How to Photograph In High Key

Photographing in high key gives a unique and airy feel to your photos. Basically the effect is that your image is exposed lighter than the mid tone ideal. That is, you are over exposing your image and minimising blacks and shadows. A high key image is mostly whites with very minimal black tones. Unlike low key images which are dramatic, high contrast and bold, a high key image has a bright soft and playful mood. It’s a very modern and popular technique at the moment. Once you are comfortable with shooting and exposing an image correctly, high key is a great way to push the boundaries and break the rules (so to speak). Some tips for shooting and editing high key images are as follows:

  • Choose a light background
  • Choose a wide aperture to open up the lens and allow plenty of light into the image.
  • A high key image has little depth and the shadows are almost eliminated
  • For portraits, you can use reflectors to fill the shadows with light. High key backgrounds can be really effective for portrait shooting
  • In post processing a high key image, start by firstly lowering the contrast

Some examples of High Key Images below including settings

1/800 second f/8.0 ISO 250
5 seconds f/22 ISO 50
1/80 second f/14.0 ISO 100
1/125 second f/9.0 ISO 200

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