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NEW Intermediate Assignment #1: High Key

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Post Options Post Options   Quote pegelli Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: NEW Intermediate Assignment #1: High Key
    Posted: 01 January 2010 at 17:43
This is the first Intermediate Dyxum Photographic Assignment, the topic is High Key



now, here is the assignment!



You will enhance the beauty of an object/person/scene or anything else by exposing it such that it produces tones that fall mostly between white and gray, with very few dark-gray or black tones and still very bright or absent shadows. This exposure will give you some areas of pure white (e.g. large parts of the background) and very smooth surfaces at the relatively brighter parts of your subject, while maintaining some contrast and outlined edges at dark parts of it. You will use this pureness and smoothness to produce an image that carries stronger emotions than a normal exposed copy of it would possess. In the digital age this means that most values in the histogram will be above 128 with the exception of a limited number of tones below 128. This means that in high key also a lot of the tones of the subject will fall above 128, so it does not work (or will be very difficult to achieve) for darker subjects



The exposure must mainly be achieved IN CAMERA. post processing a regularly exposed shot to create the effect is not what we're trying to achieve here. The ways you can achieve the this exposure includes: Exposure compensation setting of your camera, the AEL button by pointing the camera at a darker object and usage of M mode. But of course you are not limited by those and may discover other ways of achieving this effect.



In case you are in a studio different lighting techniques can take care of the pure white background that is so characteristic of high key images. Outside the studio with different backgrounds other (over) exposure techniques will be needed to create the desired effect and some PP will be allowed to create an overall pleasing image.



Just Google "High Key" and you'll find plenty of articles and examples on the net. Also referenced below is this article which gives a good description of the effect, however it mainly concerns shooting in a studio or controlled environment and this assignment is not limited to that. So if you encounter situations that are less controlled and you still want to achieve a high key effect you need to be innovative



Good luck







Edit: updated after the discussion in the first few posts of this thread.



General Assignment Rules




The general rules for the assignments are as follows :



- clean slate, all “old” assignments will be locked (over time as the new ones are created)

- no mining, shots must be specifically taken for the assignment (we trust you )

- only one assignment at the time. Once started you can only take the next assignment after having passed.

- one dimension crop and minor straightening allowed (to allow different aspect ratios, but don’t crop in both directions)

- max 2 pics per post/try

- you can do the assignments in any order, and repeated as many times as you want

- at least one moderators or admin will comment on every post and determine fail/pass. This might include general C&C as well.

- all members of Dyxum can also leave comments on the shots posted

- id of members that passed will be kept in a "pass post"

- specifically good pictures or good examples of assignment passes will be kept in a new "assignment gallery"

- instructions for specific assignments will generally stay as is (and we'll have to write new ones for new assignments).

- shots posted for the assignments are eligible for selection in the weekly exhibitions







Edited by bms44974 - 14 December 2017 at 23:41
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Post Options Post Options   Quote dragoonpvw Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 January 2010 at 04:11
I read the assignment and am a little troubled by your definition of a high key shot. High key lighting is one of the first special setups I was taught in the studio after a simple portrait setup. That was over 30 years ago and a good high key setup hasn't changed since. The aim of a good high key setup is not to overexpose your shot. It is however to have the background with an exposure high enough to render without shadows and "pure white", moving on from there to keeping the background or frame be at least a stark brightness. The skill in high key lighting is to control the lighting so spill and flare does not afect your shot. I usually have my backgroumd lights set two stops above my main light to blow out the background and then use flags to control spill. The idea is that you still properly expose your subject but control surrounding light so as to create a high key. Once that technique is mastered then other techniques can be married into it. I have seen a definition of high key in photography being a low contrast shot with white to gray. I accept that effect is common with high key shots and asked for by many art directors, it is in my mind a corruption of the use of the term and a reduction of the the scope of high key photography.
I know that often other techniques are used with high key lighting to create dream like low contrast etc. but they are a seperate technique and not indicative of all high key shots. Favourites were soft focus filters and allowing flare to create some of the shots that you linked to and though some of the shots had the apearance of high key ( which is your intention I agree) the techniques are in conjunction with a high key situation and not the actual technique.
I dont suppose I would have posted if you had not implied that high key photography was basically overexposure which I would say it most certainly is not. Here is what I would call a basic high key shot of my son , I used a high key shot to accentuate his crazy personality. the poses were all his. There were bunches more of the same ilk. Am I being a little contentious or just trying to clarify a point. I hope I did not offend and am posting in the right place. if not I trust you to correct me.
good luck
Paul

