Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Let's take the low road . . . to the light

"Art lies in the continual struggle to come near to the sensory side of objects."  - Francis Bacon

Well, we aren't really going to be taking to the road today, but I am proposing we get a little low key ...with our lighting that is.

Not only is the light necessary for us to capture images in our cameras, but when we use only one light source as opposed to all three ( key, fill and back light ) we get, or create a specific style of  photography called low-key lighting.

Now admittedly, last year one of my prompts for a link-up was low-key lighting and I had no clue what it was . . . so google was my friend. I've been practicing, mostly on flowers, ever since, learning more and more to read not just the light but its quality.

To recap our three points of light, we have key, fill and back light. Today we are mostly concerned with the key light, the most intense, and whose purpose is creating sharp shadows.

By reducing the lighting we are creating dark tones with strong contrast, not just a dark image. So quality of light is important, and by experimenting with this style of photography it has absolutely helped me read the light better.

We want to keep our ratio of key light to fill light high, which is what gives us that high contrast and strong black shadows. But, we are going to have to underexpose our images by about 4 stops.  To do that we need to shoot in manual mode and ignore what it tells us is a correct exposure. The ISO should be at 100 or as low as possible in order to keep it dark and free of noise. Then depending on what lens you are using, choose either your speed or aperture and underexpose by about 2 stops to start with and experiment until you get good contrast without too dark of an image. (but you won't want to go past 4 stops probably before it gets too dark)

These were all taken on my front porch in direct sunlight, in the early morning. I would just move my subject around until I found the best position and light (with shadows) that I liked. And because of the position of the light (sun) in the early morning I was able to get my background black with my exposure without a backdrop. You will have to find a spot that works for you, in fact you can even do it indoors using artificial light, or even a light box, which is still something I have yet to try.

Remember, in photography lighting is a combination of art and science, and well, a lot of experimentation!

So, I hope you've been a little inspired to try some low-key lighting and will share it with us in our flickr group. I can't wait to see what you come up with!! Let's create some drama . . .

Happy Tuesday!


Claudia@DipityRoad said...

Good Moring!! What a grand post! I love your shots and the great explaination of how to achieve the look.

It always amazes me what can be done in "sun light" to make it look so dramatic and artful.


Linda said...

Oh, wow! I thought you took these indoors! Thanks for all the great information! Now I have a new thing to try!
Your pictures are so pretty!


Dotti said...

Fabulous post, Kim! I love the tutorial and cannot wait to try this. I've done a similar thing indoors with a flashlight but this sounds like much more fun. Stunning photos, too. You hit a grand slam outta the park today! (It is baseball playoff time, after all.)


terriporter said...

Mmmmm, I love this, Kim! Beautiful images and great info on how to achieve the effect. Trying this might just be something that would get me up early in the morning!


Kim Stevens said...

I am too . . . and when my husband is with me when we are on a birding trail or at the beach, he always says to me - I thought you weren't supposed to shoot "into" the sun! haha I have to tell him to just trust me! : ) Thanks Claudia!

Kim Stevens said...

Thank you Linda, and you'll find it quite addictive!

Kim Stevens said...

Yes, it's the same concept as with the flashlight, only with natural light. I have been wanting to try it indoors by a window as a portrait!

Kim Stevens said...

It's getting harder to do on my porch as the sun changes position on where it rises. I'll just have to switch to the back yard for high-key images next. I hope you all try it and post some pictures!! ; ) And thanks!

Radish said...

Truly lovely light.

Kim Stevens said...

Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Kim, these are beautiful!! I learn something new every time you post and I can't wait to try the low-key lighting! I always wondered how to keep the background black without a backdrop. Thanks for sharing:)

heyjudephotography said...

Beautiful photos Kim. I haven't done a lot of low key shooting, but with your little tutorial I am looking forward to giving it another try soon. I am in love with the tulip photo!

Deanna said...

Oh Kim, great tutorial post on lighting...just perfect. Sometimes it's hard to believe that you can get such beautiful dramatic lighting in full daylight. I remember past images of yours when you captured that nice lighting to create such beautiful pictures. I need to try this more often. Thanks!! Sure hope you are feeling better!

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