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Thread: High Key Portrait - 1st Attempt

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    Senior Member Mark Elberson's Avatar
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    High Key Portrait - 1st Attempt



    This is my 1st attempt at a high key portrait so please be gentle :-) I'd love some constructive criticism though.


    Strobist: 430EX camera left set to 1/4 power shot into 43'' translucent umbrella. 430 EX set to 1/2 power shot into wall behind subject. Triggered via CTR-301Ps.


    Black & White Conversion and Vignette added in Photoshop


    [img]/cfs-file.ashx/__key/CommunityServer.Components.UserFiles/00.00.00.26.13/2009_2D00_10_2D00_10_2D00_12_5F00_10_5F00_27_2D00_ 0003.JPG[/img]



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    Re: High Key Portrait - 1st Attempt



    That is a really cool technique. I think the fact that the hair is dark and detailed drags away from the eyes a little. I find when I have the image scrolled to where the hair is blocked out the image is a lot more captivating. However I think its a really cool picture!

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    Senior Member Mark Elberson's Avatar
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    Re: High Key Portrait - 1st Attempt



    Thanks for commenting!


    I am going to try this again with some fill light because I think the shadows are a little distracting. I am an aspiring strobist and wanted to give this technique a try. The way I understand itis that if you expose for the eyes then you blow-out the highlights and get much more detail in the shadows which I think comes through in the hair in this case. I defintely see how it can pull your eye away from the rest of the frame though. Once I make my 2nd atempt I'll post that one too. Hopefully it's gets better instead of worse []

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    Administrator Sean Setters's Avatar
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    Re: High Key Portrait - 1st Attempt



    How about you do the same edit except do a white vignette instead of a black one? If you're in Photoshop, create a white layer behind the image. Then choose a circular selection, feather 150-250 pixels, and draw a circle around her. Select inverse, then delete the selection. I think it'll have a two-fold benefits--first, the light colored vignette will compliment the high-key portrait instead of detract from it, and second, you can lighten her hair ifthe hair isplaced in the gradient between thesubject and vignette, therefore making it less distracting.

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    Senior Member Mark Elberson's Avatar
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    Re: High Key Portrait - 1st Attempt



    Thanks Sean. I was hoping that you would chime in :-) I'll give your suggestions a try. As far as image capture goes though, what would you suggest I do with my lighting setup, etc?

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    Re: High Key Portrait - 1st Attempt



    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Elberson
    This is my 1st attempt at a high key portrait so please be gentle

    Mark,


    Very intersting technique.


    1) Look at the power output of your strobes. IMHO, they probably should have been reverse. The background is emminating light rather than just beinglight in shade. There is so much light that her leftear is glowing. The flare wraps around her and she has no edge definition (though this is a widely practiced technique.) If that's the effect you were looking for then you were succesful.


    2) I agree with Sean that the vignette is detracting.


    3) The shoot through light on her face looks great and the softness of the shadows smooths out her skin. The essence of "high-key" Next time ask the subject to wear darker make-up. It will help accentuate her eyes and lips.


    4) Her hair is a bit tricky. It is the darkest part of the scene and rough with sharpshadow. Maybe apply a different color filter during the B&W conversion to lighten it slightly. Maybe even scrub with 20% gausian blur to take some of the sharpness out. Maybe a circular soft focus effect would further enhance the "dreamy" feel of this lighting technique.


    Hope that was gentle. I'm learning too. As I always say, "You are your best critic"

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    Administrator Sean Setters's Avatar
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    Re: High Key Portrait - 1st Attempt



    You know, I honestly don't have much experience with high-key portraiture. However, I think you need less contrast difference between light and shadow (less of a ratio). When you think about low-key portraiture, almost everything is black except for a small amount of highlight (and the highlight usually isn't very strong). So if we reverse that thinking, then your fill light might need to be at least1/2 the main and most likely more (possibly 1:1, with fill light slightly farther back for very light shadows). The background should be one stop over exposed compared to the subject.

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    Re: High Key Portrait - 1st Attempt



    When I shoot high-key, I go 2 lights on the side of the subject and slightly behind, angle forward slightly and about subject height. I like big umbrellas for this, 60" Eclipse. Then I put my fill light up high in front of subject so it can light the hair pretty well and can also leave trace shadows under the nose, jaw and eye brows to have some definition. I like my 36" Softlighter for the fill. It give the nice round catch too. Use white reflectors to bounce more light from the back key lights onto the subject and to flag from coming back into the lens. I'd go something less than 1/1 on the power. Use wider f/stops it will help from having to power up you lights and the shallow depth of field with the high key will help with a dreamy look.

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    Senior Member Mark Elberson's Avatar
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    Re: High Key Portrait - 1st Attempt



    Sean & Chuck,


    Thanks for your critique and advice. I must admit this was a rather imprompt setup and shot. I don't have nearly enough time to spend working on my craft. I guess I'll just learn a little more slowly. That's ok though...as I long as I eventually get it :-) I have a serious desire to learnso I will continue to experiment (at my admitedly remedial pace) and hopefully progress with time.


    Here's the RAW conversion from DPP. I just knocked down the contrast a little. I hope to take another try at this and when I do I'll post that photo.


    [img]/cfs-file.ashx/__key/CommunityServer.Components.UserFiles/00.00.00.26.13/2009_2D00_10_2D00_10_2D00_12_5F00_10_5F00_27.JPG[/img]

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    Senior Member Mark Elberson's Avatar
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    Re: High Key Portrait - 1st Attempt



    Quote Originally Posted by Keith B


    When I shoot high-key, I go 2 lights on the side of the subject and slightly behind, angle forward slightly and about subject height. I like big umbrellas for this, 60" Eclipse. Then I put my fill light up high in front of subject so it can light the hair pretty well and can also leave trace shadows under the nose, jaw and eye brows to have some definition. I like my 36" Softlighter for the fill. It give the nice round catch too. Use white reflectors to bounce more light from the back key lights onto the subject and to flag from coming back into the lens. I'd go something less than 1/1 on the power. Use wider f/stops it will help from having to power up you lights and the shallow depth of field with the high key will help with a dreamy look.
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    Thanks so much for sharing your setup Keith. I'd love to see one of yours!

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