High Key or high key in photography

High Key or high key in photography

High Key o clave alta en fotografíaWhat is a High Key? What is the deficit of high key and how to get a photo with this photographic technique. Those are going to be the topics of this article that I publish today in my photography blog . First of all comment that the translation of the photographic technique from High Key to Spanish is key high .


Definition of High Key:

The technique of High Key or high key in photography is a technique in which the predominant tones are white , by extension also all those close to this color. Currently soft fluorescent lights are usually used.

It began to be used in the 50s and 60s by means of a certain lighting scheme. Central light, left side light and right side light.

The light in this type of photography is also predominant and medium or hard shadows must be avoided at all costs .

This type of photography provides an angelic or pure atmosphere, based precisely on this type of lighting. The protagonists of this type of photographs are usually portraits. Baby portraits made with the High Key technique have a perfect atmosphere for photos of newborns.


How to get a High Key?

It is achieved by the use of several sources of artificial lighting in combination or not with a source of natural light and some light modifiers.

Exceptionally you can also get photos in High Key using a natural light source using diffusers and / or reflectors that help us optimize the light to get a high key, although this last technique is very unusual and 95% of the photos performed in this way are usually post-processed.

It is highly recommended the use of light modifiers that allow us to optimize the exposure we want to achieve. The photograph to be made should have a slight underexposure and it is highly recommended to use a white cyclorama for the background or otherwise any wall or pattern with this color.

If as a result of this lighting we obtain some area of ​​the photo with a slight overexposure, we should not worry as it is usual in portraits made with the High Key technique.


Technique used for the high key of the example

To make the portrait in High Key , or high key, which accompanies this text, two sources of artificial light have been used. Specifically, there were two cobra type flashes from different manufacturers and qualities.

This technique is known as strobist, so the example high-key has been achieved by strobist.

A flash of the Canon brand, model 430 EX-II, was used on the camera’s shoe and bounced to the ceiling with a 45-degree rearward tilt. The flash had mounted a simple sto-fen type plastic diffuser that markedly improved the diffusion of the light and was regulated to a power of + 1 1/3.

To the right and a distance of one meter, a flash of the brand Nissin model Di622 Mark-II was used at a height of less than 1 meter and with ascending orientation. This flash was regulated to 2/3 of power since it does not allow to personalize the firing power in steps. No light modifier was used for this fill flash.

A diaphragm aperture of F6.3 was set, exposure time of 1/125 seconds and an ISO speed of 100. The body of the camera was of the Canon range of the large public and a Tokina lens was used 28-80 millimeters F2. 8 SD.

To consider:

For the realization of this portrait in high key by means of strobist a simple equipment of professional photography has been used. The high key illustrated in this article would have been greatly improved by the addition of a third flash and other light modifiers available for each source of artificial lighting.


Post processed portrait

Being a close-up, slight imperfections of the model on the skin have been corrected. Although these were not too many since the method of lighting used for this portrait improved the fact that Jessica Andreu, the model of this photo, has a very clean skin and in previous portraits has not needed excessive corrections on the skin.

No parameters have been modified to improve the illumination of this portrait in low key, although necessary adjustments have been made for this type of photography.

And that’s it, I hope I have contributed my bit with this article “High Key or high key in photography . See you soon.


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