Low Key Lockdown Inspirations

July 1, 2020

 

Being at home with little access to wildlife is forcing me to look at different photographic disciplines, and this week I thought I'd keep my hand in with some low key images.

 

The great thing is you don't need anything fancy to create a moody low key look - just a darkish room, a dark background, a simple light source: I just used a torch with a piece of kitchen roll over it to act as a diffuser for the cherries shot, and a window with the blind pulled up only slightly for the rose - afterwards I thought I could have used a candle on this one to good effect too).

 

And of course you'll need a subject: anything is fine - animal, vegetable or mineral!

 

Kit-wise any shortish lens is fine, and I'd advise using a tripod as you'll be working in low light so may have to settle for fairly sluggish shutter speeds.

 

If you've not tried low key photography before see my tips below:

 

LOW KEY PHOTOGRAPHY TIPS

 

SHOOTING LOW-KEY

• It is probably easiest to shoot in Manual Mode

• Keep ISO as low as poss to reduce noise

• Keep aperture wide as poss – allows better shutter speed

• Use Spot metering on the highlighted part of your picture you are focussing on

• You can also use negative exposure compensation in A mode or M if your camera allows.

• Make sure your light source is placed so your subject is brighter than the background, at least the area of it you wish to accentuate. Try lighting from the side, above, below or behind depending on the look you want to create - NOT straight on - and diffuse it (or bounce off a reflector / wall / ceiling)

• If using flash make sure it is off-camera as above

• If you're shooting outdoors natural light sources can include back or side lighting from early or late sun, a patch of sunlight in dappled shade, moonlight

• Use a tripod if shutter speed is slow

 

 

POST PROCESSING LOW KEY

• Apply any noise reduction first

• Lighten your subject selectively

• Apply sharpening/texture/clarity on subject selectively

• Adjust white balance if necessary

• Adjust colours

• Add a vignette if necessary

• Fix any background blemishes

 

Happy shooting!

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