Home Edizioneed. 2 High Key Light. When too much doesn’t hurt

High Key Light. When too much doesn’t hurt

by AdminAg

Written by Simone Angarano

High Key images are part of the photographic art. This popular technique allows you to play with light and achieve very special effects.
HIGH KEY images are particularly clear and might appear over-exposed to a layman. The set is usually characterised by soft, diffuse light enveloping the subjects and a lack of shadows and marked contrasts. The result is often an image with an ethereal, light and pure atmosphere. Often in photography books this technique is linked to images where white predominates and a careful use of contrasts allows for better delineation of the contours softened by the light.
It is widely used in photographs of Children and Weddings but can also be used with surprising results in Fashion, Portraiture and Glamour.

When we decide to take a high key shot, the first thing to start with is to use a main light that becomes the key light. Once this light source has been found, it is necessary to understand where the shadows fall and place a fill light, or a reflective panel, that is able to practically cancel out the dark parts. This can, however, cause a loss of three-dimensionality in the image resulting from the absence of shadows. This can be remedied in two ways: one, if you use a fill light, to balance any shadows produced by the main light, it must have a power reduced by at least one stop compared to the predominant light source (the difference in intensity between the lights is called the “lighting ratio”). This difference in brightness will serve to create a small contrast of shadows, two to compensate I recommend using very open diaphragms in order to create a blurred effect derived from the reduced depth of field, this will create a detachment between the different planes emphasising a 3D effect.

Example 2 of High Key effect
Example 2 of High Key effect

Remember that everything plays on exposure. Your camera’s exposure meter wants to make everything it sees grey.
If I photograph a white wall with exposure on 0, I will get a nice grey.
So, working with natural light, if we want to get a nice white, we have to fool the exposure meter by overexposing by one or two stops.
In conclusion, we can say that regardless of the position and choice of light source, the main idea of this technique is to obtain a diaphanous environment, where the subject really becomes the sole protagonist of the shot. The best way to start experimenting is to have an idea, a project in your head and start trying and trying again. Once the idea is formed in your mind, all that remains is to “brush” your subject with light, carefully studying not only how it is illuminated, but how and where shadows are formed, so that you can intervene in the places you want to lighten. Change the position of the light source, try different wattages, move the light source closer or further away until you find the right combination to shoot.

Curated by Simone Angarano (IG simone_angarano)
Photo by Luca De Nardo (IG @luca_denardo - www.lucadenardo.it)

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