Low key

Today I wanted to get to the bottom of low key photography so I would know exactly what was going on with that (and not just take a dark photograph and call it low key). Searching the internet for “low key portrait lighting” or something like that yields enough material to study.

You need some directional light (a grid works well) that is mostly (or only) shed on the subject. I was afraid the highlights would be too dim but that was not the case. Watch out for posterisation in the dark parts of the photograph.

I put my subjects (a banana and a walnut) on my dark wooden table, put a gridded light straight next to them (about a meter away). With some carboard I flagged the wall and the biggest part of the table so the light would only reach my banana (or walnut). I created some fill with a white piece of paper.

Low key banana
Low key banana – photo Joeri van Veen 2010
Low key walnut
Low key walnut – photo Joeri van Veen 2010

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