Step-by-step Cre­ate low-key light­ing

Work­ing with sub­tle light­ing like this can be tricky, as you’ve got to strike the per­fect bal­ance be­tween show­ing too much in­for­ma­tion and not show­ing enough. Use our help­ful tips to cre­ate the per­fect low-key light­ing setup.

Practical Photography (UK) - - The Human Body -

1 Po­si­tion your lights

It’s im­por­tant to keep in mind that the only vis­ual ‘bricks’ you can build your com­po­si­tion with are the sur­faces your light touches. You’ll find that you get the best re­sults by us­ing two lights, as this will cre­ate a bal­anced com­po­si­tion by il­lu­mi­nat­ing both sides of your model’s face or body. With typ­i­cal por­trai­ture your lights would or­di­nar­ily be placed in front of your sub­ject’s face, but with this tech­nique you’ll need to po­si­tion them be­hind and to the side of the model. Doing this means the lights catch the sides of your sub­ject’s frame.

2 Set the power

You’ll only want a small sliver of il­lu­mi­nated skin, so don’t set your lights too bright. We would rec­om­mend start­ing at the min­i­mum power and then slowly in­creas­ing it un­til you find the per­fect set­ting. If you’re work­ing at min­i­mum power and you still think that the lights are il­lu­mi­nat­ing too much of your sub­ject’s body, then sim­ply move the lights fur­ther away from your model un­til you achieve the de­sired re­sult.

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