Tuesday 6 May 2008

High-key portrait photography

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I had the pleasure of photographing Sia and her parents again on Sunday - click to see a selection from her portrait album. I took along my collapsible white background (which I have finally learnt how to fold back up again in less than 5 minutes) in order to take some high-key shots. Key refers to the dominant tonality in the photo, so high-key means predominantly white. In a studio setting this is often achieved by using two lights for the background, set to over-expose by at least one stop. You can cheat, however, under the right circumstances. In the shot above Sia is lit solely by window light. Rendering good skin tones is the key to portrait photography so I exposed the shot solely for her. Since the background is further from the light source it initially came out as off-white. I then just used Photoshop (the replace colour command) to select and lighten only the background - much quicker than setting up a light. Bear in mind that if your subject is very pale, or wearing very light clothes, distinguishing them from the background won't be so easy using Photoshop, so in that case it will be quicker to light the background separately.


Anonymous said...

fantastic description of high-key thanks for putting it in terms anybody can understand

Fotograf Warszawa said...

I love High key photography!
We shoot it in our studio as well.

What is your setup? We use one big light as the main key f8 and 2 small overexposing the background f11 each.