High key?

A couple days ago, I uploaded one of the photos below to two different sites and people commented on the “high key” quality. High key? What’s that? I looked it up and found the following on photo.tutsplus.com:

“High key photography uses unnaturally bright lighting to blow out most or all harsh shadows in an image. High key methods were originally developed as a solution to screens that couldn’t properly display high contrast ratios, but has developed into more of a stylistic choice.

High key images usually convey a positive or upbeat tone. This method is perfect for a subject that is funny, lighthearted or beautiful.”

The site continues with a lengthy discussion on expensive studio lighting and how to achieve the look.

I’m here to tell you that you can do it for nothing. All I use is a bright sunny window, a white tablecloth and a piece of white canvas (or paper) to light up the side that’s in shadow. You can use Lightroom or Picnik or Picasa (the latter two are free) to boost the exposure if you can’t get the light you want with a wide-open aperture and slow shutter speed. Play around with the settings until you get the look you want. Shooting on manual is a must, because the camera will say “no way” to this on automatic.

I’ve shot these teacups before, but tried a couple different combos for fun:



The pink in the background is a row of azaleas in bloom outside the dining room window.

Here’s an example in black and white. I brightened this with levels and curves in Lightroom. Just have fun with it.

OK, have a great weekend, everyone!

{ms. pearl}

About pearlsandprose

Photography. With a little life thrown in.
This entry was posted in photography and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to High key?

  1. Mindy says:

    Those are really pretty, I love the composition!

    I had never heard the term high key photography so that was a nice lesson. I always love the lighting of your photography so you didn’t really need any insight 🙂

  2. Pingback: High key? | Pearls & Prose | Baltimore Pearls

  3. flyinggma says:

    Thanks for the lesson this morning. I can’t wait to try some pictures like these. Your pastel shots are some of my favorites or should I refer to them as “High key” from now on. Love learning something new especially something I can do without any more cost.

  4. Caroline says:

    High key, aha… Well they certainly are nice and it seems as if one can achieve a lot by being inventive and creative without expensive equipment. I really like that. The little one looks like a dog in a film still.

  5. jacquelincangro says:

    More photos of Rocky, please. 🙂

  6. helen says:

    I just love these photos – beautiful colours. They’d make great canvases in a kitchen 🙂

  7. Novroz says:

    I really like that 1st one, it looked so elegant. the dog picture is also great

  8. Cheryl says:

    Thanks for the pointers, Carole. I use Picasa and Piknik … but was given Photoshop Elements as a gift, which I’ve loaded and am about to try. Beautiful images as always! Cheryl

Leave a comment if you wish. I love hearing from my readers.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.