love these tutorials Faith!!

Patrice said...

I never would have known!

Kimberly said...

Great tutorial! I also had to look up high key since I was clueless. Not sure I captured it correctly, but it will have to do.

Margaret said...

My husband's response was the exact same... :)

Valeria said...

I did not know what "high key" photography was, so thanks for the info and tutorial. Those jelly beans....

Tezzie said...

Ha! Now I've learned something new today...thanks for the great tutorial!!!

Simone said...

Thank you so much for explaining this so clearly. Your photographs make it all look so easy, unfortunately I was unable to capture it as well. Great work!!!!

mommy of Five said...

great tutorial. i had to google it =0) but yours is much easier to understand! thanks for sharing!

Lynda said...

Thanks for the explanation! I had an idea, but wasn't 100% sure.

Your windowsill is so wide! Also, I think I have that same green basket. :)

Starburst jelly beans FTW!

Kathleen said...

Thanks for the tutorial! I had no idea what it was and translated the prompt into "high energy". I have 4 high key kids, so I should know what it means, right?! :)

Sam said...

This was a great tutorial, and so nice to know you don't have to have hundreds of dollars in expensive equipment to get a great shot. I'm definitely going to play around with this! Thanks for the inspiration!

-Sam

Ms. Pony said...

Thank you for posting this- I didn't find it until after I posted my scavenger hunt, but this is great info to keep in mind for the future!

Branson @ Reflection of Something said...

Love that you put this together! You are so awesome :) I was so ready to do the scavenger hunt this week, but time got away from me... I still love this tutorial though!

April said...

I had to look it up too! Great tutorial, pretty much what I did with mine for the scavenger hunt. Looking at mine now though, I over processed it. I'll be trying more of it though!

Amanda said...

oh yum, i hope you can get those candies in canada!! thanks for a great lesson!

Tara said...

Looks great! Great tutorial!It helped me!

kirstenhan.me said...

Awesome! :D

Christine said...

Great tutorial! I had no idea what High Key was and now I know how to achieve it. Also, I need jelly beans. Oooh... or skittles.

pindsha21 said...

Thanks. I had never heard of the term high key. I'm also a fan of methods that don't involve studio equipment :)