How To Shoot Low Key Photography: A Beginner’s Guide

How To Shoot Low Key Photography: A Beginner’s Guide image 0 Beginner’s Guide

Exactly How To Shoot Low Key Photography: A Beginner’s Guide

Brandon Lazovic, February 16, 2020|digital photography

Wondering how to shoot low profile photography? In this beginner’s overview we’ll be supplying pointers on how to shoot photos utilizing low profile lights.

What Is Low Key Photography?

Low profile digital photography involves increasing the contrast in the subject of a picture through decreased lights.

The goal of a lot of photographers is to avoid casting dark darkness on the faces of their subjects; utilizing subtle illumination can add a remarkable panache to the subject and also total make-up of the picture via dark shadows as well as a solid contrast.

In a previous message I utilized the Rembrandt Portrait Lighting Strategy with low profile illumination to cast solid darkness on the face of my topic and also produce the distinctive triangle that’s associated with the technique. This was completed with workshop lights yet painters in the Renaissance as well as Baroque periods achieved this effect without man-made lights.

These painters developed what is referred to as the “chiaroscuro” strategy, which produced three-dimensional depth in their pictures and evoked drama/realism in the paintings from this duration. Chiaroscuro is stemmed from the Italian “chiaro,” or clear/light, as well as “scuro,” or obscure/dark.

What’s The Distinction Between Low Profile And Also High Secret Photography?


A low key image commonly entails the use of dark tones and shades. While the tone of high essential photos may really feel airy and also light, low key pictures are used to convey mood and dramatization.

In contrast, high vital lighting intends to reduce the amount of contrast by casting a big amount of light on a topic. High essential photography commonly uses unnaturally intense light as a solution to displays unable to present high comparison images. The use of this unnaturally brilliant light creates a burnt out result, eliminating most severe shadows in a picture.

Sign Up For Our Free Newsletter!

Aiming to remain upgraded with the current ideal practices? Register for our complimentary once a week e-newsletter and also obtain special material.

  • Email Address

Low Profile Photography Lighting Configuration

For shooting indoor picture digital photography you’ll need to set up a black background with a studio light put of to the side of the topic at a 45-degree angle that’s over the eye level of your subject. The face of the topic should be turned away from the major source of light.

Your source of light needs to additionally never ever reach your background. Make certain to relocate the version and also the source of light away from the history. The light and also the version will certainly stay the like far as lighting, yet the background will obtain darker, which is wanted for low key digital photography.

You’ll likewise intend to block off all other lights from the space that you’re firing in, such as doors, home windows, and also electronic devices.

Camera Equipment

Regarding equipment is worried, you’ll wish to have the complying with tools:

  • Umbrella or softbox
  • Dark history (if shooting in a studio)
  • Cam flash or light
  • Fast lens with a f/stop of f/1.4 or f/1.8
  • Tripod

Having a rapid lens with a low f/stop is excellent because it allows substantially even more light. The even more light you have, the reduced you can set your exposure, which will reduce the quantity of noise recorded in the image when capturing in reduced light.

Carrying Out Low Profile Photography Without Flash

If you do not have low profile studio lighting that you would certainly or else make use of in product photography, you can use the flash from a cell phone or a peripheral source such as a window, although one issue that takes place is the light source illuminating excessive of your subject’s face. To fix this, just hide the bottom of the light source and adjust to get the perfect amount of lights.

You can also an additional resource of light on the contrary side, in which case your supplement lights should go to half the intensity as your primary resource.

Another point to keep an eye out for is ensuring you’re capturing the light in at least one of your topic’s eyes to bring life to the photo and also add that significant style.

Candles as well as torches are likewise great for casting rough darkness and generating a gothic or romantic tone in your shot.

Exterior Low Profile Digital Photography Suggestions

Capturing outdoors in the evening is a complimentary means to get the right amount of low profile lights without using studio devices. The biggest challenge is discovering the perfect area for your structure; all-natural light from the moon and streetlights are fantastic locations to begin when identifying locations that have a great source of light in the evening. A city setup can additionally be excellent if you’re firing in a car park or an alley, specifically when leading lines in digital photography.

The awesome thing with low profile digital photography is that you can additionally contend at any time of the day, whether you’re shooting at midday or during an overcast day.

Side Illumination

If you’re wanting to create high comparison in your subject, a common method is to keep one side dark via side lights, or split lighting, positioning.

Rembrandt Lights

Like I discussed earlier, you can also make use of Rembrandt Lights to develop distinct shades and moods. The goal is to have a triangle of light brightened on the cheek of your topic, under the ridge of their eye and the nose.

Low Profile Photography Digital Photography Settings

As for camera setups go, here’s what you’ll want to do:


Set your ISO as low as your cam body enables.

Low F/stop as well as quick shutter rate

Change your shutter speed to go as quick as it will certainly go to reduce the quantity of light entering the lens. Have your aperture as large open as possible (the lower the number the better).

The technique is to lessen the quantity of light that’s entering your camera without under-exposing the topic in the photo. Right here are my settings for the photo listed below:

  • F-Stop: f/4.5
  • Direct exposure Time: 1/160 secs
  • ISO-800

The ISO was more than I wanted, but the only resource of illumination that I had was the fire so I needed to readjust the ISO in order to decrease the exposure time and lower the F-Stop, yet the main takeaway is to decrease the quantity of sound generated in the picture.

For a lot of instances though, you’ll intend to establish your ISO beginning at 100, and have your F/Stop starting at the smallest number.

Dark Digital Photography Editing

If you have not taken a look at my editing and enhancing video already, below are the edits I made in Adobe Lightroom:

  • Emphasizes: +30
  • Shadows: -30
  • Whites: +30
  • Blacks: -30
  • Clarity: +100
  • Vibrance: +30
  • Saturation: +30
  • Red Saturation: +100
  • Orange Saturation: -64

If you’re asking yourself why I decreased the orange saturation, I felt as though it made the reds attract attention extra with the centers of the flame producing a much more white/yellowish tone.

Right here are couple of other considerations to bear in mind:

Brighten Your Topic

Like I carried out in the image modifying video, you might need to play with the exposure, highlights and also whites of your topic.

White Equilibrium

If you’re using flash or interior illumination, the white balance may be off, which requires a little tweaking during post-processing.

Sound Decrease

Due to the fact that we’re commonly shooting in darker problems, your direct exposure may be elevated greater than 100, creating noise in the image. While we can minimize noise post-processing, you need to carry out marginal edits because the photo blurs.

Readjust Colors

Depending upon the tones in your image, you can play with warm and also tone colors, and even opt for a black as well as white composition.

Much More Photography Guides

  • Exactly How To Fire Item Photography
  • Leading Lines In Digital Photography
  • Angles Photography
  • Just How To Use Adverse Space In Digital Photography
  • Just How To Fire Diptych and Triptych Photography
  • Sunburst Effect In Landscape Digital Photography
  • How To Do Selective Shade Digital Photography Editing
  • SMC Pentax 50mm F4 Macro Lens
  • Exactly How To Fire High Comparison Digital Photography

Register for Our Free Newsletter!

Aiming to remain updated with the most recent ideal practices? Enroll in our totally free regular e-newsletter as well as receive exclusive web content.

  • Email Address
Rate article