What is a high key image? High key paintings and photos are images that have been created with the intent to reduce mid-tone values and emphasize the brighter (white) parts of the image. Think of an object bathed in bright sunshine so that when you squint all you see are the strongest shadows and bright surfaces. You can see the dramatic difference between a high key and "normal" histogram for the same image in the diagrams below. They "high key" histogram has most of it's values pushed to the right (or bright) side of the chart, while in the normal histogram the values are more evenly distributed and include many more mid-tones.
This "high key" style is often used to convey positive, upbeat or happy moods. It's excellent for subjects that are lighthearted or beautiful. You'll often see this technique used for portraits, flowers, or children. That's not to say that you can't have a high key landscape. Think of the sun burning through fog, everything is bright with little contrast. So the next time you're planning to create an image, think about high key and what it may add to the message.
Thought for the Day
“The single most important component of a camera is the twelve inches behind it.” Ansel Adams
A leading line is a compositional technique that draws the viewer's eye into the subject matter of the image. The line(s) guide the eye through the image to the focal point. Sometimes a leading line can be very direct - a road, railway track or shoreline. At other times they can be softer and more subtle.
Leading lines can originate from anywhere in the image, but most often they start at the bottom of the frame and work up towards the subject. Leading lines play an important role to:
In the next set of images the leading lines are very obvious, created by the lines in the sand on the left or the pathway on the right. The image on the left, after drawing the viewer into the images also to the destination of the traveler.
As well as leading the eye into the images, leading lines can guide the eye through the image. In both of the following photos the eye once led into the image is taken on a visual journey.
Leading lines are also an excellent way of adding depth and perspective while focusing the eye on the subject of importance in the frame. In the following images the eye is led to the lighthouse on the left, and the setting sun on the right.
Using leading lines as a key compositional technique in your image can help you improve your photography or painting, and help you tell your unique story.
Thought for the Day
"The artist is nothing without the gift, but the gift is nothing without work." Emile Zola
One of my favourite ways to photograph a flower is to take two or three exposures exposures - the first in focus, and the 2nd and 3rd progressively less focused and more overexposed (by 1 or 2 stops). You should have your camera mounted on a tripod to minimize movement between shots. If your camera has a multiple exposure setting, then this effect is created in-camera.
Alternatively you can also create the effect through post processing by merging the photos into one image using software such as Photoshop. This Orton effect is named after Michael Orton who invented the technique by overlaying two or more slides to create a unique composite image.
The Orton technique is also great for Portraits. I use it to soften the image and add atmosphere to the portrait. In the photo below I combined two images using Photoshop, using the "overlay" blend mode to create a warmer, richer composite photo.
The photos shown below were used to create the composite, above.
Thought for the Day
“To be creative means to be in love with life. You can be creative only if you love life enough that you want to enhance its beauty, you want to bring a little more music to it, a little more poetry to it, a little more dance to it.” Osho
Have you ever wanted to make your photos more dynamic? Have you wanted to convey a sense of motion or focus the viewer's attention? One nice way to do this is to use your zoom lens and zoom in (or out) while you're taking the shot.
The following photos were taken of a jazz band performing in a night club. Although I like the photos, to me they don't express the energy of the music - the dynamic interplay between band members or the intensity and fluidity of the melody and rhythm.
So, I decided to play with the camera to see what I could capture. In these hand-held photos I was zooming the lens in / out while exposing the image. The trick is to get the shutter speed just right. You don't want the shutter speed to be so fast that there's little or no effect or so slow that the entire image is blurry. Ultimately you have to experiment based on the focal length of the lens and the f-stop setting. Note: If you hover over the images below you'll see shot information.
Another interesting way to create a sense of movement by using lens zooming is shown in the first photo below. The street was closed to vehicular traffic and this incredible flow of people were walking on St. Clair and the streetcar right of way. By zooming the lens I was able to emphasize the flow of people walking past me.
Another way to create visual focus is to rotate the camera. The young woman that's shown in the photo below was deep in thought. By rotating the camera I was able to remove distractions and focus the viewer's attention directly on her.
Thought For The Day
"Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up." Pablo Picasso
Eric David is a visual artist / fine art photographer that lives and works in Toronto.