How to capture great low key images ?

admin August 15,2017

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Low key image refers to a style of photography in which the use of black tones is dominant to create an impressive image. When shooting under strong light conditions, the contrast becomes weaker, and vice versa, when shooting in low light, the contrast becomes clear to highlight the subject.

Not only to create a dark image but also to select the light so that the highlight parts of the image are lightened. Usually, you usually try to avoid shadows, especially on the face and around the eyes of the subject. You can try shooting in low light conditions to avoid this.

Instead of avoiding the dark, you will have to consider them as a component that determines the mood of the whole picture. The trick will then help to create the right light and shade right where you want

Low key lighting in art

Artists recognize the influence of low light before the photographer knows it. Painters in the Renaissance and Baroque periods often used a technique known as “chiaroscuro” (light-darkness) to reach the dramatic scene.

Chiaroscuro is originated from Italy, Chiaro means clear or light and “Oscuro” means hidden or dark.

Chiaroscuro not only increases the appeal but also makes the picture more real. Different light sources create a sense of the depth of the picture in a dramatic way.

There are many great numbers of artists using this technique, such as Gerrit Van Honthorst, Tintoretto, El Greco, and even Rembrandt.

Low key in studio

If you have your own studio, there are many ways to capture low key images and give you great results. First, make sure you have a large black backdrop.

You can also capture good low key with different backgrounds, but black fonts will look more luxurious.

An easy and affordable arrangement is that the subject and wallpaper are in short distance and you should use the flash from one side. Also, you need to test the brightness of the flash so that the light is not too strong.

It will give you quite impressive results with the light shining on only one side of the object like the example below. Notice, the scene is lit a bit in this image. Depending on your own preferences.


If you have a small lamp, you can reflect the light by placing it behind the subject. This light will give you a beautiful haircut and often create a halo effect.

Try different locations, topics, maybe both flash, as well as the different light intensity of the flash. Do not think too much about what you can remove by Photoshop and try to produce the results you want. This habit will help you to better understand your equipment and reduce post-production time later.

Low key for everyone

If you do not have a studio, do not fret. There are still many ways to capture low key with a tight budget. A little trick I’ve seen quite often is to use a room with 2 doors. The room must be completely dark, preferably without windows or other natural light sources.

With rooms in dark colors, you can place the subject somewhere in front of the door. Now place a light outside the room, possibly in front of the entrance. The door is a way to control the light coming from other rooms. You just stand in front of the wall, away from the direction of light.

You can use cardboard, paper or something else that you have, which will reflect light effectively.

Another variation of this way is to use a window instead of a door. This is a less complicated way, a window with thick glass will give lighter light.


Outside low key

A great way to get some nice photos without losing any cost is to go out at night. Naturally worried about the dark and you just need to find a good light source.

Moonlight and street lights are the perfect places to start. Parking is also a perfect choice for an ideal light source and an impressive picture.

Camera settings

In low key photography, the camera settings may be quite different. The secret is to minimize the light entering the camera but not make it too dark. To illustrate, let’s take a look at some actual shots along with the corresponding settings.

One of the advantages of ISO 100 is that image quality and color remain beautiful, unadorned, and stand out on a black background. Let’s take a look at the example below and we can take similar photos.


Discover Low key

Low key is a great effect for photos and anything else you really want with a fresh and stylish perspective. Take a look at some examples.



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