An introduction to high-key photography

High-key photography is about capturing images with a lot of brightness. Be it shot with artificial or natural lighting, high-essential photography is all about blowing out any shadows in the image. You may have seen high-key photography as a part of what we call ‘positive vibe’ photography. You may have seen high-key photography when looking at advertisements, a good dream sequence, and plenty of other instances. It uses a lot of light in the scene and lacks dark tones. This discussion will reveal the essential attributes of creating a high-key composition while introducing you to the basics of this photography technique.

High-key photography is away from the ‘usual’ photography techniques that talk about ‘balanced exposure.’ At least in high-key photography, there is no such thing as a balanced exposure. Your exposure is always going to be skewed toward the highlights. If you check your photos‘ histogram, it will always be skewed towards the right. In a histogram, the brighter tones are always depicted on the right of the graph, while the darker tones are on the left.

Use as many lights as you can

The simple technique is to use as many lights as you can. If you use strobes, use as many as you’ve to ensure no shadow is leftover in the scene. If you don’t have strobes use reflectors to fill in the shadows as much as possible. Strobes are perfect as key light sources, but they’re expensive, and not many photographers own them. Let alone multiple units.

Softboxes are also a good tool for eliminating shadows. You can use a speedlight with a strobe and produce a significant light source. However, technically speaking, a softbox does not have the same amount of lighting power as a strobe. A bare strobe produces a lot of light, which can help you eliminate all of the shadows in a scene. On the other hand, a softbox is a much softer light source and tends to affect the mid-tones more than the shadows.

Fill lights and background lights

The fill and the background lights are essential for creating a high-key effect. Fill lights are strategically important because they eliminate shadows that the key light fails to remove. Background lights are used to eliminate shadows in the background of the subject. It helps if you could use background lights in tandem with a white background. This will ensure that the background light has the maximum effect.

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