The Highs and Lows

Its all about the light but in particular its how you see and use the light. Probably the hardest and most complicated part of photography beyond photoshop would be light. Composition is something you can study and it has rules. Lighting…. well its subjective.

Now most people know the “golden” hours and most also know the “blue” hours, however there are other hours based on where you live and whats around you. Here in Nagoya I have what I like to call the “blushing” hours, at dawn everything is rather pink-ish here. Spend a day watching the light, and picking out the hours you have,  whether its from your favorite cafe or from your bed through the window, this I lay down as a challenge to you.

Light as a whole though and how you see it and how it works in your photos is completely up to you. Subjective kinda sucks doesnt it? But I wanted to talk about two “styles” of using light in your photography as I cant really explain light to you. They are called “High Key Photography” and “Low Key Photography”. Even if you dont recognize their names you will recognize their looks.  The easiest way to explain it is high key is bright and Low Key is dark. Simple right? Or if you are a histogram person, high key leans right and low key leans left.

High key photography can range from a black and white picture, to soft pastels, to bright pops of color. They key is that there are no shadows or almost no harsh/deep shadows. High key photos usually give you that happy feeling or the soft romantic feeling. The amount of detail you keep in a high key photo is completely up to you. You have probably seen this style used the most in Instagram selfies, baby pictures, wedding pictures, pictures of flowers, and high end product ads(think any recent electronic). High key photos can be done many ways but the three most popular ways are to over-expose your shot, have your subject facing a bright lights, or photoshop. Photoshop can give you more control on what you want to keep and how you want the end result to look, especially if you are just starting out. Of course you can do all three. As for getting a high key shot this doesnt mean you blow-out all of your shots and voilà you have it mastered it! It takes a little bit. Go on and try it.

First Example of Bright color High key photo

More muted version of a high key photo

Low key as you can imagine is the opposite. It usually deals with spot lighting, low lighting, and of course dramatic lighting. These are also most commonly seen in black and white, muted colors or soft colors. It varies about but mostly you will have the subject against a completely black backdrop, harsh shadows and pinpointed lighting. You would usually see this type of photo for dramatic portraits, flowers, and “serious” introspective shots. As I dont have photos of people you can imagine that I fall into again…. dun da DUN! Flowers. Sorry, I know I need to expand my subject base. That’s part of the reason for this blog! If you want to see dramatic portraits open a magazine or simply google (yes i used that as a verb) Low Key Photography. Anyway on to the low key shots.

Low Light shot that retains color

Slightly blacker background but I liked the warm feeling so didnt black it out

These are two styles that we see almost everyday in various settings. Whether its online or in print. They are also probably two of the easiest styles to practice and hopefully perfect. I personally believe that high key photography is slightly easier than low key. Low key for me depends more on the lighting and how you read that lighting. Always a hard point for me. I hope that you learned something new today, and if not then teach me something new, that’s what the comments are for!

~It’s the time you take and the effort you make.

~Anne

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