Saturday, August 30, 2014

The High Key Portrait

Creative Overexposure

Backgrounds are critical to photographic composition, For portraits, the background should be clean and uncluttered. Any recognizable object can distract from the subject. 

In the studio, the portrait model is placed in front of smooth, featureless paper or a patch of evenly-colored cloth. But when we shoot on location, we need to select our backgrounds carefully.

If we can't find a featureless background on location, we still have options. There are techniques that will render a background invisible.

Consider placing the subject in front of a brightly illuminated area. When you expose properly for the subject's face, the bright background area will be overexposed. 

Normally, we want to avoid overexposure. But every possibility has a creative application, even one that's typically thought of as a mistake.

a photograph demonstrating high key portrait lighting by daniel south
High Key Portrait Lighting

When overexposed, the background looks washed out. Details disappear into a soft blur that surrounds the model with a halo-like glow. I find this technique to be particularly effective for models with light hair.

Special thanks to Victoria, a lovely young model who was energetic, pleasant, and hard working.

 Nikon D700
Lens:     Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G VR

Light happens.  Be ready.  Shoot hard.

Copyright © 2014 Daniel R. South
All Rights Reserved

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