HighKey Photography: A Complete Aesthetic Photography Guide

No comments

 High key photography affects us like almost no other image style. We are guaranteed to have admired high-key photos.

Their trademark is a high proportion of white and light colors or gray tones. They are known to us from the fashion world and advertising and stand for pure aesthetics and purity. What is the secret of professional photos in this high key look? You can try out for yourself that a high-key shot is not just an overexposed photo.

HighKey Photography: A Complete Aesthetic Photography Guide

HighKey Photography: A Complete Aesthetic Photography Guide

What is high key actually and how does it affect us?

The term "high key" comes from the early Hollywood film world, where the "good" characters were illuminated with a three-point main light (key light) to almost surround them with a halo and the bad guys were lit from below, which made them seem terrifying and mysterious.

highkey photo white doors white background | HighKey Photography
High key photos are characterized by many bright or overexposed areas.

In high-key photography , the images are very bright and are therefore the opposite of low-key photography . Usually a bright subject is photographed against a background that is also bright. There are also darker gray / color gradations as well as a contrast with pure black in the image - only in significantly fewer numbers than the light and very light areas. The predominantly light part gives the picture something positive, light and carefree. This can be observed in a similar way in black and white photography , but not as pronounced.

Applications for high key photography

Basically, every motif can be photographed in high-key style. Especially own to do the high-key lighting but for images with people because so a very special achieve image effect can be. For this reason, this picture style is mainly used in the following areas:

Portraits: light-skinned blonde models are particularly suitable, high-key shots automatically conjure up a flawless, smooth complexion! Learn more about portrait photography here .

Baby / child photography : High Key transforms children into little innocent angels

Fashion photography, beauty and fashion : always make sure that the model dresses lightly

Nature / landscape photography : snowy landscapes are particularly suitable.

What does high key look like in the histogram?

A high key photography image shows a clearly recognizable curve in the histogram. If you want a lot of light on the sensor  , you usually have to work with an open aperture and with light colors from the start. With a high key photo , the histogram looks a bit strange. The curve of the tonal value distribution runs very low in low and middle tones and rises very sharply in the light tones.

highkey photography histogram | HighKey Photography

The steep curve on the right edge can only be cut off slightly, which means that the light tonal value areas in the image still have a slight mark. A curve that is severely cut off on the right means that the image has pure white areas (without drawing). That can also be a technique that can be used in a targeted manner. In the case of a portrait, for example, you should make sure that the main subject, i.e. the face itself, still has a small amount of detail, while the outer areas of the image can also be pure white.

The high key photography effect can either be conjured up in the studio when taking photos with the right technology, or only in post-processing. In retrospect, the results are practically indistinguishable from one another.

Instructions for high key photography in the studio

The model stands approx. 1.5 m in front of a light or white background (don't forget the white balance!). Since the background is always lit a little brighter than the model (use external light meter ), it must not be too close to the background, otherwise there is a risk of overexposure.

Expose the background with two flash heads at a 45 ° angle so that the reflected light does not land in the camera. You can acquire basic knowledge about light and shadow photography here.

Illuminate the model frontally from the left and right so that no shadows are created and use soft light sources (e.g. softbox, umbrella).

Button you in the exposure , aperture and ISO slowly approach. Overexposing the main subject itself is a photographic no-go.

Extra tip

If the model does not stand out properly from the background, the contours can be darkened with a light eater (e.g. black surface) on the side of the subject. Always shoot in RAW so that you can correct it afterwards.

Camera settings and post-processing

As mentioned above, high-key images are mainly created through overexposure . You can easily see how underexposed or overexposed your picture is by looking through the optical viewfinder. The so-called light balance is displayed there. Press the shutter button halfway on your camera to recalculate and display the exposure. The more light you let act on the sensor, the more the shadows and dark areas in the image are reduced.

In post-processing, you can improve and adjust the exposure.

  1. First, lower the contrast.
  2. Then reduce the black levels and shadow effects
  3. If the effect is not yet strong enough, increase the amount of white
  4. Choosing balanced, soft lighting for your photos will get the best results.
  5. If your high-key image is not monochrome or contains color, then watch out for chromatic aberrations . Unfortunately, these undesirable color fringes often occur when a subject is photographed against a white background.

It will be difficult to convert a normal color image into a high-key image. This is especially true if the photo has a lot of shadow areas.

High key effect by editing the tone curve

Once the high key image has been created, you can still lend a little hand in post-processing to retouch image details, such as unclean areas of skin in the portrait. Using the gradation curve and the tone value curve, photos with predominantly light nuances can generally be completely transformed into high-key photos. To do this, you simply adjust the histogram accordingly.

So that the colors of the high key photo are not shifted, you should set the calculation method of the gradation curve or the tonal value correction to "Luminance".

Abstract high key photography

High key photography is a very exciting variation on people photography . With the unique bright look and the few, but targeted contrasts, extraordinary images are created. It is definitely worth discovering High Key for yourself!

If you're into photography and want to learn from the best. We present to you this complete guide with more than 230,000 successful students with a 30 Day Money Back Guarantee: Photography Masterclass: A Complete Guide to Photography

Or if you prefer reading, you can check out the BEST SELLING Photography Book: Digital Photography Complete Course: Learn Everything You Need to Know in 20 Weeks

If you need more highkey aesthetic photography tips you can check out this article: https://www.dpreview.com/articles/1122087300/beginners-guide-shooting-high-key-at-home

Or you can simply watch this video:

Those were our "HighKey Photography: A Complete Aesthetic Photography Guide" for you. We hope you enjoyed! Don't forget to leave us your question down below in the comments. We would love to hear from you.

No comments

Post a Comment