High Key

Discussion in 'General Shop Talk' started by Alpha, Feb 10, 2008.

  1. jols

    jols TPF Noob!

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    composition is where everything is placed in the pic

    the high key is the lighting surely


     
  2. Christie Photo

    Christie Photo No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Well, I'm not offended. I just wanted to be as brief as you were.

    And, no.... I've not read any textbooks lately. My authority comes from my experience as a working professional for more than 25 years... much like those who write textbooks.

    I can understand your confusion about the term "high-key." It has been incorrectly used, especially in recent years, to describe high contrast, nearly over-exposed lighting that is often seen in the fashion industry. No doubt there is much written about "high-key lighting." In fact, I think when the term is applied to lighting, it is more of a video concern.

    But when the term is applied to portraiture (we first stated talking about portrait photographers), it refers to coordination of background and subject tones, or "keying" the background with the subject.

    The citation that BPALMER posted from Ken Hoffman's article said it well: "In photography, the effect can be easily achieved by choosing elements of a white or pastel color placed on a white or very light background." Further, it answers your original question of why high-key is often chosen for children's portraits when he said, "The artistic-seeming tones of white on white brings to mind the innocence of youth, the fabric of dreams and long, hot summer days."

    Another natural choice for high-portraits is bridal photography, since most brides dress in white.

    So... it's not really a question of whether or not I agree. It's about being accurate. I trust I have expounded sufficiently so as not to be called "obnoxiously vague."

    -Pete
     
  3. dpolston

    dpolston TPF Noob!

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    :popcorn:
     
  4. jols

    jols TPF Noob!

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    fair point you sound like you know your stuff i stand corrected.:)
     
  5. MichaelT

    MichaelT TPF Noob!

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    This is great to read - however I can see where both are coming from. Though high-key is a style of portraiture, you must know and wisely use your lighting to achieve it.
     
  6. Alpha

    Alpha Troll Extraordinaire

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    Pete, what you said, and cited, is true, but only provided that they're all lit the same way.

    Shooting a bride against a white background isn't so much high-key if I underexpose the background and turn it gray. Composing a scene with even light tones doesn't mean anything unless you light it as such.
     
  7. Christie Photo

    Christie Photo No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    That would be right. High-key is white* on white, so the gray wouldn't quite cut it, unless it's a very light gray.

    Yes. High-key portraiture does require proper lighting. In a scene that is approaching mono-chromatic, it will be the shadows that provide definition and shape. So if the lighting scheme is too "flat," or lacking direction, there will be little shadow to communicate shape. But still, it's the colors (or lack of) in the compositon that will make a portait high-key.

    -Pete


    *For the purpose of this discussion, white may also be pastel color.
     
  8. AlexParlett

    AlexParlett TPF Noob!

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    I have to agree, i find composing shoots in high key to be lacking, it doesnt have the "edgier" look of classic beauty compositions, too fake for what i like. *personal preference*
     
  9. Jovian

    Jovian TPF Noob!

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    Why do people feel the need to nitpick at how someone words something? Isn't lighting considered part of your composition as a whole? I've always considered composition as a collection of EVERYTHING in the photograph, from placement of the subject(s) in it, to color or exposure.
     
  10. DeadEye

    DeadEye TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    Hummm well I looked at a few High Key portraits a friend of mine had done at Target and was truly amazed at there quality. I went there as a self assignment to look at the studio and try to learn something. The Ummm photographer there was very helpful in telling me all about the studio and even let me poke about. The COMPANY did all the setting up she just ran it by procedure. Lets say someone wanted a basic portrait package. Then she tells you to sit in this chair were a little focus light that aims straight down from the ceiling hits the tip of your nose then you are in focus. ( Yep the 46mm roll film camera has no focus adjustment available to the photog, hence perfect placement of subject by the focus light) There were 2 umbrellas and a soft box plus back, fill and hair lights all controlled by a computer when you select your package. All the photog did was change the film and hit the shutter when the focus light was on your nose and the smile/pose looked good. Her quote was (I know nothing about light set up ) Very nice though.
     

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