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Old Dec 31, 2008, 9:25 PM   #1
calr's Avatar
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Beaverton, OR
Posts: 8,466

We did a challenge similar to this a couple years ago but I thought it would be good to do it again.

High Key refers to a shot of a very bright subject with a very bright background. Conversly, Low Key refers to a dark subject against a dark background.

Sounds simple, right? However, the meter in your camera is designed to sabotage your attempts at these kind of shots. The meter in most modern cameras is designed to render photos with an average brightness of 18% gray. If the scene you are shooting is very bright, the meter will darken the shot to achieve the 18%. Conversly, a very dark shot will be lightened for the same reason. If you are shooting with manual exposure, this will not happen.

Now, here is the tricky part. If you are shooting a dark scene using one of your auto-exposure modes, you must use exposure compensation to darken the shot. Start by setting -1.0 compensation. If that doesn't darken it enough, you can use more compesation but usually not more than -2.0.

With a bright scene, do just the opposite. Set compensation to +1.0 to +2.0 to lighten the shot. I know this sounds backward but it is not.

As I mentioned, if you use manual exposure, the 18% gray problem is not a factor.

Your task should you choose to accept it is to shoot photos of dark subjects against a dark background or bright subjects against a bright background.

Here are some examples:
Low key==
An outdoor table at a restaurant at night.
A black balloon taped to a black wall.
High key==
A child in a white snow suit playing in the snow.
A white car parked in front of a large snow bank.

Please put High key-Low key in your subject line.
Please review the new forum guidelines if you have not done so.



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