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Low Key Photography

by AdminAg

Another of the techniques that is part of the photographic art as High Key is Low Key.

Written by Simone Angarano

One could say that one is in opposition to the other. 

Today we will discuss Low Key, where exposure levels are deliberately exaggerated. These are images where diffuse underexposure predominates and subjects emerge from this “darkness”. This technique makes it possible to accentuate the focus on the subject by illuminating, often selectively certain parts of it. The set is characterized by either a soft, diffuse light that envelops the subjects or a hard light that outlines. The choice of which type of lighting to prefer lies in the type of message you want to convey through the image. By using a soft light you will have subjects that emerge from the darkness, but at the same time they will be enveloped by it. Like an awakening from a dream, combined with warm tones, it gives a meaning of protection, intimacy, as if one were ‘spying’ on the subject in an intimate moment. By using, instead, a hard light we will have a clear detachment from the backdrop and the location used, making the backdrop and the location used, making the shapes of our subject stand out even more, outlining its features and accentuating its three-dimensionality. In terms of meaning we will have images in line with the light itself that are harder, dramatic, full of a static dynamism. Hard light in low key is often used for photography of jewelry.

Practical use in Glamour photography:

As mentioned earlier, low key accentuates the three-dimensionality of subjects and this allows you to use closed apertures to increase the depth of field, but without creating a ‘flat’ effect. When we decide to make a Low Key shot, the first thing to start with is to use a main light very close to the subject in order to obtain a very accentuated light fall on the rest of the scene. This will allow you to control the direction and shape of the shadows generated. Should you wish to emphasise the ‘dark’ effect more on the rest of the scene, I suggest two ‘tricks’: one is to use a grid on your loudspeakers so as to accentuate the light only in the desired direction, thereby also emphasising the vignetting effect; the second is to bring the light even closer to the light to the subject and at the same time move it further away from the backdrop or scene. In the case of lighting faces, remember to be very careful that both eyes are in light or in shadow. If this were not the case, one of the eyes would be glassy and dull and the other alive and bright, creating a horrible effect on our subject.

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