Photography Tips: Low Key Photography

Low-key photography is a style where there are two main elements, shadows and highlight. The main subject is usually in the portion where highlights area are and shadows are for covering up all distractions surrounding the subject.  

You can create low key photograph in different ways, these dark images are good for creating mood in your photos. It can be underexposed or highly contrasted. However it can be done anywhere, even under the sunlight. As darkness is in the absence of light and the light is the main ingredient of low key photographs, it is actually pretty simple to understand. 



Technically speaking, to do low key photographs you will need basic knowledge of how Manual settings works (such as Aperture, Shutterspeed and ISO). You should make sure of a few things before you click the shutter. Your shutterspeed are not too slow, 1/60 for a good support freehand. If you're using flash or strobe lightings, never go above 1/160 or 1/200 to avoid curtain line cutting into the framing. Your ISO should be at its lowest, around 50 or 100. Your Aperture should be set to almost the highest (as long as you see full darkness in your photo without the lighting yet). 

For a start, if you're not familiar with flash or strobe lights. You may choose Torch light instead, however because of the intensity of the torch, your Aperture may need to adjust along the way.

A black background helps but isn't required, as long as your subject is far off any bright or light colour backdrop.



It is also possible to use sunlight for low-key photography for a larger subject, however we wouldn't be able to control the lighting direction and where the lights landed on which areas. Only harsh sunlight are recommended, and only non-moving items or subject are recommended if you're still not familiar with low key photography.


Low key Photography is a great way to bring out the feature of any subject that is hard to notice when it's well lighted. Low key Photography are often used for Artistic shots which includes black and white abstract shots. 

Low key shots are commonly used in Portraiture & Still Life Photography, some may also apply in Landscapes and scenery shots too.


Experimenting with low key photography is a great way to get creative, of course there are many ways else to do it. FYI, the opposite Technics for Low-Key Photography is High Key Photography.


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Singapore Food & Lifestyle Blogger Hello, I'm Irene

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