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High Key Images

I used to really dislike shooting birds, or anything else really, against a gray, overcast sky. But once I realized the potential there, for turning these kinds of situations into interesting, high-key images, bringing all the attention to the subject, I actually started seeking those opportunities out.


Snowy Owl
Snowy Owl in the snow

Creating high-key images adds variety to your portfolio and is a sure attention grabber with all that white space which tends to draw your eye in. What is high-key photography? The term comes from the early days of broadcast television when scenes with higher contrast were not reproduced well. To make a scene that was easier to properly show on screen, the ratio between the key and fill lights was minimized. High key is used to describe a photographic style that uses bright white space to create contrast and draw attention to the subject.


Coming from a graphic design background, I know the impact of white space in a composition. The more white space, the more impact an image can have. That's not always the case, but nothing, in my opinion, draws the eye in like white space. As mentioned above, light, overcast skies works great for creating high-key images, and so does snow, if you are in an area that snows during the winter months. The key is to use elements around you to compose your shot, paying attention to foreground and background. A bit of snow in the foreground can be used to great effect to give your images that soft white gradient "glow" that kind of blends your subject into the white space surrounding it. In post you then expose these white spaces to be properly white. Each situation is different but the final effect can be quite impactful.


In many cases, a lot of these high-key photos have to be tweaked and worked in post processing to get them to come out just right, and get the whites right (which can actually be tricky). But it's all worth it in the end. This is my art, and I love to find ways to express my creativity, whether that's using high-key, low-key (a topic for another post perhaps) or other ways. Photography is both fun and rewarding and these days I look for situations where I can get creative with high-key compositions.


I have put together a gallery of some of my favorite high-key photos to show you the variety you can get using this method. Click on the thumbnail below to see the larger image.


Thanks for stopping by!




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You are so talented <3

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