Edited by dragoonpvw - 02 January 2010 at 05:19
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Post Options Post Options   Quote pegelli Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 January 2010 at 10:42
Thanks for your comments Paul and your explanation got me to think a bit further. I agree with you that high key is much more than just "overexposure" however some element of it is certainly in it. For instance if you look at the two examples in this article you'll see that part of the high key images is fully blown (or very close to i.e close or at 255, 255, 255 in RGB terms) and that except for maybe a few dark areas most other tones are certainly very light and almost blown. I think the picture you posted here is somewhat similar to the lady in the red dress in the article, however in that picture the background is full white (as in yours) but her skin tones are much lighter than in your example adding to the very luminous atmosphere. In your picture the skin tones (and also the shirt) are very close to their normal tones and therefore would (to me, and I'm not an expert) not be the typical "high key" image we're looking for here.

If you would have processed it like this (just a curve overlay that kept the darks where the were in the lower part and increased to lighter areas) I would have considered it "high key":



The instruction call for an overexposure in camera however additional PP is certainly allowed to achieve the atmosphere of the assignment. The only thing we want to prevent is taking a "normal" picture and turning it into "high key" solely by PP, the idea behind the challenge is to think about it from the start and do as much as needed in camera and then finish "to your liking" in PP.

Happy to discuss further, and I'm sure we can come to a better understanding of this topic.

Btw: nice pose and expression of your son, I like the picture a lot.

Edited by pegelli - 02 January 2010 at 10:45
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Post Options Post Options   Quote dragoonpvw Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03 January 2010 at 00:47
Sorry but I totally disagree with you. I do not count overexposure in any way essential as a part of a high key lighting shot. if you look at the levels on my background, they are at 255 or white without any processing. believe me. Whether you think so or not, it is a high key lighting portrait.
I do however agree with the link you posted to. please read it. to quote

Yes - to create a high key image you need to set your exposure levels to high values. You will want to watch out, though not to over expose.
The last part is the most important. be careful not to overexpose.

I spent weeks learning how to balance lighting and how to use the flashmeters just to avoid that very mistake. Many high key shots have overexposed elements as part of the style. as students and interns we would not be allowed to shoot any shot like that until we could shoot a properly exposed high key and low key shot. Those two milestones were proof that we controlled the lighting in the studio and the image on the film. The most processing we were ever allowed to do was to burn out shadows from creases in the background and even then only when the masters were in a good mood. Once you can exhibit complete control of the lighting then you can do variations of a simple high key shot.
   What you did to my shot using photoshop was neither. It was a simple high key portrait, but if someone had turned the shot in looking the way it came out after you had processed it I would think they were lacking in basic skills, an overexposed attempt at a simple high key portrait.
Click this link to see a good starter book.
high key book preview

and browse through it. he gives the basics plus all the extra lighting styles.
     I also did a little research and I suppose the new internet experts have added the overexposure requirement in. I actually saw a whole treatise by a self styled expert who seemed to have no idea. He had a shot of a middle to low key shot then overexposed it. in the end it had mainly muddy greys, but because it was overexposed in the odd highligh and all the blacks were now greys he considered it high key. And he was considered a guru. I do understand how the mistake has crept in because some of the low contrast high key shots look that way but overexposure is definitely not a requirement for high key. There are so many types of high key shot. I can also see how it is becoming entrenched. Therefore there seems no point in discussing it sometimes but the basics of a high key shot is with the lightness of the background and lighting and moving on from there.. I do however like the link that you posted and think it could be a staring point for anyone who wants to learn the techniques of these basic shots.
some more links
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Post Options Post Options   Quote dragoonpvw Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03 January 2010 at 00:53
look at the shot half way down this page. it seems to be the type of shot you are after. it is titled overexposed high key shot. read the caption.
This is an overexposed high key image. What makes it a high key image is the white background and pink and white clothing, NOT the overexposure
high key posing link

I am sorry to go on about this but it is as an important part of a photographers education now as it was all those years ago when i was being taught my trade.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote DML Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03 January 2010 at 00:59
Is this what you had in mind Pegelli? This seems like what you clearly described. Thanks for the assignment!



