Monday, July 15, 2013
Make High-Key Portraits Indoors And Out
Strobe light or sunlight; take your pick for beautiful portraits
|This Article Features Photo Zoom|
When you're photographing a person and you realize that the subject and background are both presenting you with bright tones, you may want to consider making a high-key portrait. High-key images are photographs in which almost all of the values in the scene remain light and bright, with minimal deep shadows and very few dark areas. This is a great way to eliminate blemishes in skin tones, and to create an overall bright, airy feel. It's a great look for portraits, and it's fairly easy to accomplish whether you're working with sunlight or strobe.
If you'd care to make a high-key portrait outdoors with sunlight, you're likely going to be faced with two types of illumination: bright sunlight on a blue-sky day, or diffuse illumination from a lightly overcast sky. Both work just fine for high-key portraits, although the direct sun on a clear day is likely to create stronger shadows that could spoil the effect. Lightly overcast days, though, are perfect as they create the soft, wraparound light that eliminates deep shadows and makes people look great.
If you'd like to turn bright sunlight into a softer illumination for a high-key portrait, you've got a couple of great options. The first is to recruit a friend to assist you in positioning a large silk diffusion over the subject. This will essentially create a shadow in which your subject can stand, and it will soften the harsh sunlight and turn the diffusion silk into the new light source—one that's fairly broad and soft and quite attractive. But, you don't have to stop there. Remember that flash we were using indoors? You can implement it here as well, creating a strobe main light illumination to override the now softened sunlight. This can be helpful if you want to position a light just so, or if you need to restrict the brightness of the background. With strobe, you can expose for the bright background and bring up the strobe power as needed, whereas if you expose for the shadow created by the silk diffusion, a brightly illuminated background could risk being blown out.