Outdoor family portrait photography by Jo Foo based in Perth & Kinross, Scotland, UK
Keeping it Low-Key
Published 25th April 2017
Well, you might have figured out that low-key photography is pretty much the opposite of high-key photography. Instead of bright and cheerful, it’s dark and moody.
The good news is, it’s relatively easy to achieve with just one light source. By controlling the source and angle light you can add drama to your image very quickly. The light can come from a small opening in the curtains, a lamp, a studio light or even a candle. Anything really! As long as it lights up your subject and is controlled so it doesn’t brighten the scene so much so that the background is lit up. Your low-key image should be full of dark tones and shadow. It doesn’t have to be in black and white but this does help highlight the contrast between the dark and the light.
One way to think about low-key photography is that it’s about trying to capture darkness in your shot to tell your story. But to capture darkness effectively, you’ll also need a bit of light.
To take a low-key shot, the best thing to remember is to experiment… play with the direction and angle of your light source. Try different shutter speeds and aperture settings. Remember if the shutter speed is low then you’ll need a tripod to get the best from your camera. Keep your ISO low to avoid noise as this can end up being a bit distracting. Underexpose your shot as much as you can without losing detail.
Necessary cookies are absolutely essential for the website to function properly. This category only includes cookies that ensures basic functionalities and security features of the website. These cookies do not store any personal information.
Any cookies that may not be particularly necessary for the website to function and is used specifically to collect user personal data via analytics, ads, other embedded contents are termed as non-necessary cookies. It is mandatory to procure user consent prior to running these cookies on your website.