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Archive 2013 · What is low key?
  
 
no_surrender
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p.2 #1 · What is low key?


BrianO wrote:
Close, but for my taste your face is over exposed on one side, and you could go a little less on the other side without any problem.


I may have misunderstood your intent here. As a matter of fact I did. The first time I read it I thought you suggested I should have had less light on the right side of my face and a little more on my left. I see now you meant less light on both sides.

BrianO wrote:
I think we were suggesting decreased exposure on your face, not increased. With only one light source that can be difficult, but could possible be achieved by feathering the light further toward the front (away from your face), using a flag, etc.

As I said, though, it's fine the way it is; I just nthink it could be even better with less exposure on your face...especially on the shadow side.

Some of what makes low-key lighting interesting is that the viewer's mind has to fill in missing details that can't be directly observed, thus becoming more engaged with the image. The technique
...Show more

BrianO, I find myself drawn to low key images. I enjoy the 'darkness' and mysteriousness that they provide, in which you described in your post. Thank you for the background 'history' lesson--I looked at many of the Rembrandt paintings from the link, but was unfamiliar with the term chiaroscuro.

Yes, I do want to experiment...give me a few minutes and I'll re-post an edited version. The first one I posted was pretty close to SOOC, BTW, with a very subtle levels adjustment in LR and slight crop.

Kevin

Edit: Not sure why my entire last sentence is italicized.



Mar 24, 2013 at 10:50 PM
BrianO
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p.2 #2 · What is low key?


I just realized I never put in my two-cents' worth on your original question:

no_surrender wrote:
I'm hoping someone can enlighten me on the difference between purposefully lighting a low key subject and simply shooting underexposed. ...How can one continue to use a histogram when shooting low key?


This difference is that important objects in the image are properly exposed to bring out detail, whatever the amount of such exposure as meets your artistic determination. Unimportant details in the image, though, are allowed to be very dark, as oppossed to high-key images where such parts would be exposed brightly.

A simplified example would be a properly exposed portrait that uses a black background (low key) versus one that uses a white background (high key) or a gray one (normal key).

The way one would use the histogram would be that most of the data points would be stacked toward the left side of the graph without clipping against the left side, just as a high-key image would have most of the data points stacked toward the right side but not clipping against the far right. Some clipping is okay in either case for items like backgrounds, but the contextual elements should not be clipped, and there should be some data points on the opposite side of the graph indicating good contrast.

The biggest giveaway to an underexposed (or overexposed) image versus a deliberate strong key is that lack of contrast. An underexposed image will look dull and lifeless, and an overexposed image will look washed out. A strong-key image will have some elements in all "zones" -- it will be vibrant and have "pop."



Mar 24, 2013 at 10:54 PM
no_surrender
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p.2 #3 · What is low key?


Thanks again, BrianO. I love the knowledge base on FM, especially in the Lighting forum. I've learned so much, consistently, from you and a few others that I can't thank you often enough.

Now, to put it into practice...after a little touch-up in PS.



Mar 24, 2013 at 11:12 PM
RustyBug
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p.2 #4 · What is low key?


BrianO wrote:
the contextual elements should not be clipped, and there should be some data points on the opposite side of the graph indicating good contrast.


+1



Mar 24, 2013 at 11:26 PM
 

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no_surrender
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p.2 #5 · What is low key?


BrianO, here's what I think you may have been looking for.







Here's SOOC, my first edit, the one above.
My WB was set to Auto, hence the cooler tones in the SOOC version. I simply changed the setting in LR to Flash.








Mar 25, 2013 at 04:02 AM
BrianO
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p.2 #6 · What is low key?


no_surrender wrote:
BrianO, here's what I think you may have been looking for.

http://www.kcrawphotography.com/photos/i-PtPZ7D9/0/X2/i-PtPZ7D9-X2.jpg


Yes, I like this one better. My tastes run toward the dark and moody side.

I particularly like how the right side of the frame is now completely black, centering attention on the bottle.




Mar 25, 2013 at 04:29 AM
no_surrender
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p.2 #7 · What is low key?


I, too, like dark and moody images.

I adjusted the sliders a bit to darken the shadows then did some dodging and burning on my face and the bottle (and hand). I like it better as well. Thanks!

Kevin



Mar 25, 2013 at 04:56 AM
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