Week 13: Portrait High Key

April 1, 2016 – Happy April Fool’s Day! Have I mentioned what a good sport my husband is? Cause he is. No foolin’. He never puts up a fuss when I ask him to model, even though he’s not wild about being in front of the camera.


WEEK 13 Portrait: High Key

Expose to the right and create a light, airy high key portrait.

This technique was new to me, at least intentionally. I’ve made similar pictures in the past without knowing what I was doing–just going for a look, and while I certainly haven’t mastered it, I’ll get there. So what makes it high key? The exposure. If you have a camera (or editing software) with a histogram, expose until the bars move all the way to the right. That’s high key. Low key, to the left.

Yes. It looks overexposed before editing.

For this photo of Brian, I used only natural light, shooting him in the shade with our bright white truck in the sun behind him. Looking back, I should have opened it up even more.

Since I didn’t quite get high-key in camera, in Photoshop, I upped the contrast, blacks, and clarity, and desaturated to black and white. I also increased the exposure until the histogram moved farther right.

The rest of this post is going to seem narcissistic considering the number of self-portraits included, but I needed to practice on myself before torturing my feller to get the final shot. (These images all got lost during a web crash, so you don’t get to see a million shots of me! hahaha)

The Test Shots:

Using Sun directly behind me:

Shady Patio with truck behind (where I did my official shot of Brian). I really liked this shot, but didn’t like the unintentional soft focus, one of the toughest things to nail in a self-portrait.

And… The only one I did with a light kit instead of natural light, at the end of the work day with majorly ratty-assed hair.

My mom, who is also doing the challenge, asked how to achieve this technique on an iPhone. I wasn’t sure she could, so did an experiment, getting these two shots.

While there’s no histogram to see if they are truly high key, they certainly have the look, especially the second one using the window.

I want to do more of these, and master the technique. I learned a ton this week, much like I did during the panorama. That’s what’s cool about this challenge. Pushing your skills. So thanks Dale Foshe for starting this challenge.

Until next week’s Close Up Landscape…

Later gators!


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