Let light live!


So, last week I talked about killing ambient light in order to create a low-key portrait. Well, this week, I've been having a play around with high-key light, again using just one speedlight!

When creating a low-key scenario with one strobe, the starting point is always the shutter speed. Simply, pump it up all the way to your cameras maximum flash sync speed. This is usually in the range from 1/200 - 1/250th of a second. This gives you your starting point to be able to create a dark image from a lit scene.

When creating a high-key lighting effect, the mission is to make your camera as sensitive to light as you can, while trying to maintain a correct exposure. Over-exposing slight isn't going to kill your image, but don't forget that simply over-exposing as much as you can to create the effect will result in a serious loss of detail in your final image, and something that is as good as un-savable in post!

In the image below, my set-up couldn't have been simpler! Usually two strobes as used in this method - one to blow out the background and one to light the subject. I used just the one flash, in room flooded with daylight.

So, in my shot, I used one light, set to 1/4 power, placed on a stand behind me and bounced off the wall and ceiling behind me. That was it! Having a white background is obviously a must. In this case I simply draped a white sheet over my sofa. Depending on the size of your room, or distance to subject, you may of course need to increase or decrease the output power of your light.

Set your ISO to something a little more sensitive, but nothing thats going to cause image degradation - I used ISO 400. As I was shooting a baby, that of course won't stay still, I couldn't shoot wide open. If I did, then I probably wouldn't have got a single sharp shot! f3.5 was used in this case to give me enough depth of field to allow for slight movement. 

So - that's my base settings, then, It's just a case of bringing the shutter speed down enough to let the camera suck in plenty light!! My shot here was taken at 1/80 second at f3.5 ISO 400 with flash at 1/4 power and 24mm for a good spread of light. Some creasing in my background is still visible - so not completely blown out. This can be adjusted in Lightroom using an adjustment brush in the white, highlights or exposure channel. Easy! A word of warning though, be careful not to go to mad in Lightroom - you can end up with the image looking like the subject has been superimposed onto a white background - not good. I've left the slight shadow that was cast just to avoid this look. 

I'll definitely be having a play with this set-up again soon! May next i'll try the trusted 2 light technique and report back!!


Kit used: Canon 7d, Tamron 17-50mm SP DI, Yongnuo YN-560III Flash with 560TX wireless trigger, Walimex pro lightstand, old bed sheet.