All done in camera, no PP
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Post Options Post Options   Quote pegelli Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03 January 2010 at 01:20
@ dragoonpvw: Ok I see your point, but pls. bear with me for a second.

I think there are two issues:
First of all I never denied your background was fully white (I even acknowledged it in my response) which I think proves the point that part of the image is overexposed (either in PP or in camera)

Second issue is whether your main subject (in your case your son, in case of the article the rose or the lady in red) are rendered with normal or lighter than normal tones.

The basic problem is that the amount of overexposure is not quantified and what I have learned from reading articles as well as the few pages that I could browse of the book you quote is that some people regard high key the way you define it and some define it where also the subject lighter as normal. I have no basis for which is right and which is wrong, and both approaches can result in nice images, so from now on I will consider both as having met the requirements of this assignment.

So for me your picture is the first "pass" of the NEW assignments, congrats with that and looking forward to more of your submissions (and fruitful input)

Btw, I will clear this up in the original assignment description when I have time later this week.

Edit: I never saw your second post and reference until I posted this response. It's a very good article and I'll use that description to further explain what we're trying to achieve with the assignment.

Again the main point of my (too simplistic) description was to avoid that people took a shot like that of the marine against the grey background in there, and then just processed that to look like a high key shot.



Edited by pegelli - 03 January 2010 at 01:40
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Post Options Post Options   Quote pegelli Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03 January 2010 at 09:09
@DML: I think your shot is technically exactly how the assignment was originally described (note it's now updated after the discussion with dragoonpvw). However in my mind the technique used didn't enhance the beauty of the subject and didn't create (at least for me) any special emotional effect due to the use of the high key imaging. I just see a dog from behind against a light background. Pls try to give us an example where the high key technique works together with the subject and scene so the synergy creates a stronger overall picture. Hope you don't mind and happy to discuss further.

Edited by pegelli - 03 January 2010 at 09:13
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Serdar A Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 January 2010 at 20:49
Maybe a screenshot of the histogram should accompany the pictures submitted for this assignment.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote pegelli Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 January 2010 at 22:08
Originally posted by SerdarA SerdarA wrote:

Maybe a screenshot of the histogram should accompany the pictures submitted for this assignment.


Good idea but no obligation from my side.

If I have doubts I just download the picture on my computer and look on the histogram in Photoshop . This has the added advantage I can even investigate the "lightness" of individual areas in the picture.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Kakaku Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 January 2010 at 09:04
This was my first intentional high key shot every. My wife and I were bored on Sunday so decided to practice taking high key shot prior to our baby girl's arrival next month. The picture is straight jpeg out of my A700 with no modifications. I hope I got my first assignment correct!

A700 using Tamron 17-50/2.8 @ 50mm.
F4.5
1/10 sec
ISO 640
+2.0 exposure compensation
+2.7 flash compensation
Portrait
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Post Options Post Options   Quote p_man Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 January 2010 at 13:41
Kakaku - I don't normally like high-key but that is very nice. It flatters your subject well.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Kakaku Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 January 2010 at 19:30
Thanks p_man! My wife and I had a lot of fun taking these shots. There were a few better ones but those had her face in them and she's a little shy.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote pegelli Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 January 2010 at 20:55
@Kakaku, I need to get going to create the pass thread and merit thred and this one goes in both It is a very pleasing picture, well composed and right up the alley of the assignment. The high key aspect really strengthens the emotional impact and the only very minor nit I can find after looking and analysing the picture for a long time is the quite sharply lined (but still light) shadow of the white drape at the left side but let me stress it's very minor and only noticed because I wanted to find something

Good luck for you and your wife next month, you'll love the additional model you'll get in the family.

Looking forward to more assignment contributions from you.
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